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IMOCA General Meeting: two fine years of racing in store

© Thierry Martinez
© Thierry Martinez
  • The Annual General Meeting was held on 29 April in Paris
  • The IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship through to the Vendée Globe 2016
  • A new race setting sail from New York in spring 2016

It was in the French Sailing Federation offices, IMOCA’s headquarters, that the Annual General Meeting took place to review action undertaken and outline the main routes forward for the Class. The feedback from the past year was positive and plans are already in the pipeline for future advances.

As a preamble, Jean Kerhoas, President of IMOCA, applauded the Class’s good health with some seven new boats built or being built and a very real prospect of a fleet of twenty-five competitors at the next Vendée Globe. This very encouraging situation mustn’t prevent us from casting an eye to the future and anticipating the various evolutions underway in oceanic racing. Such was the direction of the President’s Report presented by Jean Kerhoas and approved by the General Meeting.

IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship: maturity

Those at the meeting paid tribute to Jean Le Cam for his IMOCA Ocean Masters World Champion 2013-2014 title. Winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2013 with Vincent Riou, and winner of the Barcelona World Race 2014 with Bernard Stamm, Jean Le Cam’s title serves as a timely reminder that the IMOCA Class administrators are also skippers who sail.

The IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship continues to consolidate its position. For this new 2-year period, which began with the conclusion of the Barcelona World Race, the IMOCA Class has validated a programme that alternates between double-handed and single-handed races. In addition to the traditional events – the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Vendée Globe – the championship will hinge around two events that are taking root, the Rolex Fastnet Race, which will be run double-handed, and the single-handed Transat B to B, which is the return transatlantic sprint back to Europe after the Transat Jacques Vabre.

An original event prior to the Vendée Globe

Moreover, the IMOCA class has opted to follow through on the suggestion by OSM Open Sports Management – organiser of the championship – to add a new single-handed race between New York and Les Sables d’Olonne to its race programme. This unique event setting sail from the legendary city of New York and finishing in the port that hosts the Vendée Globe is designed as a warm-up race before the competitors take the big plunge in November 2016, with both races involving predominantly downwind conditions. Finally, the arrival on Vendée soil should be an opportunity to rally together a substantial public whilst the skippers get a taste of the journey up the channel into Les Sables d’Olonne.

Jean Kerhoas re-appointed as President and Jérémie Beyou a new administrator

Finally, the General Meeting also saw the election of the new administrators: three outgoing advisors were reappointed, namely Jean Kerhoas, Alex Thomson and Marc Guillemot. Jérémie Beyou joins the Executive Committee as a replacement for Bernard Stamm, who after a number of years of loyal service wished to pass his seat to others wanting to steer the destinies of the IMOCA Class.

The programme for the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

  • Rolex Fastnet Race (double-handed), Cowes – Plymouth (GB), start 16 August 2015
  • Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), Le Havre – Itajai (BR), start 25 October 2015
  • Transat B to B (single-handed), Saint Barts – Roscoff, start 6 December 2015
  • Transat New York to Les Sables d’Olonne (single-handed), start 29 May 2016
  • Vendée Globe (single-handed), start 6 November 2016

Statement from Jean Kerhoas, IMOCA Class President

“This General Meeting testifies to the maturity of the IMOCA Class: we’ve had some excellent, lively discussions, where everyone involved has taken the time to listen to what the others had to say. This GM has confirmed the fact that in a year’s time, we’ll study the class measurement rules to be implemented after the Vendée Globe. The programme for the next two years is coherent. The best possible indication of the IMOCA Class vitality is that we’ve had some lively, but warm debates in the meeting, with all the racers going on to adopt a common line .”

Sir Keith Mills, President of the OSM

I applaud the decision of the General Meeting to validate our strategy of establishing a spring race as a warm-up to the round the world race which concludes each Championship. As the New York to Barcelona Race (June 2014) served as preparation for the Barcelona World Race, so the New York to Les Sables d’Olonne (June 2016) will be the final springboard for the Vendée Globe. This 100% IMOCA race guarantees us a stable, solid event schedule, setting sail from what is an extremely attractive city for our partners and the media, bound for a symbolic venue in ocean racing terms which will give us a fitting welcome less than six months prior to the start of the star event in our 2015-2016 Championship.

This is a key investment in our bid to consolidate the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, improving legibility and thus strengthening the trust of our team and their partners.”

Statement from Yves Auvinet, President of the Vendée department council

“This new race between New York and the Vendée region will serve as a kind of dress rehearsal for both the skippers and we the organisers prior to the start of the Vendée Globe in November 2016. It’s the perfect opportunity to display the Vendée Globe’s colours in the build-up to the main event and to produce images. It is also a chance to meet the media at the round the world start venue outside all the pressure which surrounds the event, and will be the ideal time to communicate with the public, whom I’m sure will be out in force at the finish of this transatlantic race.” 

Statement from Jérémie Beyou, new IMOCA Class administrator

“I put myself forward because I felt it was a way of bringing coherence to my words and my actions. I’ve had a great deal to say about the future of the IMOCA class. There comes a point when you have to agree to put in the effort. I’ve come to voice my ideas and to be as constructive as possible.

With regards to the New York to Les Sables d’Olonne race, I think it’s excellent news. It’s a race that sets off from overseas to finish in France. It’s a good balance. It should enable us to gauge the respective strengths of the opposing armies a few months prior to the Vendée Globe. It’s down to us to ensure that this new race is a success.”


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