Cowes dynamo - part two

Mark Turner gives his views on what is happening in the French offshore classes
To read part one of this interview - click here Open 60s IMOCA, the Open 60 class association, is hardly a small affair. Including the new builds for the next Vendee there are presently 33 measured IMOCA 60s, which is without doubt the world's biggest fleet of sizable offshore racing yachts. "There is no other fleet that has that depth and the fact that the unfortunate clash remains between the Around Alone and Route du Rhum in the calendar but that those two events have co-existed - one with seven Open 60s and the other with 18 - is impressive," says Turner. "There is no other fleet of ocean racing boats which has achieved that." Unlike the ORMA trimaran class, where the design of the boats has evolved over recent years into a new generation with larger cockpits and sail handling gear more suited for inshore racing, IMOCA is keen not to lose its direction between the offshore and inshore bias of its yachts. Key to this is maintaining a tight rein on the rules, so that, for example, furlers are not removed for grand prix events. "The concept of the grand prix is largely misunderstood," maintains Turner. "There has never been any intention to mirror the multihull situation in any way. These boats are ocean greyhounds but in terms of sponsorship fulfilment there is the need to have some events that allow media, sponsors and general public to have closer contact with the boats - where you see boats at the beginning and end of the day and can put people on board. "They [the grand prix] are serious racing and they will be inside the championship, but their co-efficient will always be very low. The class has firmly and repeatedly established the fact that it’s primary raison d’etre is singlehanded transocean