IMOCA General assembly gives thumbs up for Foils

Friday, 28 April 2017

The IMOCA Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday, 26th April in Paris at the Fédération Française de Voile.
This meeting was highly anticipated, because, in addition to reviewing a rich season that culminated in the end of the Vendée Globe, the IMOCA class rules had to be set for the next four years, and technical decisions made, given the number of new projects waiting in the wings.

2016 – an exceptional year

The 2015-2016 IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship  concluded with an extraordinary Vendée Globe : 29 skippers on the start line; 18 finishers; 10 nations represented ; 7 IMOCA 60s equipped with foils, phenomenal competition, a podium only decided in the last few miles; a grand adventure with which the public can identify and added bonuses such as a new race record. This 8th edition of the singlehanded round the world race was unanimously hailed as a success, confirming the position of IMOCA alongside the world’s leading oceanic racing classes.

Jean Kerhoas, who has chaired the IMOCA since 2013, presented his report and highlighted the wise choices made over the last four years, especially those concerning safety and reliability. The introduction of one design masts and keel systems met the objectives as there were no failures among the six boats equipped with them.

Another major development for the IMOCA class has been the establishment of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, begun in 2013 by Open Sports Management (OSM) with the backing of Sir Keith Mills. The success of the Transat New York-Vendée (Les Sables d'Olonne) was such that it is now set to be part of the IMOCA calendar for years to come.

At the end of the latest cycle, many of the IMOCA60s which were for sale have found buyers, most of whom have already set their objective as the next Vendée Globe in 2020, along with other races beforehand in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship calendar. For example, this week Jérémie Beyou announced his new partner, Charal, along with the construction of a new IMOCA 60 making for a dynamic start to this latest IMOCA cycle.

The choice of foils

Unveiled for the first time on an IMOCA60 in 2015, the new generation foils have caused lively debate. Although ground breaking, these appendages proved very reliable and efficient, as well as making for a very strong topic for communication during races. IMOCA60s equipped with foils took the first four places in the Vendée Globe, demonstrating that this technological innovation has more than proved its worth. As a result it was very logical for the General Assembly to reinforce its initial decision to permit these foils by allowing more options to adjust them in order to optimise their use.

Creating stability in the rules guided the Technical Committee's proposals for new development, and so the new rules, adopted by a very large majority of the General Assembly, are now fixed until 2021.

Among the decisions approved at the AGM, boats will now carry one sail less while some other amendments have been made to improve safety following feedback from the last Vendée Globe and Barcelona World Race.

The racing program is agreed until the 2020 Vendée Globe

The Assembly agreed the race program for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship cycle over the next four years to ensure the best preparation for the 2020 Vendée Globe. It again opted for stability with a schedule including the Rolex Fastnet Race, Transat Jacques Vabre and Route du Rhum while reiterating its support for the Barcelona World Race, which was presented by Xosé-Carlos Fernandez, the Director of its organisers, the Fundació Navegació Oceànica de Barcelona (FNOB). On 12 January 2019 the round the world race will start from Barcelona, where it will also finish, but its renewed format now includes a stopover in Sydney. Laura Legoff, Managing Director of the Vendée Globe, also took the opportunity to confirm the interest of SAEM Vendée once again to work alongside the IMOCA class to help reinforce the consistency of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship races over the long term.