© Ricardo Pinto | Team Malizia
Boris Herrmann: A master of the Ocean
A true master of the Ocean, Boris Herrmann, has circumnavigated the planet three times, set world records including the Golden Globe around America, Transpac, Cowes-Dinard, Cape-Rio and more! In 2020 he is set to race round the earth single-handedly in the Vendée Globe, making him the first German to compete in the race. More recently he completed a transatlantic crossing with Team Malizia and Greta Thunberg. We caught up with Boris about the crossing and the exciting plans he has for the future.
Tell us how the transatlantic crossing with Greta Thunberg came about?
We have been big fans of Greta, her message and her commitment to climate crisis action since the beginning and after seeing her speak at a march in Hamburg earlier this year we had thought how great it would be to have her onboard as we run a kids ocean education programme and a science programme on ocean CO2. Then when a friend saw that she was trying to get to America by a CO2 neutral sailing boat, I suggested it to Pierre Casiraghi, our team founder, and we knew we had to offer Malizia II as an option.
Can you talk to us about the sailing strategy for this crossing? Has this deviated from how you would normally tackle an Atlantic crossing?
We definitely went into the journey knowing this wasn’t a race and that it was more important to take the first few days easy and let our passengers acclimatise to the conditions. For anyone who has sailed on an IMOCA 60, they are relatively sparse in terms of luxury or comfort and so we didn’t want to add to this discomfort by sailing full speed. Therefore, we took a less windy route, but we still encountered significant wind and waves in the first few days. Luckily no one seems to suffer from seasickness, and they all found their sea legs impressively quickly!
What are some of the key pieces of advice you gave your crew ahead of departure?
We went through the usual information about sea sickness, facilities (or lack of facilities) on the boat, sleeping arrangements, test sailing was key as well as it gave everyone the chance to feel the boat and hear the noises it makes. We also went through a full safety briefing and how to deal with certain situations. The main thing though has been to be open and honest with each other and to ask questions and check in with how everyone is doing.
© Jen Edney | Team Malizia
Tell us a bit about the technology on the boat?
The boat is fitted with 1.3kw of Solbian Solar panels as well as two water turbines, which allowed us to fully power the boat for the entire journey, even with 5 people using electronic equipment and all the boat systems. This was amazing and a real testament to the panels we installed in March. The technology allowed us to sail Greta from Plymouth to New York completely emission-free.
How did the boat cope with all the extra passengers especially with the limited facilities?
To start with it was definitely interesting having 5 people onboard, I am used to sailing Malizia solo or with one other crew member so having 4 additional people took some getting used to. Mostly this is because of all the additional stuff on board but also you don’t have the same watch patterns you would have if you were sailing a crewed race. After the first few days though we all got into a routine and a pattern which has made having 5 people on the boat the norm now. We were all pretty relaxed and got on well so that definitely helped. It was also good training for The Ocean Race 2021 where the IMOCA will be sailed by a crew of 5, so getting into a rhythm of watch patterns will be key to a successful race.
|© Jen Edney | Team Malizia|
Your job allows you to be exposed to the environment more than the average person, how have you noticed the environment change over the years?
In the North East passage I could observe unheard of record ice minimums. Also in the southern ocean we had trouble with the warm summers letting more ice drifting north making our route longer. In the tropics there are problems with sea grass. During the route du rhum for example. Also I see less animals at sea.
Why is this particular crossing important to you?
It is of particular importance to me because I strongly believe in Greta, her message and her mission and to be able to help in this small way means a lot to me and the team.
Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?
One of my biggest goals has always been to compete in the Vendee Globe, which is a non-stop solo around the world race, (the current record being 74 days and 3 hours). With the next race just over a year away I can safely say this is going to be a very exciting challenge. On top of this our kids Ocean Challenge programme is something that I am most proud of and to make this project grow over the coming months particularly in light of this trip is something that I am really looking forward to.