New York to Les Sables d'Olonne

OSM fleshes out the details of next summer's IMOCA 60 Vendée Globe warm-up

Friday December 11th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

Setting sail from the ‘Big Apple’, bound for what was the cradle of the IMOCA Class, the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, one could hardly ask for more in terms of symbolism. On the one hand, New York, a cosmopolitan crossroads of influences, is a perfect illustration of the international aspirations of both IMOCA and Open Sports Management. On the other, France’s Vendée region, represents the heart of the IMOCA class, thanks to its legendary solo round the world race, in which some of the most extraordinary episodes on the high seas have occurred over the last twenty-five years. The final opportunity to qualify for the Vendée Globe in race configuration, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) promises to be a significant event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship.

The New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne), the penultimate race in the 2015-6 IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship, is set to gather together all the top teams and sailors in the IMOCA class, keen to do battle one last time before the round the world race. Forming a link between the New World and the Old, it reasserts IMOCA’s determination to carve out an increasingly international position for itself and the opportunity to appeal to a new audience.

A substantial programme of entertainment

With its Prologue setting off from Newport, Rhode Island, (historically famous for having been the finish port of the OSTAR) bound for New York; the race village in the heart of Manhattan at North Cove Marina; a charitable promotion on the Hudson River and a race starting from the foot of the Statue of Liberty, the programme for the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will provide an amazing spectacle during the week competitors will spend in the build-up to the start in New York.

Treating New Yorkers to an exceptional entertainment program, enabling them to enjoy a maritime spectacle in one of the major ports on America’s eastern seaboard, as well as leaving the skippers with some unforgettable memories, will be just some of the many wonders of the race. Who has not dreamed of racing a sailing yacht in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyscrapers or under Brooklyn Bridge?

Final solo trial run

Primarily though, the New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be the final major confrontation in singlehanded configuration before to the ultimate event in the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016. With a 4X coefficient, this singlehanded transatlantic race will be the last opportunity to gauge each skipper’s position in relation to the competition. Even in summery conditions along what is always a tricky course to negotiate, the skippers will have to know how to strike a balance between hunting down the depressions, which cross the Atlantic at higher latitudes versus the shortest and most direct route along the great circle.Either way the course is likely to skirt the Grand Banks of Newfoundland famous for its thick fog, before continuing to climb towards the northern latitudes where there is always the potential to encounter icebergs drifting south from the Arctic. For these reasons the race it will provide great preparation for the week competitors’ will spend in the Southern Ocean during the Vendée Globe.

Beyond the sports aspects of the race, the New York - Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will also be an opportunity to test the communication systems and the on-board video gear prior to the Vendée Globe. Added to that, when the solo skipper make landfall in Les Sables d’Olonne, they will be get an idea of the emotional welcome that the public will give them next November at the start of the round the world race, the summer sun being a welcome bonus.

The close collaboration between the organiser, the council of the Vendée region and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne demonstrates the strong bond formed between these parties during the creation of this leading event of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship. Like the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York – Barcelona, which preceded the Barcelona World Race, the New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will be a fantastic prelude to the Vendée Globe.

The sailors signed up for the race on 10 December 2015 include: Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII), Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild), Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-cœur), Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ), Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest-Matmut), Eric Holden (O Canada), Vincent Riou (PRB), Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir), Morgan Lagravière (Safran), Paul Meilhat (SMA), Nandor Fa (Spirit of Hungary), Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) and Stéphane Le Diraison.

Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA Class commented: "It comes with great satisfaction for the IMOCA class to host this new event, which will serve as a final dress rehearsal prior to the Vendée Globe, be it for the foiling boats still in the middle of a phase of optimisation orthe tried-and-tested boats from the previous generation or the rookies in search of a ticket to qualify for the round the world race. With a solo transatlantic race, setting sail from New York, an internationally renowned iconic city, bound for Les Sables d’Olonne, stronghold of the famous round the world race, all the ingredients are in place for a very fine sports festival.”

Peter Bayer, CEO of Open Sports Management added: "By creating the Transat New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne), we’re happy to further enrich the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship. This new event also aims to support the international development of the Vendée Globe, which is in line with our desire to develop synergy between the different events that comprise our Championship. We would like to thank the Vendée region and the town of Les Sables d’Olonne for their active participation in this process.”


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