Please select your home edition
Edition
Henr-Lloyd BLU LEADERBOARD

Antoine Mermod, IMOCA President, "2024 Vendée Globe projects have already been launched"

by Vendée Globe 11 Apr 10:23 PDT

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.

What, for you, was the most outstanding aspect of this ninth edition?

Antoine Mermod: "I am above all a sailing fan and I love the history and legacy of this race, which in fact was a bit crazy, and which was shared by all the sailors who, each in their own way, inspired and engaged us.

Did the way it rolled out surprise you?

A. M: Well, yes and no. One way or another a solo round-the-world sailing race is always an extraordinary adventure. There is no such thing as a normal story. But this time in particular it surprised me, even considering that each Vendée Globe is different.

Many of us typically expected to see the benchmark time - the 74 days record of Armel Le Cléac'h of 2016 - tumble but the winner came home in 80 days. Did that surprise you?

A. M.: Yes it did a little but I think it did for many people because since 2008, we have seen that we have improved the mark by one day in each year that goes by. And for sure on paper it was completely conceivable that this Vendée Globe could be won in 70 days. But the sea and weather conditions rather worked against this scenario.

Among the best news from the IMOCA class point of view must be that 25 of the 33 entries finished the Vendée Globe, and as well as that two women sailors carried on to the finish line despite having had to abandon.

A. M: That's a great source of pride. A Vendée Globe is such a huge adventure that completing it is a success in itself. Getting around is always an ambition, and getting to the finish line is important for the partners, the teams and all those people who invest in our skippers. It is important that things turn out well for the healthy future of programmes, the race and the class. Future projects have already been launched and they are catalysed by the evidence of a fleet which is reliable sailed by well organised and prepared skippers who are up to the challenges. In this respect, teams, the Vendée Globe organization, the FFVoile and the rules committee in particular and us have all worked hard over four years to set the bar high.

So the Vendée Globe 2024 already looks promising, do you think?

A. M.: Yes, indeed we already have a very strong momentum for the next edition, yes. When the previous race mixes the reliability of the boats with great stories it inspires skippers and partners to come back and newcomers to join the adventure, and others who raced previous editions to come back and have another go. The numbers for this 2020 edition were exceptional: this Vendée Globe attracted a very large audience during a particular period when sailing really stood out as never before. Now everyone wants to do even better in four years, and people want to continue to be inspired. It was a great success.

Among the highlights of this Vendée Globe having six women at the start remains an encouraging sign. What do we need to do develop this still further?

A. M.: Gender equality is a major social issue for our times and sailing is one of the rare sports which allows everyone to race on an equal footing from the starting line to the finish line. We were disappointed for Sam Davies and Isabelle Joschke, who were both fighting near the front when they retired, but they both found the courage to complete their respective solo round the worlds. We would like to now see ten or twelve women on the starting line! In the IMOCA Class, with The Ocean Race, we are helping to bring on female talent as each crew will have to include at least one woman. This is important, real work towards that future.

Another very impressive character was Damien Seguin, who, moving from Paralympic sailing on a straight daggerboard boat, finished 7th!

A. M.: Damien is amazing. He is a great ambassador for inclusion. Having a skipper of his level, who could very well be one of the real contenders to win in four years times, shows how open and equable our sport is. The sea is open to everyone.

We have the feeling that ocean racing including the Vendée Globe increasingly seems to resonate with a wider public.

A. M.: That is a general state of mind that drives the sailors in this class and others. We have very competent skippers many of them talented engineers or technicians in their own right but who manage to remain super accessible. These enthusiasts want to and need to share this chance they have to live their passion. In the case of the last Vendée Globe it resulted in 33 different adventures around the world all of them based on humility, accessibility and simplicity, which in my opinion are very relevant, modern values. The sailors reveal themselves, they tell their story, and it is very transparent. In my opinion, we have managed to maintain the ethos, the simple down to earth philosophies of the skippers, their simplicity and direct speaking, an ease of access, the contentment with being able to share and increasingly engendering a generosity of spirit which all in all makes it all very human.

With a view to the Vendée Globe 2024, what are the directions that the IMOCA Class (which is meeting this Thursday for a General Assembly) will take?

A. M.: We are in the process of finalizing the changes in the rules (all the technical rules to which boats must comply, editor's note). There will be no major technological breakthrough, we will be very much in line with what has prevailed in this Vendée Globe. We have seen all the development that needs to be done to optimise boats with large foils, to finesse their performance. We are going to limit the size of the foils which we did not do for 2016 because we did not have the accumulated knowledge to plan for the future. Now we understand better and teams are all moving towards solutions that seem adequate. This is a time to regulate foils and their use. We are also going to vary the orientation of the mast because, in the Southern Ocean IMOCAs with very tight lines found it very difficult to go fast. By changing the orientation of the masts the driving vector will be more upwards, and this will generate a big gain. And in fact now we only go the Sothern Oceans every four years and only learn each Vendée Globe edition, but the boats need to be able to be more versatile to tackle what in essence is a third of the race.

What lessons can be learned from the Kevin Escoffier (PRB)'s accident?

A. M.: It is difficult to form any really concise analysis (since the boat sank, editor's note). Kevin and his team have made some conclusions but it's not easy to learn lessons. Regarding structural breakage, we are considering two solutions that would apply to older generation boats, especially those from before 2010. The strength criteria that we have imposed since that date are twice as high. All the data compiled on each Vendée Globe is good for us and we can clearly see that the boats have held up well. This is harder for older boats and studies are under way on the aging of composite structures. On the other hand, we have learned some valiuable lessons in terms of safety. What caused problems in Kevin's recovery was his lack of communications and various security features. We are reacting to this. And then we have to review some rules on the unsinkable elements and on the construction of hatches in watertight bulkheads ".

For more information visit www.vendeeglobe.org.

Related Articles

Alain Leboeuf new President of the Vendée Globe
A long and successful career in the service of the Vendéens This week the Board of Directors of SAEM Vendée unanimously elected Alain Leboeuf as the new President of the Vendée Globe. Posted on 24 Jul
Benjamin Dutreux raises his game for 2024
With the purchase of 11th Hour Racing IMOCA Benjamin Dutreux, the French solo racer whose home town now is Les Sables d'Olonne, confirmed on Tuesday this week that his team have purchased the IMOCA 11th Hour Racing. Posted on 16 Jul
Summer, little time to pause for IMOCA skippers
'Holiday time' for the Vendée Globe stars episode #1 Don't think for one minute you'll find them lazing around on a beach. Almost six months after they reached dry land, those who took part in the Vendée Globe are planning a hard summer of studying and won't have much time to enjoy themselves. Posted on 11 Jul
Antoine Cornic living an adventure
Wanting to take part in the Vendée Globe adventure in 2024 At the age of 42 and a resident of the island of Ré, where he runs a restaurant, Antoine Cornic, who was born and bred by the sea, has always dreamt of sailing away and enjoying every moment out there. Posted on 5 Jul
Vendée Globe - Vision 2024
The tenth edition, starting November 2024, is on everyone's mind Almost 6 months after the first skippers crossed the Vendée Globe finish line already the tenth edition, starting November 2024, is on everyone's mind. Posted on 20 Jun
Champions All, Vendée Globe prize-giving
Thirty-one of the 33 skippers muster in Les Sables-d'Olonne Thirty one of the 33 skippers who competed in the 9th Vendée Globe mustered in Les Sables-d'Olonne on Saturday for the official prize-giving and closing ceremony which saw Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ) receive top award as the overall winner. Posted on 23 May
A new Medallia for Pip Hare for 2024 Vendée Globe
The new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 British skipper Pip Hare and her sponsors Medallia have confirmed they are the new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 which Louis Burton sailed to third place on the Vendée Globe. Posted on 16 May
All you need to know about the new IMOCA rules
A limit on foil size, measures to reduce environmental impact and contain costs The updated IMOCA rule seeks to limit foil size and limit environmental impact and to contain costs. The new rules which are in force until 2025 were unveiled by the IMOCA Class last week. Posted on 7 May
Vendée Globe - On course for 2024
A starter for 10... they have done it before and already said 'yes' The huge wave of enthusiasm for the Vendée Globe during and after the last edition means there are more and more solo skippers intimating their plans to do the next race which will start November 2024. Posted on 4 May
Interview with Catherine Chabaud MEP
First female Vendée skipper now cares for ocean health Back In 1997 Catherine Chabaud became the first female sailor to complete the Vendée Globe, taking sixth place and in so doing becoming the first woman to race solo non stop around the world without assistance. Posted on 28 Apr
Pineapple Cup 2022 FOOTERCyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2