TR Racing – a new boat, a new base and a new standard for team organisation in the IMOCA Class
At the top of the IMOCA Class, teams, designers, skippers and commercial partners are fighting for supremacy, and every now and again something new appears and everyone has to take stock.
That’s the impact that TR Racing is having as it sets out its stall as the first fully integrated two-boat, two-skipper outfit in IMOCA, with its own dedicated state-of-the-art team base at Lorient being built, where up to 30 people will be employed for the next three seasons.
It’s a big statement by the group jointly financed by cyber-security leader Advens and the global consultancy Leyton, that will be represented on the water by 2022 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe winner Thomas Ruyant and by the highly-rated British newcomer to the IMOCA Class, Sam Goodchild.
Last week, Ruyant’s new boat – named For People and designed by Antoine Koch in partnership with Finot-Conq – was launched at La Base in Lorient, as the first walls of the new base were being constructed. In mid-April, Goodchild will be back from Southern Ocean duties on board Holcim-PRB in The Ocean Race for the re-launch of his former LinkedOut (new name as yet to be revealed).
The interesting aspect of this multi-faceted project, which retains its strong social responsibility mission and which has drawn comparisons with two-car teams in Formula One, is the sharpness of its sporting focus. That is, to provide the best launchpad for Ruyant to win the next Vendée Globe – a dream for a man who ran in the top-three for 75% of the last race, only to drop away to sixth at the finish.
Thomas Gaveriaux, the chief executive of TR Racing, is quite clear about the objective. He agreed that TR Racing is setting a new precedent for team organisation within the IMOCA Class. “But it’s also how we think and conceive the best possible route to put Thomas in the best possible position to take on the next Vendée Globe, and also with Sam of course,” he said.
“It’s new because it’s true that it has not been done before, but we like to build our own route, in an environment that’s becoming highly competitive and more and more professional within each team,” he added. “This route was taken on and embraced with Thomas, and with the support of our historic sponsor Advens. And now, with Leyton and Sam joining us, we have the capacity to execute what looks like the ultimate route.”
Gaveriaux does not need much prompting to list the benefits of a two-boat, two-skipper organisation that is fully integrated from top to bottom. He talks about using the older boat – which has been developed and optimised over the last four years and is regarded as a reference within the Class – to accelerate the learning curve with the new foiler. He talks about the opportunity to grow and nourish the team by bringing in new expertise, the financial benefits of shared costs, the increased efficiency in logistics, design work and project management and the benefits of competition between the two skippers.
“We get people comparing what we are doing with how some motorsports teams are set-up – particularly in Formula One – because it is quite obvious and easy to understand how they work,” said Gaveriaux. “But we’re probably aiming at something that’s a lot more integrated and relying on how rich we can make the relationships between all of the individuals that compose the team we are building, to enhance the performance of both of the skippers.”
Ruyant, 41, can’t wait to get his hands on his new boat, as he assumes leadership of the organisation that bears his name. The new boat, which in hull form is a sistership of the new Paprec Arkéa skippered by Yoann Richomme, has interesting freeboard, bow and hull features that all add up to what its skipper hopes will be high average speeds downwind in the Southern Ocean.
“Our objective is to boost the average speed offshore,”said Ruyant. “It’s true that the hull lines, and what we’ve done in terms of design is quite radical and different from the last boats that went out, which are more scow-like. Ours has a bit of a two-storey hull, with width at the front at the top. It’s a bit like a motorboat hull. There’s a lot of detail and you can’t see everything; you can see the big bow, but the whole hull is very refined and there is a lot of power and a big evolution in the foils.”
The Transat Jacques Vabre winner in 2021, who won the Route du Rhum in Class 40s in 2010, accepts that taking on a new boat could have its frustrations after such a successful partnership with the old Guillaume Verdier-designed LinkedOut.
“There’s a bit of risk involved in changing boat and moving forward with another architect and design team,” he said. “But, at the same time, I’m quite sure of the choices we’ve made. We’ve been talking to Antoine Koch for two or three years, we worked together a lot on the previous boat and he has brought his expertise to the understanding of the new boat.”
Ruyant has his heart set on winning the Vendée Globe, and he loves the IMOCA GLOBE SERIES format in a Class that, he says, “is progressing well, with 40 boats and some exceptional sailors,”who he wants to go and race against. “What’s happening in the IMOCA Class is crazy, with the races circuit well in place, plus The Ocean Race, which brings an internationalisation of the Class that is much appreciated by our partners. What’s happening on the water at the moment makes us all want to be there – I don’t want to stop at all!” he said.
And Ruyant acknowledges that, in Goodchild, he will have a competitive teammate who could beat him in his old boat. “I’m delighted that such a good sailor is taking over this IMOCA boat, because we’ve put a lot of energy into making it progress and designing it,”he said. “We want Sam to continue to sail well and to be a front-runner. There will certainly be races where Sam will finish ahead of me, but after that the objective is the Vendée Globe. The other races will allow us to be ready for that and what is certain is that, once the startline is crossed, Sam will be a competitor like any other.”
Gaveriaux says that alongside the sporting objectives, the goal of TR Racing remains promoting the team’s impact partners that support “isolated and precarious people” in their return to work, and lay behind the LinkedOut theme and now For People.
“We are not going to disclose the details of the finances of the current partners,”he said, “but we are lucky to have two strong financial supports for the programme – one of them which is historic for Thomas and other historic for Sam – joining forces in order to put forward a fully-engaged programme which has as its primary purpose to give as much visibility as possible to our impact partners.”
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