Embracing the Honeymoon Phase

Published on December 12th, 2018

The IMOCA Class is rooted in shorthanded sailing, with boat design and layout adapting to both limited hands and the reaching angles found on their iconic races. The management of the class, along with the leading-edge performance of these 60-footers, has elevated the popularity of the boat for heading offshore.

And now the IMOCA will also be the darling for fully-crewed racing.

Since its launch in 1973, The Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race and Volvo Ocean Race) has been the extreme around the world test for full teams, but with the entry count dipping due to extreme costs of the larger boats and crew, the IMOCA will now be the platform for the 2021-22 edition.

But the remaining question is the adaption of the IMOCA, particularly when the Volvo Ocean Race had legs requiring upwind work. More will be known once the next race reveals its course, so for now it’s the honeymoon stage. Worrying about the marriage will come later. Here is what the IMOCA Class says for now:

It’s now clear to all. The two most emblematic round the world races are now in the IMOCA class programme. There will of course be the Vendée Globe sailed solo, which is due to start on 8th November 2020. In addition to that, we now have “The Ocean Race,” a crewed round the world race with stopovers, which will also be raced aboard IMOCAs.

The main features of this race were presented in Paris on 11th December. The Ocean Race will start from Alicante in October 2021. The selection of the other stopover hosts is currently being carried out by the organisers. “We hope to see between ten and fifteen IMOCAs taking part,” explained Antoine Mermod, IMOCA Class President. “The fleet will include teams that have historically competed in the Volvo Ocean Race and others that have taken part in the Vendée Globe.

“We are looking forward to a highly international line-up. The French and English speaking worlds of ocean racing, which for many years went their own way are now converging. We are advancing together intelligently and learning a lot from each other with the shared desire to build a solid project for the future.”

The time gap between the finish of the Vendée Globe and the start of The Ocean Race is relatively short and therefore the crewed version of the IMOCA will be very similar to the solo version. The rules make it possible to transform the boat easily with only marginal changes to the rules.

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