A new era for the IMOCA 60ft monohull class begins in less than three months with the OCEAN MASTERS New York to Barcelona Race. This will be the first event run by Sir Keith Mills’ Lausanne-based Open Sports Management (OSM), commercial rights holder to the IMOCA class and will be supported by the Fundacio per la Navegacio Oceanica Barcelona (FNOB) and the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV). It is also the first event to count towards the new OCEAN MASTERS World Championship.
The double-handed New York to Barcelona is the only race scheduled this summer for IMOCA, allowing teams ample time to prepare for this autumn and winter’s other major OCEAN MASTERS World Championship events – the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race.
“New York and Barcelona are two of the most iconic cities in the world today and are both perfect venues for the first new race under the Ocean Masters World Championship brand,” explains Sir Keith Mills. “This is part of OSM’s plan to internationalise the IMOCA class and take it to the next level by introducing new events, new venues and attracting new skippers, teams and sponsors.”
The event kicks off with a prologue on Saturday 24th May. Competitors will sail from Newport, Rhode Island on a 142 mile overnight race to New York Harbour.
In New York for the next week, the boats will be berthed at Manhattan’s North Cove Marina, close to the World Trade Centre site in Battery Park. On Thursday 29th May, they will compete in the ‘Hudson River Race’, allowing spectators a bird’s eye view from Manhattan’s western shore. The day will conclude with a reception in the New York Yacht Club’s magnificent Model Room.
The start of the transatlantic race itself will be off North Cove Marina on Sunday 1st June. Competitors will sail pass the Statue of Liberty before exiting New York Harbour. The 3700 mile course crosses the North Atlantic, passing through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean, where crews will have to negotiate a tactical 525 miles along the Spanish coast before reaching the finish.
The prize giving will be held in Barcelona on 20th June. En route competitors will be out to better the 12 days, 6 hours and 3 minutes course record set by Alex Pella, Pepe Ribes and Stan Schreyer aboard the IMOCA 60 Estrella Damm in 2010.
Five teams are officially entered, although more are expected:
Hugo Boss: Alex Thomson (GBR) and Pepe Ribes (ESP)
Neutrogena: Guillermo Altadill (ESP) and José Muñoz (CHI)
Safran: Marc Guillemot (FRA) and Morgan Lagravière (FRA)
GAES Centros Auditivos: Anna Corbella (ESP) and Gerard Marin (ESP)
Spirit of Hungary: Nandor Fa (HUN) and Marcell Goszleth (HUN)
Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson finished second in the first Barcelona World Race and famously was third home in the last Vendée Globe. His co-skipper is Pepe Ribes, one of Spain’s most capped offshore sailors with four Volvo Ocean Races to his name. They will be sailing the latest Hugo Boss, previously Jean-Pierre Dick’s 2010 generation VPLP-Verdier designed Virbac Paprec III.
Thomson looks forward to the race: “There was an opportunity in the calendar this year, so OSM decided to introduce an event that would raise the profile of the circuit and also could support the Barcelona Race. They wanted an international race, so it was natural to go from somewhere in America – transatlantic – back into Barcelona, double-handed. It is also great training for the Barcelona World Race.”
Spain’s most capped offshore sailor is Guillermo Altadill, with six circumnavigations behind him. He will skipper Neutrogena Sailing Team with Chilean José Muñoz, who raced a Class40 around the world doublehanded in 2008/09. They will sail the 2007 generation Farr design that Thomson took to third place in the last Vendee Globe.
“It is going to be a good race for the Ocean Masters programme,” says Altadill. “This will be our first race together. To have this transatlantic race a few months before the start of the Barcelona World Race, we can use it to train, test the boat and sail together. It is perfect preparation.”
The most experienced skipper in the fleet is Safran skipper Marc Guillemot. The French aerospace and security company is starting its third Vendée Globe campaign, but the team is in transition with Guillemot, 54, in the process of passing over the helm to talented 27-year-old Figaro and Olympic 49er sailor, Morgan Lagravière, who will be co-skipper for the race. The duo will sail their highly developed 2007 generation VPLP-Verdier design while their new IMOCA 60 is in build in Brittany.
“I am delighted to participate in this first race between New York and Barcelona,” says Guillemot. “This new race is a very good initiative by the class and it is very much in our interest to participate in it because the strength of the IMOCA class is that its boats can sail in different events like this.”
The local Barcelona team, fielded by the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona, will be that of Gerard Marin and Anna Corbella. Corbella is returning to the race course with GAES Centros Auditivos, who backed her last Barcelona World Race campaign. Marin sailed that same race aboard Fòrum Marítim Català.
Hungarian solo offshore racing legend Nandor Fa will sail with co-skipper Marcell Goszleth, on Spirit of Hungary, a brand new IMOCA 60 due for launch imminently.
“The New York to Barcelona Race will be my first with this brand new IMOCA 60, it’ll be our first trial,” says Fa. “We’ll take it as an opportunity to gather some information on the performance of the boat, and we’re confident that she will be safe and competitive.”
Andor Serra, CEO of FNOB, is pleased once again to link together New York and Barcelona through an ocean sailing event, “The OCEAN MASTERS New York to Barcelona Race strengthens the sports and cultural ties between the two cities, and the ocean ‘highway’ that links them is the perfect sports ground for this new and exciting challenge. This event is vital for us all as it prepares for and adds value to the Barcelona World Race which starts on 31st December 2014.”
Source: Leslie Greenhalgh, Open Sports Management; March 10, 2014
About Ocean Masters World Championship
Ocean Masters is the World Championship series for the IMOCA class. The first Ocean Masters World Champion will be crowned in 2015 after the Barcelona World Race and a new World Champion will be recognised every two years after this. The commercial, marketing and event management rights of the Ocean Masters World Championships are managed by OSM.
Founded in 1991, the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) is the body that manages the 60ft monohulls that compete in its events such as the Vendée Globe. The association has more than 30 skipper members and many other stakeholders, including sponsors, team managers, designers, builders from all over the world.
About Barcelona World Race
The Barcelona World Race is the only double-handed (two crew) race around the world for the IMOCA class. The first edition took place in 2007/08, the second in 2010/11 and the next edition starts on 31st December 2014. The course is from Barcelona to Barcelona via the three ‘Great’ capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, Cook Strait, leading Antarctica to starboard.
British solo sailor, Alex Thomson has smashed the single-handed monohull transatlantic record, by more than 24 hours, crossing the finish line at Lizard Point, off Falmouth in Cornwall, in time to get back for the London Olympic Opening ceremony.
The 38 year old sailor crossed the line at 17:17 GMT (18:17 BST) setting the new time at 8 days 22 hours 8 minutes, beating the previous record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which had been held for 10 years.
“It has been a long few days,” said Alex. “The first half from New York was great with weather conditions in our favour, but things started to slow down the closer I got. But the wind has held out this morning and it’s so fantastic to have broken this record.”
Alex set sail from New York on July 17th at 19.09GMT to cover 2800 nautical miles in a quest to break the record for what is officially known as the ‘West to East Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point Under 60ft Single-Handed Monohull Record, Male’, which sat at 10 days, 55 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Swiss sailor Bernhard Stamm 10 years ago.
His secondary aim was to get home in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in order to support Chairman and good friend, Sir Keith Mills.
“When I set off I had no idea if I was going to be able to do it. And it has been hard. Lack of sleep, broken instruments on the boat and constant exposure to the elements has really taken it out of me. But it’s such a good feeling to have beaten it by such a great margin,” said Alex.
But the record breaking achievement is only half of the story. Alex is in fact lining up to attempt to be the first Brit ever to win the gruelling single-handed round-the-world race, the Vendee Globe, leaving from France in November on board his 60ft monohull, HUGO BOSS. And this record breaking achievement puts him in good stead.
“This record attempt was also a training exercise for the Vendee Globe,” said Alex. “We felt this record attempt would put me under real pressure and stimulate race conditions and I have felt a real value in it.”
He is one of three British competitors who will take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world yacht race starting in Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on November 10th. Currently only 50% of attempts to complete the race have been successful in the race known as the ‘Everest of sailing’
At 23:25 GMT on Thursday, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at 56S with Class40 Financial Crisis. Racing 49 miles off the infamous outcrop at the southern tip of Chile, Financial Crisis is the second, double-handed, Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Class40 to round the world’s most notorious cape.
The fact that Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel took line honours at the gate with Cessna Citation doesn’t diminish the immense achievement of racing only the fifth Class40 to sail through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn. “What a day!” exclaimed Nannini shortly after crossing the gate. “I think it will take me a while to fully process this fact, but I’m sure it’ll live in my thoughts for the rest of my life.”
Having carried out a text book heaving-to manoeuvre west of Cape Horn to avoid strong winds as they approached the cape, Nannini and Ramon timed their run through the treacherous Drake Passage perfectly – almost: “Just when the weather was finally improving we were left with a last minute reminder of where we are as a squall came through during the night bringing another stint of 50-knot winds and lots of snow…it was quite surreal,” comments Nannini.
For Nannini’s co-skipper, Hugo Ramon, rounding the cape is an opportunity to indulge in some Cape Horn traditions: “Now I can wear a gold earring in my left ear and pee into the wind!” claims the 26 year-old Spaniard. On a more serious note, Ramon knows that sailing through Drake Passage is a monumental challenge: “I’ve really learnt, once again, that you have to respect nature and the elements,” he confirms. “I don’t think we tamed or conquered the elements by rounding Cape Horn safely,” he says. “Simply that Cape Horn has let us pass.”
After rounding Cape Horn conditions became increasingly light throughout Friday as Financial Crisis climbed north steeply and with weather models predicting further light airs, Nannini and Ramon decided to cut the corner. At 17:00 GMT on Friday, Nannini and Ramon had committed to sailing through Le Maire Strait – a 17-mile wide stretch of water between mainland Tierra del Fuego and the offlying Isla de Los Estados that has famously tricky currents and eddies.
Meanwhile, 370 miles to the north of Financial Crisis on Friday afternoon, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel were 150 miles off the coast of Patagonia with Cessna Citation having left the Falkland Islands to starboard on Thursday night. Although the breeze has gone lighter for the New Zealand-South African GOR leaders, around 400 miles to the north a deep low pressure is building with 50+ knot winds forecast before the system tracks eastwards and into the South Atlantic. The duo on Cessna Citation are likely to aim for the western edge of the system.
Approximately 540 miles south-west of Cape Horn on Friday afternoon, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are working beneath a high pressure system blocking the route of Phesheya-Racing: ““The weather forecast from the Chilean MRCC said that the wind would ease some more and the sea would be ‘rippled to slight’,” confirms Hutton-Squire. “They are very right as there is a small swell rolling, but generally it is very flat,” she adds. “I can’t believe we are in the South-East Pacific but we are enjoying the sea state and wind conditions.”
The weather on Friday did permit 45th birthday celebrations for Leggatt: “The sea is so flat today we lit the candles, sang happy birthday, took some video and photos, then Nick blew the candles out.” Despite the celebrations on board, the frustrating light airs are set to continue: “We think we have about three or four days until we get to Cape Horn, but it all depends on the high pressure in front of us,” predicts Hutton-Squire.
GOR leaderboard at 17:00 GMT 24/2/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 908 7.6kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 375 8.7kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 1011 7.6kts
8 tonnes of carbon fibre yacht, a 255 horsepower jet ski, 45 combined years of sailing experience, and one crazy guy in a suit. ‘We’ve got a safety boat, a film boat, a jet ski… all we need is a plane, man!’ said Alex Thomson, shortly before heading out into the waters of The Solent in the UK to attempt what he calls ‘The Keel Walk’, a stunt that has become infamous throughout the world thanks to the iconic image of Alex ‘riding’ the keel of his 60ft yacht ‘HUGO BOSS’. ‘But everyone always assumes it was ‘Photoshopped’,’ said Alex ‘and I was determined to prove them wrong, so we decided to try again.’ Easier said than done…to sail at the right speed to keep the keel out of the water for long enough for Alex to get on it, you need 18 knots of wind, a slight sea state and a seriously cool-headed skipper. ‘We’d wake up one day and the conditions would look just right, so we’d sound the alarm and get the boat prepped, bring in the jet ski guy, the RIB driver, the photographer, the camera guys… I’m in the suit, ready to go…and the wind drops. It was hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.’
Having already tried his hand at foiling, last week round the world sailor Alex Thomson went keel walking on his IMOCA Open 60 HUGO BOSS in the Solent.
“I’ve wanted to stand on the keel while sailing for a couple of years, and last week in 17-20 knots of breeze I stood on the keel whilst sailing wearing a HUGO BOSS suit. It was pretty dangerous but a real buzz.”
In 2005 Alex became the first skipper to sign up for the 3 in 3 – 3 round the world races in 3 years starting with the Velux 5 Oceans in 2006, followed by the Barcelona World Race (BWR) in November 2007, and culminating in the 2008 Vendee Globe
Alex was forced to retire from the Velux 5 Oceans due to severe structural problems. He overcame the Southern Ocean by achieving a second place podium finish in the Barcelona World Race. Whilst on this race Alex smashed the 60ft monohull world distance record and was in excellent shape for the Vendée Globe.
However, only 3 weeks before the Vendée was due to commence, Alex was dramatically struck by a French fishing vessel. His team fought against the clock to finish the repairs in record time to achieve the impossible – and get Alex to the start line. Alex’s dreams to become the first Briton to win the much coveted title were shattered after only 3 days racing; when he discovered HUGO BOSS was letting in water from structural failure to the hull. Devastated, Alex announced his retirement from the Vendée. He is determined to return and compete in the 2012
Record breaking yachtsman Alex Thomson has been making the most of HUGO BOSS being back in the water and enjoying some ‘foiling’ off his IMOCA Open 60 in the Solent.
Alex, always one for a challenge was thrilled to get out on the water and found the ‘foiling’ an exhilarating experience and was able to execute some complex moves thanks to the technology of the Carafino ‘Hydrofoil’ board, one of the most highly innovative designs available.
“The conditions were perfect with good breeze and sunshine adding to the feel good factor on the day. I haven’t been ‘foiling’ before but I loved it. It’s pretty extreme – at a certain speed the hull is lifted above the water and the craft skims along on the hydrofoils at great speeds. It’s like snowboarding, just on water,” explained Alex.
Richard Thompson from Carafino UK was on board Hugo Boss with Alex last week and was hugely impressed with not only the Open 60, but also with Alex.
“What a guy! He has this tremendous confidence with the water you don’t see very often and was straight up and gone first time. His level of fitness is staggering and served him well on the Hydrofoil, I really was blown away by his performance. Alex looked completely at ease and was in control all the time.”
After a turbulent end to 2008 Alex is now focusing on the next four years. Alex and HUGO BOSS will compete in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race in August and the double-handed Transat Jacque Vabres in November before focusing on the Barcelona World Race in 2010. Before that though Alex is currently sailing HUGO BOSS to Monaco ready for the Monaco Grand Prix 21-24 May, as part of the Hugo Boss VIP hospitality programme
Last week HUGO BOSS went back into the water in her home berth in Haslar Marina, after spending the last few months in Endeavour Quay being repaired. She looks in excellent shape having had all structural repairs done, and her hull re-sprayed.
The mast has now been stepped and the boat is being prepped this week for sailing . She will then spend the next few weeks doing sea trials, and will be having the rigging and tuning tweaked to get her back into top condition. She will be sailing over the next weeks with technicians and sailmakers to ensure she reaches her peak performance.
She will then leave during the 2nd week of May for The Mediterranean, where Alex and the team will be present for the Monaco Grand Prix, supporting Hugo Boss and the McLaren team. Alex and our boat captain Ross Daniels will use the delivery trip as training for their double handed challenge in November, The Transat Jacques Vabres. Alex and Ross have also been putting a great deal of time into their shore-side training, with daily gym and squash workouts.
The whole team are now gearing up for the coming 6 months, with Will Jackson and Ollie Young, who both worked on the HUGO BOSS ll Volvo 60 tour, stepping up to help prepare the boat and get her ready for this new season.
So if you are down on the south coast in the next month keep an eye out for HUGO BOSS and the team!
The team at Alex Thomson Racing