Competitors need to start preparing for the 2020 edition of the Vendée Globe right now. But available secondhand boats are few, and building a new IMOCA is getting ever more costly and complicated. With this in mind, VPLP design has teamed up with CDK and Antoine Mermod to provide a solution that is reliable, competitive and significantly cheaper.
Quentin Lucet, designer at our Vannes office, tells us more.
What will this new IMOCA look like?
Quentin Lucet: The concept is very simple. We’ll be using the mould of Banque Populaire, a VPLP/Verdier design and winner of the 2016 Vendée Globe. The resulting IMOCA will feature the latest foils and third generation rudders and, as per the rules, a standard mast and keel. We are aiming for a budget of 3.7 million euros, excluding sails, which is about a million euros cheaper than a prototype. Our objective is to produce a boat that is simpler and more competitive than Banque Populaire.
How did you manage to bring down the cost?
Quentin Lucet: First off, we’ll be using an existing hull mould and, as we did with the MOD 70, we’ll be selecting practical technical solutions that have proved their worth on the twelve IMOCAs we’ve designed since 2006. At least two vessels will be going into production and they’ll have optimized and simplified structures. The boats will share the same design process and have identical specifications for deck fittings, electronics and hydraulic systems. We won’t start work until we have two firm orders, and we aim to deliver up to three in time for the next Vendée Globe.
So, what’s the schedule?
Quentin Lucet: Ideally we would launch the design phase in September and begin building in January. The first IMOCA should be ready for the Barcelona World Race in early 2019, while the second would go in the water in time for the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre.
Who are you targeting with this concept?
Quentin Lucet: Teams that were unable to purchase one of the six foilers built for the 2016 race, and new organizations which don’t have any experience in projects of this size and don’t have the resources to start from scratch because developing an IMOCA is a complex process that requires highly qualified staff. Teams which have a decent budget but not enough for a prototype could be interested, as could a certain number of international competitors for the 2020 Vendée Globe title.
Are we moving into the controversial territory of a one-design IMOCA?
Quentin Lucet: No way! (Laughs) Think of them as sister ships because, once delivered, the boats can be modified and customized by the owner.