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Boris Herrmann receives the German Ocean Award 2024

by Team Malizia 19 Jun 10:00 PDT
Boris Herrmann with a drifter buoy that he deployed in Leg 3 of The Ocean Race © Antoine Auriol / Team Malizia

German professional sailor Boris Herrmann receives the "Deutscher Meerespreis" (German Ocean Award) of the Prof. Dr Werner Petersen Foundation in recognition of his engagement as an ambassador for the ocean and for communicating marine research topics to the general public. The prize is awarded today jointly with GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel under the patronage of Daniel Günther, Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein, at a ceremony with invited guests.

During his offshore races, Boris Herrmann is not just interested in the sports competition: To him and his Team Malizia, the fight against climate change is a race that we must win together. A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now! - the slogan painted on the sails of their Malizia - Seaexplorer race yacht leaves no doubt what is at stake. For years, Boris Herrmann and his team have been committed to protecting the Ocean, supporting science by collecting data during races that often take them to remote Ocean regions, and by campaigning for Ocean education.

In recognition of his engagement as an ambassador for the Ocean and for communicating marine research topics to the general public, Boris Herrmann received the "Deutscher Meerespreis" (German Ocean Award) of the Prof. Dr Werner Petersen Foundation today. The award, endowed with 20,000 euros, will be presented under the patronage of Daniel Günther, Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein, in cooperation with GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. Around 200 invited guests from the worlds of science, sport, business, and politics are expected at the ceremony at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany this evening.

"The fight against climate change is a race against time - and we can only win it if everyone in the world becomes involved. This engagement needs a broad knowledge base, and it needs data from all regions of the Ocean," says GEOMAR Director Professor Dr Katja Matthes. "On the one hand, Boris Herrmann carries the message of protecting our Ocean around the world and on the other, he collects important information for our research around the globe. His actions inspire many people around the world, including us researchers. The German Ocean Award recognises his important role as an ambassador and his impressive commitment. We congratulate him most sincerely and will be following the upcoming races with excitement and look forward to further joint projects."

Minister President Daniel Günther honours the awardee as a committed climate ambassador and supporter of science. "Boris Herrmann is a great sportsman and a champion of environmental education. The fight against global warming is literally written on your sails, and you are a role model with your way of tackling challenges," says Daniel Günther. With his many years of commitment to climate protection and the Ocean, Boris Herrmann is a more than worthy and deserving winner: "We in Schleswig-Holstein are very proud to be able to present you with the German Ocean Award 2024. Thank you very much for your great commitment."

"The Professor Dr Werner Petersen Foundation sees it as its duty to also promote such activities that serve sustainable development and the protection of the Ocean," explains Dr h.c. Klaus-Jürgen Wichmann, Chairman of the Prof. Dr. Werner Petersen Foundation. "By awarding of the German Ocean Prize endowed with 20,000 euros, together with GEOMAR and under the patronage of the Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein, the foundation once again makes it possible to honour people who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation, protection or communication of knowledge about the Ocean. The engagement of the professional sailor Boris Herrmann, globally recognised ambassador of the Ocean, is thus impressively honoured."

For Boris Herrmann, a childhood dream came true in 2020 when he became the first German to complete the Vendée Globe. In 2024, he will once again participate in the non-stop single-handed race around the world. In 2023, he and his team took part in The Ocean Race with their Malizia - Seaexplorer - with a spectacular fly-by in the Kiel Fjord. Team Malizia has also announced their participation in The Ocean Race Europe, which will start in Kiel in August 2025. In May 2024, Boris Herrmann was second in New York after the transatlantic race The Transat CIC. He also recently finished the New York Vendée return race to Les Sables d'Olonne in a celebrated second place. He has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

A recognition of the professional sailor's commitment to Ocean conservation

"I am proud of what we have achieved with our Team Malizia. This includes the growing popularity and enthusiasm for our sport, but above all the visible commitment to education and science to protect the climate and the Ocean. This award honours the long-standing and focused work of the entire team, our partners and supporters worldwide and, last but not least, my wife Birte with our educational programme 'My Ocean Challenge'," says award winner Boris Herrmann. "We see this award as an incentive to continue our mission with vigour, to look for solutions and, above all, to get people around the world excited about Ocean and climate protection."

The sailor has a long-standing collaboration with GEOMAR, which can also be seen as an origin of the now diverse connections between research and German professional sailing. Since the beginning of 2024, Boris Herrmann has also been an ambassador of the German Committee of the Ocean Decade, which is based at GEOMAR.

GEOMAR coordinates various programmes within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and also contributes in many other ways to achieving the goals of the Decade. One focus of GEOMAR's work is global Ocean monitoring for researching and predicting the effects of climate change and other human influences on the Ocean.

In addition to scientific expeditions, autonomous measuring devices and merchant ships, sailing yachts also contribute to the collection of data as "ships of opportunity". The innovation platform "Shaping an Ocean Of Possibilities" (SOOP), which is funded by the Helmholtz Association, is leading the way here. In line with its project title, SOOP aims to create an "Ocean of possibilities" for cooperation between science and industry. The aim is to create sustainable structures and technologies for Ocean observation in order to improve access to measurement data and expand knowledge about our Ocean. The project "Sailing for Oxygen", which is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), is aimed at water sports enthusiasts in the Baltic Sea and involves sailing crews collecting data on oxygen concentrations in the Baltic Sea.

Team Malizia's A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now! mission is only possible due to the strong and long-lasting commitment from its seven main partners: MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Hapag-Lloyd, Schütz, the Yacht Club de Monaco, EFG International, Zurich Group Germany, and Kuehne+Nagel. These partners band behind Team Malizia to support its campaign, each of them working towards projects in their own field to innovate around climate solutions.

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