In September 2019 it will be the 30th anniversary of the fifth Whitbread Round the World Race, the ancestor of the modern Volvo Ocean Race. In autumn 1989, two very unusual teams started the race in British Southampton among 23 participants. Both were the first of their kind in the history of this race: the British Maiden crew, which consisted only of women, and the Soviet Fazisi team.
After six stages, returning to Southampton in the spring of 1990, Maiden was 18th in the overall standings and second in her class, completing the race in 167 days and 3 hours. Fazisi's success was even better: after 139 days at sea, the team was 11th in the overall standings. Soviet yachtsmen were only 10 days behind the winners of the regatta - the New Zealand team Steinlager 2.
The further destiny of boats turned out to be similar. The former racing yachts changed owners and in the end the boats that were not needed by anyone were abandoned on the shore.
Maiden was found in 2014 on a desert island in the Indian Ocean, and Fazisi after Hurricane Irma in «September» 2017 - on one of the islands in the Florida Keys archipelago in South Florida.
By some miracle during the storm Fazisi did not damage the mast, rudder and keel, and in general it can be said that the boat was in good condition. She was much luckier than the 2,500 other boats that could not withstand the elements. But her last owners - the Polish Yacht Club of New York - did not have enough money to take the boat out of the ground, and she remained where the ocean threw her out until winter. During these months, the looters dragged Fazisi through everything they could find, virtually turning the boat into an empty aluminium barrel.
On January 4, 2018, while cleaning the coast from the effects of the hurricane, the ship was loaded on a barge, and it went on its last journey to the dump.
Both Maiden and Fazisi are lucky. They didn't become a pile of scrap metal, although they were incredibly close to that final.
Maiden found her former skipper, Tracy Edwards, the same woman who decided in 1989 to put together a team that proved that the beautiful «sex can race» offshore on par with the harsh male sea wolves. Edwards has organised a crowdfunding campaign, Maiden has been overhauled, her former luster has been restored and she has been sailing the seas again since November 2018. And her team is once again fighting for women's rights: this time as part of a campaign to make education accessible for girls around the world.
Fazisi at the last moment bought out one of its last crew members - Yuriy Ravlushko.
Yuri has Polish roots, but he was born in RSFSR. In the past he was the founder and director (for 12 years) of the first yacht club near Grodno (Belarus), and for the last 20 years he has lived in the USA. The man participated in the Fazisi refit in 2014 and was a member of the crew when the yacht raced.
«The first month he anchored and bought the stolen equipment, which he collected in a rented container. Then he registered for four months. Constantly wrote with Vladislav Murnikov (one of founders of Fazisi, note itBoat) articles in various magazines, opened corporation Fazisi Legend, collected means for preservation of the yacht. I was and am supported by Isedor P Ryzak, a sponsor of Polish origin,"»says Yuri.
In one year Yuri managed to buy the engine, winches and anchor of the boat. By 2019 the mast was put on board again and the boat was able to go out to sea for at least four hours for the first time in a long time.
But, as Yuri notes, Fazisi cannot sail yet. One of the current tasks that will help bring her closer to this is to set the boom. Spare parts for it will be ready in the near future. New sails will appear on the boat thanks to the help of the Chicago Yacht Club.
Despite the fact that repairs are progressing a little bit, to a happy ending, as in the case of Maiden, in the history of Fazisi is still very, very far away. According to Yuri, to make a repair that will allow the boat to stand in a museum, you need to spend about $ 150,000, and to make her again a full-fledged racing yacht or at least a training ship, you need about $ 800,000.
Yuri is engaged in restoration of Fazisi practically alone. In order for her to regain her former appearance, it is vital for him to find sponsors and a new owner for the boat - the man admits he has no idea how to carry out further repairs of Fazisi and maintain it.
Although the search for a new home for Fazisi has been going on for a year, its future is still vague.
«There are no»specific proposals, - complains Yuri.
Now the boat can already be moved to a museum, so that some time later it will be added to its exposition. Such a place could be the Georgian city of Poti, where Fazisi was once built and in honor of the ancient name of which the boat was named, or Estonian Tallinn. But in order to bring Fazisi by ferry from the USA to Europe, again, a considerable sum is needed, which neither side has.
The crowdfunding platform gofundme managed to raise $5,147 in a year. One of the fifty sponsors was Tracy Edwards. Some more funds were raised through the sale of books about Fazisi and things related to it one way or another. However, not everything is on sale - some of Yuri's artifacts are collected for the future museum.
So far Fazisi has been waiting patiently and safely for a new page in her destiny. But how long will this peaceful calm last? If the boat hits a strong storm again during the new Atlantic hurricane season, it could be her last.
Apart from Vladislav Murnikov, only a few of those who built the boat 30 years ago in Poti and then chased it during Whitbread and other regattas seem to be worried about the fate of the boat. So decades later, the conflicts that started in the design and construction phase of Fazisi were recalled. Because of modern political contradictions between Russia, Ukraine and Georgia they have only intensified today.
Originally, the Fazisi idea belonged to a team of designers from Moscow and Leningrad. With the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the USSR, they were able to agree on the construction of a boat at the Georgian company Fazisi«,»which, having the status «of a joint, was also»registered in Moscow. The backbone of the team of boat builders were enthusiasts from Ukraine. They made up to 80% of the team.
The relationship in the team was not perfect. According to the memoirs of the Ukrainian Yevgeniy Platon, who participated in the construction of Fazisi, and during the race of 1989 was the head of one of the watch in Fazisi, the crew was sceptical about the original design of the boat, brought from Leningrad.
«These guys, the designers from "Mobile", may be not bad cotton, but according to the drawings that they drew, you can not build - recalls»Plato in his book Russians are the «words of the Kiev» engineer Igor Mironenko.
The Ukrainian team, trying to make the design of the boat more durable, improved it on the spot, based on their considerations. At the same time in one of the interviews Vladislav Mournikov remembers also about the reverse process: for example, attempts to trace that Fazisi secretly did not cover with thicker metal sheets than it was calculated on paper. So there were two very different views of the boat together.
Former crew members have reason to feel anger and resentment towards Soviet officials as well. Sponsorship from home during Whitbread was clearly lacking. And after the tragic death in Uruguay in a break between the first and second stages of the race one of the main builder and the first captain of Fazisi Alexei Grishchenko Sailing Federation and the State Committee of Sport and offered to deprive the team of the Soviet flag.
«"Fazisi and its crew were denied reliability and trust. The chairman of technical commission of Federation of sailing sports A.Kondakov, for example, now declares: the project of the yacht is not approved by the commission headed by him. The yacht is not registered in any of the Soviet registers. <...> And the statement of a question by Goskomsporport of the USSR about the right to carry a yacht of the Soviet flag is absolutely surprising. And all this on only one ground - the participation of the yacht in "Whitbrad" is not agreed with this department, - quotes»a note from the newspaper Izvestia of that «time» researcher M. S., who was a member of the Soviet Union. Scorpionov in his review of the press Ivana «incomprehensible ... or what wrote about "Fazisi" at home and abroad .
Fortunately, the real prohibition to go under the Soviet flag never came to pass. However, according to the memoirs of Eugene Plato, at the next stages of the crew members who knew Fazisi since the construction of the boat and put a lot of work into it, more than once from above were replaced «by» almost outsiders. It seems that some team members still feel the unpleasant precipitate of such «a betrayal».
As a result today a part of participants of events of those years considers Fazisi «a Soviet» or even «Russian boat» (as Russia became the successor of the USSR), and a part insists on its Georgian-Ukrainian belonging.
Due to international disagreements, Yuri Ravlishko's idea to ask Vladimir Putin for help in January 2019 caused an extremely negative reaction from some of those who followed the fate of the project. One of the Fazisi crew members during the Whitbread regatta, who agreed a year ago with a Russian book publisher that all funds from the sale of his book would be used to repair the ship, now, despite his apolitical nature in the «matter of Fazisi, asked Yuri to remove»the mentions of him.
Still, it seems fair to call Fazisi an international and even international project. At least that's what it was 30 years ago. In addition to Soviet funding, Fazisi«JV» received funds from a major German export and import company, the Wilfred Post. In the late stages of preparation, the project involved Americans. The second captain of Fazisi, who joined the team back in Poti, was the famous yachtsman Skip Novak. Before the start of the regatta the Soviet team was sponsored by PepsiCo. When the boat was leaving Southampton, its spinnaker and hull were decorated with a recognizable logo.
However, PepsiCo did not extend the contract for the regatta itself. According to one version, the company was afraid to support a team from the USSR in a race in which, due to some circumstances, could not participate crews from the United States. But, for example, when Fazisi reached New Zealand, sympathetic fans gathered funds for it literally the whole world.
Soviet yachtsmen received support in every country Whitbread brought them to. Despite all the difficulties, the team did not withdraw from the distance and finished the race. Against the background of the exacerbation of the Cold War in previous years, such peaceful international cooperation was particularly important.
At that time, 30 years ago, such a unity of people who wanted to help the project was achieved without the help of social networks and the Internet. Today, new technologies seem to provide much more opportunities for this. However, it is not yet possible to repeat the success of past years.
I do not want to believe that the efforts of people saving Fazisi today are in vain.
After all, this boat is not just beautiful. In fact, it is a historical sports heritage of both Georgia, Ukraine and Russia. Moreover, for its time Fazisi had a unique innovative design by the standards of not only Soviet but also world yachtbuilding.
In order to be optimistic about the future of the project, it needs more participants who are not indifferent. Will they show up? Will the project be able to become international again? Will it be possible to preserve this historic boat, regardless of nationalities, political or religious views?
«If you're interested in keeping history and legend alive, join us. And it does not matter where it will continue its journey: in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine... Fazisi lives its life, and we - only players who have stepped or will step on its stage!»- Yuri Ravlishko appeals to everyone who could help with the restoration of the yacht.