Team Malizia crossed the start line of Leg 4 of The Ocean Race in Itajaí, Brazil, at 13:15 hours local time (1615 UTC, 1815 CEST) this Sunday 23 April 2023. After two laps of an inshore race course led by Biotherm, Malizia – Seaexplorer went through the leaving gate in third position, and set sail for a 5,500 nautical mile journey from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA.

And they are off again! Team Malizia’s crew composed of skipper Will Harris (GBR), co-skippers Rosalin Kuiper (NED), Nico Lunven (FRA) and Christopher Pratt (FRA)andonboard reporter Antoine Auriol (FRA/GER) set sail on the fourth leg of the iconic round-the-world race. Aboard their Malizia – Seaexplorer race yacht, the international team crossed the start line in Itajaí, Brazil, at 13:15 local time (1615 UTC, 1815 CEST).

After a two-lap inshore race course, the fleet of five IMOCA boats sailed through the leaving gate and started their 5,500 nautical mile journey towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA. About 60% of the points are still up for grabs at the start of Leg 4 of The Ocean Race and Team Malizia is currently second on the overall scoreboard.

“We are feeling very ready”, commented skipper Will Harris on the morning of the start. “This stopover has been amazing, the team has done a great job in preparing the boat, especially after the long Southern Ocean leg. The Brazilians were very welcoming too, which was great to experience. I am confident in the team, in the boat and in our preparation. Now, what’s left to do is to step on our Malizia – Seaexplorer and perform at our best on the water.”

In a text message to team leader Boris Herrmann, whom Will Harris is replacing as skipper for the second time in this round-the-world race, he wrote: “Thanks for your encouragement, Boris. We are going to sail a clean race, the shore team has done a great job with the boat. We will miss having you onboard but Chris is bringing a nice fresh view on things too, see you in Newport.”

At the team goodbye on Sunday morning, co-skipper Rosalin Kuiper added that she is even more ready to give it her all and to perform at the top of her game. Co-skipper Christopher Pratt said: “I’m excited to sail on this boat with this crew, but unfortunately that also means that the ten days of getting to know the whole Malizia team on shore is coming to an end. I felt very welcomed and am now even more motivated to sail fast towards the USA.” Feeling energised by the very large cheering crowd, the team stepped onboard Malizia – Seaexplorer, ready to score points in their new crew configuration.

Alternating between sunny and cloudy weather, Leg 4 started in about 10 knots of wind and flat seas. All boats were very close on the start line, but 11th Hour Racing Team and Guyot Environnement – Team Europe crossed it early by the slightest margin, meaning that they had to return and restart the race. Team Malizia got off to a great start, sailing in second position for most of the first lap behind Biotherm and in front of Team Holcim-PRB. Holding on to that position until just before mark 5, the crew got overtaken by Team Holcim-PRB, whilst Biotherm extended their lead throughout most of the second lap. With the boats sailing between 11 to 13 knots, Biotherm led the fleet through the leaving gate, with Team Malizia in third, with Guyot Environnement – Team Europe in fourth and 11th Hour Racing Team in fifth position.

The next section of the race towards the Northern Hemisphere will see the crew face big strategic decisions already a few hours after the start. They could either go offshore or stay along the Brazilian coast, facing upwind sailing in both cases. Either way, all routing options rejoin near Recife, with a good chance of a “restart” situation. Once the boats are around the corner of Brazil, they will cross the Equator, face very light winds, have to avoid getting entangled in fields of sargassum seaweed, and will have to negotiate the infamous doldrums. In the North Hemisphere, the fleet will face the North Atlantic weather systems created by the warm Gulf Stream. Even the last two days before reaching Newport could be tricky, with potentially strong winds and cold weather. Leg 4 of The Ocean Race is expected to last between 17 to 19 days.

© Ricardo Pinto / Team Malizia