Yacht Class n°34 (sept-oct-nov 2023)

A few days after the breathtaking finale of The Ocean Race in Genoa, Boris Herrmann, his team and Malizia – Seaexplorer were in the Principality, during the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge.

Written by Aurore Teodoro – Photos : Antoine Auriol/Team Malizia, Simone Spada / La Pressa, Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race.

After six months of racing around the world, Team Malizia finished third in The Ocean Race. A promising result in preparation for the Vendée Globe, which Boris Herrmann will be racing next year.

How would you sum up the last six months?

I am very satisfied with this adventure. We achieved a good result, but that wasn’t our only goal. Our aim was also to develop our scientific campaign, the educational project and to share the adventure with the public and our partners. This circumnavigation has been a test run for the design of your new Imoca.

What do you think?

She is a well-built boat, thanks to the experience of our previous Vendée Globe, where we all had difficulties. In strong winds and choppy seas, the boats would dig into the waves on leeward, making them unsafe. Malizia – Seaexplorer doesn’t do that, she’s much more manageable.

Is it because of the boat’s banana shape that you managed to catch up with your competitors on the leg between South Africa and Brazil, after suffering two major damages?

Exactly. What’s more, the boat is very solidly built. She is the only one to have finished all the legs. That gives me great satisfaction.

Does this confidence change your objectives for Vendée Globe 2024 ?

Yes, even if our goals were already ambitious before this race. I’m just slightly more confident now. We’re starting this campaign earlier than the last one, with a boat specifically designed for this competition. We should be in very good conditions to have a great Vendée Globe.

With victory in sight?

We can’t say: “we want to win the Vendée Globe”. That would be missing the whole point and devaluating this race, the world’s most difficult one. Today, fifteen new boats have been built, promising a great competition. A 15th place can be very good. Let’s see how the other crews perform and the sea conditions we will have. If, the Southern Ocean offers strong wind and waves as forecasted, and for a long time, I think we have a good chance to take the lead. I hope so, but it’s not a given.

The crew really gets along. How do you explain this ?

We looked for crew members who really wanted to commit to the Malizia project from start to finish, not just participate in The Ocean Race. This meant taking part in discussions about the design and construction of the boat, organising the team, but also living in Brittany, with the Team. People who would then stay on to prepare for the Vendée Globe and the other races, to be part of the Team’s development and growth.

Any feedback on the scientific data collected during the crossing?

Not yet. It will take years, as fluctuations in the oceans are slow and complex. Between the last Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race, CO2 levels are much higher. We must wait for the scientific results, but I’m curious about this difference. I hope it is not bad news.

Does any particular memory stand out from this race?

That’s a tough question. There were been so many emotions, impressions and encounters. Passing Cape Horn is the symbolic moment of a circumnavigation. For me, it’s the top of the mountain. Once past it, the temperatures rise, we take shelter behind South America and head for home. We passed it first and were able to see it during the day. This was not the case during the Vendée Globe, much to my disappointment. There’s also the fact that we managed to repair the mast on the third leg, come back and win the leg. I think that will be the key story of this race.

What comes next?

The most intensive one is the one we just finished. Before the Vendée Globe 2024, we will do four transatlantic races: the Transat Jacques Vabre, with Will Harris, and the Return to Base, plus a round trip to New York. I won’t do all four, as other crew members will also take the helm from time to time.

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