Ready for take off
The solo round The world race could be The fastest, fiercest and hairiest yet. elaine bunting reports
After solo skipper Sébastien Josse took his boat Groupe Edmond de Rothschild offshore for a photoshoot last year, the video footage went viral. In 25-30 knots of wind, Josse screamed off on a broad reach to show the new foils in action. When his boat rode up on them you could see the whole bow section flying clear of the water then plunging though the tops of waves.
However extreme the experience may have looked, this will be the reality of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race. It will be fast, fierce and at times as pummelling as front row rugby. The IMOCA 60s, always at the leading edge of oceangoing monohull design, have taken another leap forward and when the race begins on 6 November, it could be the ballsiest in its hardcore 27-year history.
A new generation of semi-foiling yachts, five brand new and two refitted older boats, will turbo boost the speed of this race in power reaching conditions and push it to a new level of brute velocity.
Some say that in the right conditions these foil-sporting boats are two knots or more quicker.
The new boats, all Vplp/verdier designs, are Banque