Saturday, 30 March 2013

Vendée Globe : Perspectives on the Comments by IMOCA Class President Luc Talbourdet

Alex Thompson (GBR) on Hugo Boss finishes third in the 2012-13 Vendée Globe. Image copyright Christophe Launay/SeaLaunay @SeaLaunay. It was good to see that a pre-loved/second hand boat filled the third place on the podium in the last Vendée Globe, showing the continuing competitiveness of older boats.

by Anne Hinton

The discussions with Luc Talbourdet recorded in the article below took place in the offices of Absolute Dreamer in Lorient. However, there was a Café de la Marine du Télégramme just three weeks ago, now online, in which Luc Talbourdet is on video discussing the future of the IMOCA class in French.

A question was posed to Luc Talbourdet during the Café de la Marine du Télégramme interview from the audience asking why there had not been very much publicity concerning the last Barcelona World Race, won by two Frenchmen, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron, aboard the IMOCA Virbac Paprec 3, in France. Luc Talbourdet responded that this was due to the event sponsorship. It is often tricky to obtain sponsors interested in publicity in all locations where the sailing public wish to hear about racing. Should part of an event budget be reserved for extending the visibility of events internationally, beyond those required for the current sponsorship, in order to attract wider sponsorship in the future? In practice, this is difficult to achieve.

François Gabart wins the 2012-13 Vendée Globe aboard Macif. Image copyright Christophe Launay/SeaLaunay @SeaLaunay.

It is vital to recognize that sailors are the most important people for any sailing event; without them, there is no event. Therefore, it behoves administrators to assess the needs of sailors and their teams in order to ensure their participation in classes and events, in addition to those of obtaining class/event sponsorship. Teams promote different values to sponsors to obtain funding for the same event; a mixture of personal attributes and those of the regatta in question, and this needs to be taken into account.

The Vendée Globe is probably the fourth most important event internationally in the sailing calendar, after the America's Cup, Olympics and Volvo Ocean Race. Although there is a team behind each sailor and each boat in the Vendée Globe, what the public sees is one person on one boat battling against the elements (adventure) and other competitors (race) as a very unique and individual challenge, sailing alone around the world. It does not necessarily follow that the model applied to one sailing event will work as well with another one.

In Les Sables d'Olonne, Macif is joined by Banque Populaire, second placed boat in the Vendée Globe 2012-13. Image copyright Christophe Launay/SeaLaunay @SeaLaunay.

Bernard Stamm put the sailors' perspective (his views were also reiterated by many other sailors informally) on IMOCA class rule changes in the interview below, and this is balanced by the presentation of the administrative side of possible IMOCA class rule changes from discussions with Luc Talbourdet.

We await with interest the outcome of the votes on 19th April 2013 concerning the future of the IMOCA class, and, hence, the boats to be used in the next Barcelona World Race and the Vendée Globe.