© Antoine Auriol / Team Malizia

© Antoine Auriol / Team Malizia

A last minute scramble for new foils has Team Malizia flying high


10/01/2023 - 08:20

After a fraught build-up to the start of The Ocean Race, Boris Herrmann couldn’t have asked for a better way to open Team Malizia’s campaign.

The German flagged boat was first across the finishing line to claim victory in an incredibly exciting and unpredictable In-Port Race on Sunday which at some point saw four of the five IMOCAs take the lead.

The German skipper is quite open about the fact that Malizia capitalised on some good fortune towards the end of lap one. Lying in fourth place, the breeze started to drop for the boats ahead while a shift to the left opened the door for the Germans as well as 11th Hour Racing Team back in last place at the time.

“We got this particularly lucky moment when the wind shifted and we were able to catch it, and then we kept that through to the end of the race,” smiled Herrmann modestly soon after stepping ashore to a jubilant reception on the dock.

But he also felt the team deserved a turn of fortune. “We weren’t so lucky when we had damage to our old foils a few days ago. That was some really bad luck, a real downer before coming here. I think the whole team deserves today’s win after what they’ve been through, a little bit of a lift for the spirit.”

Sam Davies, who was the expert commentator on TV alongside Niall Myant-Best for the In-Port Race, has lent her foils to Malizia who otherwise would have struggled to join the start of The Ocean Race. It’s a generous loan from the British IMOCA sailor, particularly so because Davies will be competing against Malizia and her own foils when she sails aboard Biotherm with skipper Paul Meilhat.

Foils are designed in conjunction with the hull and the whole boat package. Borrowing somebody else’s foil set might be better than no foils at all, but most designers would say it’s definitely a compromise.

Or is it?

Herrmann is beginning to wonder if this ‘make-do-and-mend’ fix for Malizia might even prove to be superior to using his original foils. “It seems like the new foils are working well for us,” said Herrmann. “We went out the day before the In-Port Race in about 25 knots of wind and the foils felt very good. On some angles they were faster than before and I haven’t found anything worse than before. So it might be a happy accident [that the old foils broke].

“If there is another strong wind day between now and the Leg 1 start, we will ask permission to go out again and see what else we can learn about these foils.”

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