Developing a zero emission IMOCA

Published on January 24th, 2023

British offshore racer Phil Sharp reveals his intention to build a new zero emission IMOCA ahead of the 2024 Vendée Globe. This new monohull designed by Sam Manuard is currently under construction at Black Pepper Yachts, a specialist in the construction of high-performance boats.

Due to be launched in summer 2023, the build is using existing Manuard moulds which originated for Armel Tripon’s L’Occitane en Provence and then Sam Davies’ Initiatives Coeur before being reworked for Sharp’s IMOCA.

Managed by OceansLab, a sustainable sports management company, this new IMOCA seeks to demonstrate scalable clean technologies within the maritime sector.

Rather than using the standard fossil fueled engine found on every boat, the OceansLab IMOCA will be the first to exclusively use hydrogen fuel cell technology created and developed by the team at Genevos where Sharp, who has a passion for renewable energy innovation, is a co-founder.

“IMOCA race boats are the most innovative and extreme of ocean-going vessels,” says Sharp. “They are an ideal platform to showcase vital clean technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, and prove their durability in the harshest of ocean environments.”

According to OceansLab, this will be the first race boat to integrate a hydrogen-electric energy system, technology that is applicable to a vast range of commercial and recreational vessels. The IMOCA’s zero emission energy system will power all on board energy, in addition to propulsion outside of the races.

“Replacing fossil fuel power with renewable energy solutions is an important step forward not only for our sport, but the entire maritime sector,” explains Sharp. “Ultimately, I am sailing to win races, while also proving that by using the latest clean technologies, this can be done with zero emissions.”

As well as hydrogen fuel cell technology, OceansLab will also be demonstrating how other crucial clean innovations, such as recyclable composite materials and solar PV, can perform together to create an eco-efficient yacht.

“In order to meet climate change targets, we need to start developing zero emission vessels across the entire maritime sector, today,” says Sharp. “This campaign will be an important benchmark in demonstrating that practical hydrogen solutions now exist that are ready to be embraced at scale.”

OceansLab will be competing in the IMOCA Globe series grand slam events including 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre, 2024 Vendée Globe, 2026 Route du Rhum, and The Ocean Race 2027.

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