We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Ocean racer Nick Moloney nominates the Open 50.

“I’d been intrigued by solo or short-handed sailing since the early days of the BOC Challenge (Around Alone 5 Oceans) and was blown away by the wide beam Finot-Conq designs that began to push the parameters of form stability with incredibly wide beams,” recalls Nick Moloney, as he nominates his favourite Open 50.

“In the build up to our 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race, we were constructing our yacht Toshiba in Newport, which is also where the Open 50 Cray Valley was also coming to life for Jean-Pierre (JP) Mouligne and his campaign towards the 1998 Around Alone Race. I snuck away from the sail loft the day that Cray Valley first went in the water and watched  from a distance. I remember saying to myself ‘I’d give anything to sail that beautiful boat’.

Nick Moloney winning division in the 2002 Route du Rhum aboard the Open 50 Ashfield Healthcare Photos: DPPI/Offshore Challenges

“Roll forward to 2002, and Offshore Challenges entered two boats in the Route du Rhum. Ellen MacArthur would race her beloved Kingfisher Open 60 and Mark Turner sourced an Open 50 for my campaign. I could not believe it when Mark revealed to me what my boat would be. I immediately knew that something special would come of this relationship.

“Both Ellen and I won our respective divisions in style, in a storm-torn event that also saw me set a new course record on the Open 50, then called Ashfield Healthcare. My memories of sailing solo on this boat, at speeds in excess of 20 knots are some that I will never forget.

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“That boat went on to have a further decorated life with some fabulous sailors such as Conrad Humphreys, Paul Larsen and Michael Perham, not forgetting that JP won the 1998 Around Alone, the race that she was ultimately designed and built for.

I believe that some boats have huge hearts. This is one of the biggest hearted boats I have ever sailed on.”

Open 50 Stats rating:

Top speed: 30+ knots
LOA: 15.24m
Launched: 1996
Berths: 2
Price: £2,000,000
Adrenalin factor: 85%

Nick Moloney

Nick Moloney is most famous for solo ocean racing, including the 2004 Vendée Globe. He has competed in the Whitbread Round the World Race, two America’s Cups, and set a crewed non-stop around the world Jules Verne Trophy record aboard Orange in 2002. He was also the first person to windsurf across the Bass Strait. Follow his adventures at nickmoloney.com


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