Volvo och IMOCA överens

Agreement will see IMOCA 60 boats in next race

IMOCA 60 boats have been invited to participate in the next race…

A partnership agreement has been made with the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA), which provides the exclusivity to use the IMOCA 60 for crewed round the world yacht races.

Last week, during the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague, an Educational Session for interested parties was held around the IMOCA Class Rules.

Sailors from the most recent Volvo Ocean Race and IMOCA events, along with yacht designers currently involved in construction of new IMOCA Class boats such as Guillaume Verdier and Juan Kouyoumdjian, came to The Hague to brainstorm around the changes.

“This is a first step of many in preparing for the next edition of the race in 2021,” said Johan Salen, co-President of the race. “There is an ongoing co-operation process to put in place the elements we need to make the next race a success from a sporting and business point of view.

“This is a complex matter with many perspectives, and we are respectfully welcoming continuous input from all key stakeholders, from World Sailing to individual sailors, teams and partners. We are confident that this is the right way forward.”

“Moving the race into foiling monohulls under the IMOCA class will motivate more sailors, teams and the wider marine industry to prepare for the next edition. Partnering with the existing IMOCA infrastructure means the professional offshore sailing calendar becomes more unified and efficient, this helps the sport as a whole and helps to build a sustainable business model for teams and sailors.”

“This agreement provides IMOCA owners and sailors with access to the premiere fully crewed offshore race in the world, which is also a great storytelling platform,” said Antoine Mermod, President of IMOCA.

“As we work together to bring the most important offshore races in the world – short-handed and fully crewed – to the IMOCA class boats, it will allow us to grow the class internationally and offer more value to our stakeholders.”

The move to include IMOCA boats will ensure the race continues to be at the forefront of yacht design and technology while challenging the best sailors in the world in a fully-crewed, offshore environment.

A joint committee is being formed to draft a specific section of the Class Rules for Crewed IMOCA 60, respecting the spirit and intent of the partnership, which includes cost control, security and sporting fairness.

The rule relating to crew numbers on board the IMOCA class in the next race is among the items under consideration, with the goal of retaining an On Board Reporter role.

The latest Volvo Ocean Race concluded this past weekend having seen the closest racing in the 45-year history of the event. Three teams started the final leg with an opportunity to win the overall race title. With less than 10 miles left in the 45,000 nautical mile, 11-leg race, the outcome was still in doubt, until Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team finally slipped ahead of their rivals to secure a thrilling victory off The Hague.

“This change is very exciting,” Caudrelier said after receiving a briefing on the changes. “The Open 60s are just amazing boats. I really enjoy sailing on these boats and I think when people see it, they will enjoy it. If the two best offshore races in the world are going to join the same class, to me it’s good news.”

“I think as a sailor, this is very exciting,” said Bouwe Bekking, a veteran of eight Volvo Ocean and Whitbread Round the World races. “For the younger generation of sailors, they’re all about foiling and surfing and going fast and you have to get the best sailors involved in the race. With the Open 60s, they’ve nailed it, because this is what the sailors want.”

“Of course there are some hurdles to negotiate,” said Torben Grael, Olympic champion and a Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper as well as a Vice-President of World Sailing.

“But if we manage to join the two worlds together then it will be positive as it opens the race to many new sailors to join and creates a much bigger calendar of events for the teams racing in Open 60s.”

The partnership means the leading designers in offshore sailing will be engaged in the next edition of the race with the goal of producing the fastest fully-crewed offshore round the world racing monohull in history.

“Yachting is a sport that isn’t only about the crew, but it’s also about the equipment, so combining the two elements is what allows you to say you are at the pinnacle of offshore racing,” said Juan Kouyoumdjian, who has designed three Volvo Ocean Race winning boats in the past.

“I think it is a very positive step forward. The future will allow for the sailors and designers to push to the next level which will inevitably trickle down to other classes.”

“We’re trying to make a boat for the future that is capable of doing both short-handed and fully-crewed races,” said Guillaume Verdier, among of the busiest of the current IMOCA class and America’s Cup designers. “My opinion is that it is doable with a bit of compromise from both worlds to meet in the middle.”

The partnership with IMOCA will also ensure that the boats will allow for the production of cutting-edge media, as was the case on the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Live access to the boats while they were racing in some of the most remote oceans of the world, as well as drone footage and media produced by on-board reporters made for ground-breaking coverage that produced record fan engagement.

This remains an important priority for the next race.

As does crew diversity. The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race featured 23 female sailors as well as 30 sailors under the age of 30. Both were records for the race. This is a trend to be encouraged for the future.

“The process is just starting,” said Nick Bice, who is leading the project to develop the Open 60 rule for the next race. “We’ve had four of the current IMOCA designers with us to help us understand the issues we’re going to face.

“We’ll forward everyone’s input to the joint committee and get started on developing the rules that will be used for Open 60s to participate in the next race. Our goal is to have this ready to go by the end of the year.”

The future of the VO65 class of boats, used in the last two editions of the race, will be revealed in the coming weeks.

1 Comment

  1. Author
    Peter Gustafsson Jul 26, 2018 Reply

    Det blir två klasser nästa gång…

    The 2021-22 edition of the world’s premiere fully-crewed around the world race will feature two classes of boats, the IMOCA 60 and the VO65 class.

    Each class has its distinct characteristics, and the inclusion of both means the race will be more open and inviting to sailors and designers as well as more engaging to a broad spectrum of fans, increasing value for stakeholders.

    Crews will race boats within their own classes and two trophies will be awarded. Teams will be permitted to enter each class.

    The IMOCA 60 is a design-driven, foil-assisted monohull on the cutting edge of technology. Perhaps best known for its use in short-handed races like the Vendée Globe or Route du Rhum, the class will be adapted by leading yacht designers to accommodate a full offshore crew who will be pushed to their limits racing this boat around the world.

    In contrast, the VO65 is a one-design offshore racing boat that was used in the last two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. The 2017-18 edition, won by Dongfeng Race Team, was the closest in the 45-year history of the event, in large part due to the strict one-design racing which equalised the performance potential of the boats.

    “By opening the next race to the IMOCA 60 and the VO65, we intend to attract the very best sailors, designers and teams in the world to take up the challenge of competing in the pinnacle fully-crewed around the world race,” said Johan Salén, co-owner of the event.

    “The introduction of the IMOCA 60 brings a design and engineering element to the race that keeps us at the cutting edge of technology and performance and will be appealing to the most competitive performers in our sport.

    “And we’ve just seen how close and compelling the event can be when strong teams are racing the one-design VO65. Opening the race to both classes gives us the best of both worlds.”

    The VO65 class will have a strong orientation towards youth, building on the experience of the most recent edition, which featured a talented crop of sailors taking on the challenge of the race for the first time, including several Olympic medallists and America’s Cup winners.

    “This is where the stars of tomorrow are born,” Salén said. “We want to encourage teams to give opportunities to younger crew, in order to bring some of the top talent from smaller boats, for example, into the offshore world.”

    Race management is currently working on a preliminary Notice of Race for the 2021-22 event, which is expected to be published in the autumn, and will include details on crew numbers and crew diversity incentives and/or restrictions for each class.

    Concurrently, in conjunction with The Sports Consultancy, work is intensifying to identify exceptional cities for the stopover ports in the next race. The selection of these Host Cities will define the route of the 2021-22 race, which is expected to include 8 to 10 stopovers, while maintaining the Southern Ocean legs of the race.

    “Together with the race organisers our experienced host procurement group is looking forward to taking the next edition of the race to market and engaging with potential stopover cities around the world who share our enthusiasm about the exciting evolutions that the next race will bring,” said Robert Datnow, Managing Director of The Sports Consultancy. “I expect the bidding process to be hotly contested and highly competitive”.

    The next edition of the race will start from Alicante, Spain in September/October of 2021, and finish in Europe in May/June of 2022.

    “Since the most recent edition finished last month we have been working hard to define the evolution of the race heading into 2021 and beyond,” said co-owner Richard Brisius.

    “Our priority is to stay true to the core values of the event as we move forward. We want to promote a sustainable race around the world that will be a relentless and exhilarating competition between teams comprising the very best sailors, designers and boat builders in sailing.

    “And we will continue to innovate and use the latest technology to share this story of human endeavour and achievement as widely as possible in order to inspire the next generation of offshore sailors as well as all of our fans who follow our event so passionately.”

    More information about the next race will be released in the coming weeks and months, including updates on the Notice of Race and Host City selection.

    The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 finished on June 30 with the seven teams competing in the final In-Port Race in The Hague. Fans enjoyed the closest finish in race history, with three teams starting the final leg in a dead heat for the race win.

    Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team would become the first Chinese-flagged team to win the race over Xabi Fernández and his Spanish MAPFRE crew; their second place result was the best ever for a Spanish team. Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel would complete the podium on his eighth attempt at the title.

    For the first time in race history, female sailors were integrated into each race crew and Carolijn Brouwer, Marie Roux and Justine Mettraux became the first women to win the Volvo Ocean Race.

    Utilising a strategy of promoting raw content direct from the on board reporters and sailors on each race boat, the event set new records for online and social media audience numbers and fan engagement.

    As a live event experience, nearly 100,000 corporate guests attended at least one of the 12 stopover cities, where the Race Villages attracted over 2.5-million fans.

    “Since 1973 this race has been about people taking on the challenge of racing around the world. This last event was among the best in race history,” Brisius concluded. “Our job now is to build on that platform and take the race from strength to strength as a sustainable, premium world sporting event.”

    On May 31, 2018, organisers confirmed the next race will take place in 2021 under new ownership. The transfer of ownership to Atlant Ocean Racing Spain is expected to be completed and take full effect as of October 1, 2018, with Volvo continuing as a sponsor of the race.

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