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Meet the Vendée Globe skippers: Boris Herrmann

by Vendee Globe 20 Oct 06:41 PDT
Boris Herrmann © Vincent Curutchet / IMOCA

He will be on the start line in Les Sables d'Olonne because, he jokes 'I read all the books, Pete Goss, Ellen MacArthur', but suffice to say when he does answer the gun on Sunday 8th November it will be the realisation of a dream he has had since his teenage years. He did his first Mini Transat race in 2001 as an 18 year old and eight years later won the Class40 Global Ocean Race round the world.

Now, armed with the highly optimised Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, he is ready to take on the world. He is German, speaks fluent English, French and Spanish and represents the Yacht Club of Monaco. Meet Boris Herrmann.


Born May 28 1981, Oldenburg
Lives in Hamburg

My Journey

Studies and professional career outside of sailing. MBA in business economics, never worked as economist but use the learning all the time in my life and programme.

In the beginning:

My first sailing: With my dad at the age of six on a small boat that can sit on a sandbank a Jollenkreuzer and sailed just for fun to start with and then I became more serious during university years racing 505s and 49ers, finishing in the top 10 twice at the 505 world championships.

How / why did your desire to go ocean racing come about? Why and when did it become a life project? I had done some offshore and ocean passages on some older Swans. Then I did the Mini for a while in 2001 and came tenth in the MiniTransat. After my university finished in May and I put together a proposal for sponsors to do a Class 40, I then did the Artemis Transat and the Quebec Saint Malo. When I was 15 or 16 I was reading all the books, Pete Goss, Ellen MacArthur and loved the Vendée Globe, I loved the experience of the MiniTransat. When I was about 17 doing the 470 for example I already knew I had it in me like a virus.

A result or experience that you are most proud of? Winning the round the world race on the Class 40 (The Portimao Global Ocean Race), there were so many cool people in and around it and there were so many people said it was not safe to go round on the Class 40. So it was great to have these memories of Cape Horn and the Lemaire Straits

Short Tacks

Your main quality in life? . I love the idea of being multiskilled and managing the campaign. You set out to be good at everything and now I am happy to be good enough at most things.
What is your main flaw in life? Being too serious, maybe a bit paranoic
If you were an animal? A dog
If you were a plant? Don't think I want to be a plant
Your idea of happiness? Beach, tradewinds, hanging out with a few toys like kitefoil. I like kitefoiling and went with Alex Thomson a couple of years ago in Kiel. Or reading a book, listening to Bach with a Talisker whisky.
A book? Decisive Moments in History by Stefan Zweig
If you were some music? Bach, I like to listen to music on the boat to drown out the noise sometimes, but I love Bach...
Your colour? Red Pantone PMS 186C the flag of Monaco
Your hero in life? Greta Thunberg, she is very cool and has the courage not to be mainstream A to Z, she has her own agenda, does her own thing and she does not depend on people liking her. She does not follow the herd. And also Pierre Casiraghi, Francis Joyon and Giovanni Soldini. The three of them are all original personalities all strong enough to do their own thing.
An aphorism or saying? Never give up. Never Surrender.
If you weren't an ocean racer, would you be? A writer writing books that make people dream

My Vendee Globe 2020

Your ambitions for the Vendée Globe 2020: To do a very good race, to be in the top 10 maybe better, but to do good communications as well, to inspire schoolkids and Germans to make people dream and others to follow their dreams.
What would prevent you from reaching your goal (apart from the damage): Nothing
Your lethal weapon: My total determination
What would a successful Vendée Globe be for you? What do you want to share? I want to be able to share it, to let people live the adrenalin highs and the lows. I want to be fully transparent as I go share it, not just about the competition but the seamanship also.
In three words, the Vendée Globe for you is: Man, machine, nature
Three images you have of the Vendée Globe: The images that came out of Pete Goss saving Dinelli will always be in my mind. That is one, second I was at the start of the 2016 race and I remember watching Seaexplorer (then Gitana) leaving for the start of the race - that memory sticks in my mind. And third, I remember clearly watching Ellen and Alex's videos from on board during their races and hoping one day I would be following in their footsteps.
Which skipper inspires you? Alex Thomson, he is the coolest guy
What would you not go around the world without? : Like Robin Knox Johnston, my bottle of Talisker whisky

Some words about your environmental projects

We aim to help scientists to better understand climate change with the installation of our onboardco2 laboratory.This machine is constantly measuring important CO2data including ocean salinity, PH and temperature as well as surface CO2. In partnership with IOC-UNESCO,Max Planck, Geomar and Ifremer we make this data available for free worldwide via the SOCAT database. This data is hard to obtain as it can only be retrieved via a vessel, not via satellite - therefore Seaexplorer as a vessel of opportunity, vital in providing this data, particularly in the hard to reach, remote Southern Ocean where almost no data exists. We have also been deploying drifter Argo floats in partnership with UNESCO and partnering with scientists to create greater outreach on these key topics

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