Last week, Swedish teenager and student environmental activist, Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City after hitching a ride across the Atlantic aboard the racing sailboat Malizia II, owned and skippered by Pierre Casiraghi, son of Princess Caroline of Monaco and grandson of the late Prince Rainier II and his Princess Grace Kelly.
Thunberg is attending the UN Climate Action Summit, hosted by UN Secretary General Antònio Guterres in New York City on September 23. As she is fiercely principled about living a life that is as carbon neutral as possible, she did not want to fly to New York. Casiraghi heard about Thunberg’s dilemma and offered her a ride across the Atlantic aboard Malizia II. Accompanied by her father Svante Thunberg and filmmaker Nathan Grossman, this was Thunberg’s first sailing experience. Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann, his partner in Malizia II, were in charge of the sailing.
“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..” 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.
Thunberg and her team were game for the living conditions they faced on board. The interior of Malizia II is very bare and optimised for high-speed offshore racing. “We 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. Meals consisted of freeze-dried vacuum-packed meals, which can be prepared in all weathers with minimum effort and minimum use of energy. Thunberg opted for Vegan freeze- dried fare.
The entire 14-day transatlantic crossing was made under sail, the engine not being used at all, in line with Thunberg’s as well as the Malizia Team’s message of sustainability and environmental protection. “At the start and finish, we had Torqeedo RIBs powered by electric engines to assist us during docking manoeuvres as well as to tow Malizia out of and back into port. The engine on Malizia II was be officially sealed before they 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, continues Herrmann.
The transatlantic sail 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 of Malizia’s sailing trips and races, the team 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. They publish the data collected and their results which are made available to the public and scientists. Throughout the crossing, Thunberg had the opportunity to participate in this data collection.
Greta Thunberg initiated a secondary school strike in August 2018 to draw attention to climate change, by protesting outside the Swedish Parliament. Her movement nicknamed ‘Fridays For Future’ has spread all over the world and currently involves hundreds of thousands of students as well as others. Thunberg has since spoken at climate rallies in Stockholm, Brussels, London and Helsinki. Last January, she was invited to speak the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She also gave a rousing TED talk. Thunberg has garnered such a large mass movement, that she has been nominated for the French Prix Liberté ( Freedom Prize) as well as the Nobel Peace prize.