Sailing: Boris Herrmann’s chances of winning at the Vendée Globe – Sport

The roaring waves, the icebergs, the seaman’s grave off Cape Horn, the loneliest point on earth: most of the sailors of the Vendée Globe have left all of this behind. And still an invisible bond seems to hold the sailors together after thousands and thousands of waves crashing on the boat after more than 50,000 kilometers. After more than 76 days of hardship, the decision actually seems to be made in a head-to-head race – like in a match race for a whole fleet.

Normally, at the Vendée Globe, the intervals are counted in days. Sometimes the sailors are so far apart that the leaders see the sun rise while the others see the night fall. But this time everything is different: if the last six sailors crossed the finish line four years ago, the first half-dozen could reach the port of Les Sables-d’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast on Wednesday or Thursday within hours .

But a solo circumnavigation is less of a race than an adventure. There are hardly any certainties, especially not those that will arrive.

Boris Herrmann has long gained the respect of the French

Because originally the Briton Alex Thomson started as a great challenger to the French, he wanted to finally break the dominance of France in the regatta. On his fifth attempt, it should work out with victory, for which he had a radical boat built. But even before the first Advent he had to give up with a broken starboard rudder. Eight out of 33 participants have so far had to give up the sails. Some met again in Cape Town, in the “port of the unfortunate”, as the sailor Boris Herrmann calls the place, because those who had to give up early in the race drag themselves there.

Now it is not Thomson, but Boris Herrmann who has won the respect of the predominantly French competition. At the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe, the native of Oldenburg could challenge France as a sailing nation. The German is given far more than just outsider chances: “We could have a non-French on the podium this time, so why not dream of victory too?” Said Armel Le Cléac’h, the winner of the previous edition.

Until Sunday morning, 36-year-old Charlie Dalin, a French boatbuilding engineer who a trade magazine calls the “foil whisperer” because he has a keen sense for the dance on the wings, was in the front. The competition is also puzzling over how well his boat is in good shape; Dalin is buttoned up. His compatriot Louis Burton, 35, who recently risked a lot with a more westerly course and has gained an advantage with this maneuver, sails tied. Even in the Southern Sea he chose a brutal course along the Arctic Ocean, which catapulted him far forward. That also needs Herrmann’s respect: “Luis Burton seems to be a tough daredevil, quite the opposite to me,” he said on Friday in a video link. Therefore Herrmann sees little chance of catching up with him.

Maybe he doesn’t have to. Should no competitor be able to stand out, then the time credits from the rescue operation in the South Atlantic could ultimately decide on the top positions. At the beginning of December, Jean Le Cam, 61, had fished his 40-year-old competitor Kevin Escoffier out of the water after endless hours, Herrmann and Yannick Bestaven had also turned up and had spent the night searching. Le Cam got the biggest bonus (16 hours and fifteen minutes), Bestaven (10 hours and fifteen minutes) and Herrmann (six hours) a smaller compensation.

And now it looks like the top trio will be able to break away in the next few days: The forecasts of the weather gurus of the Vendée Globe expect that Burton, Dalin and Herrmann could still make the jump into a cheaper wind corridor, while the pursuers in one Zone with light winds get stuck. It could of course – and this is the lesson not only from this Vendée Globe – turn out quite differently.

The fleet is now heading for the Azores Islands, where a high pressure area is waiting, after which every jibe could be decisive: “How we get through the low pressure areas and through the cold fronts, when exactly we jibe, how we catch the wind shifters, that will make the difference” , believes Herrmann. “The podium is not certain,” said Herrmann on Friday, “I could also finish seventh.”

In the Whatsapp group of sailors that Herrmann set up, things have become quieter since the top has left Cape Horn behind and is heading towards the goal: “We have become real competitors again.”

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Americans continue fighting after an accident while sailing

Dhe American Magic team will continue to sail for the place in front of Auckland as a challenger for the America’s Cup. It is true that her boat is very badly damaged after the spectacular capsizing in the last race on Sunday. “We’ll be repairing ‘Patriot’ in the next eleven days,” said skipper Terry Hutchinson that morning in Auckland. So she should enter the semi-finals of the challengers from January 29th.




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Christoph Hein

Christoph Hein

Business correspondent for South Asia / Pacific based in Singapore.

The visibly agitated top-class sailor, who like his teammates had got away with it, had had the night to the ears. At midnight, the wreck was hoisted ashore, and from three in the morning the hull was checked for further damage using ultrasound. “Thank goodness the electronics are undamaged, the batteries haven’t leaked and the hydraulic system has remained closed,” said Hutchinson. Above all, the team is doing well. “The first thing we did was cut ourselves loose with knives”.

Shortly before her first victory, the “Patriot” had turned into a strong gust at the last windward buoy in the last run of the day, lifted meters high out of the water, landed roughly and capsized. The American said there may have been a technical problem with the rigging of the mainsail. He has won eleven world championships and has sailed for the America’s Cup four times – in 2007 as a tactician for Team New Zealand.

The new AC75 boats are easiest to control when they are fast, because then they are stable on the leeward. That is why it is also important to “keep pressing the accelerator”, said the skipper. “When we race, we just drive a race.” However, after two capsizes off Auckland, questions about the type of boat are increasing – even before the accident, Americans in particular were urging to return to more traditional keelboats for the next America’s Cup.

That morning, Hutchinson stood in front of his helmsman, New Zealander Dean Barker. “Dean made the right decision to turn the left bin,” said Hutchinson. In comparison, there was not enough wind at the right buoy. The wind on the left, however, increased from 13 to 23 knots in a few seconds, and immediately accelerated the yacht to “around 47 knots” (87 kilometers per hour) after the turn. “She does not forgive anything,” said the tactician.

Critics complain that Barker took a risk that was completely unnecessary. Even in his home country he is not without controversy and years ago he was sorted out as the helmsman of the New Zealand team – whereupon he let the Japanese and then the Americans hire him as a legionnaire. “I told him be Dean Barker and nothing else. I know some ice water is running through his veins, ”said Hutchinson.

People no longer look back – “if we make a decision, we make it, and that as a team.” Barker remains undisputed in the team: “We trust him with our lives.” To relieve his helmsman, the skipper followed suit: “It was a whole combination of events that led to the capsizing.”

However, the repairs remain a major challenge. A piece will probably be cut out of the replacement hull that will then be used in the “Patriot”. It had taken a while on the water for the men to understand how badly their ship was damaged. “One saw a piece of carbon drifting out of the hull and we knew it had a leak,” said Hutchinson.

The meter-sized leak on the port side of the hull appears to have been caused by the breaking of the inner structure of the “Patriot” when it hit the surface of the water. The boat filled up very quickly, although the crew tried to plug the hole with a jib. As more and more lifeboats reached the “Patriot”, which was floating almost 20 kilometers from the harbor on the outer lane, 16 pumps and floats could be used to keep them afloat.

Barker looked very dejected during the hour-long rescue. Team New Zealand delivered pizza to the exhausted sailors while the wrecked hull was towed into port for hours. “We got incredible help from all of our competitors and their teams,” said the American. “On land, too, everyone really offers us all their resources.” This is a sign of good seamanship and the solidarity of even competitive top-class sailors.

Actually, the America’s Cup, into which sponsors pump tens of millions of dollars and which involves billions of dollars for business and tourism, is rather notorious for the fact that teams litigate each other. Without the boat builders and technicians from the other crews, however, the “Patriot” would probably not be expected back on the water in just eleven days. “If I had said we would be sailing again next Friday, I would have triggered a mutiny,” said the American with a view to the next match races.

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Boris Herrmann faces an Atlantic sailing crime thriller


On course for the podium: Boris Herrmann
Image: Jean-Marie LIOT / Malizia

In the toughest sailing regatta in the world, Boris Herrmann could even land on the podium in the end. Before that, there are still 4,700 nautical miles through the Atlantic. But the German has a decisive advantage.

Boris Herrmann has reported back during his solo circumnavigation in the battle for the podium. After setbacks in Cape Horn and a race to catch up in the past few days, the 39-year-old moved up to sixth place at his Vendée Globe premiere in the South Atlantic near Rio de Janeiro.

At the end of the 65th day at sea, the “Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco” skipper was just over 100 nautical miles behind the old and new French front-runner Charlie Dalin (“Apivia”). Everything points to a 4700 nautical mile long Atlantic thriller. “The regatta is still alive! Everything is still possible. For all of us, ”said Herrmann.

The best boat

The scenario suggests that the hamburger will advance further – he has the best of the six boats in the front. Leading Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant (“LinkedOut”) both have to deal with broken port foils.

Third placed Yannick Bestaven (“Maître Coq IV”) and Louis Burton (“Bureau Valllée 2”) have smaller foils and the fourth Paralympics winner Damien Seguin (“Groupe Apicil”) has no foils at all. Herrmann has the largest, best and intact foils. The leading boats are expected at the end of January in the start and destination port of Les Sables-d’Olonne.

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Boris Herrmann is facing an Atlantic sailing crime thriller


On course for the podium: Boris Herrmann
Image: Jean-Marie LIOT / Malizia

In the toughest sailing regatta in the world, Boris Herrmann could even land on the podium in the end. Before that, there are 4,700 nautical miles across the Atlantic. But the German has a decisive advantage.

Boris Herrmann has reported back on his solo circumnavigation in the battle for the podium. After setbacks at Cape Horn and a race to catch up in the past few days, the 39-year-old moved up to sixth place at his Vendée Globe premiere in the South Atlantic near Rio de Janeiro.

At the end of the 65th day at sea, the “Seaexplorer – Yacht Club de Monaco” skipper was just over 100 nautical miles behind the old and new French frontrunner Charlie Dalin (“Apivia”). Everything points to a 4700 nautical miles long Atlantic thriller. “The regatta is still alive! Everything is still possible. For all of us, ”said Herrmann.

The best boat

The scenario suggests that the hamburger will advance further – of the six boats in front he has the best. Leading Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant (“LinkedOut”) both have to deal with broken port foils (wings).

Third placed Yannick Bestaven (“Maître Coq IV”) and Louis Burton (“Bureau Valllée 2”) have smaller foils and the fourth Paralympics winner Damien Seguin (“Groupe Apicil”) has no foils at all. Herrmann has the largest, best and intact foils. The leading boats are expected at the end of January in the start and destination port of Les Sables-d’Olonne.

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Vendée Globe: Where satellites fall into the water – sport

The sky is as empty as the sea, only albatrosses and space pods come here. “We are closer to the astronauts than to the people on earth,” says the Hamburg skipper Boris Herrmann. “Point Nemo”, the “Pole of Inaccessibility” – this spot of water in the South Pacific, which the sailors of the Vendée Globe are passing these days, has many names. The zone is 2688 kilometers away from land and human civilization. Americans and Russians let their satellites and space stations fall from the sky here because it is so wonderfully lonely. Not a bad place during a global health crisis. But the circumnavigators are closer than seldom.

The weak winds pushed the best ten boats together up to 700 kilometers, this regatta around the world has never been so close. On Friday morning Boris Herrmann even passed the French fur seal Jean Le Cam. Third halfway through, “I would never have dreamed of that,” cheered 39-year-old Hermann. But meanwhile the first German has fallen behind at the Vendée Globe. The German-French Isabelle Joschke continues her amazing journey and is in fifth place.

33 skippers started in France on November 8th, six had to give up because the oceans are merciless and the rules are tough: they have to cover over 45,000 kilometers alone, without stopping and without outside help. If the conditions are favorable, the newest ships can fly over the water, half of the boats have hydrofoils on the left and right of the hull, as far as the theory goes. But mostly either the winds stayed away or storms whipped the waves to walls as high as houses; so the favorites could not yet play their advantage.

The British Samantha Davies apparently collided with a whale

The top performers in particular seem to have to pay tribute to their pace: Briton Alex Thomson, who led the field across the Atlantic, had to give up early after crashing his boat through heavy storms. The Frenchman Kevin Escoffier, in third place, lost his ship in the waves off the Cape of Good Hope, his competitor Jean Le Cam found him on a life raft in the water after twelve hours. British woman Samantha Davies dragged herself to Cape Town after apparently colliding with a whale. Nicolas Troussel (broken mast) and Sebastien Simon (wing and rudder damaged) also had to cancel their sails.

Usually only half of the boats make it to the finish line, as the past has shown. This is another reason why Herrmann is cautious: “I don’t want to make a major mistake at the moment,” is his strategy. “Certainly there is wear and tear that I can’t see yet,” believes Herrmann, but at the moment the full potential of his Seaexplorer can be exploited.

After the last weak winds, the field slips behind the record run four years ago when it was around the world in 74 days. The arrival is planned for the end of January this time. However, like most of them, Herrmann only has provisions for 80 days on board. “If there’s always something left, I can get through another ten days,” he calculates.

On the high seas alone, the head becomes an echo chamber

He “had to fight hard” with loneliness, reported Herrmann in one of his weekly video channels before Christmas. For the festival he hung up a chain of lights and played his family’s voice messages. “That was really nice,” says Herrmann in his YouTube diary, “I also had to cry a little”.

Alone on the high seas, the head becomes an echo chamber in which feelings intensify because you cannot share your experiences with anyone. Herrmann is also concerned: “I still have to learn to deal with everything myself.” Broadcasting on all channels, that seems to be his recipe against loneliness. He’s even set up a WhatsApp group with the other sailors, in which he most recently persuaded a rival not to give up. “That brings us together,” says Herrmann.

And so the Vendée Globe experiences a race in which the competitors are more connected than seldom and in which the outsiders surprise. Like the two-time Paralympics winner Damien Seguin, who controls his apparently technically inferior ship with just one hand and keeps up with the leaders. Or his sponsor Jean Le Cam, who is 61 years old after all. The Breton skipper has just received a medal from the French Minister for Maritime Affairs for his spectacular rescue operation off the Cape of Good Hope. He is in a head-to-head race with Boris Herrmann.

But in front of the field lies Cape Horn, a rock massif that protrudes into the water like the tail of a scorpion. The leaders should achieve it in just over a week. Le Cam knows how dangerous it is here: he was fighting for his life in this area when he capsized his ship twelve years ago until a competitor pulled him out of the water. Boris Herrmann believes that safer, warmer seas await after Cape Horn. He says, “Let’s stand these seven days to come.”

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Why Kuehne + Nagel sponsors the circumnavigator

Round-the-world sailor Boris Herrmann

The measuring device of his “Seaexplorer” is used to fight climate change.

(Photo: dpa)

Düsseldorf He has a chain of lights on board for the lonely Christmas party, as well as a candle and packaged holiday gifts from home. But there is hardly any contemplation on deck of the “Seaexplorer”, an 18-meter-long yacht made of carbon fiber, on the holidays.

After all, skipper Boris Herrmann is currently heading for “Point Nemo” in the South Pacific, the point furthest from the mainland and islands. Strong winds, rough seas and cold fronts are the order of the day here. However, the 39-year-old from Oldenburg is currently struggling through a stubborn high pressure area in unusually mild temperatures of ten degrees.

Herrmann, who sailed climate activist Greta Thunberg on a two-week trip across the Atlantic to New York in August 2019, wants to know again. On November 8th, he and 32 other participants started the Globe Vendée near La Rochelle to compete in the toughest one-handed regatta around the world. The return is not expected until mid-January.

What is already depressing the mood of the first German participant in the regatta, which was founded in 1968: Six of his competitors have already been eliminated, due to a broken mast, damaged oars or collisions with debris. “A boat was completely lost,” reports Herrmann on his satellite-supported mobile phone.

While his yacht at Thunberg Passage was still called “Malizia II”, the sailing enthusiast had it renamed at the request of his sponsor. Only a few insiders are likely to be familiar with the connection: The name “Seaexplorer” is derived from the platform of the same name operated by the Swiss freight forwarding giant Kuehne + Nagel (K + N), via which the sea logistics company ships its containers.

How much the group, whose majority shareholder is the German billionaire Klaus-Michael Kühne, sends Herrmann’s team is kept secret. The sports company Malizia SCP, founded in 2016, has four permanent employees – a partnership for the liberal professions under French law.

Small laboratory on board

During the regatta, however, the number of teams increased to 21, plus charter rates to Gerhard Senft, the ship owner based in Stuttgart. The trade magazine “Yachting World” estimates that ten to 15 million euros will be needed to sail among the front runners in the regatta. “Boris Herrmann’s team is cheaper to travel with the Seaexplorer than most of its competitors,” says Otto Schacht, K + N’s board member responsible for sea transport.

However, the Swiss use the “partnership”, as they call it, differently than other sponsors. Most of them, including the French Banque Populaire, the Japanese machine builder DMG Mori or the luxury tailor Hugo Boss, bought the boat name in a way that was effective in promoting their own brand. Véolia, Generali and Gamesa have also supported the Vendée Globe in the past with the image-enhancing presentation of their own company name.

K + N, on the other hand, does not appear in the boat name. The Swiss see the word “Seaexplorer” on the tennis court-sized sail as an assignment to the single-handed sailor – which he can take literally: A small automated laboratory has been installed on board that measures the carbon dioxide content of the seawater at regular intervals and reports it by radio sends a database.

“The ocean is the largest CO2 storage facility in the world,” says Boris Herrmann, explaining his mission. “But we cannot solve the problems of climate change if there is no measurement beforehand.”

“Sea explorer” at the start of the Vendée Globe

This offers the Swiss world market leader in ocean freight a good opportunity to put a specially developed environmental service in the right light.

(Photo: dpa)

This offers the Swiss world market leader in ocean freight a good opportunity to put a specially developed environmental service in the right light. For ten years now, K + N has been showing the exact amounts of carbon dioxide that the transport of a sea container leaves on the various ships on its freight portal. When booking, customers can choose between the “fastest”, “most reliable” or “most ecological” transport options.

The differences are huge indeed. According to the portal, anyone who has a 40-foot container transported from Los Angeles, California to Shanghai, produces 700 kilos of CO2 on an ecologically favorable shipping line. “The output of other providers is sometimes three times as high,” reports Sea Logistics Board Member Otto Schacht.

Kuehne + Nagel praises climate neutrality

This year, Kuehne + Nagel has also committed itself to making its own operations climate-neutral by the end of 2020. This should also apply to business with suppliers and customers by 2030. For clients such as the Swabian toy manufacturer Schleich, the forwarding company is already organizing completely climate-neutral transports.

“That is why we were looking for a partner”, Schacht explains the decision in favor of Boris Herrmann’s team, “who is committed to climate protection.” In contrast, the group does not pursue pure sports sponsorship.

“The race against time is not just about sailing, but also about climate change,” says the solo sailor who, together with his wife Birte Lorenzen-Herrmann, has been teaching school classes on this subject for ten years.

The Malizia team is behind him. Although the ship sails under the German flag, it was founded four years ago by Pierre Casiraghi in Monaco. Casiraghi is the youngest son of Princess Caroline from the second marriage and thus nephew of Prince Albert.

The prince is considered a committed campaigner against climate change. In 2006 he founded the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, a foundation whose international commitment is committed to climate and marine protection.

The Oceanographic Museum, once headed by Jacques Cousteau, is an important institution of the small principality. Among other things, the institute provides the Malizia team with rooms to hold exhibitions and conferences on the subject of climate change.

Before he can report on his exhausting circumnavigation of the world, which, as he says, only allows him to sleep for hours, Herrmann still has to cross the Pacific, sail around Cape Horn, and then return to the west coast of France through the Atlantic. He had announced that he can only speak to his wife and little daughter briefly on the mobile phone on Christmas Eve. More social distancing is not possible.

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Sturm is troubling Boris Herrmann at Vendée Globe

Dhe albatrosses are Boris Herrmann’s constant companions at the moment. Even with high waves and strong winds, at least one of the imposing sea birds almost always glides through the air next to the yacht of the 39-year-old hamburger. The animal community is good for the German, who continues to sail in eighth place at the Vendée Globe – because Herrmann rarely had anything to laugh about on his solo trip around the world.

“I’m fed up with this heavy swell,” said Herrmann, who is currently plowing a little over 2000 nautical miles from Cape Leeuwin in southern Australia through the southern Indian Ocean, at an online press conference on Friday. After ten days with violent gusts and strong storms, he would like to see somewhat calmer conditions in order to recover and carry out minor repairs on his boat.

“I am extremely physically exhausted, but I feel better mentally. The goal now is to further reduce the gap to the top group, ”said Herrmann, who had recently suffered from the weeks of loneliness and who looked into the camera with tired eyes and disheveled hair.

In addition to the video calls with his family and team, the exchange with his direct competitors also helped him. Herrmann regularly discusses the course of the race with other skippers via a Whatsapp group and encourages himself to persevere with them – especially in the days before Christmas and before the presumably very strenuous second half of the regatta.

Isabelle Joschke is currently doing better than ever. The skipper, who was born in Munich and lives in France, is taking part in the non-stop regatta for the first time like Hermann and is currently the fastest participant in the field after almost forty percent of the route and the exit of the British Sam Davies.

Without spectacular maneuvers or emotional updates in the social networks and with the “safety first” method, the 43-year-old worked her way up to ninth place, survived the last storm without losing any major nautical miles and got herself an “Irish Breakfast “granted. “More sweet or savory? How about you there? “, She asked smiling into the camera.

The Vendée Globe is considered to be the toughest regatta for single-handed sailors. It began on November 8th on the French Atlantic coast and leads once around the globe along the Southern Ocean. Boris Herrmann is the first German to take part.

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