New IMOCA guidelines mark the way in which ahead >> Scuttlebutt Crusing Information – Scuttlebutt Crusing Information

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The International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) was founded in 1991 and has been recognized by World Sailing since 1998. She administers the class of 60-foot open monohulls. Known as IMOCA or IMOCA 60, these offshore pioneers are defined by measurement rules and the class has become the gold standard for shorthanded racing.

The organization could easily have imploded a long time ago, however, as increased investment and commitment separated the haves and the needs and the frequent equipment failures diminished the enthusiasm of the sponsors. But through these topics, the class leadership successfully balanced the needs of everyone involved in order to stay on top.

Over the winter, the IMOCA sailors delivered an exciting Vendée Globe competition in which the latest monohull films were demonstrated. While the opponents are on the water, these solo skippers and their teams form a solid group that also works hard throughout the year developing their sport and their machine.

In this way, as the race around the world progressed, the future of current boats and their next iterations took shape behind the scenes. The Technical Committee, coordinated by the IMOCA class, which currently represents fifteen teams, developed the 2021-25 class rules, all of which were approved on April 15, 2021.

“It is not an easy task to establish fair rules that leave room for innovation, preserve the existing fleet and keep control of the budget,” said Antoine Mermod, President of the IMOCA class.

“The safety of the sailors also remains our priority and taking into account the lessons we learned from the Vendée Globe was key. We finally managed to create rules that encourage more sustainable performance while encouraging the creativity of engineers and teams.

“In short, we have a technical development rather than a revolution. The scope of work for the next four years is now set and just a few weeks after the end of the Vendée Globe, the teams' approach is showing signs of a bright future. “

This rules update addresses five main issues:
1. Geared towards more sustainable performance
2. Limitation of slides
3. Increased security
4. Boats with improved performance
5. Cost control

© Gauthier Le Bec / Charal

# 1 – Geared towards more sustainable performance
Innovations that enable a better balance between human activity and their carbon footprint are challenging engineers, athletes and event organizers to improve their game. The IMOCA class has been working on these topics for several years and class measurement now has new rules that make it possible to establish an initial development framework for the teams.

1 – The measurement favors the use of organically grown materials for the elements of the boat that are not structural and can be dismantled (chart table, seats, bunks, washers, etc.), which can be removed within the measuring weight of the boat a 100 kg limit . This has already been the case with solar panels, green energy systems and scientific instruments.

2 – By 2023, every participant on board a “Green Sail” must be among the 8 eligible for IMOCA Globe Series Championship races. This sail can be made from alternative materials and / or completely recyclable. In the Vendée Globe, Pip Hare and Ari Huusela finished the race around the world with an ISO 14040 certified sail that was 100% recyclable.

3 – A current IMOCA sails around the world practically independently thanks to hydro generators, solar energy and wind turbines. The diesel engine is kept for safety reasons, but the rule now allows a team with an alternative engine solution to submit a study in order to obtain an exemption from the measurement.

4 – It is now mandatory for teams to conduct a life cycle assessment for the construction of a new boat or specific parts (standard parts, hull, deck, boom, rudder, lightbulb). The aim is to collect comparable data in order to better understand our impact and to find a practical way to determine the targets for reducing our carbon footprint. IMOCA is working on this matter with an upcoming technology partner.

5 – Finally, the class created the IMOCA teams charter, which focuses on seven issues that affect the daily life of the projects. First of all, this requires that all teams use the necessary means to reduce their impact.

# 2 Restriction on slides
The IMOCA measurement determines the dimensions and performance / stability criteria that must be met, as well as the maximum number of attachments and the mandatory standard parts such as mast and keel. Until now, the size of the slides was unlimited. From now on, however, it was deemed necessary to set a limit for two main reasons:

1 – To maintain adequate performance in terms of safety: the larger the foils, the stronger the boat and the more reinforcements are required and the heavier and more complex it is to row, especially with one hand.

2 – The larger the foils, the more complex, the more expensive and time-consuming they are to produce.

In this way, the rule adopted suggests a computational method by which the slides can be compared with one another so that they fit into a box rule, albeit with different designs and geometries. In the next Vendée Globe, this rule will be translated as slides that are still relatively large and correspond to those on board the current Charal or Hugo Boss, but no larger than these.

# 3 Increased security
There were few incidents in this Vendée Globe, which reflects the overall reliability of the boats. However, Kevin Escoffier lost his boat and three other competitors were eliminated after collisions. These events on the racetrack have resulted in some changes to the safety rules, including:

1 – The skipper's safety equipment as well as its storage space have been revised to make it even more effective in the event of major damage.

2 – The buoyancy rules for the boats have been increased (buoyancy volume from 105 to 110% of the boat's weight) so that the skipper can stay on board his boat as long as possible in the event of a serious incident.

3 – The resistance criteria where something collides with the hull structure with the keel and foils have been increased. In addition, a multi-class working group has developed the next generation of anti-collision detection tools for racing boats over the past few months.

# 4 boats with improved performance
In order to achieve a 4 × 4 attitude in the deep south, the rear mast swather was increased from 4 to 6 degrees. This means that the skippers can better adapt their sailing plan to extreme conditions. Changing the equipment on the mast also allows for more frequent and varied uses of the storm sail.

# 5 cost control
The strength of the IMOCA class lies in the variety of project sizes. Controlling costs then is a complex issue, but it's important to maintain a context in which everyone can move forward.

1 – On-board electronics (telemetry) have developed a lot in recent years and it is important to avoid too great a technological gap within the fleet. Therefore, each sensor must be commercially manufactured for over 10,000 euros and be part of an IMOCA approved authorized list that can evolve over time.

2 – A system of limiting the number of sails in a campaign was also voted on in order to maximize how long a sail can be used on the circuit.

3 – Some regulations also have an impact on construction with a limited list of permitted core materials (foams, Nomex …) and carbon weights, which must also reduce production times and costs.

4 – To simplify the list of R&D topics for the teams, some new parts are standardized. This currently affects the mast, the keel fin and the ram. In the future, the boom and the entire standing rigging together with the satellite communication via Iridium-Certus with the Thales antenna (except for The Ocean Race) will also be made standard.


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