The seas are deceptive, so are the Vendée Globe rankings. The unspectacular sixth place of the German Boris Herrmann, Tuesday, January 19 in the midday standings, wisely remained within reach of the leading pack since the start of the solo round the world trip, hides a calculated strategy. Never ahead, but never far behind either, the first German (1) to embark on the Vendée Globe since the inception of the race in 1989 understood that to arrive in place, you had to have … spared your horse.
→ READ. Vendée Globe, two sailing boats side by side under the equator
Unless he lied about the condition of his boat, the “Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco”, which is not so rare in an event also involving the game of chess, he had only one slight damage, a tear in his mainsail, which was easily repaired. “Boris is the only one to have large foils in a priori working order. He could have a good speed out of the doldrums ”, declared recently in the Norman daily “Paris Normandy” Le Havrais Charlie Dalin, current leader of the fleet.
“Herrmann, we are all waiting for him”
The exit from the doldrums, this area of uncertainty located north of the equator, precisely, we are there. And this is where the German, calm, could sound the charge at the helm of his powerful monohull, launched for the Vendée Globe 2016-2017 by another sailor, Sébastien Josse. Modernized and made more reliable, this monohull has become the fastest single-handed boat in history between Cape Horn and the equator.
A bad option of trajectory in the doldrums later, and nearly 300 kilometers lost in the affair, here is again the German started again for a few hours. “Herrmann, we are all waiting for him, I’ve been waiting for him for two months, he will eventually arrive”, explains the three-time winner of the Figaro solo, Yann Éliès, who assisted Charlie Dalin in his preparation.
This role of turtle never far from the hares, Herrmann, professional navigator of always, author of a round the world in class 40 (monohulls of 13 m), has chiseled for years spent chomping on the pontoons by seeing the friends leave for the world tour. He remained at the quay, for lack of a sponsor, until the decisive meeting of a young silver man, passionate like him about sailing and ecology: Pierre Casiraghi, son of Caroline of Monaco and Stefano Casiraghi.
Supported financially, this tongue-in-cheek German, follower of videos where he makes fun of himself, sails aboard the “Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco”, which was still called “Malizia 2” in 2019 when he achieved worldwide fame thanks to his famous passenger. It was on board that the young Greta Thurnberg, hostile to air travel, joined New York to deliver a speech that has become famous before the UN General Assembly.
Marketing and ecology alliance
Simple publicity stunt for the promoters of “Malizia”, word meaning malicious in Monegasque? Let us say rather an alliance of a certain sense of marketing (he studied economics) and genuine environmental concern of a skipper putting his boat at the service of scientists. Boris Herrmann’s monohull is indeed crammed with sensors of all kinds, making it possible to collect data intended for various institutes, including Ifremer (French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea).
→ ANALYSIS. Vendée Globe: these foils that can turn against their skippers
This ecological awareness is not a recent posture. “It’s a mix between meetings and a click ten years ago, when I was sailing in the South Pole. The ice was completely changed, it made us late and my teammate lost 15 kg. It is a moment that I cannot forget. I then began to take a much more precise interest in the way in which the oceans and global warming are linked ”, he said before leaving Sables d’Olonne.
A Vendée port that he could reach in front of the others, even if he arrives… later. Six bonus hours (the equivalent of approximately 100 km of navigation) were awarded to him following his participation in the search for the castaway Kevin Escoffier, which had forced him to change his mind. This time mattress, which he shares with another leading competitor, Yannick Bestaven (10:15 a.m.), and, a little further, Jean Le Cam (4 p.m.), could prove to be decisive in the final count.