Founded in 1991 and recognised by ISAF (International Sailing Federation) since 1998, IMOCA is the class association, which takes care of 60-foot Open monohulls (18.28 metres). With more than thirty skippers signed up, its championship includes two round the world races, a round Europe race and several ocean races. The IMOCA class aims to make ocean racing more international and it brings together ideas about competitions, innovation, human adventure and safety.
The goals of the IMOCA class are to develop the fleet of 60-foot monohulls and to offer skippers an attractive and coherent programme.
IMOCA defines the rules ensuring fairness, while encouraging innovation and developing the safety of the boats.
Most of the races are solo and double-handed and its world championship rewards exceptional sailors, who race on the most difficult seas in the world.
As it has developed, IMOCA has always paid particular attention to encouraging greater respect for the environment, with renewable energy not merely seen as a resource, but also an important element in terms of performance.
Within its organisation, IMOCA brings together firstly the skippers (active members) and other people involved in the development of the class and its projects: the sponsors of boats, project leaders, designers, builders (associate members). The first role for IMOCA is to draw up the rules which govern races, in partnership with organisers, with the goal being to improve still further the safety of the sailors. At the same time, IMOCA stresses the vocation of the 60-foot monohulls as fantastic laboratories dedicated to technological innovation, which may well bring new solutions to the marine sector.
The IMOCA class was set up under the impulse of 50 and 60 foot monohull racers and more precisely, Isabelle Autissier, Alain Gautier, Christophe Auguin and Jean-Luc Van den Heede, who after a testing 1996-1997 Vendée Globe, felt the need to create a common platform and rules bringing together racers, which would allow them to make progress, both in terms of racing and in the area of safety.
To make things perfectly clear, IMOCA focused on the leading class, in other words the Open 60 monohulls. The IMOCA class then organised itself so that today it is the reference partner for the organisers of major ocean racing events. With the support of the French Sailing Federation, IMOCA is now recognised by ISAF, the international organisation, which coordinates sailing activities around the world.
The racers within IMOCA play an ongoing role in these technological laboratories that the IMOCA monohulls represent. Modifications to class rules mean that remarkable progress has been made in the area of boat safety (righting and stability tests, the development of passive safety, emergency hatches,…) contributing to improvements in living conditions and safety on board. But the Class is also involved in research and the development of sustainable and responsible solutions. The first to witness the effects of climate change and committed to the need to respect the environment, IMOCA skippers contribute to this each day with the development and research into solutions to find alternative energy sources (hydrogenerators, wind turbines, solar energy, fuel cells), leading to the development of hybrid solutions and the construction of boats that are designed to last.