Fundamental changes to the IMOCA rule

With Hugo Boss' Alex Thomson, we look at the major overhaul decided at last week's AGM
Following the significant IMOCA AGM in Paris last week, more information is emerging about the latest iteration of the rule for the shorthanded globetrotting 60 foot monohulls. The decisions made at the AGM were the culmination of two years of hard work by the class with the aims of reducing costs, improving reliability and simplifying the boats. The latest rules are certainly the greatest fundamental change to the class since Open 60s came into existence in the 1980s when for the second BOC Challenge, the organisers started rule-making, going from a rule that was simply limited length (56ft for the first BOC Challenge in 1982) to requiring the fitting of watertight bulkheads and movable ballast through the introduction a 10° rule whereby, simply, a boat must heel by no more than 10° with all her movable ballast (then water ballast) deployed. Another bout of rule making occurred in the late 1990s after the spate of Open 60s inverting and, thanks to their wide flush (and occasionally concave) decks, remaining inverted. This was particularly prevalent during the 1996-7 Vendee Globe when Jerry Roufs, the Canadian skipper of Groupe LG 2 lost his life in the Pacific. This led to the introduction of limitations on the Angle of Varnishing Stability (AVS - the angle at which a boat wants to capsize more than it wants to right) and on the size of the cabintop (to encourage righting) and on a mandatory inversion test from a full capsize without a rig, introduced prior to the 2000 Vendee Globe. The latest iteration of the IMOCA rule has finally eliminated two cornerstone rules that have defined Open 60s for years - the 10° rule has finally gone as has the 127.5° AVS limit. “It is going to be very interesting,” says Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson who sits on