IRosalin Kuiper quickly rediscovered her sense of humor – despite the black eye, the persistent pain and the shock that the entire Malizia team still had in their bones hours later. “Now I look like pirate Rosalin,” reported the 26-year-old Dutchwoman from the Seaexplorer yacht, which is currently sailing near the southern tip of South America in the direction of the Brazilian east coast as part of the third leg of the ocean race regatta.
What happened? In adverse conditions with strong winds and high waves, Seaexplorer was plowing through the South Sea at high speed on Sunday when the yacht suddenly crashed into a large wave and abruptly changed direction. Kuiper was thrown from her bunk in her sleep and hit her head on the floor. According to the crew, the 26-year-old Dutch woman remained conscious, but was bleeding profusely from a laceration above her right eyebrow.
“The conditions are unbelievably tough”
While the two crew members Will Harris and Antoine Auriol treated the injured immediately, Nicolas Lunven secured the boat. Skipper Boris Herrmann contacted the race doctor via radio, discussed Kuiper’s further care with him and kept him up to date on the symptoms that were developing. Using this remote diagnosis, the race doctor diagnosed Kuiper with a concussion and prescribed her as much rest as she could on a racing yacht racing across the ocean far from any shore.
“The beatings in the boat are pretty hard and reverberating in my head, but I think I’m getting better. I sleep a lot and the boys take very good care of me,” said Kuiper, posting a picture of herself in a thick sweater and lying on some kind of air cushion. “Rosie is really brave. We’re doing what we can to keep the boat stable and make sure she’s okay. But the conditions are incredibly tough,” said Will Harris.
Despite the incident and Kuiper’s retirement, the Malizia crew still have a good chance of winning the stage on the other side of the world. After 29 days on the ocean, the team around Herrmann from Hamburg is about 25 nautical miles ahead of Team Holcim from Switzerland and more than 200 nautical miles ahead of Team Biotherm and the 11th Hour Racing Crew. The Franco-German Guyot team had to abandon the stage shortly after the start in Cape Town at the end of February due to major problems.
It is a huge surprise that the Malizia crew would be in the lead after about three quarters of the 14,600 nautical miles (approx. 23,600 kilometers), the longest and toughest stage in ocean race history. The Seaexplorer also had to struggle with several problems on the arduous journey from Cape Town past Australia and New Zealand and across the Antarctic Ocean and was now more than 600 nautical miles behind the leading boat.
However, the Malizia crew fought back on their Seaexplorer, which is equipped with a very round hull, in the wild water desert between New Zealand and Chile and has been delivering a gripping race with their competitors ever since. The four teams were less than 10 nautical miles apart near Point Nemo – the point in the South Pacific that is more than 2,000 kilometers away from land and the world’s furthest point. “We definitely want to win the stage,” said the 41-year-old Herrmann shortly before the incident on board. However, it is currently uncertain to what extent the crew will be able to go full throttle on the remaining 2000 nautical miles.
After the Cape Horn passage, the boats will then embark on a northerly course from Tuesday and will reach Itajai on the Brazilian east coast after just over another week on the Atlantic around Easter. From there, the Ocean Race continues on April 23 to Newport in the north-east of the USA and then back to Europe. The round-the-world regatta ends in Genoa, Italy, at the end of June after seven stages.