This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world.
First, on Monday 11th Hour Racing announced the names of their two new boats: Mālama and Alaka’i, meaning “to care for” and ‘’leadership” in team CEO Mark Towill’s native Hawaiian.
Shortly after, both boats were set to compete at Le Défi Azimut—France’s double-handed showcase regatta on the Bay of Biscay. The two 11th Hour teams were Charlie Enright and Pascal Bridegorry on Mālama for its first-ever race and Justine Mettraux and Simon Fisher on Alaka’i, which they recently sailed to the podium of the 2021 Rolex Fastnet.
Unfortunately, Mālama’s tiller bar broke shortly into the offshore race. The team attempted a jury rig, but it wasn’t holding up well enough in light air to give them confidence for heavier air they anticipated later in the race. Mālama was forced to retire about 10 hours into the race. In a statement made back on shore, Enright said that getting to the start line was a calculated risk, and that their first night offshore gave them lots of insight into fine-tuning the boat for their main goal this season: the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Alaka’i is still on the racecourse at press time, fourth in a fleet of 14.
Le Défi Azimut is a who’s who of notable IMOCA sailors that features a speed challenge, a 48-hour offshore leg and a lap of Ile de Groix off Lorient. The 2021 skippers include Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat teaming up to sail APIVA; Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagravière on LinkedOut; Sébastien Simon and Yann Elies on ARKÉA PAPREC, Sam Davies and Nicolas Lunven on Initiatives Coeur; and Isabelle Joschke and Alain Gautier on MACSF.