October 3, 2023

Boris Hermann before jumping on the podium at the Vendée Globe |  Sports  DW

Boris Hermann before jumping on the podium at the Vendée Globe | Sports DW

“Boris Hermann is a stroke of luck for German sailing,” Mona Coopers, president of the German Sailing Association, said happily. A Hamburg resident came into the spotlight a year and a half ago when Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg took to the United States to attend the Climate Summit.

Since November 8, 2020, there has never been a day when there is no news of it. Because Herrmann sailed with another 32 sailors to the Vendée Globe. To the regatta that is nothing for people with a totally inclusive mindset. Lonely in a sail boat around the world. 24,000 nautical miles, which is 44,448 kilometers, at best – when the master finds the perfect line across winds and waves. In fact, it will ultimately be about 27,000 nautical miles, which is about 50,000 km.

Only by wind and waves

Beginning and ending is located on the French Atlantic coast in the department of Vendée, hence the name. In the middle, you pass the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Lewin in Australia, and Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, each in the port, on the left side of the boat.

No hairdresser on board – Boris Hermann is alone for two and a half months

The journey over the waves takes two and a half months at best, the record being 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds, held by the Frenchman. How were the winners in the previous eight editions since 1989/90 French.

That could change with the current issue. The first participants are expected to return on Wednesday in front of Les Sables-d´Olonne. “A lot could happen, it couldn’t be more exciting,” said German sailor Boris Hermann while switching a video from the “Seaexplorer” cabin with his fans Sunday evening.

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Tension through various tactics

Hermann is still within walking distance of the captain right at home in the Atlantic Ocean with his 18-meter boat. On Wednesday (3 PM CET) – 80 nautical miles (about 150 km) prior to arrival – Frenchman Charlie Dalen was 110 nautical miles (about 200 km) ahead of third in Hamburg. This doesn’t include a six-hour time credit, which Hermann is credited with for crossing the finish line. Because he received a bonus of more than ten hours, Yannick Pestafin was unbeaten despite his huge deficit and he is currently fifth.

Much now depends on the chosen path. Only experts can assess the situation. “At the moment, it’s particularly exciting from a sailing perspective because very different strategies are used,” Hermann analyzed the situation, “Charlie Dalen sails east through lighter winds in shallow seas – Yannick Bestaffin is heading north neck and has stronger winds there.”

With intuition, gut feeling and a lot of technology on board

For nearly ten weeks, Hermann, like his rivals, was alone. He is his cook, doctor, and mechanic on board. It is constantly supported by the onboard computer and also from the outside: “Every twelve hours we receive new weather models and then re-adjust them again; see how the wind turns and where the front is. The rest is intuition and gut feeling.”

And luck. In mid-December, a main sail broke on the 39-year-old and had to repair a small crack in the main sail. The talent for improvisation was needed, but Hermann did not face any major challenges. There was very little time left. But such problems are almost a daily concern of what is arguably the toughest regatta in the world.

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Helper need

It was much worse for Frenchman Kevin Escove, whose boat crashed and sank in the five-meter high waves off South Africa. The merchant ships that could have helped him did not exist. Escoffier waited eleven hours to be rescued on a raft. It was his countryman Jan La Cam who found and hid him. Boris Hermann also participated in the search, researched a sector for the drowning man in the ship, and lost a lot of time in the process, for which the race management gave him credit for those six hours that could decide the race.

BdTD France |  Prepare for the non-stop Vendée Globe boat race for sailors with one hand

Her boat was still intact. Isabelle Joschke on her MACSF mast before the start of the Vendée Globe

French German Isabel Joschke had to give up on being the best woman until that point. The hydraulic system of its keel fin was defective and it was impossible to continue. How correct was the decision to cancel the regatta on the way back on the Brazilian coast. It almost destroyed her yacht MACSF in a storm: “The mast was already in the water. I was very scared. I was sure the time would soon come. She fell too. It was very dangerous,” she said in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Throughout the house to see you again

However, Boris Hermann has already mastered the Vendée Globe’s biggest challenges. He can almost see the port in France. And seeing his family again in Hamburg, whom he hadn’t seen for nearly three months. His daughter was born last summer and contact was limited to a Christmas phone call. He had deposited festival gifts in advance. He spent Christmas Eve “alone, but not alone”. Comfort with fairy lights and tea lights on board.

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May be festive after arriving in Vendée. Because regardless of whether winning or climbing to the podium is enough: Boris Hermann will be the first German to finish the longest and hardest regatta in the world. But if he still wins, Boris Hermann would likely be the biggest stroke of luck German sailing has ever seen.