Boris Herrmann actually wanted to sail his Imoc60 "Malizia" across the Atlantic with a friend and mentor. But nothing came of the double, so the hamburger went solo. The first long one-hand piece on this boat was not an easy one. And maybe that's a good thing. Because it serves as a qualification for the Route du Rhum in autumn, the season highlight in the regatta calendar of the high seas professional. And that in turn is an important milestone on the way to the Vendée Globe.
For YACHT online Boris Herrmann wrote this afternoon, two days away from Bermuda, how the Solo Transat feels before the North German Regatt Club's Atlantic Anniversary Race, which starts on July 8, and how he gets along with "Malizia".
"Become one with the ship"
Ninth day at sea. It's gusty and I have two directions of swell that cross each other. If Lee swell and a gust come together, I jump up to throw the boom vang if necessary so that we don't get out of hand. There is a kind of leverage effect when the bow gets stuck in one wave and then the other swell wave and the gust from aft push it in. In between there are long passages with elegant foiling surfs and a speed of 23 knots for many minutes.
I stopped at a magnificent sunrise this morning and am now sailing almost exactly to Bermudzu on port tack. 770 nautical miles to go. In full surf, your remaining time of 35 hours is on the screen, and I notice with a smile that this seascape, which sometimes seems to me for a long time, is actually coming to an end.
In the moments of uncertainty, far south of the great circle course, in a desert of blue, without a cloud, but also often without wind and without a functioning weather model, I felt lost, without space and time - and without fellow sailors. The temptation was great to take a friend or a technician with you, but the Route du Rhum is waiting in November, and it's one-handed. The regatta leader had allowed me to take a "passenger" on board for this trip and still recognize it as a solo qualification for the prescribed 1500 nautical miles. But it was much more important to me to put myself in a real situation and also to practice being alone, which is sometimes difficult for me at the beginning of the trip
Since yesterday I am officially qualified for the Route du Rhum. And after a week at sea, I arrived too, becoming one with myself and the ship. Everything feels natural, I am more relaxed and self-confident, I start talking to the wind and the boat and think less, sometimes I hit the sheet position "spot on" when trimming and then I am happy. I go ahead of the wind to change sails, and in order to save time, the sails are then winched tightly for the actually planned wind angle. Only then do you luff up again.
Technically, I already know "Malizia" for over 30,000 nautical miles. During this training, my main focus was on our relationship. I am sure that I will be able to call up this routine feeling - "Malizia" and I - on November 4th at the start of the Route du Rhum and then immediately sail full speed ahead on the base, stick with the crazy Yann Eliès for as long as possible. Because I was able to see how he accelerates with the Transat Jacques Vabre last autumn.
It is always a question of goal setting, even on this transference: full force or reason? Risky course choices and hairy maneuvers were definitely not on my to-do list for this trip. The top priority on a training trip is to arrive safely. During the short week of preparation for the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta, which starts on July 8th in Bermuda, I didn't want to cause any unnecessary stress for my little Shore team and myself.
So far - toi, toi, toi! - worked well. Now I have a day ahead of me in a half wind course that slowly turns into close wind. With increasing gusts, we will probably approach an old, rather unpleasant front with a reef and the genu2: It brings thunderstorms and gusts of up to 35 knots. Then I have to turn. The most difficult thing is always balancing the up to 90 kilo heavy sail bags from one side to the other in the bucking foredeck. Then it should go with light to moderate winds on starboard bow to Bermud, arrival Sunday lunchtime, with the stern on the pier of the Royal BermudYacht Club. And a cold beer there, please. Does that count as a transat then?
Tim Müller and Hans Christoph Enge from our crew will be there, Claus and Christopher Löwe will complete the five-person team in the course of the week. What a contrast that will be!
The five of us are very well manned on this one-handed racer. We've tried this before, however, and it worked out well, so I'm not worried. On the contrary: I'm looking forward to camaraderie, fun and sport on the long way to Hamburg, for which we are planning twelve days.
Afterwards we will be able to share our common stories with the other AAR crews at the gin and tonic in Hamburg. It will be a rare moment for me. My races, my boats and my teams rarely take place in Germany. That was also a great motivation to take part in the AAR, especially a race that takes us to our hometown. Thanks to the North German RegattVerein for bringing the German sailing scene together in a grandiose way."