The boat that just won’t die

Published on March 12th, 2018

Fazisi, a boat unlike any the Whitbread race had ever seen, has always faced challenges. In Sailing magazine, designer Vlad Murnikov reflects on the life of the legend and how, even battered by a hurricane and plundered by thieves, you can never count the old girl out.

As it often happens these days, the news came through Facebook. The striking hull of a maxi yacht, massive yet graceful, laying on top of the salvage barge, looking very sad with all the deck gear stripped, hatches torn apart, stanchions and pulpits bent, yet looking hauntingly beautiful even in this distressed state.

For a moment I lost my breath. It was Fazisi, my dear boat bound for the scrapyard. Mine, not in the sense of the ownership, but the boat that I had conceived, designed and led in a famous race around the world.

I knew that Fazisi was caught in Hurricane Irma in September. She was thrown ashore on one of the Florida Keys some 500 yards from deep water, miraculously undamaged with her rig, keel and rudder intact. Her owners were unable to come up with the money for a rescue operation and left her lying there for four months. Local squatters stripped off the deck hardware and anything of value.

Eventually the boat was picked up off the beach by one of the salvage companies contracted to do the post-hurricane clean-up and ended up on that barge sailing into what appeared to be her last sunset.

First there was a dream
Fazisi came to life during the dramatic times of the Soviet Union collapse. In the mid-1980s I was an architect, part-time yacht designer and amateur sailor living in Moscow. I had big dreams of sailing the ocean, of racing in the greatest event in the sailing sport, the Whitbread Round the World Race, but I always thought of them as wild, impossible dreams. In the real world I was bound, just like all my fellow Soviet citizens, to live an ordinary and boring strictly regulated life.

But then Gorbachev came to power and things started to change. With little hope of success, I decided to take a leap of faith and launched the Fazisi project, trying to seize on the very first opportunity presented by Perestroika. Initially, when I shared my ambitious Whitbread plans with my sailing friends, most found the idea monumentally stupid, even dangerous. That was the reaction I had anticipated, but, surprisingly, a few of them showed encouragement, if not a commitment yet.

Complete story… click here.

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