Racing Yachts Set 24-Hour Distance Records for Monohull Vessels

distance record for monohull vessel
Team Malizia set the record at 641.13 nm with a speed of 26.7 knots (Antoine Auriol photo courtesy of Team Malizia)

Published May 30, 2023 7:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

New world records for the distances traveled by a monohull vessel are being set by the racing yachts during the current iteration of the annual The Ocean Race which pits some of the world’s best boats and crews in a six-month around-the-world test. Two records fell in 24 hours at the end of last week as the racing vessels are on the fifth leg of the trip having departed Newport, Rhode Island, and racing to Aarhus, Denmark.

With an average speed of 26.71 knots (50 km/h) over 24 hours in Leg 5 of The Ocean Race, Boris Herrmann’s Team Malizia set a new monohull world record sailing 641.13 nautical miles over 24 hours. Team Malizia’s record came less than 24 hours after their Swiss competitors. Team Holcim-PRB a day earlier took the record previously held by the 100-foot maxi-monohull Comanche with a distance of 640.9 nm.

German skipper Boris Herrmann said it did not feel like they were pushing during the day’s race, but that in the three last hours, excitement started to build that they might be breaking the record.

Setting this new benchmark the team says was a demonstration of the collaboration between skipper Herrmann who worked closely with French designer VPLP to create a new breed of IMOCA (International Monohull Open Class Association, which manages the class of 60-foot (18.28 meter) vessel.) After winning the long Southern Ocean Leg, winning The Roaring Forties Trophy (fastest Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn passage) and now breaking the 24-hour world distance record, they said there is no doubt that the designer and Boris made some bold but wise decisions in developing their new boat. 

“It’s great to see that the boat can do so well,” said Herrmann. “We had exceptional conditions with a flat sea, the wind steady from the right direction, the right angle for such a long time. No sail changes, actually, we took a reef in and out, so we slowed down for these two moments, but apart from that, nothing slowed us down for a longer time. Sometimes, the waves got a little bit shorter and we would slow down to 18 knots and get a bit stuck in the sea. Most of the time the boat would pass the sea perfectly and fly at 27 to 34 knots, it felt really relaxed.”

The Malizia - Seaexplorer race yacht sailing under the flag of The Yacht Club de Monaco has broken both the IMOCA and crewed monohull 24-hour distance records. While still in close contention, the team however is third on the leaderboard currently out of the four 60-footers racing. Five IMOCA teams set out for the race. Although one retired after the first two legs. In addition, six VO 65 (65-foot racing yachts) are also racing although one team has also retired.

“Being the fastest monohull in the world in 24 hours is the dream of every sailor,” commented Team Malizia co-founder and vice-president of the Yacht Club de Monaco Pierre Casiraghi. “I am so proud of the team and all the work that has been done to get there!”

The 14th edition of The Ocean Race started in Spain on January 15, 2023, and calls for sailing a 32,000 nautical mile (60,000 km) race around the world. It included the longest racing distance in the 50-year history of the event - a 12,750 nautical mile, one-month marathon from Cape Town, South Africa at the end of February to Itajaí, Brazil, where they arrived in late April. The race finishes at Genoa, Italy in late June. 

In addition to the racing, the organizers are calling it racing with a purpose highlighting that each of the entrants is working with a cause for the environment and that they are organizing science and educational programming.