Building on its previous successes in singlehanded round the worlds (four victories between 1992 and 2004 in the Vendée Globe and three in the BOC Challenge), the Finot-Conq Group became a reference, despite an announced breakthrough by naval architects Farr Yacht Design.
Briton Alex Thomson turned to the French architects in 2007 to design him what proved to be a very original IMOCA with a double cuddy and flush deck, which enabled all the manoeuvres to be centred between the two companionways to save weight and centre it. The beamy and powerful Hugo Boss finished 2nd in the Barcelona World Race in 2008 (with Andrew Cape), but the boat then collided with a trawler at the entrance to Les Sables d’Olonne as the skipper was making for the Vendée Globe start. Despite the repair work, the boat was subsequently forced to retire from the race due to delamination of the hull. It was time to go again in the Transat Jacques Vabre (with Ross Daniel). Having switched to a Polish flag, Zbigniew Gutkowski also had to retire after suffering keel issues.
Energa took the boat back to France again in the hands of Stéphane Le Diraison, who began preparing her for the Vendée Globe 2016-2017 in late 2015 in the new colours of the Compagnie du lit-Boulogne Billancourt. Unfortunately, she dismasted to the south of Australia two days before Christmas… The boat was then revamped in Caen before taking on the Route du Rhum 2018 (8th), then in 2019 the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race (10th) and the Transat Jacques Vabre with François Guiffant (20th). For his second Vendée Globe, Stéphane Le Diraison made his dream come true, finishing 18th on this boat, renamed Time For Ocean.
The boat was then taken on by a young Briton, James Harayda (24), who has already participated in a number of races in various parts of the globe and has compatriots Dee Caffari and Alex Thomson as his key mentors. Now known as Gentoo, the boat has undergone a substantial refit, depriving her of races in 2022. The ‘relief’ sailor will compete in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and very much hopes to base the boat in Gosport, the UK’s IMOCA stronghold, to prepare for the Vendée Globe 2024 in the tradition of his British peers.