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Route du Rhum: First major solo challenge for Malizia II- Yacht Club de Monaco

by Isabelle Andrieux 2 Nov 2018 23:24 PDT 4th November 2018
Malizia II- Yacht Club de Monaco - Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe © Yacht Club de Monaco

On Sunday 4th November, 123 boats in six categories line up for the start of the 40th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, a legendary solo transatlantic, held every four years.

Among them: 20 IMOCA 60s, including Boris Herrmann on his foiling mono-hull Malizia II-Yacht Club de Monaco, a team put together by YCM Vice-President Pierre Casiraghi. It is the first time the Monegasque Yacht Club has entered a boat for this prestigious race.

The start will be given at 2.00pm in front of Pointe du Grouin, with on the programme more than 3,500 nautical miles ahead of them from Saint-Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre.

Transatlantic sprint

With an estimated crossing time of just 11 days, there is a big chance the reference time set in 2014 by François Gabart on Macif (12d 4h 38mn 55s) could be beaten.

Since the last edition which featured nine IMOCAs the 60-foot mono-hull fleet has developed considerably and seen the appearance of foils on many boats. This carbon appendage has the effect of lifting the boat out of the water at speed, making it fly.

Of the 20 skippers in competition, ten will be on foiling boats including Malizia II (ex-Gitana XVI). It looks set to be a fiercely contested and exciting race for all those who have qualification for the next Vendée Globe in their sights.

Offshore dream

For Boris Herrmann this Route du Rhum is his first big solo challenge and above all an opportunity to measure up against the competition in his progress towards the Vendée Globe 2020. He will be the first ever German crossing an ocean in a single-handed regatta on a IMOCA Open 60.

"After the Transat Jacques Vabre with Thomas Ryan, then the Monaco Globe Series, still double-handed but with Pierre Casiraghi, this Route du Rhum is a very important race for me: my first solo event. I've done over 16,000nm this year to get to grips with Malizia II and the intensive course at Port la Forêt, given by Michel Desjoyeaux and other offshore specialists, with all that "Rockstar" discipline has been hugely beneficial. I have lots of offshore experience, including setting records, but much less sailing solo on this type of boat. So, I really wanted to test myself on this exercise, I see this transatlantic as a new adventure. Obviously, my dream is to finish on the podium but given the high level, I know this may not be realistic, so let's say I'm aiming to be in the top five."

A new boy but no novice!

At 37, Boris Herrmann has raced on all the world's oceans. He has competed in the Mini-Transat, won a double-hander round the world in the Class40, completed a Barcelona World Race, then another round the world on Francis Joyon's first attempt at the Trophée Jules-Verne. He has also crewed for Giovanni Soldini and it was on board Maserati that he met Pierre Casiraghi who was also part of the Multi 70's crew. The two sailors developed a strong friendship that led to the launch of the Malizia project.

Together they took line honours at the Palermo-Montecarlo in the TP52 class, led two campaigns on the GC32 Racing Tour circuit, finished 3rd in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 and established a reference time for the Monaco to Calvi (Corsica) crossing.

My Ocean Challenge: Inspiring and raising awareness

As a maritime ambassador for the country, Malizia II-Yacht Club de Monaco is on a quest to promote the Principality's commitments to the environment around a high-level sports project, as both represent values dear to HSH Prince Albert II. The three missions are to promote protection for the oceans, training for young people and scientific research when sailing.

With this project entitled Malizia: My Ocean Challenge, which is an integral part of the YCM sports policy and supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Pierre Casiraghi wants to reach out to children. "It is important to encourage young people to dream and think about different vocations, while raising their awareness of the environmental challenges facing our planet and oceans," explains Pierre Casiraghi.

"At the Monaco Globe Series last June when we invited the IMOCA class to Monaco for the first time, we launched an education programme for the Principality's schools and our young sailors. Inspiring the new generation with our sailing adventures, protecting the oceans and educating youngsters who will become future ambassadors are key objectives. Another is to contribute to science, by gathering data when Malizia II is out sailing. These are the project's three key missions."

Boris adds: "On the education front, we have produced a pack of learning materials that we present to children who we arrange to meet at every port of call, for example even here in Saint-Malo in the race village. For the science, we have installed a sensor that measures CO2, pressure, temperature and salinity levels that we transmit to the international data base, SOCAT, to which the science community world-wide has access. To achieve this goal, Malizia II signed a partnership with the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg and Geomar in Kiel in Germany."

Rendezvous Sunday, 4th November at 2.00pm for the start with a 10-15 knot southerly forecast before a weather front west of Brittany moves in. Competitors face rain and squally gusts up to 20-knots in the first few hours. They look set to hit the ground running!

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