Young Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg has chosen to sail to the United Nations Climate Conference, which takes place in New York in September, aboard Malizia, the IMOCA of the Yacht Club of Monaco which is skippered by Boris Herrmann.
The passage which is designed to highlight the problems of climate change is in keeping with the fundamental philosophy of the Malizia team which is led by Herrmann and Monaco’s Pierre Casiraghi.
Thunbeg, 16, sails with Herrmann, Casiraghi and her father Svante Thunberg on board the IMOCA 60 which Boris plans to sail in the next Vendée Globe.
The initiative has attracted global media interest and is fully aligned with the commitment of the Maliziateam to highlight environmental issues and to help initiate positive change. Since the outset the Maliziaprogramme has worked on two main fronts, contributing to research into ocean health and delivering an educational initiative to raise awareness among young people.
Embedded measuring equipment
Malizia carries measurement equipment on board including a data sensor which allows the carbon dioxide content, the temperature and the salinity of the water to be assessed. Such data is valuable because the 60 foot monohull sails through areas where human activity is still limited, such as the Southern Oceans – the South Indian Ocean and South Pacific. These measurements will feed into a database which is accessible to the international scientific community. The Malizia team works in partnerships with several scientific organisations such as the Geomar Institute in Kiel.
The team are also members of the UN programme "Sports for Climate Action" which seeks to raise awareness among the general public by the publicity generated by certain sporting achievements.
Targeting a state of zero emissions from fossil fuels is one of the challenges set by the Malizia team. On board the IMOCA are banks of solar panels and hydrogenerators which provide the energy necessary for the efficient operation of the boat. For this crossing of the Atlantic, the engine (which is mandatory IMOCA safety equipment) will be sealed. Only in an emergency would it be used. And from the point of view of IMOCA and the Vendée Globe the passage with Greta Thunberg helps highlight the efforts of Vendée Globe skippers to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
Casiraghi and Herrmann felt Thunberg’s standpoint deserves their support. Crossing the Atlantic with no carbon impact helps highlight the need for rapid and effective changes to be made in order to overturn the damage done to our environment, and has increased the awareness of the conference. For the young non-sailing Swedish environmentalist who has taken a year out of her schooling to campaign the two week passage across the Atlantic will be no pleasure cruise.
It will be wet, uncomfortable and space below decks on the IMOCA, designed for solo and short handed racing, is minimal. The only concessions made are the addition of more comfortable camping mattresses and some curtaining to afford a level of privacy. Life on board will be similar to that on the Vendée Globe even if speeds are kept to more modest levels.
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