After 24 months of research, development, and construction, 11th Hour Racing Team has unveiled its new IMOCA 60, the first of a new era of boats designed to compete in fully crewed, short-handed and solo offshore sailboat races.
A product of Guillaume Verdier’s design studio and built at CDK Technologies in the home of offshore yacht racing in Brittany, France, the new IMOCA 60 blends sporting performance with sustainable construction practices, and state-of-the-art boat building technology.
The hull was rolled out of CDK Technologies’ build shed in Port-la-Fôret, France on Saturday August 7 and will head to MerConcept in Concarneau for its foils to be fitted along with other final touches. The boat’s colorful design, created in collaboration with two of Italy’s leading designers – Marco and Stefano Van Orton – and France’s Jean-Baptiste Epron – will be unveiled in full when the boat sails for the first time at the end of August.
Where IMOCA 60s are traditionally designed for the typical downwind course of the solo Vendée Globe, the 11th Hour Racing Team boat has been optimized for the broader range of conditions expected in The Ocean Race, which will cross the equator four times in the 2022-23 edition.
Featuring an entirely closed cockpit design, the new IMOCA 60 allows up to five sailors to live and work under the protection of its cover for the majority of time spent offshore. Thanks to its innovative shape, the cockpit provides near-360 degree visibility, further enhanced via a refined auto-pilot, navigation system, cameras, and marine mammal deterrence system.
Also to be revealed in the coming weeks will be the culmination of two years – and several iterations – of foil design, tested both in the simulator and on the team’s first IMOCA 60, known as 11.1.
Striving to inspire action within the marine industry and beyond, the new 11th Hour Racing Team IMOCA 60 is seeking to set a benchmark for boat building innovations by utilizing alternative materials like flax for hatches, interior and deck panels, and implementing sustainable practices including stakeholder working groups and supply chain engagement, along with a highly analytical life cycle approach while supporting the creation of new IMOCA Class sustainability rules.
Skipper Charlie Enright was excited about the launch: “We’ve designed a version of the IMOCA 60 that no one has ever built before. Our boat should be able to withstand the toughest conditions in the most remote corners of the world, but is also able to compete in various shorthanded configurations. To build an all-around-performer like this, we have worked with the best in the trade: Guillaume Verdier as the lead naval architect, the technical and performance experts at MerConcept, and the build team at CDK Technologies. Running this project during a global pandemic was definitely a challenge, however, one constant never changed: putting sustainability at the center of the whole process.”
Damian Foxall, Sustainability Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing Team, explained more about this sustainability-first approach: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure – and what you can’t measure, can’t be improved. This is why we have executed a full Life Cycle Assessment over the course of the build process, in order to determine the environmental impact of the different components and procedures. Based on this evidence, we can work out different ways to reduce our impact, such as substituting highly-polluting materials with new alternatives, reducing single-use elements, optimizing our supply chain and internal operations, and refining the boat’s actual shape to make it more energy-efficient.
“Sharing our findings with the rest of the industry, from boat builders to sailors to race organizers, is an essential part of our mission, in order to inform the future and push the paradigm shift we urgently need. We have only 8 years left to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement to reduce our impact by 50%. Business as usual is no longer an option.”
Durability has been a crucial factor in reducing the IMOCA 60’s overall footprint without compromising on performance and safety. Adaptable to both short-handed and fully-crewed racing, the boat in its current setup has been optimized to race with up to five sailors. The boat’s race schedule includes the upcoming Défi Azimut (raced double-handed with a non-sailing onboard media crew member), the Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed), and The Ocean Race 2022-23 (four sailors and one sailing onboard media crew member).
“Winning The Ocean Race is our ultimate goal,” said Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing Team. “These past months have been a huge collaborative effort, connecting a multitude of different stakeholders across the globe to build a boat that is completely different from what this Class has known so far. We are challenging the status quo and aiming to do it as sustainably as possible and sharing these learnings with the wider marine community. We are all extremely proud to see the boat leave the shed and are incredibly grateful to everyone for their hard work.”
Supported by sponsor 11th Hour Racing, the Team is looking to inspire other teams, race organizers and marine businesses to take action by starting their own sustainability journey. “The marine environment is harsher than any other, even outer space; the salt, wind, sun, and incredible force of water work to corrode, break down, or tear apart everything onboard,” noted Jeremy Pochman, co-founder and CEO, 11th Hour Racing. “If the sustainable materials used in building the Team’s new IMOCA can survive these conditions, then it’s clear we can use such materials in less demanding boats, and the advances could ripple out through other industries that deal with far less harsh environments. This is a remarkable milestone as we work to change the narrative around sustainability in the marine and maritime industries, and in everyday life.“
Leading up to the new boat’s naming ceremony scheduled for September 13, 11th Hour Racing Team will release a series of content features, including videos and photos, giving detailed insight into the new IMOCA 60’s unique design, artwork, and innovation processes.