Sailing: Team Malizia overcome adversity to win third leg of Ocean Race

malizia Ocean Race

After 34 days, 17 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds and 14,714 nautical miles, Team Malizia arrived in Itajaí, Brazil, and claimed victory in the third leg of the Ocean Race.

The third leg, which began in Cape Town, South Africa, over a month ago was the toughest, but also the most rewarding for the crew of the Yacht Club of Monaco (YCM) boat Malizia Seaexplorer.

After initially getting a good launch, Boris Hermann and his crew’s race was almost ended by a severely damaged mast. Team Malizia considered returning to Cape Town to carry out repairs, but instead fixed the mast during a two-day operation at sea.

The setback allowed Team Holcin-PRB to take the lead. However, Herrmann’s crew kept in hot pursuit, and by the time they had passed south of New Zealand, the Monégasque team were within 10 nautical miles of their rivals. They took the lead not long after.

In the heat of the battle in the Southern Ocean, Rosalin Kuiper was thrown from her bunk, hitting her head, which forced her to be rested for the rest of the leg. Team Malizia were therefore on a three-person shift rotation, and they would face some Dantesque conditions before the race was over.

As Team Malizia and Holcin-PRB passed Cape Horn, only 30 nautical miles separated the teams. The final sprint up Brazil’s east coast looked set to be thrilling, and a storm on Friday and Saturday only added to the tension.

“It worked out beyond our expectations.”

“It was pretty tense,” admitted Herrmann, who had to contend with choppy seas and a low-pressure system generating 40-plus knots. However, Team Malizia rode the storm and took the victory in what was the longest leg in the history of this crewed round-the-world race.

“Winning this leg is an unreal moment. It’s taken time to realise what we’ve achieved, that the dream is coming true… Dreaming of doing The Ocean Race, doing this amazing leg through the Southern Ocean, finishing it after all the trouble we had early on, and winning it!” said Herrmann.

The Malizia Seaexplorer skipper continued, “Four weeks ago, if I had been told, ‘Repair your mast because you might win this leg,’ I would not have believed it and said, ‘That’s not possible, we are too far behind and we can’t push the boat anymore…’ But it worked out beyond our expectations. This was a full team win, and I’m very proud of what we achieved.”

Having arrived in Brazil on Saturday night, the flotilla sets sail once more on 23rd April as they head to Newport, USA.


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Photo by Monaco Yacht Club