Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures

2019: An unprecedented boom for the IMOCA class

by IMOCA Globe Series 8 Jan 10:28 PST
Jérémie Beyou's Charal © Yvan Zedda / Alea / Charal

The IMOCA class has never experienced such enthusiasm and as 2019 gets under way, it looks like being a very exciting year. At least six new generation IMOCAs will be launched in 2019 and more than thirty boats will be out there racing with in particular the Transat Jacques Vabre (start on 27th October from Le Havre) bringing together a record line-up.

Various new projects were recently unveiled and others will follow shortly. It is time for us to take a quick look at the fleet through the expert eyes of Jacques Caraës, the Race Director for the last Route du Rhum and the next Vendée Globe.

Things are really moving in the IMOCA class. The 2018 Route du Rhum saw an unprecedented line-up and it will be the same for the next Transat Jacques Vabre with no fewer than 25 to 30 double-handed crews expected.

"The current boom in the class is something that is totally unprecedented," stressed Jacques Caraës. So far, around ten sailors have obtained their qualification for the Vendée Globe, but around 35 projects will be up and running in 2019, while the Notice of Race for the 2020 Vendée Globe limits the number of entrants to just thirty. "This is the first time there has been so much demand for the Vendée Globe," explained Jacques Caraës. "Qualifying will be down to the number of miles raced, so there is going to be a real competition to get to the start line. The sailors who didn't complete the Route du Rhum, no longer have a joker to play. As is the case too for those getting their projects going later."

Solid projects, new entrants, boats still available

Out of the twenty sailors, who took part in the Route du Rhum, eighteen are continuing with their project as they make their way towards the Vendée Globe. The only exceptions are Erik Nigon, who is looking for funding and has put his boat up for sale, and Vincent Riou, who has handed over the helm of his PRB to Kevin Escoffier (see below).

Other projects are currently being built, some of which will be sailed by sailors from outside of France. The British sailors, Pip Hare and Richard Tolkien have respectively bought the former Superbigou and Pindar, the Belgian skipper, Denis Van Weynbergh is now the owner of the former Spirit of Hungary, while the Italian, Giancarlo Pedote will be taking the helm of Yann Eliès's IMOCA, Ucar-StMichel.

Saint-Malo based Maxime Sorel will be entering the circuit too in 2019 with the former Le Souffle du Nord/Team Ireland. As for Jean Le Cam and Sébastien Destremau, they may well return to the IMOCA class this year... We can see that between eight and ten IMOCAs remain available in the second-hand market, including some that are attracting a lot of attention, like the sought after former Safran and Hugo Boss...

2019, the year of new boats

For the moment, only one new generation IMOCA has been launched, Jérémie Beyou's Charal. But later this year, at least six other new boats will be launched for Alex Thomson, Charlie Dalin, Sébastien Simon, Armel Tripon, Kojiro Shiraishi and Thomas Ruyant. These IMOCA were designed by four different architects: Juan Kouyoumdjian, Guillaume Verdier, Sam Manuard and the VPLP team. We should add that an eighth brand new boat may see the light of day, using the moulds of an IMOCA that is currently being built...

"This is a very interesting boom period, probably down to the new relationship with The Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race (ex Volvo Ocean Race), which will spread out the cost of the boats," said Jacques Caraës. "The skippers competing on brand new IMOCAs automatically qualify for the Vendée Globe, once they have sailed at least 2000 miles. The Transat Jacques Vabre will be a great test, in particular concerning the reliability of these very powerful boats."

New projects for Isabelle Joschke and Kevin Escoffier

Two bits of good news were recently announced. The first concerns Isabelle Joschke, who now benefits from the support of MACSF, which is returning to the IMOCA class. Jacques Caraës: "It's great to see this enterprising and enthusiastic partner bouncing back with a new project. Isabelle Joschke, who was chosen as the skipper, is a pair of safe hands in the class. The boat being worked on by some very good technicians will be fine tuned in the coming months. There weren't any women in the last Vendée Globe, but in 2020, we may see four lining up (Sam Davies, Alexia Barrier, Pip Hare and Isabelle Joschke)."

Other big news from late 2018: Vincent Riou will not be lining up for his fifth Vendée Globe and will be handing over the helm of his PRB to Kevin Escoffier. Winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng, the head of the Banque Populaire research team, Escoffier certainly has a lot of technical knowledge and is a very skilled racer. After specialising in crewed racing, he is making the switch to solo sailing, which according to Jacques Caraës will not pose any problem for him.

"He will quickly adapt. He has an exceptional experience of offshore racing and with the support of Vincent Riou, he has a great teacher. He will have a boat that has been well adapted with huge potential in terms of speed thanks to her new foils. This is an ambitious project and Kevin will certainly be one to watch."

Related Articles

What we have learnt from the Bermudes 1000 Race
Won on Friday by Sébastien Simon There is still one competitor still at sea in the second edition of the Bermudes 1000 Race, the Belgian skipper, Denis Van Weynbergh, who is expected to finish on Thursday afternoon in Brest. Posted on 20 May
Alex Thomson Racing to launch new Hugo Boss boat
Confirms October debut in Transat Jacques Vabre Designed by Alex Thomson Racing and French naval architects VPLP, the new HUGO BOSS boat is currently being constructed by world renowned British boat builder Jason Carrington and his team on the south coast of the UK. Posted on 20 May
Ultimes threaten Rolex Fastnet record destruction
It is very likely the outright record will fall in this August's edition In the last windy Rolex Fastnet Race in 2011, the Loick Peyron-skippered Banque Populaire V blasted around the 608 mile course in one day, eight hours and 48 minutes. Posted on 19 May
Bermudes 1000 Race finale draws near
But it's hard to know how long each boat will be slowed for After hurtling along at warp speed for 24 hours, propelled by a steady NW'ly wind, the leading boats in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez – Brest have, as expected, seen their progress falter as of early this afternoon. Posted on 17 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: One race, two systems
Not all teams being treated the same this Wednesday Those competing in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez – Brest are not all being treated the same this Wednesday. The first boats are still being shown the way by Sébastien Simon (Arkéa – Paprec), who is creaming along at an average speed of over 15 knots Posted on 16 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: Game on again at Azores mark!
Incredible turnaround on the racetrack Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC), who was leading the fleet with a 40-mile bonus in relation to his closest pursuer at daybreak, has slowed dramatically to the point that he's actually becalmed in the area surrounding the waypoint. Posted on 14 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: Sébastien Simon in the lead
Romain Attanasio's analysis at the Azores waypoint There is still everything to play for with a very tightly packed group just behind him, comprising Yannick Bestaven, Sam Davies, Boris Herrmann, Maxime Sorel and Giancarlo Pedote. Posted on 14 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: Accordion effect
Current leader Sébastien Simon has seen his lead halved in the last 24 hours Though yesterday proved to be a bracing day, with a SE'ly breeze of between 25 and 35 knots on short seas, the pace of the 17 solo sailors in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez – Brest has slowed considerably since last night. Posted on 13 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: Drag race towards the Azores
Drag race towards the Azores The 17 competitors in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez-Brest suspected that this 2,000-mile test would be both comprehensive and complicated. And they haven't been disappointed! Posted on 13 May
Bermudes 1000 Race: Sébastien Simon escapes
The leading pack battle it out This Saturday, the competitors in the Bermudes 1000 Race Douarnenez-Brest have each rounded Fastnet, to the South of Ireland, in turn. Sébastien Simon led the way this morning, followed by Sam Davies and nearly all the fleet of 17 IMOCAs Posted on 12 May
Vaikobi 2019 - Footer 3Marine Resources BOTTOMNaiad 660x82px_Superyacht