Two Big Dreams, One Fast Boat
Published on February 21st, 2019
The Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race with stopovers, will race for the first time on the 60-foot IMOCAs with foils for the 2021-22 edition. With just over two and a half years to go to the start, the race organizer and sailors are navigating how this change can benefit the IMOCA landscape that prepares every four years for the Vendee Globe, the solo round the world race.
When The Ocean Race starts October 2021 in Alicante, Spain, it will only be eight months after the first Vendée Globe competitors finish the Vendee Globe. The Ocean Race, which will also include the VO65 one-design boats for a trophy rewarding the best young competitors, hopes for 10 to 15 IMOCAs at the start of this maiden edition.
“We are talking to everyone and the potential teams can be divided into three major groups,” explained Johan Salén, co-President of The Ocean Race. “We are in contact with existing IMOCA teams, a majority of which are French, but also with teams from the last Volvo and some other teams that are completely new.
“The teams that are interested come from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United States, Brazil, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, China, South Africa… and we have some other important countries we need to get involved. The goal is to bring together highly professional international teams that are well organized and structured with active sponsors.”
For Salén, it is clear that bringing together the ex-Volvo Ocean Race and the IMOCA class is a positive move. “Working with a class that has shown what it can do helps our sport to be less fragmented. It means we can look forward to more feedback with the same platform,” he said.
Here’s feedback from three sailors that are active in the IMOCA class:
Boris Herrmann: “An adventure that complements the Vendée Globe”
In 2020, Boris Herrmann, skipper of Malizia 2, is set to become the first German to take part in the Vendée Globe, but Boris is already looking further ahead.
“The Ocean Race interests me a lot,” he said. “The idea is to ensure our project continues with the same boat (a VPLP-Verdier design from 2015, ex Edmond de Rothschild). This crewed adventure complements perfectly the Vendée Globe. In my opinion, there are four big dreams for sailors: the Olympic Games, the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Vendée Globe. Now, two of these four events are raced on the same boat. That is very inspiring.”
Louis Burton: “I’m waiting to see the course to position myself”
Skipper of Bureau Vallée 2, another VPLP-Verdier design launched in 2015, Louis Burton is also very interested in the idea of taking part in The Ocean Race. “I’m entirely in favor of bringing the two elements together. It’s fantastic that the IMOCA class is at the center of ocean racing. It’s a chance to ensure our boats have a good life and to diversify our projects. The only drawback is that we don’t yet have the race course and so it is hard to plan for, as we don’t yet know where the stopovers will be held.
“What sort of budget will be necessary? Will the countries involved interest our partners? I’m waiting to see the race course before positioning myself. We already have the sponsor, the boat and the team. However, to perform well, we will have to come to a decision this summer. After the Vendée Globe, a lot of work will need to be done on the boat to adapt her to ensure she can be sailed well and is comfortable for six people.”
Paul Meilhat: “Wider communications for a budget which is not that much higher”
Winner of the 2018 Route du Rhum and currently looking for partners, Paul Meilhat is planning to start work in the coming months on the construction of an IMOCA to take part in the 2020 Vendée Globe, The 2021 Ocean Race and the 2022 Route du Rhum.
“I always loved sailing with a crew,” he said. “To start off with, I was probably more interested in the Volvo Ocean Race than in the Vendée Globe. The fact that the crewed round the world race now takes place aboard IMOCAs has opened up more doors for me. I believe I have what it takes to run a project. I know this kind of boat and sail them well.”
“By taking part in The Ocean Race, we add in an international dimension and wider communications with a budget that is not that much higher than if we simply took part in the Vendée Globe. We can therefore offer our partners with a wide ranging program.”
2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race Overall Results (after 11 of 11 legs)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 73 points
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 70
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 69
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 59
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 39
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 32
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 32
2017-18 In-Port Race Series Overall Results (after 11 of 11 races)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 64 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 56
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 50
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 50
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 35
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 25
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 25
2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
• Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
• Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
• MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
• Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
• Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
• Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
• Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.