Boris Herrmann and Will Harris finished the Fastnet Race in 8th position in the twenty-strong IMOCA 60 fleet less than 90 minutes behind the winner Charal, following a very exciting and tactically highly demanding race. Malizia crossed the finish line in Plymouth as first German-flagged boat on Monday afternoon after 2 days 3 hours 12 minutes and 24 seconds at sea.

Strong duo: Boris Herrmann and Will Harris racing on board Malizia. Photo: Andreas Lindlahr.

The competitive level was high with many Vendée Globe veterans and world-class offshore sailors racing in the IMOCA 60 class this year. Boat speed, tactical positioning, routing as well as impeccable technical condition of all systems on board and the boat itself were the prerequisite to stay in the fleet’s leading pack.

In fact, Malizia sailed with the front pack throughout the race. So, the duo is not disappointed with their result, because all in all Malizia performed very well: “She had very fast moments, in ideal foiling conditions we were faster than Initiatives Coeur with her innovative set of foils. That’s very promising news. Good news for us was also seeing other Imocas of our generation sailing at the top end of the ranking like Maître Coq, which is almost a sister ship.

Malizia: A powerful racing yacht sailed by Boris and Will in the 48th edition of the Fastnet Race. Photo: Andreas Lindlahr.

Co-skipper Will Harris really enjoyed the experience competing in the 48th edition of the Fastnet with Boris on board Malizia: “We had pretty much all conditions – from being parked up to foiling at 30 knots boat speed. It was amazing, I can’t really ask for more. We started by leaving the Solent sailing at 20 knots. Then, we had a tricky transition in the night, where we opted to go far south. Following that transition, we blasted to the rock and back, basically, reaching at 30 knots across the Celtic Sea! I really enjoyed it and can’t thank Boris and Team Malizia enough for this opportunity and incredible experience.

Great start for Malizia off Cowes: Nice windward position as the Imoca fleet sails down the Solent. Photo: Yannick Kethers.
Very promising position: On the first morning of the race, Malizia was to the south of the rest of the fleet, waiting for the new SW wind.

After an excellent race start, Malizia sailed with a perfect Code 0 – full mainsail set up and headed for the southern side of the English Channel. Boris explains: “In the following morning, we had positioned ourselves in what to us looked like a strong position in the south. At the time of the first sunrise, we were south and west enough to reach over the entire fleet profiting from the upcoming and building south-westerly winds. However, to our amazement, Charal and most of the top fleet sailed with good speeds over night and into the first morning further north – the area where our Grib files had shown no wind. We will debrief this strategy with Pôle Finistère Course au Large training and our meteorological friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to the European weather model, so maybe that could explain the differences in the forecasts. We’ll see.

Malizia approaching the Fastnet Rock (see red triangle on the image) after the front had passed.

The crossing of the Celtic Sea to and back from the Fastnet Rock was quick and fairly straight-forward with no major tactical decisions to be made. The entrance back into the Channel promised to be very exciting again, though: “As we passed the Scillies some six hours before the finish, we were in sight of the entire podium except for Charal. So, a podium position was very well within reach. At that point however, in hope of being able to accelerate better with more of an apparent wind foiling mode, we choose the smaller C3 Gennaker instead of the A2 Spinnaker. Given that the wind was constantly stronger than 18 knots and the swell was pushing additionally, our choice seemed the right one, but just as we finished our manoeuvre, the wind decreased from 20 to 17 knots. In the end, this particular choice of sail along with the unexpected and for us unfavourable change in wind strength certainly costed us a lot. That was the main error of the otherwise clean race we sailed.” In the future this type of choice won’t have to be made due to a totally different sail inventory following these and other learnings.

Fast sailing in the Celtic Sea! Photo: Team Malizia.

Boris also pointed out the great performance shown by his Imoca competitors: “Banque Populaire did very well. Very impressive! It will be interesting to see if they can perform like this in the Transat Jacques Vabre later this year. I am also very happy with Jérémy Beyou and his Charal Sailing Team. They have worked very hard for over one year since the boat launch to get their first result with their new Imoca. I can only imagine how relived they all must be. This fairly long set up time of Charal underlines the complexity of these brand new Imoca racing yachts.

Thanks to the outstanding work of our shore team Stuart, Mike and Shane, Malizia had absolutely no technical issues during this tough Fastnet Race, where we pushed her to over 30 knots boat speed. All systems on board worked reliably. Solar and hydro generators generated all the electricity running the water makers, autopilots as well as our constantly working ocean laboratory collecting ocean CO2 and other sea surface data. The team have done an amazing job delivering a reliable Malizia on time after thousands of miles back and forth to Monaco and the Giraglia Race earlier this year.

Imoca 60 Malizia: Very fast and reliable thanks to the amazing job performed by the team’s shore crew. Photo: Yannick Kethers.

Quantum Sails have delivered a first set of three amazing new sails. And finally, Malizia carries a new message of which we are very proud of – Unite Behind the Science, Global Climate Action. We are proud to combine sailing, science and education wherever we sail to. Once more, Team Malizia was very happy to welcome school children on board in Cowes before the Fastnet start in the context of the Malizia Ocean Challenge education programme. The kid’s great interest in the boat, its systems, sailing and marine life is always so inspiring and fascinating. We are looking forward to welcome more school kids on board during our upcoming events.

Boris explaining the electronic navigation chart and instruments to school children in Cowes. Photo: Yannick Kethers.

All in all, Boris has a very positive feeling in view of Team Malizia’s boat and campaign: “The development and learning never stops with these boats. We have to be always on top of boat maintenance and reliability, especially now in view of the two upcoming transatlantic crossings. I am sure these trips will make us stronger. Every day on the water advances us. In theory, Team Malizia should be one of the teams having sailed the most miles at the Vendée Globe start next year and hopefully we will also start with of the most reliable boats. This has been our main focus since we got Malizia three years ago and this amazing journey begun. I would like to thank you – all our supporters and everyone who follows our adventures.

Malizia is ready for the upcoming transatlantic trips. Photo: Yannick Kethers

Yannick Kethers

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