The new IMOCA rule, which will be applicable from 2022 to 2025, was voted on at the class association’s general assembly on April 15.
To understand the main developments, Tip & Shaft interviewed the class president, Antoine Mermod. Also interviewed were the architects, Quentin Lucet and Sam Manuard, skipper Stéphane Le Diraison, and Pierre-François Dargnies who is the technical director of the Charal Sailing Team. All are members of the technical committee which worked on the subject.
Tip & Shaft is also speaking to skippers Fabrice Amedeo and Kevin Escoffier, and David Sineau, who is the team manager of Initiatives Cœur.
“An evolution, not a revolution,” is how Antoine Mermod described the rule changes, explaining, “We have an existing fleet which was proven to be reliable on the 2020 Vendée Globe with boats which importantly still have room for improvement, the idea was therefore to avoid promoting a required technological breakthrough.”
For example, the potential and widely called for authorization of foil planes on the rudders which would have allowed the Imoca to properly sustain flight. From the general assembly of August 2020, it was decided to postpone the adoption of these T-rudders.
“Personally, I had voted for them because I did not want to be holding back the big teams and I was I was saying that to innovate is in the DNA of the class,” explains Fabrice Amedeo.
“But when we see the scenario of this 2020 Vendée Globe fortunately we did not vote for them, so let us further digest big foils and the resulting life on board, and we’ll see for 2028.”
Foils were naturally central to the debates over the 2025 rule. When the principle of their limitation was adopted in August the objective is to avoid continued technological escalation – an arms race – and to contain costs, but the framework actually then needed to be specified. Should the criteria be the weight, the price, the volume and/or the manufacturing process that is limited?
In the end, it was the volume criteria that was chosen, but again, it was necessary to agree on the limit not to be exceeded and on how to calculate it, resulting in endless discussions.
Full article in Tip & Shaft: http://www.tipandshaft.com/en/articles/