New boat near for 11th Hour Racing

Published on June 10th, 2021

Almost six months after they competed in the world’s most brutal race, the singlehanded non-stop lap of the planet that is the Vendée Globe, many of the IMOCA fleet will be returning to the race course in a doublehanded configuration for the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race on August 8.

With 500+ entrants for the 49th edition, among the 14 IMOCAs are two boats from the American 11th Hour Racing Team. This includes the 2016 vintage former HUGO BOSS (above), being campaigned by the mixed Anglo-Swiss crew of Volvo Ocean Race veteran Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux. But all eyes could be on the campaign’s latest steed, to be sailed by American Charlie Enright and top French offshore sailor Pascal Bidégorry.

Whether she will make it is in the balance as the launch of this new Guillaume Verdier design, built by CDK Technologies and project managed by Francois Gabart’s company MerConcept, is scheduled for the end of July leaving precious little work-up time before the race start.

Significantly this will be the first new flying IMOCA launched with The Ocean Race 2022-23 in mind, rather than the Vendée Globe. However, Enright, who two years ago was outright winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race as sailing master on the VO70 Wizard, explains they are hedged.

“In some ways we are optimized for both crewed and shorthanded racing, and in other ways we have definitely compromised to be able to wear both hats in this fleet.”

What this means in terms of the specifics of the new hardware, we will have to wait and see. Theoretically with the potential to trim the foils more regularly, they could be more optimized and less draggy than the present generation foils.

For sure it will require more interior and cockpit space to accommodate four crew plus a media crewman and it will be interesting to see the degree to which the cockpit is enclosed.

There is also a tricky engineering balance to be reached in that the extra crew equals extra weight and righting moment and they can potentially drive the boat harder, but at the expense of extra structural weight, which in turn is bad for light airs foiling.

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The race starts off the Royal Yacht Squadron start line of Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Leaving The Solent through The Needles Channel, the race follows the southern coastline of England westward down the English Channel, before rounding Land’s End.

After crossing the Celtic Sea, the race rounds the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland. Returning on a largely reciprocal course, the race rounds the Isles of Scilly before the final stretch to the finish.

New for 2021 has the finish moving from Plymouth, its traditional destination since the race’s first edition in 1925, to Cherbourg in northern France. This change increases the length of the race from 608 to 695 miles.

Source: RORC

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