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Team Malizia's IMOCA race yacht is back in the water with a new set of foils

by Team Malizia 26 Mar 23:22 PDT
Malizia - Seaexplorer is back in the water with a new set of foils and ready for the 2024 solo racing season © Marie Lefloch / Team Malizia

Spring has made its way to Lorient. The first flowers are blooming and the IMOCA racing boats are, just like the blossoms, gradually appearing, emerging one by one from their sheds after three months of winter refit. Yesterday, Team Malizia launched their Malizia - Seaexplorer and now she is back in her usual spot at La Base harbour. With a few adjustments and a new pair of foils, both the boat and team are ready to start the first training sessions and solo races of the year.

"The two main projects of this winter refit were the new foils and ergonomics", explains Boris Herrmann, skipper of Team Malizia. "Our boat is performing really well downwind, so our aim is to be able to go faster upwind. We launched our Malizia - Seaexplorer yesterday, did a 90 degrees test early this morning, and installed the new foils this afternoon, so we will be able to test them this week already, along with other changes we made which is very exciting."

Rebecca Sainson, engineer in the Malizia design office, explains: "We built a new pair of foils designed by Sam Manuard, based on our previous ones to improve performance and hydrodynamics. While Sam also designed the V2 foils, they were not originally intended for our boat. Just before the start of The Ocean Race, we discovered that our V1 foils were damaged, jeopardising our participation in the round-the-world race. So, we had to quickly find new ones. After intense effort and a stroke of luck, we managed to find a pair that could fit our boat, although we had to adjust the foil bearings."

As Team Malizia raced around the globe in various races, the V2 foils proved to be quite efficient but were not an ideal fit, partly because they could not be fully retracted. "The shape of the V3 foils has been redesigned to prevent dragging in the water when in the retracted position, and we also refined the profile", comments Rebecca Sainson. "These new foils should make a significant improvement in how the boat performs and we are looking forward to testing them in the coming weeks."

Technical and operational director Pifou Dargnies adds: "We also worked on ergonomics. IMOCA boats are known for their very limited comfort, so we try to improve things and provide Boris with optimal sleeping, eating, working, manoeuvring, and other essential functionalities onboard."

"We created a new rear bunk system", details Rebecca Sainson. "The previous one was quite uncomfortable, it was fixed on the carbon and very stiff. So we lowered the bunk, implemented a new suspension system which absorbs the shock of the waves a bit better. There is only one bunk in the aft cabin, on starboard, but it can be tilted sideways in both directions depending on the side the boat is sailing on." The tech team also made small improvements to the kitchen which is located on the portside.

The engineer adds: "A big improvement in ergonomics is the cockpit seat. We had installed a cockpit seat after the last summer refit but it was not conclusive. Its position was not optimal, too close to the winches, and a bit in the way of everything. So during this refit, we built a new seat, slightly inspired by the one of Paprec Arkéa but completely readjusted to our boat's cockpit. The new seat is now placed on the cockpit wall and is tackable to the other wall. It also has suspensions, a bit like shock absorbers on a bike. We shortened the cockpit bunks a little to make room for the seat, and Boris can now sit comfortably and be optimally placed to see all his screens, hold the sheet, use the autopilot, etc."

During the winter refit, the technical team checked the entire hull, reinforced the structure a little and worked on the energy and power aspects. "It will be crucial to have a reliable power system during the Vendée Globe", notes Pifou Dargnies. "We have solar panels, two hydrogenerators, and we have now installed a wind generator at the back of the boat to achieve even greater efficiency. Testing various energy sources that complement each other is crucial, especially as IMOCA class rules will gradually evolve towards requiring renewable energy sources exclusively." Pifou Dargnies concludes: "As for sails, we are using our mainsail from The Ocean Race until we get a new one for the Vendée Globe. And for those who are wondering, we repaired the one that ripped seconds after the finish line of the Retour à La Base which is now our spare mainsail."

With Malizia - Seaexplorer relaunched, the team will start test sails and training sessions in Brittany waters right away. Skipper Boris Herrmann will participate in Pôle Finistère training sessions in April and will be on the start line of the Transat CIC solo race from Lorient to New York, USA, on 28 April. A month later, he will race back across the Atlantic from New York to Les Sables d'Olonne, France, in the New York Vendée race. The boat will then undergo one final refit in the summer before the Défi Azimut in September and the start of Boris Herrmann's second Vendée Globe, the iconic, solo, non-stop, round-the-world race which will begin on 10 November 2024.

Team Malizia's A Race We Must Win - Climate Action Now! mission is only possible due to the strong and long-lasting commitment from its seven main partners: Schütz, the Yacht Club de Monaco, EFG International, Zurich Group Germany, Kuehne+Nagel, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, and Hapag-Lloyd. These partners band behind Team Malizia to support its campaign, each of them working towards projects in their own field to innovate around climate solutions.

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