IMOCA class readying for The Ocean Race

Following the most exciting Vendée Globe in the event’s history, the IMOCA class is ready for its next challenge, and this time it will be fully crewed racing on the fastest offshore monohulls on the planet in the inaugural edition of The Ocean Race Europe.

For the first time, the IMOCAs will race at their full potential on a tough three-stage round-Europe ocean course, starting from Lorient in Brittany and finishing in Genoa in Italy, via stopovers at Cascais in Portugal with a third stopover in Spain expected to be announced imminently.

Each boat will be sailed by up to five crew, including at least one female sailor and a media crew. In this configuration we will see IMOCAs pushed to the very limits, 24 hours-a-day in an event which is a key part of the new IMOCA Globe Series Championship.

The race starts on the last weekend in May with the opening stage from Lorient to Cascais, a challenging leg that crosses the Bay of Biscay, with up to seven IMOCAs expected to be racing alongside up to seven VO65 one-design yachts but in separate classes and with separate winners.

The Ocean Race Europe has already attracted some of the best boats and skippers in the IMOCA ranks and is sure to capture the imagination of the sailing public in another season affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Antoine Mermod, the president of the IMOCA Class, says this is a new departure for skippers, crews and shore crews, that will offer a foretaste of the global fully-crewed edition of The Ocean Race that will also feature IMOCAs and starts from Alicante, Spain, in October 2022.

“We are delighted to see some of the best boats and teams in the Class taking the start in The Ocean Race Europe,” said Mermod. “I have no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a spectacular event that will fascinate sailing fans who thought they had seen the very best of the IMOCA Class in the Vendée Globe.

“We are looking forward to a strong turnout for a unique race that offers great visibility to commercial partners.”

Nicolas Troussel whose CORUM L’Épargne was dismasted in the early stages of the Vendée Globe, is among those looking forward to getting started on the first full-crewed race for many years in the IMOCA Class.

“Our IMOCAs are fantastic boats and sailing them, whether it is single-handed, double-handed or fully-crewed, is always an opportunity to show how they perform and to learn more about how to use them,” 46-year-old Troussel said.

“The Ocean Race Europe is a real opportunity to live and share an experience on a race course presenting challenging conditions in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.”

The French sailor based at Lorient, says he and his team will have to learn new ways to sail their boat, especially when taking on crews like 11th Hour Racing Team, skippered by Charlie Enright.

“We will have to find the optimum way of sailing the boat in crewed mode,” Troussel explained. “The competition should be tight and we will compete on the water against projects like 11th Hour Racing Team that are more focused on crewed events.”

The English navigator Simon Fisher is among the sailors on 11th Hour Racing Team – the old HUGO BOSS from the 2016-17 Vendée Globe. He says the international crew cannot wait to get started in The Ocean Race Europe.

“We’ve been learning how to sail fast in these boats and to keep up the pace 24/7 when sailing with a crew, so we are really looking forward to the start of The Ocean Race Europe,” he said.

A veteran of five Ocean Races, the Englishman says one of the biggest challenges is going to be trying to get some sleep when you are off-watch in the cramped, noisy and unstable interior of an IMOCA.

“Working out how you’re going to rest is a pretty interesting challenge,” he said. “With two people on deck pushing the boat, getting comfortable enough for some shut-eye is actually pretty hard. But once you are in a racing situation the motivation is stronger, so I think the race is going to be tremendous.”

Fisher says The Ocean Race Europe course offers a bit of everything and an all-round challenge. “It is going to be strategic and tricky and tactical,” he said. “It is also going to be busy because we are almost always going to be sailing quite close to land which will keep the intensity up. Obviously, it is harder to settle into a routine when you are always going around marks and corners and headlands, so it has the makings of quite an intense race.”

Thomas Ruyant who finished sixth in his second Vendée Globe aboard LinkedOut, is another sailor preparing for the challenge of fully-crewed IMOCA action. Ruyant says The Ocean Race Europe is going to be like sailing three giant Figaro legs and with an intensity never before seen in the IMOCA Class.

“You are going to be able to do manoeuvres and change sails much more quickly with that many people on board, so you won’t be taking time over decisions like we do on our own, also because the overlaps between the different sails will be much closer for this race,” he said.

“We are obviously going there to win,” he added, “but the main thing that drew us to the race is the possibility of being able to sail against good teams with a proper crew on board.” Ruyant added that he sees no reason why The Ocean Race Europe cannot become a regular fixture in the four-yearly cycle of the IMOCA calendar.

One of the female sailors taking part in the race is the former Team SCA and Dongfeng Race Team sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race, Justine Mettraux, who will be sailing alongside Fisher on 11th Hour Racing Team. The 34-year-old Swiss former Mini and Class 40 sailor says she is looking forward to some tough competition on the European course.

Asked what the secret of success in this race will be, she said: “It is hard to say – there are always a lot of components in a race like this. We know we have a boat that is a bit older than some of the others taking part, but I think if you sail really well there is always a strategic part to the race as well so, for sure, anything can happen.”

Like Ruyant, Mettraux sees no reason why this race cannot become a regular fixture for the Class. “I hope that happens, it will be nice,” she said. “I think The Ocean Race Europe is a good opportunity to have more people on board, more people involved and also to have more women involved, so all of this is positive for the IMOCA Class.”

Ed Gorman/IMOCA

Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Stronger breeze blows results wide open at Sail Port Stephens

“Sunny with winds 15 to 25 km/h becoming light in the late afternoon” was how the official forecasters optimistically described today’s weather for Sail Port Stephens. At least they were right about the sunshine … The breeze built to a...

Don't pee over the railing! Image courtesy of Pantaenius Insurance.

The deadly hazard of urination – don't pee off the rail

Have you ever heard of “Micturition syncope”? This is a fainting spell that can occur during or, more commonly, immediately after urination due to a severe drop in blood pressure. On board, such a collapse is not only particularly dangerous,...

Jake Lilley selected to second Olympic team

Queenslander Jake Lilley has been announced as Australia’s representative in the Finn class for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, rounding out the sailing selection for the Games. Lilley completes a team blessed with a mix of youth, experience, and a history...

Japan SailGP Team announces new signings for Season 2

The Japan SailGP Team has supercharged its team for SailGP Season 2, announcing the headline signings of Italian sailor and eight-time world champion Francesco Bruni and Great Britain’s Chris Draper, who take on the roles of flight controller and wing...

Tom Slingsby's Australian team powers past GBR on Day One of SailGP on Sydney Harbour. Photo Photo: Chris Cameron for SailGP.

Fox Sports and Kayo app in Australia to broadcast SailGP season 2

With the SailGP Season opener less than a week away, the global championship has announced comprehensive broadcast coverage, with viewers in 175 territories globally able to watch the events, which promise high-speeds, high-tech and high-drama in the second season. Broadcasting...

Sinking yacht threatened Cook Strait power cables

New Zealand website reports that “a shipwreck drifting at the edge of the Marlborough Sounds has damaged a fishing boat and threatened cables vital to New Zealand’s electricity.” Emergency services responded to a mayday call from an 11-metre yacht...

Great Britain SailGP Team confirms Season 2 squad

With less than one week to go until the start of SailGP Season 2, which commences with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess April 24-25, the Great Britain SailGP Team has unveiled its squad that will race...

Rolex Fastnet Race – more than an ocean race

While this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will be highly competitive at the front of the fleet, for many among the record-sized entry of 453 yachts (at present), the objective of tackling the 695 mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg via...

2023 Ocean Globe Race set to be the World’s biggest ever

In 1981, 29 entrants set out on the third edition of the Whitbread Around the World Race, creating the current record as the biggest ever, fully crewed challenge. As the race evolved every four years, it became ever more professional...

Solo sailor rescued in “perfect” conditions

The calm, windless sea was ideal for towing, but no good for sailing, so a solo sailor off Holyhead in the UK did the right thing and called the RNLI when his motor broke down. Pagers sounded just before 5pm...

Latest Posts


Read all of the latest Sailing News

Racing Posts


Dinghy and Yacht Racing News

Offshore Posts


News from the Offshore World

Cruising & Destinations Posts

Cruising & Destinations

Cruising Stories from around the World

Boat & Gear Posts

Boats & Gear

The Latest Boats and Yachting Gear

Video Posts


Watch everything Sailing and Boating

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Join Our Newsletter
Latest Sailing News, Racing, Cruising, Boats, Gear and more