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Transat Jacques Vabre: a once-in-a-lifetime line-up

© Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co / Ocean Masters
© Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co / Ocean Masters
  • 40 skippers for the 2nd race of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship
  • An outstanding sporting challenge
  • First real-life technical test

The IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship press briefing held on the eve of the Transat Jacques Vabre has confirmed the emerging trends:  IMOCA will be the flagship class of this 2015 edition. With 20 boats participating, a battle between new-generation boats and the frontrunners of the last Vendée Globe, and the advent of closely-observed innovations such as foils, IMOCA is proving to be one of the most exciting laboratories of ocean sailing.

This Transat Jacques Vabre – two years after the creation of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship – marks a good point to stand back and check progress. Today, twenty of the Class will be at the start at Le Havre, five of which have been launched this year (Safran, Banque Populaire VII, Edmond de Rothschild, St-Michel Virbac, HUGO BOSS). The duel between the new generation boats and the leaders of the last Vendée Globe (Maître CoQ, PRB, Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir, SMA…) promises to be heart-stopping. With the unresolved question on everyone’s lips: What advantages will the new foils bring over the traditional daggerboards?

The IMOCA Rule has enabled a line-up of boats with different technical criteria at the start of the same race: on the one hand IMOCA 60s with the most recent technological advances, and on the other those that have brilliantly demonstrated their capacity to defend their chances. And finally, the Transat Jacques Vabre will be the real-life test of the standardised masts and keels stated in the new IMOCA Rule.

Further to the deliberations and actions undertaken by the IMOCA Class with the double objective of achieving high-level sport and skipper security, they have cooperated closely with leading providers (Lorima – masts, AMPM – keels, Hydroem – hydraulic systems) to ensure that the IMOCA 60s built in accordance with the new Rule have state-of-the-art, high performance and reliable standardised elements.

The IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship

The Transat Jacques Vabre will reveal how well the skippers of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship have trained. Next up will be the Transat St-Barth – Port-la-Forêt, and then next June the New York - Vendée, high point of the World Championship before the Vendée Globe 2016, the final race of the season.

The current provisional leader of the World Championship, Vincent Riou, will be defending his title won alongside Jean Le Cam in 2013. The Transat Jacques Vabre will award 60 Championship points to the winning skipper (coefficient 3, x20 competitors) and 45 points to the co-skipper. This calculation is a novelty decided by the skippers in their General Assembly, as before only the skipper won Championship points. In this way the double-handed and solo races – the DNA of the IMOCA Class – are treated equally.

They said:

Jean Kerhoas (IMOCA President):

“The first thing I’d like to say is that the IMOCA class is really healthy. This Transat Jacques Vabre will be the first race where we can test some of the innovations, such as the one-design masts and keels. We’re now acutely aware that we must continue to evolve – It’s when a class is strong that you have to work on the future.”

Peter Bayer (OSM Managing Director)

“I am proud to be here and to see the IMOCA fleet representing 50% of the Transat Jacques Vabre race boats. We’ve worked hard with the skippers to fill out the race calendar, and with the Transat St Barth – Port La Foret and the New York – Vendée ahead, we have great things to do together before the next Vendée Globe.”

Vincent Riou (Current leader of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-16)

“These are momentous times. I am delighted to see the number and the quality of competitors engaged in this Transat Jacques Vabre. With the advent of the foils we’re at a transition stage – a new path has been opened and fundamental changes are underway.”

Jean Le Cam (Defending IMOCA Ocean Masters World Champion)

“As current World Champion, I am the pioneer in a long series. There is not doubt that one of the skippers present in this room will be Champion in two years’ time. Let me just say that we must keep up our guard and continue to work on simplifying the IMOCA Rule. »


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