OPEN 60: The reasons behind the changes

Published on April 24th, 2013

In the 2008-9 Vendee Globe, the solo, non-stop around the world race in the IMOCA Open 60 class, 19 of the 30 original entries that started in Les Sables d’Olonne, France failed to finish. During the 2012-13 edition, 9 of the 20 starting skippers experienced a similar fate. Both the reduction of entries, and the durability of the Open 60, was of concern to the class.

When the IMOCA met for their General Meeting on 19 April 2013, they  targeted two very important dossiers which had been under study since 2011.

The Meeting, which was held in Barcelona in June 2011 requested that IMOCA’s Executive Committee continued its study (initiated in January) into the evolution of the class measurement with the aim of having simpler, more reliable, less costly boats, whilst retaining a certain freedom of design.

Two years on, IMOCA has decided its future, by respecting the Committee’s wishes and its two outlines for consideration. The objectives were ambitious:

  • to reduce costs
  • to make the boats reliable
  • to simplify the boats
  • to improve accessibility
  • to follow up the transition

Prior to coming to a decision about the global evolution of its class measurement, the General Meeting has adopted a change in the rules relating to the design and construction of the keels. From now on, all the new keels must be made from a single piece of forged stainless steel. The safety factors have been revised and increased, new load cases have been enforced and the frequencies specific to these increased. The standardised keel for the new boats will adhere to these criteria.

The first aim, namely that of reducing the costs, is doubtless the hardest to achieve, especially in a professional mechanical sport. It’s this objective, which led the Class’ directors to examine the standardisation of the boats.

This solution wasn’t retained by the Meeting, which opted instead to reserve a certain architectural freedom.

It was the alternative solution with a standardised keel and mast, which was retained by the majority of the members.

This solution, which leaves a lot of freedom in the hull design, respects all the set objectives in part… read on:–technical-decryption.htm

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