On the 8th of November 2020, Boris Herrmann will be the first-ever German skipper to compete in the Vendée Globe. Now, 19 months prior to the start of the solo, non-stop round-the-world-race, preparation of yacht and skipper is well underway. Indeed, the upcoming sailing season promises to be important and very exciting.

Congratulations! Award ceremony in Hamburg, February 2019.

First and foremost, it has been a great start into the year for Boris: He has launched his new bilingual German-English book “NONSTOP: Süchtig nach Segeln / Driven by the Sea” (Delius-Klasing), he has won the prestigious German Offshore Award in Hamburg with his Imoca 60 Malizia2 being honoured as “best German offshore sailing yacht – season 2018”, following Boris’ excellent performance during the last Route du Rhum race (5th place class Imoca 60).

On top of that, his campaign Malizia Ocean Challenge has won the Ocean Tribute Award 2019 earlier this year at Düsseldorf boatshow in January.

So, the last weeks have been very exciting and successful for Boris and the entire Team Malizia! Perfect opportunity to ask Boris some questions about the current state of affairs, preparation for the Vendée Globe, as well as plans and sailing projects for this year.

Y.K.: You have recently published your new book “NONSTOP: Süchtig nach Segeln / Driven by the Sea”, which covers your outstanding career as a professional skipper – from the Mini Transat in 2001 until the current Imoca 60 campaign. What incited you to write this book?

First, I wanted to make a ‘coffee-table book’ as a Christmas present for our team members. However, during the talks with the publishing company, the project evolved. They preferred a book about my sailing journey with a more personal style.


Major yacht refit currently taking place in Lorient.

Y.K.: Thus, a book containing 12 chapters was born, covering your numerous sailing adventures and record-breaking trips across the world’s oceans, but also including your current Vendée Globe project on board Malizia 2 – your Imoca 60, which is currently in the boatyard at Lorient. What has been done on the boat over the winter months?

At the moment, Malizia 2 is undergoing a major refit operation. This means that the boat has been completely taken apart, every piece of equipment on board has been dismounted, checked and will be put back together during the final reassembly phase. The complex process takes 5000 man hours of work and happens every year.


Y.K.: Which technical optimisations and modifications have been realised or are planned for the near future, concretely?

We are currently installing a big solar generator as well as custom-made solar panels with ‘SOLBIAN’ in view of making Malizia 2 emission-free. Additionally, we have made some general improvements, including some changes to the bow sprit and other bigger jobs related to the Imoca 60 Measurement Certificate.

Y.K.: When will the boat be back in the water?

The plan is the 1st of April. Sea trials and training will start right away.

Y.K.: Tell us more about your sailing and racing programme, in particular, for the upcoming sailing season.

Strong team: Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi will sail a number of races together this year. Photo credit: Messmer.

Sailing all the races of the Imoca Globe Series World Championship, so first the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez-Brest – a 2000 nautical miles race and solo navigation training around the Azores in May – then the Rolex Fastnet Race and finally the Transat Jacques Vabre. We will also participate in the Rolex Giraglia Race and in the Trophée Azimut with crew. Pierre Casiraghi will be the co-skipper for the season. We will sail the Giraglia, Fastnet Race and Transat Jacques Vabre together.

In addition to these races, we will also be back and forward to Monaco, and do performance-oriented training with Pôle Finistère Course au Large.

Y.K.: What is your major focus this year?

All sailing on board Malizia 2, that is already set in final Vendée Globe configuration. So, all systems and details will be fully tested.

During our navigations, we will also conduct scientific research by measuring the CO₂ concentration in the ocean.

Y.K.: You have actually extended your Vendée Globe project to Malizia Ocean Challenge, which combines sailing, science and education. What is the idea behind this project?

What we are doing now came together quite naturally over the last 10 years. We had school classes following my previous sailing adventures, such as the Trophée Jules Verne or the Barcelona World Race. Now, we are systematically approaching schools and children to fascinate them about the ocean, marine animals and related topics.

A school class on board Malizia 2: First-hand experience for children, while learning more about the ocean and marine life.

From there, we also discuss the issue of climate change, the warming and acidification through CO₂ absorption and its impact on marine life, as well the ocean’s role in this context, which is in fact crucial: As the world’s biggest carbon sink, the ocean can mitigate climate change significantly. Scientists need as much data as possible about this.

Y.K.: That is also the point, where Team Malizia comes into play…

We participate actively in this research by measuring the ocean CO₂ on board Malizia 2 during all of our trips. In fact, we continue the great work that has started with the Volvo Ocean Race as we have the same sensor on the boat – a proven concept today, delivering high-quality data, which is actually highly relevant: Scientists wouldn’t have access to the data from our (remote) navigation areas by other means. Our main partner Monaco, being an important advocate for ocean- and climate protection, is a great coincidence and allows us to work closely together with the Monaco institutions.

The sail reads: #myoceanchallenge “What can you do for the ocean?” Boris sends out an important message with the Malizia Ocean Challenge combining sailing, science and education. Photo credit: Jean-Marie LIOT.

Y.K.: So, your campaign goes well beyond mere sailing…

People tell me “you have to be crazy to do this kind of sport and participate in adventures such as the Vendée Globe”. I think they are right – we sailors are definitely crazy. Crazy passionate about it all, too! But I think that’s not enough. We also have to be rational. I think, our campaigns do also have to relate to what is relevant to society today.

It will be a very exciting and intense sailing season for Boris and Team Malizia! Photo credit: Messmer.

The cover image showing Boris at the bow of Malizia 2 was taken by Yann RIOU.

Interview conducted by Holly Cova / Yannick Kethers. March 2019.

Guest post written by Yannick Kethers

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