It has been a race full of emotions, decisions, and excitement: This Sunday afternoon, the Team Malizia skipper crossed the finish line of the New York Vendée in second place, achieving consecutive second place finishes in this year’s transatlantic solo challenges, and final test before the Vendée Globe at the end of the year.

Team Malizia’s skipper Boris Herrmann has secured back-to-back second place finishes in this spring’s transatlantic solo races. While competing against 27 IMOCA sailors in the New York Vendée race to Les Sables d’Olonne, Boris Herrmann took a risky yet well thought-through strategic decision. He was the only sailor to go for a very northern route which saw him fight through light winds, and sail within as little as 300 nautical miles of Greenland. Boris Herrmann then reached the downwind conditions he had been chasing and raced fast towards France, claiming second place in the process. The Malizia - Seaexplorer skipper crossed the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne this Sunday afternoon at 16:52 local time (14:52 UTC), after 10 days, 20 hours, 52 minutes, and 32 seconds at sea.

With his impressive achievements in The Transat CIC and the New York Vendée, Boris Herrmann has made a big statement highlighting his outstanding potential for the Vendée Globe. Before the start of the race, several competitors cited him as one of the contenders to watch out for, and the German sailor delivered. Not only was he the only skipper, along with race winner Charlie Dalin on MACIF Santé Prévoyance, to pass the infamous front that eluded all the other sailors. But he also surprised many by going north, while Charlie Dalin continued east.

© Fred Olivier / Nefsea / Alea

“I wasn't quite sure if there was still a risk that the front could catch us", explained Boris Herrmann. "So I was kind of bearing away more, going more north just to be as far away from the front as possible. That brought me in this different position, and from that moment on, I made the big strategic choice to opt for the northern route, thinking that it would be the better choice for me. I observed it for a little while to see if I needed to review this decision, but then I chose to stick with it." 

He explains further: "At some stage, I doubted a little bit because it just looked crazy on the chart. But, scientifically, I thought it was correct. When I took the decision it was also the shorter route, because the route that looked more direct for Charlie had a lot of zig-zags. There was a moment where the routing in the north even had me finish ahead of Charlie, going on a much more direct route around the high pressure, where I now needed to do many gybes. With some of the models the wind was turned by just ten degrees, but that's enough to go on a direct route, and then I would have gained almost a day.”

The strategy through the high north did pay off: Boris Herrmann flew downwind towards France at high speeds that had even Charlie Dalin doubt for a moment. The Team Malizia skipper progressively went up the ranking, and finally reached the finish line in second place. Racing 4,112 nautical miles over ground at an average speed of 15.76 knots, he arrived 17 hours, 8 minutes, and 2 seconds after Charlie Dalin, and over a day ahead of the next boats which are expected in Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow.

© Jean-Louis Carli / Alea

“The last moments of the race were great”, said Boris Herrmann. “I had a lift, so I couldn't lay the finish and therefore did two gybes along the shore with lots of boats around. More boats than at the Vendée Globe finish, actually! On the gybe along the shore, I had both foils down and I was in wheeling mode all the way, coming really fast on a hot lay line into the finish. That was exciting!" He then joked: "And after the finish line I had to very quickly furl the sail to not crash into the beach of Les Sables d'Olonne!". 

The Team Malizia skipper added: "It's fantastic to see the team and share this moment with them, they all came out on chase boats to greet me! It's so good to be back, and also such a big contrast to the peaceful quietness I've experienced before."A contrast that got even bigger as he reached the iconic channel of Les Sables d'Olonne: Several thousand fans had lined up all along the channel to give the German skipper an incredibly warm welcome, in a true goosebump moment. "It's beautiful to see how many people come here to celebrate sailing. I think it's unique in the world to have so many people coming out to welcome us, and it's a beautiful day for it. It's such a fantastic welcome. Really incredible, thank you for this."

© Jean-Louis Carli / Alea

"I really like that I made a big strategic decision like this. I could have just tacked and gone behind Charlie, and followed him about 100 miles behind. But I think it would have been a less exciting race for everyone, myself included. I was also keen to sail downwind and to experience the north with its transitions. So I am happy with my decision."

The Malizia - Seaexplorer skipper said: “I think both races were great preparation for the Vendée Globe. The race to New York was good because I was sailing in close contact with other boats, and I could see that my speed was good. Then on the way back, I was very alone in the north, which is the feeling that can happen in the Vendée Globe. Sometimes you end up being really alone with no boats around for hundreds of miles. So I could train and remember this feeling a little bit, and prepare for that.”

Boris Herrmann concluded: “I'm really looking forward to the Vendée Globe. With this race, we achieved what I was hoping for: to have the confidence, to be quiet in the summer, and to not doubt our choices. And so now we will just service the boat a little bit, leave everything as it is, and then take the start of the Vendée Globe.”

Source: Team Malizia