He didn't have far to go. At home in Germany, an audience of millions cheered. Around 650,000 viewers tuned in to the NDR live television broadcast alone, which started a bit bumpy due to the multiple shifts in broadcast times. Everyone wanted to follow the German sailing star as he fought for a place on the podium at his premiere. Even victory still seemed possible. "That's why I've fought like a lion in the past few days," said Herrmann. But then, in the dark of night, there was a collision with a fishing trawler, and the podium dreams were broken. Luck in misfortune: Neither Herrmann nor the seafarers involved were harmed. Herrmann describes the course of events in a video that he sent off board a few hours after the incident, as follows:
"About half an hour ago I collided with a fishing trawler. A large fishing trawler. I was sleeping. Here in the cockpit. I woke up and looked at a huge wall. My sails on the starboard side were by its side. My gennaker was in caught in his cranes and other side structures. My outrigger slammed into the fishing trawler a couple of times. Fortunately, I was able to get past him and drive on. But that was a real shock.
The positions on Wednesday evening, shortly after the unfortunate collision of Boris Herrmann's "Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco" with a fishing trawler
Then I examined everything thoroughly. First the most important things: that no water penetrates. The foil is damaged. But not the foil box. The bowsprit has broken off. The pulpit is broken too, but it's still attached. Then I also had the broken flapping sail in the air. I got dressed first and put on my life belt. Then I went to the foredeck and made a plan to get the sail back on board. At first I thought of cutting it all away. But then I thought that I might be able to use the case and other things later. I lowered the windward rudder blade for maximum safety when steering. That was quite a job. Then I climbed the outrigger for inspection. The upper shroud has broken off, sheared off at the fitting. But the outrigger is still in place and I can set an emergency wish. The mast has two shrouds. The lower one is still there. I'm sailing on starboard tack so the rig looks fine. And seems safe for now as far as I can tell.
Now I'm in contact with the Shore team to come up with the best plan. I will probably reef my mainsail. It's still fully seated - to sail more safely. And I have a half-broken foil hanging in the water. It's broken pretty badly. And I'm pretty devastated. I feel sorry for everyone who supports us that this happened.
The goal is clear: Boris Herrmann wants to bring his boat across the finish line
This is surely the worst nightmare that has ever happened to me. On the plus side, it says we're still in the running and still have a mast. There are 85 nautical miles to the finish. I think we can do it. We're going to lose a lot of places, but that's almost secondary at the moment. What really moves me is why this happened. I had all the alarm systems on. There were many ships that afternoon. The radar alert warned me perfectly every time. The AIS alarm warned me. Oscar was on too. I was wearing everything. And I deliberately checked with each ship whether the alarm was working properly. I watched the echo on the radar. And that worked perfectly for all of the ships I came across. When I was back below deck after the incident, there was no alarm. How can the radar not see this ship? I have no idea. Sometimes the fishermen don't turn on their AIS. I am trying again to take a deep breath and solve this want problem and am happy that I can finish the race. It's pretty heartbreaking, but we'll make it through."
The "Seaexplorer - Yacht Club de Monaco" skipper tells what happened in the collision with the fishing trawler, what condition his boat is now in and when it is expected to arrive in Les Sables-d'Olonne
In a later message, Herrmann also gave moving insights into his thoughts and how he dealt with the painful setback at the end of a big race:
"I collided with a fishing boat at 7.30 pm. Nobody was injured. I can continue my race, but I am significantly slowed down. I am now doing six or seven knots. Tomorrow I will probably be around noon or early afternoon instead of how planned to finish shortly after midnight today. That means the podium and the placements are obviously gone. But I see it as a disaster. And the positive thing about the disaster is that I will still finish the Vendée Globe, that no one has been harmed and the damage to the ship is repairable. Still, it's a tough day for me. I have one laughing eye and one crying eye. The laughing one says' Be glad it didn't happen elsewhere, earlier in the race. Be glad that you can finish the race ', the crying eye of course sees the damage and the lost podium after 80 days of such hard work. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … Maybe I will never again get so close to such a podium? I've fought like a lion for the last few days. And today … well, well. I'm still looking forward to arriving. To see the people again. And to start my first day ashore this year tomorrow. Best regards from on board from a skippered skipper who is bent and a little sad."
A picture from better days: Boris Herrmann and his "Seaexplorer - Yacht-Club de Monaco"