Vendée Globe: Background To The Collision Of The "Seaexplorer"

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Vendée Globe: Background To The Collision Of The "Seaexplorer"
Vendée Globe: Background To The Collision Of The "Seaexplorer"

Video: Vendée Globe: Background To The Collision Of The "Seaexplorer"

Video: Vendée Globe: Background To The Collision Of The "Seaexplorer"
Video: *UPDATED* FINISH / ARRIVEES-Vendee Globe 2021 Bestaven wins Hermann accident 2023, September

The incident was two days ago, and yesterday he was briefly pushed into the background due to the joy of fifth place at the Vendée Globe. In the meantime, however, the question whether Boris Herrmann acted negligently when he slept in a Spanish fishing vessel for the last 100 nautical miles to his destination is all the more in the so-called social media and in some daily newspapers.

Even the heated debate, which has been heated over and over again for decades, about the incompatibility of single-handed sailing with Paragraph 5 of the collision avoidance rules reignited. A lack of plausible explanations and an interview by the Süddeutsche Zeitung with the captain of the Spanish fishing vessel, who assured that he had not switched off his AIS, additionally fueled the discussion. Therefore, instead of further speculation, here are the facts - and a statement by the solo skipper that he gave at a press conference this afternoon.

1. The question of the consequences of the collision The fishing cutter is the "Hermanos Busto", a steel ship 29.35 meters long and 8 meters wide. It was in the middle of the Bay of Biscay and only made 1 to 2 knots of speed when the crew was hauling in the catch at the time of the accident

While Boris Herrmann's "Seaexplorer" lost the bowsprit on impact, suffered a crack in the hull on the starboard side, a broken foil and a torn upper shroud, the cutter apparently remained with slight damage. "I called the shipping company today and asked if everything was okay," says Herrmann. On the ship, a line fisherman, there were only a few chipped off paintwork on the ship's side. In fact, it seems impossible that an Imoc60 that weighs less than 8 tons should harm an all-weather offshore cutter that displaces 220 tons. "My insurance company will now clarify everything else," said Herrmann.

2. The question of guilt According to the international collision prevention rules, the man from Hamburg is unquestionably responsible for the incident. Fishing vessels in action have the right of way over recreational vessels because they are not able to maneuver when they take in the catch, as in the case of the "Hermanos Busto"

In the night from Wednesday to Thursday there was also poor visibility in the Biskaj. Because of a warm front, the humidity condensed into a fine mist. Boris Herrmann made it clear in the press conference that he could not blame the fishermen, that would forbid solidarity among seafarers. Their deck lighting and the hazy air would have restricted the fishermen's view to the immediate vicinity. There was no way they could have seen him in time with their naked eyes.

When asked, he revised his original assumption that the ship sailed without AIS. "I thought that was the most obvious explanation given the hectic situation," said the 39-year-old. During an initial research on MarineTraffic, his team came to the conclusion that the "Hermanos Busto" had not sent an AIS signal at the time.

However, the captain of the cutter contradicted this in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung": "Our AIS was switched on. At all times. I guarantee that. Firstly, we are obliged to do so, secondly, it is very easy to check because: It is recorded automatically."

3. The question of technology Boris Herrmann's "Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco" has two more collision avoidance systems on board: a broadband radar and the new Oscar detection system, which searches the sea surface in advance using video and infrared cameras

In his first statements on the collision, the skipper had stated that they had not given the alarm either. He had previously had a dozen ship encounters during the night and always checked whether his radar was working correctly. That was the case, which is why he was sure to be able to go to sleep again. Oscar, on the other hand, no longer worked reliably: "The optics must have been cloudy."

At least the radar was available to him. And his AIS also showed ships in the area; only the transmission function had already failed in the southern sea. So if the statement of the cutter captain is correct that the AIS of the "Hermanos Busto" was active, Boris Herrmann should have been alerted twice about the impending collision.

He himself stated that he did not remember a beep. He only noticed the accident when, standing in the cockpit, he saw a steel side wall above him. A blackout?

According to what we know so far, this is the most plausible explanation. Exhausted from three months of solo sailing in mostly very hard weather, exhausted after crossing the heavily trafficked Cap Finisterre the night before, it is quite possible that the alarms raised him too late, especially since he was traveling at high speed, around 17 Knot just before impact.

It was a similar experience for Alex Thomson with the Route du Rhum three years ago, when he confidently in the lead did not hear his alarm clock and crashed onto the cliffs of Guadeloupe.

4. The fundamental question Is the case proof of the general irresponsibility of single-handed sailing? Did Boris Herrmann act negligently or even grossly negligently when he went to sleep

There is no question about it. Paragraph 5 of the KVR, already mentioned at the beginning, is often quoted: "Every vehicle has to keep a proper lookout at all times by seeing and hearing as well as by any other available means that corresponds to the given circumstances and conditions, which gives a complete overview of the situation and the Possibility of a collision risk."

Strictly speaking, an Imoc60 is hardly compatible with this rule. Because the speeds are very high, the view ahead is extremely limited by spray and overflowing water. The plexiglass panes in the deckhouse fog up easily, the glare from the instruments is relatively high. You can actually only steer these boats by instruments at night. And they are extremely demanding physically, all the more when the skipper has 79 days in the sea legs.

Nevertheless, technology has brought immense progress. The latest generation of radars is simply amazing, AIS is a de facto standard, and Oscar is also a very promising innovation. Anyone who is not familiar with these innovations can use yesterday's stand to discuss.

There is simply no lack of assistance systems, just as there is no lack of safety awareness of the class or the skipper. To declare this form of sailing irresponsible would be like banning climbing in the high alpine area because of the risks. Even cycling in the city center could easily be questioned with reference to the latent risk of accidents.

5. The question of liability The insurers have long since ticked off the issue for the reasons mentioned above. Leisure sailors who go on a single-handed trip do not have to worry about the liability of their insurance company if they go to sleep briefly at night after they have previously examined the situation

This is all the more true for Imoc60's policies. In any case, these are specially calculated for the purpose of the boats - and are correspondingly expensive. It is therefore pointless to re-engage in a debate that once brought Wilfried Erdmann to recognition of the exceptional achievement on his first circumnavigation of the world.

Single-handed sailing is intense, exhausting, demanding - but at least not grossly negligent per se in the case law and in the insurance industry.