Back in April, the IMOCA Class drew up the outlines for an evolution to its rules.
The objective is threefold: to make the boats reliable and to reduce the costs, whilst keeping the fleet as similar as possible. Logically discussions have been rich and at times animated. Ultimately the solutions adopted enable members to cast an eye to the future, without rejecting the existing.
The two main decisions have involved putting forward the idea of standardising the masts and keels, which are the two most vulnerable elements of the boats. In addition to these measures there is a move towards increased stability and restriction of the power.
Following this decision, the Class’ Technical Committee and Executive Committee, assisted by structural engineers, Gsea Design* and HDS**, set to work putting forward rules and solutions, which then had to be validated at the General Meeting.
Since 17 October this has been a done deal. Indeed an overwhelming majority of those present at the meeting adopted the proposed plans and the next IMOCA boats will feature a standardised keel and mast, whose characteristics have now been defined.
The technical measures
The keel will be made from forged stainless steel manufactured from a single piece and two mast options are proposed, a fixed mast with spreaders and a wing mast. The keel and masts have been designed using the very latest cutting-edge technology. They are high performance, the safety criteria has been improved and all previous IMOCA experiences have been taken into account. On account of the standardisation, the Class guarantees the development of these elements, with the additional assurance of trust and confidence for future projects.
The door to innovation remains open in every domain. If you had to make a comparison with any other mechanical sport, it’s rather as if we’ve been working on the road holding and reliability of our engines. It’s also an additional enhancement of our sailor’s talents as navigators.
Today safety has prevailed. Naturally these strict new measures lead to questions about the performance of future boats, which will have to compete with the top boats from the existing fleet. Aware of this situation, but also convinced of the ingenuity of the designers, IMOCA has set a date for this coming December to make one or two adjustments if deemed necessary, which will give rise to the next generation of boats.
*GSea Design is an engineering firm specialising in the design and calculation of composite components. To its credit it boasts the vast majority of the masts among the IMOCA fleet.
**HDS is an engineering firm specialising in the structural analysis of boats for the past 20 years. Its expertise is recognised around the world and appreciated by a great many naval architecture firms. www.hds-design.com