Mediterranean - A New Playground for IMOCAs
Monaco – Sardinia – Palermo Mondello - Balearic Islands - Monaco
In line with a sports policy driven by its President HSH Prince Albert II, the Yacht Club de Monaco is organizing the first Monaco Globe Series early June, the first stage of the new IMOCA (2018-2020) Championship. The second will be the Route du Rhum in November which celebrates its 40th anniversary. With nine of the 60-footers already registered and one pending confirmation, the double-handed non-stop offshore race without assistance is a chance for competitors to rack up points towards selection for the Vendée Globe 2020.
Having left Lorient end of March, Malizia II skippered by Pierre Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann was the first to arrive in Monegasque waters after a week-long passage. All teams are expected soon to drop anchor for the first time in the Principality to compete in this event, with the starting gun being fired Sunda June 3rd, 2018 by YCM President HSH Prince Albert II from the M/Y Pacha III, an elegant 36m motor-yacht built in 1936 at Camper & Nicholsons.
The 1,200nm offshore route embraces the most emblematic race marks in the Western Mediterranean. After the start in Monaco, the fleet races down Corsica’s west coast before being propelled through the Strait of Bonifacio past Sardinia, a tribute to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda celebrating 20 years of twinning with the YCM. They then head for Sicily to tack in front of another club with which the YCM is twinned, the prestigious Circolo della Vela Sicilia, Challenger of Record for the America's Cup and organizer of the Palermo-Montecarlo. The fleet then sets course for the Balearic Islands before returning to Monaco.
A driving force behind this project, YCM Vice-President Pierre Casiraghi is convinced an event of this stature is significant “not only because it is part of our desire to further develop competitive sailing in Monaco, but to support new vocations and inspire our youngsters to dream. We don’t get the chance to see IMOCA boats very often here in the Mediterranean, which is why this meeting is unique.”
For the start, 18 sailors are already confirmed including Bretons Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet on SMA, winners of the last Rolex Fastnet Race. They face Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2). With two Vendée Globes, three Transat Jacques Vabres and two Route du Rhums behind him, he is accompanied by Anna-Maria Renken. A renowned offshore regular but in the 40’ class, the German will be tapping into her ocean racing experience for this Mediterranean meeting. Other female sailors are set to take the helm, including Isabelle Joschke (Monin) and Alexia Barrier on Club Corsaires 2020, an IMOCA used to the high seas, having come 15th in the 2016/2017 Vendée Globe and with a Rolex Fastnet Race, Velux de la 5 Océans and a Transat Jacques Vabre under her keel.
Hailing from more “conventional” classes (dinghies, 6.5m and 40’ Class), Manuel Cousin is a newcomer to the IMOCA class on Groupe Setin. After three months in the yard, the former Mie-Câline-Artipôle has been given a new lease of life ready for her new owner. The future will tell if the work bears fruit. Another that has spent six months in the yard is Boulogne Billancourt, led by Stephane Le Diraison, which is finally ready to join the fleet in the Mediterranean. He is paired with Stan Maslard.
And finally, Fabrice Amadeo and Eric Peron return to the fray for this 1st Monaco Globe Series on Newrest Art & Fenêtres. After competing together in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre, the pair are set to attack the “Grande Bleue”. “Conditions can be very changeable in the Med and this type of course on a boat like this will require total commitment. But it will be very interesting,” reckons the Finistére sailor, Eric Peron.
A qualifier for the Vendée Globe
The Monaco event marks the start of the new IMOCA 2018-2020 championship, renamed the Globe Series, with a system of points and weightings over a four-year period. The sailors who rack-up the maximum number of nautical miles stand a chance of being selected for the Vendée Globe, the “Everest of the Seas”.
An exclusive press conference is being held on the opening day, Friday 1st June, with the principle organisers to present key events in the Globe Series leading up to the next Vendée Globe.
Raising awareness of the sea with the public and young generation
In collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Monaco Globe Series is providing a platform for contestants to report on the state of the marine environment. The course crosses the Pelagos Sanctuary and skippers are likely to encounter the many marine mammals and cetaceans that roam this sea.
Keen to share this unprecedented race with as many people as possible, SSI-MonacoSat (Inmarsat partner) is opening its communication channels to teams free of charge, so they can broadcast photos and videos. It is a great opportunity for skippers to bring their experience alive for the public.
In another initiative, this one by Pierre Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann, the YCM has developed an educational kit working with Monaco’s Education Department and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Translated into French and German, the kit explains the mysteries of the marine environment in a fun way, alongside a competition entitled “Draw me Malizia II” aimed at school children in Monaco, and any youngsters (primary and secondary) who can download the kit from the website. The one coming up with the best drawing wins an opportunity to watch the start of the race from a boat near the starting line.
Experience the race live
Sailing enthusiasts the world-over can follow the race on a live tracking system broadcast on screens in the Yacht Club de Monaco and on the YCM website.
Online also, offshore fanatics can try their hand at a Virtual Regatta game, pitting their skills against seasoned sailors on the Monaco Globe Series course. Registration to take part on this virtual course will open on the portal ten days before the race.
Teams registered on the 8th of May 2018.
Malizia II – Pierre Casiraghi / Boris Herrmann
SMA – Paul Meilhat / Gwénolé Gahinet
Bureau Vallée 2 – Louis Burton / Anna-Maria Renken
Monin – Isabelle Joschke / co-skipper TBC
Newrest Art & Fenêtres – Fabrice Amedeo / Eric Peron
Club Corsaires 2020 – Alexia Barrier / co-skipper TBC
Groupe Setin – Manuel Cousin / co-skipper TBC
Kilcullen Team Ireland – Joan Mulloy / TBC
Boulogne Billancourt - Stephane Le Diraison / Stan Maslard
Friday, June 1st, 2018
Exhibition day for teams and their sponsors
•2.00pm: Runs and courses in Monaco Bay
•5.00pm: Press conference to launch the Monaco Globe Series
•6.00pm: Globe Series Opening Ceremony (by invitation)
•8.30pm: Gala Dinner (by invitation)
Saturday, June 2nd, 2018
•2.00pm: Runs and courses in Monaco Bay
Sunday, June 3rd, 2018
•1.00pm: Start of 1,200 nautical mile race
Friday, June 8th, 2018
•6.00pm: Prize-giving ceremony