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Future-proofing an IMOCA 60: The challenges and innovations in boat building

by 11th Hour Racing Team 13 Sep 2021 03:22 PDT
11th Hour Racing Team sets sail on their new IMOCA 60 during during the commissioning period after the boat was launched in August 2021. © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

Building a race boat is traditionally far from sustainable due to its intense material and energy usage. What innovations can be made to the processes and practices within the marine industry to make a shift away from 'business as usual'?

11th Hour Racing Team has confronted this challenge head-on as they built their brand new 60-foot IMOCA 60, recently launched by the Team in Concarneau, France. The next-generation offshore race boat is designed to compete, fully crewed, in The Ocean Race 2022-23. The prestigious round the world yacht race will see the Team sail up to 45,000 nautical miles through some of the most inhospitable waters on the planet.

Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing Team commented: "We are trying to win a round the world sailing race - and we need a really high-performance boat to do that. Traditionally, boat building is a pretty un-environmentally friendly process. These boats are made of carbon fiber, and they require a tremendous amount of resources and energy to make them. The approach for us was, 'how do we try to win this race, but through a slightly different lens?'"

In Episode 3 of the short series 'The Making of IMOCA 60 11.2', the key players in the boat's design and construction process - 11th Hour Racing Team CEO Mark Towill (USA), Sustainability Program Manager Damian Foxall (IRL), and Boat Build Manager Wade Morgen (AUS) - explain how the Team approached this complex problem.

Aiming to drive positive change and to collaborate with the marine and maritime industries to progress sustainable practices, the Team shares insights into the challenges they faced, the innovations they developed, and the processes they chose when constructing '11.2'.

Shedding more light on 11.2's design and build story, author and sailing specialist, Mark Chisnell, has produced a three-part deep-dive featuring interviews with Designer Guillaume Verdier, Skipper Charlie Enright and Build Manager Wade Morgan.

  • The Design Challenge
  • The Design Solution
  • The Build Story
Towill concluded: "We have a responsibility to do our part to minimize our impact. Having that consciousness and doing what we can to push the boundaries of new technology, we are hoping that the Team can become a role model. We want to prove that you can still be focused on trying to win an around-the-world race, but that you can do things differently. There is not much time left to turn things around, the moment to act is now. If the whole industry aligns, we could have a very different competitive landscape in a few years and together achieve a real paradigm shift."

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