by Vendee Globe
Of the Vendée Globe fleet of twenty IMOCA Open 60’s - six have been built new since the end of the last race, PRB, Banque Populaire, Virbac-Paprec 3, Macif, Cheminées Poujoulat and Acciona 100% EcoPowered. On paper, these newest boats should represent a jump in performance over the previous generation, indeed designer Merf Owen of Owen-Clark has said previously that successive generations should represent a performance increase of around five percent.
Pontoon - 2012 Vendee Globe Race Village
As a comparison to 2008’s fleet of 30 there are fewer new boats this time, which is not unexpected given the global economnic situation. But of the last edition’s 15 new (2007-8 launched) boats only five finished : Foncia, BritAir, Safran, Pindar and Aviva finished.
This time four of the new boats are from the design offices of VPLP-Verdier – PRB, Macif, Banque Populaire, Virbac-Paprec 3. Owen Clark designed Javier Sanso’s Acciona 100% Eco-Powered which is slightly heavier and more powerful than the VPLP-Verdier designs whilst Bernard Stamm’s new Juan Kouyoumdjian design is acknowledged as the most powerful new design in the fleet.
One key difference from last time is the optimisation and miles the new boats have sailed. Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 3 has already won the Barcelona World Race, was sailed back from New Zealand as a shakedown delivery and on top of that has raced the equivalent of half way round the world again since being built. Vicent Riou’s PRB has already sailed the miles equivalent to one round the world. Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire was previously Michel Desjoyeaux’s last Foncia which has a list of honours including third in the last Transat Jacques Vabre, third in the Europa warm’Up and second in the Transat BtoB.
François Gabart has benefited from the cooperation with and project management of Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux’s Mer Agitée and won the Transat BtoB with Macif but that is Gabart’s longest deep ocean race with his boat.
Bernard Stamm has not sailed anything like as many miles. His Cheminées Poujoulat had to be refitted after being abandoned in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre.
Bernard Stam on deck, Cheminees Poujoulat
And Javier Sanso’s Owen-Clark design is the newest in the fleet, along with Cheminées Poujoulat having the fewest racing miles under their keels.
They are not old, but neither are they new. They are the most recent generation, some built for the last race. Of this generation the most proven has to be Michel Desjoyeaux’s Farr designed former Foncia which he won the last race with. It is now in the very capable hands of Jérémie Beyou and races as Maitre Coq.
On its debut Desjoyeaux won the Transat Jacques Vabre with this boat but more recently the 2007 launched IMOCA Open 60 also completed a second nonstop tour of the planet in the hands of Spain’s Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez finishing second in the Barcelona World Race.
And the last edition’s second placed finisher, the former BritAir of Armel Le Cléac’h, a Finot design, is back to go round again this time with Bertrand de Broc.
Jean Le Cam, second in the 2004-5 race, returns with the Farr design which lead the last Vendée Globe as Gitana 80 skippered by Loick Peyron. Though Peyron did not finish, the boat did complete the last Barcelona World Race as Renault Zero Emissions with Pachi Rivero and Antonio Piris.
Marc Guillemot launched the first of the VPLP-Verdier partnership designed boats with Safran has a great combination of racing miles linked to an ambitious and comprehensive optimisation programme. Safran has developed a new fully integrated mast track system which is made in 3D woven carbon composite. Safran themselves developed the carbon fibres weaving system and the new innovation is said to run virtually no risk of being torn off the mast – as happened during Guillemot’s last race when he had to climb his rig some 25 times. The other new development for Safran is a keel fin made in titanium.
Alex Thomson has a Farr design which also lead the last Vendée Globe. Then it was Sébastien Josse’s BT which latterly went on to win the last Route du Rhum as Roland Jourdain’s Véolia Environnement. Thomson finished second in the last Transat Jacques Vabre with Guilermo Altadil on the boat’s first outing as Hugo Boss and more recently took more than 24 hours off the Transatlantic record in the summer.
Poland’s Gutek has a late running programme with Alex Thomson’s Finot designed Hugo Boss, the sistership to BritAir and Generali, now Energa.
Energa - 2012 Vendee Globe
Mike Golding also has a very potent combination of a last generation boat which he knows well, having also lead the last Vendée Globe. His experience of the race – this is his fourth – is allied to a well optimsied boat though he has not managed to get as many training miles this spring and summer as he wanted.
Arnaud Boissieres has Vincent Riou’s former PRB, the Farr design fitted with a new, lighter rig whilst Louis Burton has Bureau Vallée the ex-Delta Dore.
Dominque Wavre’s Mirabaud is a 2006 Owen Clark design which has to retire from the last race after developing keel problems but which completed the first edition of the Barcelona World Race.
There are comparatively fewer older boats in this edition of the race. Sam Davies has the 2004 Marc Lombard design which raced as Véolia Environnement in the last race and lay second until the Azores. Optimized with Juan K, the boat had a new keel fitted last summer. Tanguy De Lamotte has a 1998 Lombard design which was formerly Catherine Chabaud’s Whirlpool which has had some updating work on the advice of Michel Desjoyeaux, whilst Italy’s Alessandro di Benedetto’s Team Plastique was formerly Akena Vérandas designed by Finot Conq.
Vendee Globe website