During IMOCA’s Annual General Meeting on 24 April 2014, Luc Talbourdet, the appointed President for some eight years, passed the baton to Jean Kerhoas who, for the past thirty years has been involved in various ways in the development of sailing in France and Europe. His mission is to continue the work undertaken by the IMOCA Class which, wiser for this experience, can envisage new angles for the Class, with notably the 2015-2016 programme for the IMOCA OCEAN MASTERS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. All the administrators have had their posts renewed.
This General Meeting was an opportunity for Luc Talbourdet to assess the past few years he has spent heading up IMOCA, with the emphasis on the last four of those.
First of all, Luc Talbourdet was keen to evoke the path he has taken to get to this stage: today, the IMOCA Class is the master of its evolution, both on a technical and sporting level.
THE RULES, A programme
IMOCA set itself several objectives:
In terms of the class measurement rules, it was necessary to develop these further so as to improve the reliability of the boat, to better manage costs and enable the Championship to develop by proposing various business opportunities.
That’s what the development of the rules is all about: they still enable a freedom of design but have more control over the sensitive elements, namely the mast and the keel, both of which are standardised today. This has been achieved without compromising the performance of the boats, which are continually progressing, the emphasis having been placed on reliability and, as a result, on improved supervision of the budgets.
At the same time, IMOCA has geared itself up to guarantee its programme and provide its partners and investors with certainties. 2013 saw the arrival of OSM (Open Sports Management), a trading company that holds the rights to IMOCA, which is in charge of the development of its Championship and its partners.
In this way, it’s on a solid foundation that new projects are being launched with the focus on the next Vendée Globe. Though this race remains the Holy Grail, today the path required to achieve this honour offers support and a programme, which make the various projects more secure and helps towards their ultimate success.
Banque Populaire, Gitana, Hugo Boss, Safran and Virbac-St Michel, historic partners to IMOCA projects, are building new boats.
PRB, Maître CoQ, Macif, Initiatives Cœur and Bureau Vallée, are refining their boats. The next Route du Rhum will give those involved an indication of their level of competitiveness and how high the bar needs to be raised for those boats in build. It’s a very real challenge and the coexistence of the older generation and new boats bodes well for some almighty battles, which was an important factor in the development of the rules.
The trust that emanates from our skippers and their partners now needs to be shared with new skippers, new investors and new advertisers. OSM’s crew, under the leadership of Sir Keith Mills and Peter Bayer, is going to great lengths to do just that and the IMOCA OCEAN MASTERS programme will contribute further.
Succeeding François Gabart, the 2014 World Champion will be named at the end of a 2-year season which this year includes the New York-Barcelona, the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race.
Our British friends would say that, “it all began in the Solent”. Very well then! The programme for the 2015-2016 World Championship will kick off with the Fastnet, followed by the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Transat B to B (return to Europe), The Transat and the Vendée Globe.
The all new New York – Barcelona race, which forms part of the preparations for the Barcelona World Race, will welcome the first of the new IMOCA boats “Spirit of Hungary”, the skipper/builder of which is none other than Nandor Fa, one of the founder skippers of IMOCA in 1991.
How can you not allude to stability in a context such as this!
For years IMOCA members have been putting every effort into developing their Class, without losing sight of the cornerstone of its history. Together with their Class, the skippers are adopting the stance they have when they’re racing: one eye on what’s going on ahead to anticipate and follow the best possible trajectories, one eye on the rear view mirror to remain on their guard.
Working alongside the SAEM Vendée since 2003, to ensure the sustainability of one of the finest solo races created by a skipper (Philippe Jeantot with the support of Philippe de Villiers), partner to the city of Barcelona since 2007 for the creation of the Barcelona World Race and today associated with Sir Keith Mills, IMOCA is moving forward and sticking to its course.
It is in a bid to remain on this course that all the outgoing administrators have been re-elected, with the exception of Dominique Wavre, administrator since 1998, who was keen to bring his term of office to an end.
Luc Talbourdet took the time to acknowledge Dominique’s commitment and steadfastness, both as an administrator and President (2008-2009). Dominique’s work was also acknowledged by the Assembly.
Armel Le Cléac’h, Luc Talbourdet, Jean Le Cam and Vincent Riou are returning to their posts alongside Alex Thomson, Bernard Stamm and Marc Guillemot.
Jean Kerhoas, co-opted by the skippers in the Executive Committee, is the newly elected administrator and becomes the new President of IMOCA.
By entrusting the helm to Jean Kerhoas, the skippers have shown great discernment. Everybody is mobilised by his or her respective projects and so it was a wise decision to offer the post to a key personality from French sailing to take the reins of the IMOCA class. Vice-president of the FFVoile (French Sailing Federation), in charge of development for the past 18 years, President de Nautisme (President of Watersports) in Brittany and an instigator of the network that has enabled a number of young sailors to access solo offshore racing, Jean Kerhoas intends his term of office to continue on with the actions already undertaken.
After having shared his expertise among several European projects, it is with a great deal of conviction and support from Luc Talbourdet that he is taking up position alongside Sir Keith Mills so as to extend IMOCA’s influence across the world. IMOCA’s internationalisation will also be that of the Vendée Globe, which is yet another reason for us to move forward together.
Jean Kerhoas thus outlines his line of conduct:
"I will try to be attentive to everyone. Together with the Executive Committee and using the solid foundation built on by my predecessors, it is down to me to summarise the major focus points, to envisage the intelligent compromises that are involved and to implement a policy that has been defined in common with the members, with both perceptiveness and authority.
To be summoned by the greatest solo skippers in the world to take up the presidency of their Class is a fresh honour and a responsibility, the importance of which I’m all too aware.
Luc Talbourdet, who has worked as president of IMOCA for the past eight years, by implementing a new class measurement in particular and by encouraging the partnership with the OSM company, has left me a solid international association with good prospects for development, which I shall make every effort to follow through on with the support of the Executive Committee.
In collaboration with the institutions in charge of sailing around the world and the event organisers, we’re going to further reinforce the “IMOCA OCEAN MASTERS” World Championship so as to improve the Class’ visibility and attract more and more competitors to our circuit."