First it was 11th Hour Racing Team, powering to a new standard, only to be eclipsed a short time later by Team Holcim-PRB, who appeared to have secured not only a new race record, but the outright monohull record for distance covered in 24 hours.
The trailing boat of the leading trio was the last to nose into the favourable conditions for breaking records: downwind reaching in 25 knots and relatively flat water. Simply ideal for the latest generation IMOCAs.
But if the Malizians had a later start, their endgame was brilliant. On Friday night, near 22:20 UTC, the team edged past the mark set by Team Holcim-PRB, and narrowly established the new standard – 641.13 nautical miles covered in 24 hours.
The data will need to ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council to become official, but it is well past the previous mark of 618.01 miles set by the 100 foot maxi yacht Comanche in 2015.
“Congrats to all the team, it feels a little bit unbelievable and still like everyone is hesitant to celebrate but we are super happy and have only good vibes,” said Team Malizia skipper Boris Herrmann.
“It’s great to see that the boat can do so well. We had exceptional conditions with a flat sea, the wind steady from the right direction, the right angle for such a long time… Sometimes, the waves got a little bit shorter and we would slow down to 18 knots and get a bit stuck in the sea. Most of the time the boat would pass the sea perfectly and fly at 27 to 34 knots, it felt really relaxed.
“In a way, it didn’t feel like pushing and we didn’t think we would be able to break the record, so we were quite relaxed most of the time except in the three last hours where the excitement of maybe breaking the record built up.
“And then there was an epic, funny, exciting moment, such a good team spirit and thanks to all the team here and on land and our partners that have made this possible and have built this amazing boat, I am super proud of everyone and Malizia – Seaexplorer.”
The fast pace has also brought the Malizians right back into the race for honours into Aarhus, now trailing the leading 11th Hour Racing Team by just 25 miles. Team Holcim-PRB is squeezed in the middle, just 10 miles back.
The leading pack are now (at 1100 UTC, Saturday) racing up the west coast of Scotland, and about to make their turn to the east around the top of the UK and towards Denmark.
With the blistering pace of the last 48 hours, the ETA into Aarhus has moved up to as early as midnight on Sunday night.
The fourth boat in the fleet, Biotherm, continues its private race, having fallen into a different weather pattern, skipper Paul Meilhat and his team are in good spirits, but over a full day behind the leaders.
The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com and you can follow sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge on Eurosport with every leg departure live and on-demand on discoveryplus.com or Eurosport.com
Release: The Ocean Race 1973 S.L.U., Alicante, Spain