I must admit that this text was boosted by the latest announcement of the “European Yacht of the Year”-committee this week in which the Boreal 47.2 won the category “Blue Water Cruising Yachts”. I was a bit shocked as I checked my records and realized that it was back in mid-2018 when I communicated with the yard in Minihy-Treguier in the midst of French Normandy for a visit. I´ve never managed to take the route there and so never – up until now – managed to write about these marvellous aluminium boats.
Well. Here we are: Congrats to the yard for this award, that is by the way the second of this kind for Boreal as their fantastic Boreal 52 was awarded this way in 2016. Taking this good mood and my sincere felicitations as motivation to re-focus on Boreal as a brand, I wandered through YouTube to acquire some more information on these boats. And here I found something far better than a sea trial done by a yachting magazine or a dealer: real sailors doing the real thing with their boats: Welcome to the YouTube channel of SIR ERNST!
Meet the Crew of SIR ERNST
In this you might have noticed that this article will not be in the manner of the other sailing movie-reviews in this category as this is simply not one sailing movie but a YouTube channel filled with no less than 105 movies of three to 15 minutes of duration. But let´s start at the beginning so that you might understand why I am so excited about SIR ERNST and her crew. The boat has been bought by 4 friends in the year 2016: Hervé, Jean Michel, Jean Louis and Georges.
This four-man combo knew each other from numerous sailing adventures, nearly 40 years of friendship and their common love for sailing and indulging themselves in the maritime classic literature such as Bernard Moitessier, Joshua Slocum or Le Toumelin as they write on their own website. Some day they decided to acquire a boat together. Not a usual suspect, a production boat of plastic, but a “real ship” built in aluminium alloy – because what they had in mind from the beginning on would best be done by a boat as rugged and capable as the demanding areas these guys had in mind.
By watching their videos you get a pretty clear picture of these guys: Pure French, accompanied from time to time by their partners, wives and friends. Pure and unvarnished, always friendly and well-mannered but never appearing to play a role, making something up for the camera. In this, it´s intimate, you feel welcome, part of the crew. That is one big attractive fact when watching SIR ERNST´s videos, you feel like almost being there yourself. It is believable and normal. On the other hand: It is absolutely breathtaking what these “ordinary” guys are pulling off with their boat … absolutely stunning!
This is what these boats are made for!
I know a lot of people who are in possession of sailing yachts which they never use the way they have been conceived. Winds over 4? I´ll pass and stay in the harbour. Well, I won´t judge it since everybody shall do what makes him happy. Regarding SIR ERNST and her crew, these guys – all well in their 50ies and 60ies – are sailing their boat exactly what it was built for in the first place: Their maiden voyage wasn´t just a dash out and a quick one-week summer sailing cruise, these guys rounded Ireland!
A boat like the Boreal is a thoroughbred go-anywhere yacht: Rugged aluminium hard chined hull, centerboard variable draft, old-fashioned rigging (with granny bars), anchor-locker midship, isolated against the cold of the high lattitudes … it´s an explorer. And a boat like this is built to go where a normal sailing yacht would not persist: I lost myself in admiration for their adventures in Antarctica. Absolutely breathtaking even with the first out of ten films on that trip when they left Ushuaia, leaving the Horn behind and sailing in up to 50 knots of wind! Look at the motion of the boat – so smooth, so superior. Look at their faces: Happy, alive!
It´s these small YouTube films which show what a yacht like the Boreal is capable of. In the outside the seas come crashing down on the boat whilst the officer of the watch is sitting dry in the fantastic doghouse, enjoying a stunning 360 degree view all around the boat, monitoring the seakind movements of the boat that is ploughing the stormy seas like it´s nothing. The “worst” I ever experienced have been 39.6 knots of winds – I cannot even remotely comprehend what 50 knots true feel like. And here they are: Absolutely safe, joking and smiling. Someone is preparing a tasty meal … stunning!
The Boreal 47.2 might have won an award – and rightly so! But it´s these amazing stories which are the best advertising for a product like this boat. These four guys are living a sailor´s life most of us can only dream of. They made their longing for adventures come true in buying a boat together and setting sail. SIR ERNST travelled to the Antarctic, crossed the Pacific, the Atlantic and sailed where ever their skippers wanted to go. Isn´t that far more interesting that watching a paid-by blogger with his bikini-girlfriend(s) on a broad reach?
Antarctic voyages of SIR ERNST: A true YouTube-gem!
SIR ERNST´s YouTube channel and their videos are far from being perfect: Camera is shaky, their drone footage is rocky and the sound not very balanced. But the more I watched their videos the more I realized that this is not what counts. Even the underexposed, shaking scenes, the drone that abruptly stops from time to time and the overmodulated sound is more than enough to convey the breathtaking scenery these guys sail into.
It is absolutely amazing to see SIR ERNST traversing an almost frozen Antarctic bay. My heart was jumping in excitement when I watched how they tied up their yacht alongside a rusty, rotten half-sunken freighter. What richness in different shades of the waters they show us: From a fresh apple green in a bay off Southern Georgia to a deep Aquamarine blue when they are sailing past enormous icebergs. This is not staged. This is not a well-calculated script pulled off to satisfy the sponsors on Patreon. This is reality. This is real passion for exploration. This is arguably the best YouTube sailing channel I´ve discovered in years!
But SIR ERNST is not just about beautiful scenery and four guys living their dream on a dream boat. There´s more to it. It´s the details in the films. Since it´s all in French, no subtitles and no translation, you just have to watch and maybe try to comprehend what you see. Sometimes words sound familiar and together with what you see a meaning will form in your head. So, without this certain “distraction” of a narrator you actually understand, I had time to even more closely try to decipher what I was seeing. In this, I learned a lot.
For example how to anchor a yacht bow-to on an ice berg during a +50 knot storm. Absolutely stunning! Or how the skipper was preparing his charts for negotiating tricky channels in unknown areas. It´s these details, kind of free educational video, which make these videos extra valuable and interesting for anyone keen on acquiring sailing skills and knowledge. You bet, when I collected the stills for this article taken from their videos, I ended up with some 35 screenshots – because literally every single minute of SIR ERNST´s videos is worth a pause and admiration.
Accompany the crew of SIR ERNST
In preparation for this text I of course contacted the crew of SIR ERNST. Since they are underway with their Boreal even now – their last entry is from January 22nd off Corsica in the Mediterranean – they haveb´t answered yet. I hope that I can catch up with them in the coming weeks and deliver an interview with Hervé, Jean Michel, Jean Louis and Georges. Until then I hope I have their blessing posting these pictures and my praise for their channel, much more for their amazing voyages on SIR ERNST.
If you like to witness with your own eyes what I mean, please check out their channel and don´t bother to start right at video number one, eat your way through all 104 following video clips to celebrate real sailing on a real boat with real sailors. For me, these four men are the role model and example what people can achieve when thy work together, combine their strengths (and money) to set off for living their dreams. Hats off to the sympathetic crew of SIR ERNST!
Now, with finishing of this new article, I switch to Vendeé Globe TV where in the next few hours on the other end of the spectrum of sailing fascination another amazing race is going to end. But not without writing an email to the Boreal yard in the Normandy, renewing my appointment for a thorough yard visit once travel won´t be restricted anymore. Congrats for the EYOTY-award, but even more, congrats for having such great clients like the brave crew of the wonderful SIR ERNST.
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