What will the next vendee globe look like?

Published on February 27th, 2013

By Elaine Bunting, Yachting World
As the Vendee Globe comes to an end again for another four years the discussions are turning to what changes need to be made to the format for the next edition.

Top of the agenda is changes to the boats eligible to take part. After more keel failures in this race, almost everyone agrees that something should be done, and the race organisers of the Vendee Globe have been looking carefully at whether or not they ought to move to a one-design for 2016.

There is a strong push for the IMOCA class to get its house in order by the Vendee Globe management. They know that, ultimately, they hold the cards. This is the pinnacle race for these boats and the focus of sponsorship.

To help make up their mind independently of what the current crop of skippers think, the Vendee Race management company, SEM Vendee, commissioned a report by former race winner Alain Gautier. Gautier has submitted his findings and recommendations, and a decision about the boats will be made within weeks.

“I asked Alain to give me a report on the evolution process of the boats and I gave him three objectives to look at,” Bruno Retailleau, president of the race, told me. “One, the advantages and disadvantages of a one-design. Two, is that in accordance with the spirit of the race? And three, can the race be safer in one-design?”

It just so happens that Michel Desjoyeaux has a potentially suitable one-design up his sleeve in the form of the Oceans50, a modified version of the canting keel SolOceans 50 from 2008, built for a one-design race that never got off the ground. This has proved reliable, has the backing of the French Sailing Federation, and he argues it would be cheaper to build. A new build IMOCA 60 like the race-winning MACIF now runs to around 3.5 million euros. — Read on

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