After 13 days 3 hours 47 minutes and 30 seconds of racing Boris Herrmann crossed the finish line of the solo transatlantic Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe race organised every four years. In total, the skipper of Malizi II-Yacht Club de Monaco covered 4,437 miles at an average speed of 14.5 knots.
“I was aiming to be in the top 5,” said Boris Herrmann at the start in Le Havre on 4th November. Goal achieved for the Yacht Club de Monaco skipper and his foiling mono-hull Malizia II, who came 5th in the IMOCA class (20 entrants). Victory went to Paul Meilhat, after Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who was first of the IMOCAs (18m mono-hull) to arrive at Pointe-à-Pitre, Friday morning, but who incurred a penalty of 24 hours for having used his engine after going aground about 60 miles from the finish.
Boris Herrmann proved very combative, isolated by his option to go north where he met demanding rough wind and sea conditions. It was a fine performance by the 37-year-old who was competing in his first solo transatlantic crossing and who even manged to lead the fleet for 24 hours.
Speaking on his arrival, the YCM sailor had this to report: “It’s great to be back on dry land! The north route was exhausting, I took a battering from a series of squalls gusting up to 43 knots. Going upwind, there were complex manoeuvres to manage, sail changes, taking in reefs, non-stop. Initially, I had planned to stay with the bulk of the fleet but having stalled in the second low pressure zone after the start, I found myself at the back of the peloton and saw Paul (Meilhat) and Vincent (Riou) speeding away at 15 knots while I was stuck on 2 knots for hours. It was the same for Yann (Eliès), although he managed to catch some air while I continued to be tossed around with the sails flapping. Malizia II seemed to be doomed from the first day of racing. A few hours later I was out of the hole without any chance of catching the escaped competitors. I was then racing against myself; alone; although I would have much preferred to be competing in sight of the others. It wasn’t easy, I had to hang in there, supported by numerous wonderful messages from the school kids in Monaco and also Germany who were following me through the “My Ocean Challenge” programme. I really want to thank them for their encouragement, they got me through some of the most difficult moments. And, in the end, I learned so much. The next goal? Vendée Globe 2020!”
For YCM Vice-President Pierre Casiraghi who set-up and supervises the Malizia II project, there was huge satisfaction: “We are very proud of him! Boris just hung on in there with this very tough option that enabled him to overtake then distance the group comprising Damien Seguin, Alan Roura and Stéphane Le Diraison. Other good news was how well Malizia II held up in these conditions. This is really good news for the Vendée Globe 2020. This 40th edition has been exceptional, marked by particularly difficult weather conditions for the first part of the race, leading many to abandon it in all classes, not forgetting the final thrilling show-down between Francis Joyon and François Gabart in the Ultimes, totally divergent strategies in the Multi50 with perseverance winning out, and in the IMOCA with the ranking totally upset at the end. All these sailors have inspired us to dream, and showed us once again that sailing is a demanding, exciting sport where you feel every emotion!”
A reminder that of the 123 entrants on the start, there were 20 in the high-performance IMOCA class where we find boats that have already notched up prizes in the Vendée Globe, Barcelona Race and Transat Jacques Vabre. Some have foils, others not, and all are helmed by seasoned racers who have their sights set on the next Vendée Globe, “Sailing’s Everest”. But the sea and weather decided that few would arrive in Guadeloupe, and during the first week teams along the coast of Brittany and Portugal were to be found, some seeking shelter, others badly damaged. This evening, five of them have arrived, ten are still in the race, some are still sailing on the other side of the Atlantic and will arrive a long time after the party’s over. But they will have done it. They will have fulfilled their commitment and can start to dream of other races.