The American IMOCA launched in the summer of 2021 is the first boat specifically designed to compete in The Ocean Race in 2023. Despite being based in her port of registry of Newport, 11th Hour Racing Team - Mālama was designed by Guillaume Verdier and built in Brittany at CDK in collaboration with Mer Concept and skipper Charlie Enright’s shore crew, which notably includes Pascal Bidégorry, considered within the racing fraternity as one of the best at tweaking and fine-tuning racing yachts.
Two years of exchanges between the various protagonists have notably enabled the structure to be optimised, as well as the space in the cockpit and the interior living pod, whilst also drawing inspiration from the massive French culture in terms of IMOCA, as her skipper is keen to point out. One of Guillaume Verdier’s aims was to design a boat that is both versatile and consistent so she can be raced in crewed, double-handed and singlehanded format, “without any gapping in the polars” and with a coachroof that is both aerodynamic and enclosed. Very attentive to the project’s carbon footprint, the American racing stable, has also employed the services of Irish sailor Damian Foxall – with eight circumnavigations of the globe to his credit ranging from Maxis to VOR 60s, VO70s, VO65s and IMOCAs – as Sustainability Program Manager.
The choice to build the boat in Brittany, where all the suppliers are located, in order to limit transport (mast, hull, sails, etc.) was guided by this desire to limit the carbon footprint as much as possible. In addition, an LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) was carried out by the team with the Marineshift360 tool, the challenge being to know what can be optimised to reduce this impact while maintaining the fabulous performance of these boats.
Biobased resins, recycled carbon and natural fibres were tested and used for this purpose. From the very beginning, the boat has shown exceptional potential, but damage to the keel sail (delamination) in the 2021 Transat Jacques Vabre, deprived Charles Enright and Pascal Bidégorry of a good result. In 2022, including an express crewed round trip from Concarneau to Newport - 6,000 miles - 11th Racing Hour Team-Mālama, sailed 560.5 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 23.36 knots!