Please select your home edition
Melges 2023 - Melges 15 LEADERBOARD

Guillaume Verdier: 640 miles can be beaten...

by Ed Gorman / IMOCA Globe Series 26 May 22:26 BST
Team Holcim-PRB new monohull 24 hour record © Yann Riou / polaRYSE / Team Holcim-PRB

It's hard to believe that a sailing boat can cover a total distance in 24 hours that would equate to travelling from Paris to Alicante in southern Spain, the home of The Ocean Race, but that is what Holcim-PRB has now done.

Racing in Leg 5 of The Ocean Race from Newport to Aarhus, Kevin Escoffier's new foiling IMOCA has set a new outright monohull world record for sailing boats of any kind, with a distance in 24 hours of 640.91 nautical miles.

This beats by 22 nautical miles the former outright monohull record held by the maxi Comanche, skippered by Ken Read. It also beats Holcim-PRB's previous IMOCA record set during Leg 3 from Cape Town to Itajaí of 595 miles, and is more than 100 miles further than the 539-mile record at the start of the race.

The new mark, which has yet to be officially verified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council, came as Escoffier's team were sailing in almost perfect conditions for big mileages on Wednesday and Thursday - ahead of a weather front downwind on a relatively flat sea in 25-27 knots of southerly breeze in the north Atlantic.

The record came as they chased down leg leader 11th Hour Racing Team Mãlama which, like third-placed Team Malizia, also convincingly broke the 595-mile mark during this phase of racing, though Mãlama's progress was hampered when she hit an obstacle in the water.

In terms of the equivalent distance on land coved by Holcim-PRB, 640 nautical miles equates to 736.5 statute miles. This is almost the exact distance - as the crow flies - from Paris to Alicante, a comparison which underlines the extraordinary range of the newest boats in the IMOCA Class.

But Holcim-PRB's designer, the French Naval architect Guillaume Verdier (who also designed Comanche alongside VPLP), said he was not surprised by the latest leap in distance sailed and said he has no doubt that even 640 miles can be bettered.

"Oh for sure, yeah, yeah," he said from his home in Brittany when asked if the new record can be beaten. "You mean in the state of where the boats are today? Oh yeah, for sure. The aerodynamics of these boats is pretty 'basic' to be honest. There is a lot that can be done to improve them and this will improve a lot, no doubt."

Verdier added that possible future changes to the IMOCA rule, that might release even more power, could yet produce even more dramatic results on the racecourse. "Under the rule that they are selling today, they will be able to go further," he said. "But if the rule evolved a little bit more, with more freedom - for example, allowing (foils) on the rudder that would allow full flying all the time. What we are seeing now is skimming, which is pretty good - it's only 26 knots..."

Talking to Verdier - who designed not only Holcim-PRB, but Mãlama and Paul Meilhat's Biotherm - it is clear that he regards the IMOCA design process as still a work in progress in almost all respects.

And performance-wise, there are gains to be made, for example, in how the boats tackle big seas. "I am not fully satisfied, they slow down too much in the waves. I'm never fully satisfied," said Verdier.

Related Articles

Thomas Ruyant sets new 24 hour distance record
Moving into third place in Retour à La Base Alex Thomson's mark topples as Thomas 'The Rocket' Ruyant races to new 24 Hour Record! For The People scythed into third place today. Posted on 4 Dec
Retour à La Base update
Record speeds on the cards? The leaders of the Retour à La Base solo IMOCA race from Martinique to Lorient, France are now completing their curve around the north Atlantic high pressure system and starting to head towards the east. Posted on 3 Dec
Retour à La Base update
'The holiday is over'…contemplating the big downwind 'The holiday is over' warned Kiwi Conrad Colman this morning, contemplating how hard the next week is going to be for the 31 strong Retour à La Base fleet of IMOCAs. Posted on 2 Dec
Charal stepping on the gas in lead
After just over 24 hours of racing in Retour à La Base After just over 24 hours of racing since leaving Fort-de-France, Jéremie Beyou is proving his well optimised Charal is fastest on the northwards climb up the Atlantic for the Retour à La Base fleet of solo racers. Posted on 1 Dec
Boris is back to racing solo in Retour à La Base
“I really found the hunger to sail alone again” This Thursday, Team Malizia's skipper Boris Herrmann crossed the start line of the Retour à La Base race in the front row, and is now back to racing in solo mode on his Malizia - Seaexplorer yacht. Posted on 30 Nov
Retour à La Base starts from Martinique
Burton making the early pace After a relatively benign, light winds start out of the Bay of Fort-de-France, Louis Burton was leading the 30 strong Retour à La Base fleet as the inaugural solo race across the Atlantic to Lorient filed south to round the tip of Martinique. Posted on 30 Nov
L'Occitane sets sail for the Retour à La Base
IMOCA fleet set off for the final race of the year The starting gun for the Retour à La Base has just been fired! At 12:00 today (local time), 17:00 French time, the IMOCA fleet set off for the final race of the year, taking more than 30 IMOCA skippers to Lorient, this time sailing solo. Posted on 30 Nov
First race at the helm of Holcim-PRB
Nicolas Lunven will set off on the transatlantic race Retour à la Base Nicolas Lunven will set off on his first solo transatlantic race abord the IMOCA Holcim-PRB at 1700pm HF this Thursday. The start of the race promises to be technical, with demanding weather conditions due to the relief of the island of Martinique. Posted on 30 Nov
The Ocean Race takes action at COP28
Calling for a sea change at United Nations Climate Change Conference The Ocean Race is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, to call for the ocean to be a key consideration in the vital climate negotiations and to highlight how sport and business can help to make a positive difference for the planet. Posted on 30 Nov
Sam's first solo IMOCA race is one of discovery
Sam Goodchild is set for the Retour à La Base solo race back to France which starts today After third on the Transat Jacques Vabre, Sam Goodchild's first solo IMOCA race is one of discovery. Posted on 30 Nov