IMOCA Trying to Stay the ‘Most Successful Ocean Racing Class”.

The strapline on the top of the official IMOCA website claims it to be “The Most Successful Ocean Racing Class”. There’s no asterisk or footnote or link to any substantiating evidence for this claim, but success can be whatever you define it to be – so why not boast about it.

[cleeng_content id=”432999920″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Whether or not the class will continue to be successful depends on whether budgets can be kept under control and whether sailors outside of France can convince sponsors that the activation opportunities outside the Vendee Globe are enough to justify the investment. IMOCA has released an update that reports a “sizeable fleet for the end of 2010”.  9 boats are set to compete in the Rhum and at least ten for the Barcelona World Race. This compares with 30 boats starting the most recent Vendee Globe.

New Open 60 Projects

While UK IMOCA sailors struggle to raise money for new boat campaigns, across the channel, four major projects are underway. Vincent Riou’s new PRB has been on the water since the spring, and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac – Paprec 3), is moored up in Lorient. Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) is completing a race against the clock so as to make the start of the Route du Rhum, before gearing up for the Barcelona World Race. The three sailors have all opted for a Verdier – VPLP design, acknowledging the respective performances of Safran and Groupe Bel. Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) is continuing with the construction of his Kouyoumdjian designed boat at the Decision yard in Switzerland.

Other Happenings in IMOCA Sailing Class

Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) has traded in his Lombard design for the Farr designed boat (Ex-BT) previously skippered by Sébastien Josse during the last Vendée Globe. Bilou’s aim is to defend his title during the next Route du Rhum. Roland will once again be competing against Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), who is continuing to optimise his monohull, as well as Marc Guillemot (Safran), who is keen to repeat his performance from the last Transat Jacques Vabre.

For this year’s Route du Rhum, Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) is now in possession of a boat which once belonged to Vincent Riou, while Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air), winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, will be racing on his Finot designed boat again.

Looking ahead to the Barcelona World Race, Dominique Wavre and his new partner Mirabaud will be at the start; while Dee Caffari will be teaming up with Anna Corbella (GAES Centros Auditivos). Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) will also be at the start of the race, aboard a boat previously skippered by Brian Thompson (Pindar).

The Barcelona World Race has had significant investment from Spanish organisers to allow skippers to be on the start-line. IMOCA say that by aligning themselves with the Barcelona World Race for the next 3 editions, the class is gambling on internationalisation. The choice of 2-handed non-stop racing is at the expense of the Clipper Ventures backed single handed stopping Velux 5 Oceans Race.

While the development of the ECO 60 class should be seen as a welcome compliment to offshore racing, it seems that the two organisations are not ready to talk to each other about being stronger in partnership.

The short term goal for IMOCA is to make the Barcelona World Race look like a successful event. When the reputation of a city is on the line, budgets can be found to ensure start-line images with lots of sails. So the Spanish will be out in force. Alex Pella is teaming up with Pepe Ribes (Estrella Damm) on Loïck Peyron’s former Farr design; Pachi Rivero is partnering Tonio Piris (W Hotels Nova Bocana) on Jean-Pierre Dick’s former boat, while Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez (Movistar) are benefiting from the advice of Michel Desjoyeaux after purchasing the winning boat from the last Vendée Globe.

IMOCA allude to the deals being done between BWR organisers and skippers by saying in their statement: “A few other projects will also be taking part in the next Barcelona World Race and they are discreetly being finalised.”

IMOCA Sailors in Coming events

Those taking part in the Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale

  • Arnaud Boissières – Akena Vérandas
  • Armel Le Cléac’h – Brit Air
  • Christopher Pratt – DCNS 1000
  • Michel Desjoyeaux – FONCIA
  • Kito de Pavant – Groupe Bel
  • Vincent Riou – PRB
  • Marc Guillemot – Safran
  • Roland Jourdain – Veolia Environnement
  • Jean-Pierre Dick – Virbac Paprec 3

Those taking part in the Barcelona World Race

  • Jean-Pierre Dick – Loïck Peyron, Virbac – Paprec 3
  • Michel Desjoyeaux – François Gabart, Foncia
  • Dominique Wavre – Michèle Paret, Mirabaud
  • Anna Corbella – Dee Caffari, GAES Centros Auditivos
  • Alex Pella – Pepe Ribes, Estrella Damm
  • Pachi Ribero – Tonio Piris, W Hotels Nova Bocana
  • Iker Martinez – Xabi Fernandez, Movistar
  • Alex Thomson – ?, Hugo Boss
  • Juan Mederiz – Fran Palacio, Central Lechera Asturiana
  • Boris Herman – Ryan Breymaier – (VE1)