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Vendée Globe - A look at the new IMOCAs being built

by Vendee Globe on 14 Aug 2014
Macif sailing, pre Vendee Globe 2012 - Penmarch, FRA © Jean Marie Liot / DPPI
Three new IMOCA monohulls are currently being built for the Vendee Globe and work is due to begin shortly on a fourth. Their skippers, Armel Le Cléac'h, Morgan Lagravière, Sébastien Josse and Jean-Pierre Dick are all aiming to make it to the podium, or even to win the next Vendée Globe. All four new boats are designed by VPLP-Verdier and are scheduled to be launched in the first half of 2015. We take a look at the work currently underway.

Safran and Banque Populaire decided to work together on the construction of their future monohulls, in particular by using the same mould. For Safran, Marc Guillemot and his team have been working in close collaboration with Morgan Lagravière, whi will take over at the helm of the new Safran in 2015. The construction of the hull is already well underway at the CDK yard in Port-la-Forêt, which is in charge of the project. 'The second skin is being applied at CDK and the hull should be ready in September,' explained Marc Guillemot. At the same time, the deck is also being built: its construction has been sub-contracted out to Couach in Arcachon, with Thierry Eluère, who built the first Safran in charge.

Finally, Marc’s team is also working on the gear and deck hardware... There has been a series of meetings and they are very busy at SOG (Sailing Organisation Guillemot), where Safran No. 1 is also being prepared for the Route du Rhum for which Marc will be at the helm. The launch of Safran n°2 is planned for the first quarter of 2015. Safran 2 will therefore be one of the first new generation boats to become operational. In fact, Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière will not be competing in the Barcelona World Race, so that they can be present for the handover of the new boat and can begin to fine tune her.

There’s no hanging around at Team Banque Populaire either. Armel le Cléac’h, who is getting ready for the Route du Rhum aboard his maxi-multihull, had to cancel his attempt at the North Atlantic record, not having found the right conditions in New York, where the boat was on stand-by, to tackle Francis Joyon’s record. Armel can therefore keep a close watch on the construction of his brand new 60-foot boat. Aboard this boat, he hopes to make it to the top of the podium, which he has so far just missed out on in the Vendée Globe.

The deck of this VPLP-Verdier designed boat is already being built at CDK. They are going to have to wait for the hull – as planned – for Safran to finish with the mould, which the two teams jointly financed. Laying down the first skin will begin once Safran has finished with the mould. The launch of the new 60-foot Banque Bopulaire is scheduled for the spring of 2015, a few weeks after Safran. 'For the moment we’re right on time and the project hasn’t fallen behind schedule,' declared Armel Le Cléac’h’s technical team.

They’re busy too at Gitana Team. The designs of Sébastien Josse’s new monohull were due to be handed over to the Multiplast yard on 28th July in Vannes, so that work could begin on the moulds for the new Groupe Edmond de Rothschild. For this project, the design pairing of VPLP-Verdier is working in close collaboration with the design team within Gitana Team. It is another skipper - Antoine Koch – who is taking care of this work along with two young designers: Armand de Jacquelot and Sébastien Sainson. To be more precise, these two are working on the deck layout and the various systems. Sébastien Josse is dividing up his time between the MOD70 (like Armel Le Cléac’h, he too is preparing for the Route du Rhum in the Ultimate category) and monitoring the design phase of his new boat for the 2016 Vendée Globe. She is due to be launched in June 2015, so in 11 months from now.

Work is due to begin on the construction of Jean-Pierre Dick’s new 60-foot IMOCA in the autumn of 2014, with her launch scheduled almost a year later in the summer of 2015. She too will be the result of studies and design choices made by the Vannes-based pairing of Guillaume Verdier and VPLP. Her first major race is due to be the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre…. in which Jean-Pierre Dick holds the outright record with three wins under his belt.

The sailor from Nice will then sail in the Transatlantic race from Britain, but his main goal is of course to have the perfect machine to be able to win the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.

Editor’s note: The Hungarian sailor Nandor Fa has already sailed on the first IMOCA to have been built under the new rules: Spirit of Hungary. He experienced a few teething problems during his first race between New York and Barcelona, but has a lot of time ahead of him to get his boat in shape for the start of the Vendée Globe in November Vendee Globe

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