More progress by IMOCA
The IMOCA class held its Annual General Meeting on 25 March at the FFVoile (French Sailing Federation) office in Paris.
A day prior to that Marc Guillemot, the 2009 World Champion received his prize at a ceremony organised by his sponsor, Safran. Guillemot succeeds BritAir skipper Armel Le Cléac'h, who finished the chamipionship third, astern of Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux, who was second in the 2009 Championship.
Jean-Pierre Champion, President of the FFVoile, presented Guillemot with his award.
Jacques Lehn, representative of ISAF then stepped in to hand over a trophy to Marc Ventre, representative of the Safran Group, a world leader in aeronautical equipment, emphasising the importance of the support of skippers' sponsors in the success of their projects.
The IMOCA General Meeting was an opportunity to review the past year and draw up the main outline for the future.
2009 was punctuated by two large bodies of work: the formalisation of the class measurement rules and the creation of a new race around Europe - the Istanbul Europa Race.
At the end of the Vendée Globe 2008, the Class decided to revise its rules with the aim of enhancing the safety of its boats and making them more reliable. A meeting last autumn in Barcelona defined the framework to this, and at the Paris meeting the final texts were confirmed. Three Meetings were necessary, such was the scale of the work, with the involvement of the skippers at the core of discussions throughout.
It isn't easy to draw up the rules that have to be applied on leaving the meeting, especially to do so in way that wil be enforsed by all the IMOCA 60 skippers... This was the challenge for the IMOCA Class in 2009 and under the presidency of Dominique Wavre it was successful in its mission. Wavre wasn't remiss in thanking the Technical Committee, presided over by Pascal Chadail, for the work it carried out.
The current boats should remain very competitive while new boats will have their power limited. Furthermore, everyone will have to respect the more restrictive safety rules.
It would appear that the decisions made have been well received as, to date, with four new boats presently under construction: PRB to be skippered by Vincent Riou has been launched in Port la Forêt, while Virbac -Paprec skippered by Jean Pierre Dick is being built in New Zealand, Foncia, the new boat of Michel Desjoyeaux is in build at CDK in Port la Forêt while there is a new Cheminees Poujoulat for double Velex 5 Oceans winner Bernard Stamm in Switzerland.
The number of new boats could double between now and the end of 2010.
In terms of the race programme, at the end of the Vendée Globe, 2009 proved to be a year of transition. Despite this a new race was born in the form of the Istanbul Europa Race.
Jean Le Cam, President of the Event Committee has been keen to remind the Class that they wanted this race and that's what they got. The six participants in the 2009 event found the course challenging and the stopover ports are already preparing for the next running in 2011. The organiser, Olay Nautic, envisages an even more European flavour, with an increased number of stopovers in more countries.
Today the four year schedule is punctuated by a round the world race every two years - the Vendée Globe and the Barcelona World Race, interspersed by the biennial Tour of Europe.
These major events of the class are 100% IMOCA races, but of course in addition are the transatlantic races: the Route du Rhum, the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Artemis Transat, plus some exhibition events.
In the meantime the fleet will be well represented with a minimum of 20 boats participating in races in 2010 (eight to ten in the Route du Rhum, plus 10 to 12 in the Barcelona World Race) and potentially 30 competitors in Les Sables d'Olonne for the Vendée Globe 2012. In these difficult economic times the IMOCA Class is fairing extremely well.
As is the case every year, the Meeting ended with the election of its representatives to the Executive Committee. Dominique Wavre, Luc Talbourdet and Jean Le Cam have had their seats renewed while José Maria Bénavidès, the Spanish representative, was elected for the post vacated by Jacques Guilbaud. Guilbaud constantly lit the way for the Class over the long term and his actions have greatly contributed to the sound standing that IMOCA enjoys today.
Dominique Wavre is handing over the presidency to Luc Talbourdet, who left the post in 2007. So the executive remains highly representative of all its members. This year it will ensure continuity within IMOCA as regards the actions already instigated.
Composition of the Executive Committee:
. President: Luc Talbourdet
. Vice-President: Jean Le Cam
. Vice-President: Pascal Chadail
. Secretary: Bernard Stamm
. Tresurer: Yann Eliès
. President of the Event Committee: Alex Thomson
. Administrator: Dominique Wavre
. Administrator: José Maria Bénavidès