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Malizia Passes The 90 Degree Self Righting Test


  • Malizia Passes The 90 Degree Self Righting Test

    In the fast-growing world of IMOCA sailing, there are all sorts of teams – French, international, large, small, well-funded and not so – but one that stands out right now is the group behind the charismatic German skipper Boris Herrmann.

    This outfit is one of up to five or six in the Class that is taking on the pioneering challenge of both The Ocean Race – starting from Alicante in Spain in January – and the next Vendee Globe, starting in November 2024.

    It’s a massive schedule and as a result the Malizia team has grown to meet it. Right now, it is one of the biggest IMOCA operations in Lorient with more than 45 people working together in the “IMOCA capital” as the team’s new boat – designed by VPLP – comes out of the shed for the first time.

    Malizia - Seaexplorer has a hectic plan of sailing ahead of it, with the Defi Azimut-Lorient Agglomeration followed by the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe, then a reverse transatlantic and then The Ocean Race. So there is a huge amount of work to do as the group commissions and prepares this boat for the challenges ahead.

    This is a team of many nationalities with 11 at the last count and most of them have come to Brittany to answer Herrmann’s call. That means they are not living at home. “We don’t do hotels and we are from all over the world,” explains Holly Cova, the British team director who formerly worked as a corporate finance lawyer.

    “It’s not like we are a French team where often everyone is based here,” she adds, “so we all live together. We have five team houses in Lorient and I live in a house with seven of us. And it is definitely a younger team than some – I’m 32 and Louis (Viat, the team manager in charge of the boat build and the team here) is 36, so it’s pretty different from some of the other team set-ups and vibes.”

    The other distinctive feature is the flat management style – Herrmann is still the skipper, but he is not in the mold of an old-fashioned boss. “Ultimately when it is solo racing, it is still his boat and his project, but he very much wants to see it as Team Malizia and not just him,” explained Cova. “He is not doing two legs of The Ocean Race for instance and Will (Harris, British ex-Figaro sailor) will be the skipper when he is not on board. When you are sailing, there always comes a point when one person has to take a decision and that’s still going to be Boris, but there is input from everyone else and he does not want to be this all-powerful skipper who excludes input from anyone else.”

    Dividing up responsibilities and goal-setting between the two major objectives is not how they are going about it. The new boat has been built to meet the needs of both races without significant alterations and the team is working on both campaigns at once. They see one challenge as leading onto, and preparing them, for the next one.

    “We see the two races as very complimentary to each other,”said Cova. “Of course one is solo and one is for a crew, but the opportunity to sail the boat as a team through the Southern Ocean in The Ocean Race, for example, is something new and exciting and will test the boat to the extreme before the Vend?e Globe. In my opinion, other skippers are missing a great opportunity by not doing it. They have the chance to do it and it is the perfect test-bed for the Vend?e Globe, if you only see it like that, not just for us but for our partners, with all the opportunities to activate at stopovers as well.”

    Herrmann’s team know it is up to them and their rivals taking on The Ocean Race for the first time to prove that it can be done and that it does not require unlimited expenditure to get a boat and a team supporting it around the seven-stage course. In fact, when it comes to the budget, they are thinking about how things used to be done in the early years of the fully-crewed round-the-world race.

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