IMOCA 60s to go one design for 2016?

Photo: Alexis Courcoux
IMOCA President Luc Talbourdet tells us more and we get the views of Denis Horeau and skippers Mike Golding, Alex Thomson and Francois Gabart
As someone who enjoys watching the technical evolution of boats, the possibility of the IMOCA class going one design for the next Vendee Globe cycle, as was announced in October, seems abhorrent. However we remember what happened to the ORMA 60s, where indecision by the class over how to put their house in order led to their rapid demise – from a record 18 of the superb 60ft trimarans that entered the 2002 Route du Rhum to the world’s most exciting race boat class being defunct five years later... So in this age of austerity, and with the price tag of new builds escalating to around 3.5-4 million Euros (compared to 2.5-3 million Euros for the last generation), it is necessary for the IMOCA class to reflect these more chaste economic times. For unfortunately the writing is already on the wall: Compared to the last Vendee Globe with its 30 strong fleet and 20 new builds, at present there are just 15 entries for next year’s Vendee Globe (although a few more are expected) of which just six are new. “We want to increase the reliability and we want to decrease or maintain costs, so we have to look after every option and obviously one design is one of the two options,” explains IMOCA class President Luc Talbourdet. In fact the situation with IMOCA is not the same as it was for ORMA. The 60ft trimaran fleet was almost exclusively French (in fact almost exclusively Breton) and the extent of their race area was the Atlantic Ocean, whereas for the IMOCA 60s it is the globe. For the ORMA 60s, some disastrous decisions were made over their inshore-offshore nature and the boats were allowed to get too close to the cutting edge and as a result there were many many breakages. In comparison the