When The Ocean Race announced it would have an IMOCA 60 fleet in its 2022-23 edition, it shook up the offshore racing world. Suddenly sailors who'd made a career all alone for months while sailing the Vendée Globe were talking about refitting to make space for crews. Likewise, sailors who'd made names for themselves in the VO70 and 65 started drawing up plans to transition their teams to IMOCA 60s. One such team is the sustainability-focused 11th Hour Race Team.
IMOCA 60 class is governed by a box rule, meaning that yachts can vary widely within the class as long as they follow certain parameters like LOA and safety guidelines. Notably, the IMOCA 60 has historically been designed for the Vendée Globe, a race with a primarily downwind course (the fastest possible circuit of the globe). This means they're optimal downwind boats, but not as strong on a beat.
Unlike the Vendée Globe, The Ocean Race's course will include a number of stops and require the boats to cross the equator four times. Different courses call for different strengths. Therefore, 11th Hour Race Team's gamble is that a boat that is designed more wholistically to perform at all points of sail will win the day. One other thing that makes this boat different is that it's purpose built to accommodate a crew, unlike previously built IMOCA 60 that had to be handled by a solo skipper.
"This boat was designed to sail around the world and experience a multitude of conditions," says team skipper Charlie Enright. "It has to excel in the sweltering heat of the tropics when there's not a lot of wind, and it has to excel in the mean conditions of the southern ocean where we might see waves over 10 meters and winds well in excess of 30 knots"
"We have two main goals: to win every race we compete, and to do it in the most sustainable way possible, showing our competitors the advantages of that," says Enright. "At 11th hour Racing Team, we are so passionate about the ocean because we live on the ocean, we compete on the ocean. It's our playing field"
Wade Morgan, 11th Hour Racing Team Boat Build Manager, has been working on building sustainable solutions into the core of their design. "The learnings we've had here will definitely be used in Grands Prix boats, there's no question. But the real big impact is cruising boats and more recreational boats," says Morgan. "Right now it's there. It's doable. There's no reason not to really. So I can see the learnings we've done here straight away, being able to be adopted in the short term."
For more, visit 11thhourracingteam.org