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Boris Herrmann takes second place in New York Vendée – Les Sables d’Olonne transatlantic

Yacht Racing Podcast

Germany’s top ocean racer Boris Herrmann secured second place on the 3200 nautical miles New York Vendée – Les Sables d’Olonne solo race across the North Atlantic when he crossed the finish line at 04:52 hrs (French time).

FIRST REACTION

“Congratulations to Charlie! I’ve been lucky to sail a lot downwind and have had a great northern experience. I’m very happy to arrive this Sunday afternoon with the sun shining, to see everyone in the channel. It’s magnificent! Thank you to everyone for being here, for being in Les Sables d’Olonne!”

HERRMANN’S RACE

On the last big ocean race before this winter’s Vendée Globe, the skipper of Malizia SeaExplorer establishes himself as one of the podium favourites for the legendary non stop race round the world race by today adding a successive second position to the one he took on the westwards solo race from Lorient to New York earlier last month. Arriving in the USA he finished only 2 hrs and 19 minutes adrift, remaining a threat to winner Yoann Richomme until the final miles of the race.

Herrmann and winner Charlie Dalin, who finished last night at 1144hrs local time, were the only two skippers to break out of a low pressure trough one week ago, a tactical escape which allowed them to build a big lead on their pursuers.

Bidding for victory the German skipper took a very challenging northerly route which required him to fight through very light winds for many hours in order to get to fast downwind conditions on the NE and E side of a high pressure system. His audacious choice, yielding speeds between 20 and 25kts at times showed promise even until yesterday, winner Dalin admitting to having last minute concerns even at 24 hours from the finish line.

With an ocean racing career stretching back to a first Mini Transat in 2001, then including The Transat in Class 40 in 2008, the same westwards race he has just completed, Herrman has now made three IMOCA podium finishes in two years after co-skippering his Malizia team to third place on the crewed The Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race during which they won historic event’s longest ever, most difficult Southern Ocean stage from Cape Town to Itajai, Brazil.

Celebrating his 43rd birthday on the eve of the start from New York, Herrmann was in the match from the get go, always electing to be in the northernmost group. The first few days of the race were especially challenging as the winds were very unstable as the combined effects of the east flowing Gulf Stream current and its heat, the moving weather front and mixed up weather systems.

But Herrmann retained his customary analytical inner calm and put his trust in his routing and – after many hours of study – combined with a measure of intuition – to head north around and across the huge anticyclone which was dominating the North Atlantic, playing to the strengths of his VPLP designed IMOCA which is orientated most towards the strong winds and big seas of the Big South where he considers the Vendée Globe can be won.

Arriving into the French home of the Vendée Globe against a backdrop of the final day of European elections might be considered significant considering Herrmann international outlook. As comfortable speaking French, English and Spanish as his native tongue, he Is at the spearhead of the drive to make solo and short handed ocean racing more international and is a passionate, driven environmental campaigner with his program A Race We Must Win – Climate Action Now operating on multiple different fronts.

And while he has come to enjoy most of solo ocean racing’s challenges, he cherishes company, admitting to have grown to love his experience racing round the world with his Malizia crew but equally racing double handed. His fifth place on the last Vendée Globe was as much the result of his ingrained consummate seamanship – striving to deliver high daily averages, playing the long ultra marathon game rather than ‘crash and burn’ – after learning so much from record passages with luminaries Giovanni Soldini of Italy and Frances Joyon with whom Herrmann sailed two Jules Verne attempts, missing the record by two days in 2012.

HERRMANN’S RACE IN FIGURES

Finish time: 14:52:32 (UTC)
Race time: 10d 20h 52min 32s
Distance covered: 3 169.88 nautical miles
Average speed (on the great circle route): 12.15 knots

Main image © Jean-Louis Carli

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