Storms, waves, ice in the Ocean Race: Boris Herrmann’s crew sails to the “Forecourt of Hell” – the most brutal stage is imminent

Stage with a tragic history
Boris Herrmann’s crew sails to the “Forecourt of Hell”

The king’s stage in the Ocean Race starts on Sunday. In Cape Town, five teams are preparing for the historically longest section of the circumnavigation. The almost 24,000 km route around the Antarctic takes the starters along the three large capes. Boris Herrmann’s team is ready.

Cape Horn can come. Boris Herrmann and his team Malizia are ready for the toughest test in the Ocean Race. “I’m really looking forward to this stage because I think we might be able to win it. And because I hope to see Cape Horn,” said the Hamburg skipper of the “Malizia – Seaexplorer” during the preparations in Cape Town.

On Sunday at 1.15 p.m. German time, the starting signal will be given for the historically longest and most brutal stage in the Ocean Race. 12,750 demanding nautical miles lie ahead of the circumnavigators. The nearly 24,000 kilometer long race track around the Antarctic takes you along the three major capes: the South African Cape of Good Hope, the Australian Cape Leeuwin and Cape Hoorn are to be passed non-stop on the route to the Brazilian stage port of Itajaí. What is important for the overall rating: The result of the section counts twice.

“It’s this stage I want the most”

On his fifth circumnavigation, Boris Herrmann wants to master Cape Horn for the sixth time: the legendary landmark marks the pinnacle of circumnavigation. “When you see the iconic shape of the cape, you know you’ve mastered a very difficult passage,” said the 41-year-old. The Hamburg professional sailor Jörg Riechers once described Cape Hoorn as the “courtyard to hell”. Those who pass here are among the greats of the sport. “This third stage is the soul of the Ocean Race,” says the Berlin “Guyot” skipper Robert Stanjek. The 2012 Olympic sixth-placed star boat will experience Cape Horn for the first time and says at his ocean race premiere: “It’s this stage that I want the most.”

Herrmann is also full of anticipation. “I’m looking forward to the very special impressions of the Southern Ocean,” he said. “The very long waves, long sunrises and sunsets, the short nights, it’s kind of cold, it reminds me of northern Germany, of the albatrosses that fly with us.” The brutal course is characterized by storms, towering waves, freezing temperatures, ice hazards and competition with the competition. In the merciless realms of the Southern Ocean, the Brit John Fisher stayed at sea in 2018 in the 13th The Ocean Race. He had gone overboard in a storm. Despite a desperate search operation, his team had not been able to find him in the raging sea.

Off to the “Roaring Forties”

The start of the “monster stage” also brings back memories of Kevin Escoffier’s accident, whose boat dramatically broke through and sank at the Vendée Globe 2020 in the South Seas. The Frenchman was just able to make an emergency call and jump into his life raft in his survival suit. Anxious eleven and a half hours later, he was rescued by his compatriot Jean Le Cam.

At the time, Boris Herrmann was also involved in the rescue mission on a dark, stormy night as a solo skipper. Now Herrmann and Escoffier are no longer fighting alone, but with their teams for the best possible result in the “Roaring Forties”. The region of the westerly wind zone between the 40th and 50th degrees south latitude is known as the “roaring forties” because the winds here are often thunderously loud.

Even the world’s best sailors look forward to the endurance test with a mixture of respect and passion. Three-time circumnavigator Abby Ehler is one of the most experienced women in the 14th The Ocean Race. Nevertheless, she had initially given her skipper Kevin Escoffier a refusal for the king’s stage. The wild five-week ride on the new Imoca type ocean race yachts seemed too dangerous to the Briton. She’s since changed her mind: “I really want to do this stage. I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t.” Ehler’s comeback means the end for Susann Beucke on this third of seven stages in the Ocean Race. The Olympic silver medalist from Strande is taking a break, as is Berlin’s Phillip Kasüske from Guyot Environnement – Team Europe. Only Herrmann and Stanjek are holding up the German flag.

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