After an exciting Vendée Globe, the IMOCA Class is ready for its next challenge. This time it will be fully crewed racing in the fastest offshore monohulls in The Ocean Race Europe, a key part of the new IMOCA Globe Series championship.
For the first time the IMOCAs will race at their full potential on a three-stage round-Europe course, starting from Lorient in Brittany and finishing in Genoa in Italy, via stopovers at Cascais in Portugal with a third stopover in Spain to be announced.
Each boat will be sailed by up to five crew, including at least one female sailor and a media crew.
The race starts on the last weekend in May, with 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 – in separate classes and with separate winners.
English navigator Simon Fisher is among the sailors on 11th Hour Racing Team – the HUGO BOSS boat from the 2016-17 Vendée Globe.
Simon said: “We have 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. It is going to be strategic and tricky and tactical. 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.”
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 are going to rest is a pretty interesting challenge. 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.”