There was a celebration in Paris this week as the IMOCA world joined forces with The Ocean Race in looking ahead to the start of the next edition in October 2021.
On Tuesday morning, the IMOCA general assembly passed a newly written version of the Class Rule for fully crewed events, defining the characteristics of yachts that will compete in the IMOCA 60 class of the next race.
“This was a big moment for the race,” said Johan Salén, co-President of the race. “It’s the first concrete outcome of a collaboration that began this summer as we work towards integrating the IMOCA class into our event.”
The rule defines a boat that respects the open design philosophy of the IMOCA class as well as balancing crew safety and performance the same way the short-handed version of the rule does.
“It has been important for us to minimise the changes that would need to be made for boats to compete well in both short-handed and fully crew configurations,” said Antoine Mermod, the President of IMOCA.
“We have worked together with current and potential teams, as well as experienced IMOCA designers, to come up with a solution that allows existing boats to race on a competitive basis in a fully crewed event.”
Following the IMOCA general assembly, Richard Brisius, the President of the race, spoke about the next steps.
“We intend to issue the Notice of Race and open the entry period in the coming days,” he said. “The Notice of Race is a technical document, but in reality these rules are an expression of our vision for the event and will affirm our commitment to youth and crew diversity as well as a robust sustainability programme.
“We will see two classes in the next race, the IMOCA 60s which will push the frontiers of design and engineering and bring the larger maritime industry back into the race. And the one-design VO65 class will return, with close racing and a larger crew size that allows for youth rules. Both classes will have women on board.”
Brisius noted the host city procurement process is already underway, with the race route to be defined and host cities announced by the summer of 2019.
While in Paris, representatives from the race have been taking meetings with prospective teams to update on progress and get feedback on how the race should evolve.
“The signs are all very positive,” Salén said. “There is a healthy mix of what I would call the more traditional teams who have done our race before, alongside those who have been more immersed in the short-handed IMOCA world. We know there are still hurdles to overcome, but we are eager to merge these two worlds. We are stronger together.”
“From my side it is encouraging that we have been able to move so far in such a short period of time of working together,” Mermod said. “We have to keep listening so that we understand each other well and we take full advantage of this opportunity and make it a success.”