A story

Sails and wide open spaces

At the beginning

Philippe Schiller was born on Sunday, March 20, 1966 in Geneva. His astrological sign is Pisces and in Chinese astrology, the Fire Horse. The stars have warned: his life will be made of water, conquests and large spaces.

His childhood flows happily, as active on the shores of Lake Geneva as in the neighbouring mountains. His father, a business owner in Geneva, is passionate about motorsport. Racing driver, he runs the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and Formula 1 circuits as a Porsche factory driver. He won the title of European champion of the mountain race. In this sporting and entrepreneurial environment, Philippe

Birth of a vocation

During a week in snowy mountains, Pierre Feldman’s film, Golden Disc, is screened; the young schoolboy is captivated by the images and the incredible story of the Whitbread Round World Race. There started his fascination for sailing. At twelve years old he enters the Nautical Club of Versoix,. A few weeks later, the passion is definitely anchored at the sailing school Rudevent, based on the island of Arz in the Gulf of Morbihan. Ten years later, he will be a crewmember on board the Whitbread for a memorable race around the world.

The strong feelings of freedom and communion with the elements that he experiences are a real revelation that will nourish him all his life. Quite naturally he becomes a student of sport sailing at Calvin College where he discovers the competition exhilarating subtleties.

From the Tour de France to Sailing at the 5o5 World Championships

In 1981, he is an invested young racer and assiduous to training. He first sails in Yngling on this 6.35m keelboat and makes his first true high-level experience. He meets the sailing elite at the Horn European Championships in Holland and at the World race in Geneva.

With his athletic stature, Philippe is looking for a more acrobatic boat and naturally turns to the king of the dinghies: the 5o5. With his team-mate, Thomas Jundt, he participates in European circuits and world championships.

Dominique Habegger, his teammate in Yngling, engaged on the Sailing Tour de France with “City of Geneva”, selects Philippe and Thomas. Philippe will join the position of navigator on “City of Geneva”. These fresh water sailors will sometimes give the French sailors a hard time and win a magnificent second place, with Dominique Wavre in 1982. These childhood friends teammates will make together no less than seven Tours de France until 1988.

Australia, offshore race and a first title

Thanks to the 5o5 world championships, he discovers Australia. On this continent of great sailors, he is passionate about offshore racing where he finds the high mountains requirements and the solidarity of the rope. He participates in many ocean races with crews of all nationalities and wins the Round Australian, a 6,500 miles offshore race.

He engages with an Australian crew on the Auckland-Fukuoka transpacific. Following a rupture of saffron, they abandon in the Solomon Islands.


To replace their New-Zealand skipper, A Japanese crew, then recruits Philippe for the last leg of the crossing. Philippe takes advantage of his navigation experience gained in the difficult currents and rocky Brittany laps of the seven “Tours de France”. A few days before the finish line, across a multitude of small Japanese islands, he performs a bold exercise of “shaving-pebbles” and goes back to 4th place.

At the end of the same 1988, he enters the famous Sydney Hobart on Otela, a New Zealand boat. The crew must give up after a crew member has been seriously injured. During this year, many miles were travelled and for the first time with international crews.

1988 The year of all dangers

If 1988, was rich in sports experiences, it was also of perilous experiments. In February, Philippe participates in the Trans Tasman Race on Adélie, a sloop of 12 meters. In the middle of the race, a wind blow degenerates into a cyclone and devastates the coasts of New Zealand. When the cyclone catches up with the fleet, the sporting adventure suddenly turns into a nightmare. In the first 24 hours, the death of two competitors is announced on the airwaves. Distress calls are increasing and many boats get lost and abandoned. On Adélie, the crew roughly manhandled survival to an apocalyptic sea. Terrifying wind bursts and monstrous breakers constantly set the boat horizontally for three days and nights. Exhausted, the crew managed to finish the race safe and sound.


A month later, Philippe is back in the Tasman Sea. He escorts D-Flawless, a large sport catamaran back from the Trans Tasman Race. At the end of the evening, a huge whale suddenly hits the boat and literally tears off a part of the hull. After vain efforts, on March 19, the boat sank at two o’clock in the morning in daunting conditions. The full crew takes refuge in extremis in the lifeboat. First considered lost, the crew was finally spotted, 24 hours later, by the coastguard and sheltered after an extreme turbulent hoist.

Sailing photography: first consecration

It was during this race that Philippe revealed again his other talent: photography.
To make his shots, he does not hesitate to brave the spray and climb up the mast or the end of the pole. It reveals to the general public the hitherto unknown world of ocean racing, delivering lively images full of emotion.

While racing, Merit is hijacked to rescue Martela’s crew who capsized off Cape Horn. Arrived on the spot, the crew took refuge on the hull of the returned ship. He immortalizes the event with several photos that will turn around the world. One of them will be on the front page of New York Time. His pictures receive many international awards.

18 feet Australian: the experience of speed

After a tour of Europe on Defender in 1990, he quickly returns to the southern hemisphere, his new land of adventure. If these years in Australia are marked by the experience of the open sea, they are also by the discovery of one of the most extreme light dinghies: the 18 ‘Australian. This incredible boat, with gigantic sails, endowed with excessive scales, demanding and on fire, allows outstanding surfs for the time.


Philippe acquired the “Half Way To Heaven” and entered the Grand Prix circuit of the 18 ‘Australians. Philippe Schiller won the World Cup in Sydney in 1993, defeating the best sailors in the southern hemisphere on their own playground. It was a premonitory victory because ten years later, it is Swiss that will conquer America’s Cup in the southern hemisphere.


The 18’ long surf’s quick acceleration, exhilarating speeds and the finer sensations it demands, will decide on a sporting orientation that is resolutely centred on performance and regatta on contact. From there, will be born a passion for this approach of the sail, which will remain intact until today.

Whitbread 1994: second participation

In 1994, The Whitbread Race makes a stop in Perth. Philippe meets Eugene Platon on the pontoons, the skipper of Hetman Sahaidachny. The southern seas allow heavier crews, the Ukrainian skipper wishes to take this step to embark a rider already connoisseur of the requirements of the South Seas. He is looking for an experienced helmsman. The energy shines between the two men. Philippe embarks in the wake and brings his knowledge of the rhythms of the southern navigations.


On board the WOR60 Ukrainian, the atmosphere is excellent, very warm and free of any internal competition. Ukrainians have just open the doors of the Eastern countries, they are the first to discover the West ???. They want to discover new approaches and cultures inaccessible until then. Their openness and curiosity are boundless. Philippe is the only foreigner in the middle of this crew composed exclusively of Ukrainians, some of them do not speak English. The sudden immersion in this crew, where he knows no one, will remain an unforgettable human experience.


On board, we are far from the rigor of Anglo-Saxon crews and the crew was not “cutting his toothbrush” (fooling around). On the contrary, in the middle of the square sways an Ukrainian ham, Philippe, accustomed to the hunt for weight, will ask himself every day why did we embark the bone of the ham. Funnier, an open secret runs aboard: there would be a bottle of homemade vodka on board. The mysterious drink, because of its degree of alcohol, finally proved easier to find than to drink. The unprecedented cohesion of the crew was certainly due to the fact that they were all former volunteers at the time of the Chernobyl disaster. The Ukrainian state had financed their sailing project as a reward for their good and loyal services.


At the end of the South Seas, Philippe’s mission is over and he leaves the crew full of memories. The Ukrainian boat will finish its adventure by winning a magnificent tenth place.

Come back to the country

In 1995, Philippe is back in Switzerland. He experiences the joy of finding his roots, his culture, his landmarks, and of course his relatives. Then begin years of personal achievements: he gets married, founds a family, settles in Cologny and develops a new professional activity as a photographer for businesses and architecture.

On the pontoons of the “Geneva Nautical Society” he meets Ernesto Bertarelli who develops Alinghi and becomes the official photographer of the Merck-Serono group.

America's Cup: the Alinghi adventure

Far from the great swells and furious winds of the South Seas, he finds the calm Olympian Lake Geneva and its sailing subtleties. With its 18 ‘, he makes a sensation on the shores of the Lake still unaccustomed to this unconventional boat silhouette.


He won the very coveted Bol d’Or in 1995, touring European sailing circuits and is, among other things, a sailor on the Alinghi One Design.


He is developing in parallel his own 18 ‘Australian: Halfway to heaven. On board, he runs races of the 18 ‘circuit and the main Leman races.


He becomes the official photographer of the Alinghi team and follows the crew around the world in his campaigns for the America’s Cup.

Photography: towards an asserted style

During these years, he professionalizes a little more his activity as a photographer. In addition to Alinghi, he becomes the official photographer of other crews. He explores new styles: abstract, architecture, lifestyle, and portrait, translating intense emotions and giving these photos an original character as well as playing effects of matter and reliefs, Philippe is affirming a more artistic character. He works for the largest Swiss companies in the pharmaceutical, banking and watchmaking industries. He delivers photos of architecture or lifestyle and portraits of great leaders.

He’s published in various collective works.

Pi28: design and flight of the first large foil monohull

In addition to these tests, the Geneva skipper co-founds the Pi 28 project in 2009.
The objective is to fly a large monohull with foils. The project was particularly ambitious and pioneering. Indeed, the technologies developed then were still in their infancy: only ultra-light moth foils, sailing dinghies weighing 32 kg, managed this feat. This technological adventure led him to design and realize a new prototype, with engineer Hugues de Turckheim and naval architect Sebastien Schmit.

This monohull implements innovations at the forefront of current developments.

It sails above the water, thanks to an innovative carrier foil structure. Last but not least, it is propelled by a thick profile sail; a new concept that will later be patented. After two years of research funding, design and testing, the boat is launched in March 2011 and participates in three editions of the Bol d’Or in the category “prototype”.

Embedded Tactician


During these years devoted to the design of several prototypes, Philippe participates in many races and regattas, most often as a tactician. He made his first experiences of classics at the Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the regattas of Cannes, the Vele d’Epoca Imperia and the Panarai Trophy as tactician Elsinor 8M J, a Holm plan of 1930 and Mariska 15M J, a Fife plan of 1912.

7 Foil Moth World Championships

From 2011, the international sailing world saw a great revolution with the introduction of foils on the future AC72 of America’s cup. In this wake, he acquires a first foil Moth and engages in the racing circuit.

He runs his first world championships at Lake Macquarie in Australia.

In 8 years, he competes at 7 Moth World Championships and at most circuit races in Europe.

2018, first title in Moth

In August 2018, Philippe wins his first title in Moth and is crowned 2018 Swiss Champion. He closed the season with a magnificent 4th place at the Martinique Flying Regatta.


Currently, he is preparing the 2019 season and is training in the bay of Palma de Mallorca or on Lake Geneva.


He is also involved with designer Tristan Trajanau in the development of a new Moth prototype, the “Humingbird H-13 design”.


In addition to being a sailor, he continues to work as a professional photographer for international companies, mainly Swiss. He has always been a follower of the high mountains, and he participates each year with two former Whitbread teammates, Vincent Gillioz and Christophe Berthoud, at the famous glacier patrol (100 km, 4000 m altitude difference, covered in about 16 hours).