It was at 3.00pm (local time) from Plymouth in the south of England that the racing sailboat Malizia II, skippered by founder of Team Malizia Pierre Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann, set off on her Atlantic crossing with Greta Thunberg on board.
Accompanied by her father Svante Thunberg and filmmaker Nathan Grossman, this is the young Swede’s first Atlantic crossing as she heads to New York to take part in the United Nations Climate Action Summit on 23rdSeptember 2019.
“I am full of admiration for Greta’s courage; she will never forget this adventure. And what could be more beautiful and important for her than to opt for this crossing and to discover the dimension of the Atlantic Ocean which plays such a key role in our environment. It will be an historic crossing, a long one and definitely difficult at times. The hardest part is leaving the family at home, but we are ready and so is the boat!” said Pierre Casiraghi, Yacht Club de Monaco Vice-President, who offered to make the IMOCA 60 available for the 3,000 nautical mile crossing and enable Greta to take her message across the Atlantic.
Minimal comfort on board
Greta and her team are fully aware of the living conditions they face on board. The interior of Malizia is very bare and optimised to the nth degree for high-speed offshore racing. “We have made no major alterations for the crossing, except for fitting curtains in front of the bunk and adding comfortable mattresses for better sleeping. Note that there is no toilet, no fixed shower, no cooking facilities or proper beds,” commented Boris Herrmann.
For meals, Greta will be offered a choice of freeze-dried vacuum-packed vegan meals, which can be prepared in all weathers with minimum effort and minimum use of energy.
A zero-emission crossing
The entire transatlantic crossing will be under sail, the engine not being used at all, in line with Greta’s as well as the Malizia Team’s message of sustainability and environmental protection. “At the start and finish, we will have Torqeedo RIBs powered by electric engines to assist us during docking manoeuvres as well as to tow Malizia out of and back into port. As for the engine on Malizia II that will be officially sealed before we set off. Although the engine will stay turned off, it will be ready to use at any moment in the event of an emergency, in compliance with the IMOCA Class Rule. Safety of crew and boat is always a priority for us,” explains Boris Herrmann.
Malizia is equipped with a state-of-the-art solar system of 1.3kW and two hydro-generators which are permanently installed on the stern of the boat and were specifically designed for IMOCA 60 racing yachts. “With these two independent systems working, we generate more electricity than we actually need. The two energy sources allow us to run all the systems and electronics on board continuously – navigation instruments, autopilots, water-makers, as well as our SubCtech Ocean laboratory. So we will be able to complete the transatlantic trip fully emission free.”
It is an initiative to help protect the marine environment, and fits into the Malizia Ocean Challenge which comprises three main pillars: sailing, science and education. “During all our sailing trips and races, we try to actively contribute to ocean research, particularly the impact of climate change on marine environments, by measuring CO2 and other sea surface data with our onboard laboratory. We publish the data collected and their results which are made available to the public and scientists.” Throughout the crossing, Greta has the opportunity to participate in this data collection.
Depending on weather conditions, the non-stop crossing should take two weeks.