© Yvan Zedda

[Back to] Online Techtalk #1 – What lessons can be learned about IMOCA designs after an atypical Vendée Globe?3 min de lecture

What is the technical assessment for the Vendée Globe?

The first of the two Bretagne Sailing Valley® online TechTalk offered by Eurolarge Innovation on April 14 and 21 took stock of the technical design aspects in light of the Vendée Globe, looking at future lessons from the design point of view.

Online Techtalk #1 :« What lessons can be learned about IMOCA designs after an atypical Vendée Globe? »


Four speakers took part: Yannick Bestaven, winner of the ninth edition on Maître CoQ, the architects Quentin Lucet (VPLP studio) and Sam Manuard, as well as Christian Dumard, the renowned router and the official weather specialist for Vendée Globe.

Christian Dumard began by talking about the general weather of this Vendée Globe, “it was a bit odd for the leading group”, in the sense that “it always came from behind, never arrived from the front”. In view of the virtual race, the first of which finished nearly ten days in front of the real boats, Christian Dumard believes, however, that “had there been a day or two different in terms of timing the sequence could have been completely different.” And adds on the other hand that “the sea conditions may have been underestimated.”

Yannick Bestaven observes “it’s very hard to model the conditions of crossed seas and what a man can actually do sailing solo on a boat”. He puts his victory in the Vendée Globe down to the  reliability of his boat (2016 generation), it being less extreme than the last foilers. About the future Imoca, the winner puts forward his main thinking: “For me, you really have to work on the differences in speed, you can’t have a boat that goes fast in 35 knots but suddenly stops at 15 knots, it is better to have a better, higher average.”

These are ideas shared by the designers. Sam Manuard explains that, when designing L’Occitane (the Imoca with which Armel Tripon raced the Vendée Globe), his concern has always been to ask himself “what happens when there the sailor gets fatigued and the sea conditions are becoming more complex”. Quentin Lucet, at VPLP, acknowledges that the ability of the new boats to race hard in difficult seas “clearly has not been as good as one might have thought.” Which, according to him, “raises a lot of questions on how to draw the next boats” and the need “to forge more closer links with the sailors to fully understand their functioning and their rhythm.”

What will the Imoca of the 2024 generation look like? “A question will be to know if we try to get a little closer to a multihull, with a boat that pierces the wave, or if we add volume in front, which would bring us closer to the geometry of a scow type” answers Quentin Lucet, who, within VPLP, is currently working on Boris Herrmann’s next generation IMOCA. Sam Manuard, chosen by Jérémie Beyou for Charal 2, adds: “We will continue to develop this approach of looking for criteria other than absolute performance, it is a question of finding where to set the cursor.”

No revolutions are to be expected, however, according to Yannick Bestaven who believes that if the 2020 edition was not favourable to boats equipped with large foils, “today, if you want to come first in the Southern Ocean which is very important for the rest of the Vendée Globe course you can only do that with large foils.”