Alex Thomson Racing has announcing the build of the new Hugo Boss IMOCA 60 to be launched in summer 2015, with the aim of winning the 2016 Vendee Globe.
The plans the Alex Thomson Racing Team are making in this period will have a significant effect on the competitiveness of the skipper and the boat years in advance of races such as the Vendee Globe. The Team aims to put Alex Thomson on the start line of the Vendee Globe with a boat that is good enough to win.
Alex Thomson - © Lloyd Images
Financially, building a new race boat is a considerable investment and Alex Thomson Racing are privileged to have the support of their sponsors and financial backing to announce this boat build. Whilst the IMOCA class have made a number of rule changes to increase the reliability and reduce the costs of the class, the investment is still upwards of €3million. The Alex Thomson Racing Team have been sponsored by HUGO BOSS since 2003 and have secured continued sponsorship until 2018. 'We have a great sponsor in HUGO BOSS. Our team has developed into not only being capable of delivering our sponsors marketing objectives, but also putting a winning campaign together. Today, we take a big step forward in our ambition to be a winning part of the Ocean Masters circuit and delivering on our shared ambition' said Team CEO, Stewart Hosford.
The Team have chosen Guillaume Verdier and the VPLP Team to design the new HUGO BOSS. Technical Lead from Alex Thomson Racing, Ross Daniel said 'To date we have had an incredible experience with working together with Guillaume and Vincent at VPLP/Verdier. These guys are incredibly down to earth, extremely talented, and have a passion for creating winning IMOCA boats.' Aware of the importance of delivering the project on time, on budget & to quality, the Alex Thomson Racing Team understand the significance of having the right project manager and the right builder to lead the project.
The Team are currently in negotiations with Hythe based Green Marine to complete the build. Simon McGoldrick, the Team’s Naval Architect said 'We hope and believe that the team at Green Marine are the right partner for this project, they are experienced and capable in building custom composites on time and on budget. Given the choice we would always chose to build the boat in the UK as we are a British Team and want to support the industry and local suppliers that we rely on day to day'. The boat will be launched in summer 2015, with the objective to be race ready to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre in late October 2015.
With the IMOCA rule still essentially an open rule, where aside from the one design mast and keel, the designers and the teams are still able to seek competitive advantage through design and build. A key element in producing a successful build is to be willing to take some risks and innovate. The hull shapes of the 2016 Vendee Globe IMOCA 60s are likely to be an evolution of the current boats, but one area that has seen significant R&D is the new types of appendages.
The IMOCA class has always led in the development of new concepts in offshore racing and will again push the boundaries during the 2016 cycle. McGoldrick said; 'This Vendèe Globe cycle will be particularly exciting as we will almost certainly see the use of foils not too dissimilar to those used in the Americas Cup. The foils should significantly increase the performance of the boats, an increase we have not seen since the canting keel was invented. Today all the simulations are theory based and of course theory can be very different to reality, so it is going to be a fascinating next 12 months to see what emerges'.
Lastly, the Alex Thomson Racing Team believes it is crucial to ensure the build is in phase with the competition. There are four new boats that have already been announced- Safran, Banque Populaire, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Saint-Michel-Virbac. These teams are in various stages of design and build and will be hitting the water from January through to late summer 2015 to compete in the Ocean Masters circuit and the Vendee Globe 2016.
'We want to take advantage of the very latest design thinking, but also get the boat in the water early enough to ensure reliability. We have a simple objective and that is to put Alex Thomson on the start line, with a boat that is as good, if not better, than all the other boats that will line up on the Ocean Masters circuit' said Hosford.
In the meantime, Alex Thomson is preparing to take on the Barcelona World Race, the double handed, non-stop, round the world race, on December 31st 2014 together with co-skipper Pepe Ribes. Alex’s perspective: 'We have worked hard to put together the right combination to make a successful project. We feel that we have put ourselves in-phase with the right designers and the right team internally and externally to be fully competitive through this cycle. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity – I cant wait!'