Please select your home edition
Zhik 2021 New Season LEADERBOARD

The IMOCA Class prepares for fully-crewed racing in The Ocean Race Europe

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA Globe Series 26 Mar 07:04 PDT
11th Hour Racing Team on a training trans-Atlantic crossing from Newport, Rhode Island, USA to Concarneau, France © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

After the most exciting Vendée Globe in the event's history, the IMOCA Class is ready for its next challenge, and this time it will be fully crewed racing in the fastest offshore monohulls on the planet in the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe.

For the first time the IMOCAs will race at their full potential on a tough three-stage round-Europe ocean course, starting from Lorient in Brittany and finishing in Genoa in Italy, via stopovers at Cascais in Portugal with a third stopover in Spain expected to be announced imminently.

Each boat will be sailed by up to five crew, including at least one female sailor and a media crew. In this configuration we will see IMOCAs pushed to the very limits, 24 hours-a-day in an event which is a key part of the new IMOCA Globe Series championship.

The race starts on the last weekend in May with the opening stage from Lorient to Cascais, a challenging leg that crosses the Bay of Biscay, with up to seven IMOCAs expected to be racing alongside up to seven VO65 one-design yachts but in separate classes and with separate winners.

The Ocean Race Europe has already attracted some of the best boats and skippers in the IMOCA ranks and is sure to capture the imagination of the sailing public in another season affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Antoine Mermod, the president of the IMOCA Class, says this is a new departure for skippers, crews and shore crews, that will offer a foretaste of the global fully-crewed edition of The Ocean Race that will also feature IMOCAs and starts from Alicante, Spain, in October 2022.

"We are delighted to see some of the best boats and teams in the Class taking the start in The Ocean Race Europe," said Mermod. "I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a spectacular event that will fascinate sailing fans who thought they had seen the very best of the IMOCA Class in the Vendée Globe. We are looking forward to a strong turnout for a unique race that offers great visibility to commercial partners."

Nicolas Troussel whose CORUM L'Épargne was dismasted in the early stages of the Vendée Globe, is among those looking forward to getting started on the first full-crewed race for many years in the IMOCA Class.

"Our IMOCAs are fantastic boats and sailing them, whether it is single-handed, double-handed or fully-crewed, is always an opportunity to show how they perform and to learn more about how to use them," said 46-year-old Troussel. "The Ocean Race Europe is a real opportunity to live and share an experience on a race course presenting challenging conditions in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean."

The French sailor based at Lorient, says he and his team will have to learn new ways to sail their boat, especially when taking on crews like 11th Hour Racing Team, skippered by Charlie Enright.

"We will have to find the optimum way of sailing the boat in crewed mode," explained Troussel. "The competition should be tight and we will compete on the water against projects like 11th Hour Racing Team that are more focused on crewed events."

The English navigator Simon Fisher is among the sailors on 11th Hour Racing Team - the old HUGO BOSS from the 2016-17 Vendée Globe. He says the international crew cannot wait to get started in The Ocean Race Europe.

"We've been learning how to sail fast in these boats and to keep up the pace 24/7 when sailing with a crew, so we are really looking forward to the start of The Ocean Race Europe," he said.

A veteran of five Ocean Races, the Englishman says one of the biggest challenges is going to be trying to get some sleep when you are off-watch in the cramped, noisy and unstable interior of an IMOCA.

"Working out how you're going to rest is a pretty interesting challenge," he said. "With two people on deck pushing the boat, getting comfortable enough for some shut-eye is actually pretty hard. But once you are in a racing situation the motivation is stronger, so I think the race is going to be tremendous."

Fisher says The Ocean Race Europe course offers a bit of everything and an all-round challenge. "It is going to be strategic and tricky and tactical," he said. "It is also going to be busy because we are almost always going to be sailing quite close to land which will keep the intensity up. Obviously it is harder to settle into a routine when you are always going around marks and corners and headlands, so it has the makings of quite an intense race."

Thomas Ruyant who finished sixth in his second Vendée Globe aboard LinkedOut, is another sailor preparing for the challenge of fully-crewed IMOCA action. Ruyant says The Ocean Race Europe is going to be like sailing three giant Figaro legs and with an intensity never before seen in the IMOCA Class.

"You are going to be able to do manoeuvres and change sails much more quickly with that many people on board, so you won't be taking time over decisions like we do on our own, also because the overlaps between the different sails will be much closer for this race," he said.

"We are obviously going there to win," he added, "but the main thing that drew us to the race is the possibility of being able to sail against good teams with a proper crew on board." Ruyant added that he sees no reason why The Ocean Race Europe cannot become a regular fixture in the four-yearly cycle of the IMOCA calendar.

One of the female sailors taking part in the race is the former Team SCA and Dongfeng Race Team sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race, Justine Mettraux, who will be sailing alongside Fisher on 11th Hour Racing Team. The 34-year-old Swiss former Mini and Class 40 sailor says she is looking forward to some tough competition on the European course.

Asked what the secret of success in this race will be, she said: "It is hard to say - there are always a lot of components in a race like this. We know we have a boat that is a bit older then some of the others taking part, but I think if you sail really well there is always a strategic part to the race as well so, for sure, anything can happen."

Like Ruyant, Mettraux sees no reason why this race cannot become a regular fixture for the Class. "I hope that happens, it will be nice," she said. "I think The Ocean Race Europe is a good opportunity to have more people on board, more people involved and also to have more women involved, so all of this is positive for the IMOCA Class."

Related Articles

2024 Vendée Globe projects already launched
New ideas and solutions will make it possible to have a faster, better race The president of the IMOCA Class was a passionate fan of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe. And so now looking forwards to 2024 projects are emerging fast as are new ideas and solutions which will make it possible to have a faster, better race. Posted on 11 Apr
Ambitious 2024 targets for DMG MORI Sailing Team
Kojiro Shiraishi is aiming to return for the 2024 Vendée Globe After finishing 16th in the last race Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi is aiming to return for the 2024 Vendée Globe with the objective of finishing eighth or better, and in partnership with main sponsors DMG MORI Posted on 5 Apr
From the Vendée Globe to industry
What technology transfers? Over the years, the IMOCAs have become veritable technology laboratories. Autopilots, optical fiber, satellite communication systems or even security, progress is everywhere and continues to inspire more and more businesses in the maritime sector. Posted on 31 Mar
Back to life, back to reality V 2.0
They are among the latest sailors to have sailed around the world However, for Romain Attanasio, Arnaud Boissières, Clément Giraud, Manuel Cousin and Alexia Barrier, the 2024 Vendée Globe has already started with no real break fro them since they finished the 2020-21 race. Posted on 28 Mar
Charlie Enright looks to The Ocean Race Europe
The inaugural edition will require a focus on tactics, teamwork and boatspeed The skipper of 11th Hour Racing Team says the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe requires a focus on tactics, teamwork and boatspeed... Posted on 28 Mar
World capital of single-handed ocean racing
Les Sables d'Olonne is now preparing to welcome you for the next great adventures Port Olona, with its high-quality infrastructures, the infamous channel that so many great sailors have sailed through, the South-facing bay and the Atlantic ocean landing its waves to the expansive beach... Posted on 24 Mar
11th Hour Racing furthers sustainability goals
A new partnership with Dutch organization, Water Footprint Implementation Pulling out all the stops in their quest for a water neutral campaign, 11th Hour Racing Team has established a new partnership with Dutch organization, Water Footprint Implementation. Posted on 22 Mar
2020-21 Vendée Globe much more than just a success
Uniting, inspiring and engaging a wider audience than ever before Against an unprecedented global health context which brought on many unique challenges, the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe emerged as a triumph, uniting, inspiring and engaging a wider audience than ever before. Posted on 15 Mar
Vendée Globe: Never say never
Eye of the Expert, Alain Gautier He won the 1992-93 edition at the age of 31, he was the longtime safety consultant for the event and this time was the director of Isabelle Joschke's MACSF project, Alain Gautier has had many roles in his life with the Vendée Globe. Posted on 14 Mar
Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy set for June
Full Ocean Race Europe fleet to headline the event Portuguese sailing and ocean racing fans will be part of an incredible event this June when a fleet of foiling IMOCA 60s and one-design VO65s take to the coast of Portugal as part of the second annual Mirpuri Foundation Sailing Trophy. Posted on 11 Mar
McConaghy Boats 2021 - FOOTERDoyle Sails 2020 - Redefining Boundaries 728x90 BOTTOMSea Sure 2021 - RED - FOOTER