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The IMOCAs around the world with a crew in 2021

After several months of talks and reflection, a partnership agreement has just been signed between the famous round the world race (Volvo Ocean Race / Whitbread Round the World Race) and the IMOCA cl

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It is a major development for the IMOCA, which after French solo races like the Vendée Globe and the Route du Rhum, will be widening its horizons abroad with crewed races, like the Volvo Ocean Race, the biggest crewed round the world race with stopovers, the most recent edition of which has just ended in The Hague. Antoine Mermod, the President of the IMOCA class, declared that “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. This partnership should allow us to accelerate the development of some of the teams involved in the IMOCA.”

During the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race last week in The Hague, a meeting was held with organisers, sailors and designers like Guillaume Verdier, Juan Kouyoumdjian, Vincent Lauriot-Prévost and Sam Manuard. Vincent Riou, who for a long time was in charge of the technical committee within the IMOCA, was also present: "I was asked to share my experience. The aim was to determine together whether the signed agreements made sense and to come up with some technical solutions."

Johan Salen, co-president of the VOR, declared: “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.
 
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Quotes:

Charles Caudrelier: “This change is very exciting. 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.

Jérémie Beyou, recent winner of the Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng: “Our race team and technicians who are developing a new Imoca will have the possibility of working on a crewed version IMOCA. We have the know-how, a design team that fully understands the rules and how to develop these boats. So why not work for a team?

Bouwe Bekking, who has taken part in eight Volvo Ocean Races and Whitbread round the world races: “I think as a sailor, this is very exciting. 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.”

Torben Grael, Olympic champion, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vice-President of World Sailing: “Of course there are some hurdles to negotiate. 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.

Juan Kouyoumdjian, designer of three boats that have won the Volvo Ocean Race: “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."

Guillaume Verdier, designer of many IMOCA monohulls and prototypes for the America’s Cup: “We’re trying to make a boat for the future that is capable of doing both short-handed and fully-crewed races. My opinion is that it is doable with a bit of compromise from both worlds to meet in the middle.

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