That is exactly what the IMOCA skippers have been wondering since their arrival in New York.
First of all, it’s an idea voiced by both, the skippers running IMOCA and OSM, the organiser of the New York – Vendée. It’s a desire to share a vision of the life of a skipper, whose adventures we’ll be following in the upcoming Vendée Globe, with a wider public. It’s a means of getting a better understanding of the race so we can better track how things are developing.
It’s also a first in solo racing. Its implementation is tricky and every team has its own vision on how to best fulfil the media objective without compromising the performance of its skipper and without putting the media crew at risk. It’s a difficult equation and more time will be needed to resolve it. Serious thoughts should also be given on the relevance of a media man on a single handed race.
We need to take into account the fact that life aboard the IMOCA 60 is particularly tough and the dangers are omnipresent. The faster the boat goes, the more intense the competition and the greater the risk.
One can well understand the choice made by certain skippers to limit the risk as much as possible by selecting hardened sailors to fulfil this role. Rather than focusing on improving their performance, their main concern is that it won’t have a negative influence on performance, which is totally legitimate.
As such, selecting a media person becomes a strategic choice, which can have repercussions on the skipper’s performance, one way or another. Herein lies the difficulty with this idea.
OSM has enabled IMOCA to make progress, giving it a better insight into the difficulties of securing media coverage in our sport, namely solo offshore racing. A mirror image of crewed racing is not possible. It was important to give it a go in order to find that out.
Ultimately, our skippers will be setting sail alone, save for three skippers who are embarking media professionals, none of whom are seasoned sailors in offshore events. It’s a mighty challenge, which will enable the inside story on the race to be told, without compromising the sporting values.
It was also a mighty challenge to come to this conclusion, where everyone defended their sport and their values passionately and with conviction.