Our resident offshore soloist and francophonic rigger Ryan Breymaier checks in from the Nautic, with the first real piece of IMOCA news since Keith Mills Open Sports Management announced it would be trying to increase the commercial appeal of the world’s marquee offshore monohull class. Their first move: A series and a promo. Here’s Ryan’s take.
The Paris boatshow is France’s biggest non-sailing maritime event of the year. All the movers and shakers in the yachting industry are there for a show that’s open for 10 days over two weekends to offer maximum opportunity for visitors to discover the latest in industry news and developments. Historically the crowds are huge from start to finish and so I was very happy to attend the ‘pro’ day, reserved for media and maritime professionals the Friday before the start of the show.
They weren’t wrong, though they say the show was smaller than previous years, there was everything you could want for a boat or boat-related; from the fashionable blow-up SUP to a wood carving knife to information on the Corsican classic regatta to the brand new one-design flying cat… but more on that later…
What I’d come to hear was the joint press conference between Open Sports Management (OSM) and the FNOB.
OSM is the company created in 2013 and backed by Sir Keith Mills to commercialize and internationalize the IMOCA class. As part of their role, they will create new races and manage the racing schedule. They will also actively seek title sponsors for the class and assist skippers in seeking their own sponsorship.
Until now, the IMOCA class has been skipper controlled and has acted as the governing body of the class of open 60 boats used for the Vendee Globe and Barcelona World Race.
On Friday, at a joint press conference with the FNOB who organize the Barcelona World Race, OSM announced the “OCEAN MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP” along with the inaugural NEW YORK-BARCELONA RACE, starting June 1st, to be held every 2 years.
The Ocean Masters Championship is effectively the new name for what was previous known as the IMOCA circuit. The championship will still run over a four year cycle and there will still be a points ranking amongst the skippers, based on placings within the full schedule of races on the racing calendar. The name was chosen because out of over 50 people asked every day at the race village prior to the Transat Jacques Vabre, not one member of the public could say what IMOCA stands for. (International Monohull Open Class Association). Sir Keith explained the new name like this (more or less): “Short-handed ocean racing is a sport that is based around the skippers. In no other sport do people race 24/7 in such tough conditions for up to 90 days non-stop. The racing is about the skippers and so the circuit is called Ocean Masters.”
The New York- Barcelona Race is really great news for anyone interested in seeing more major offshore events in the US. Bringing the boats to the USA in the springtime will finally provide US sailing fans the chance to get up close and personal with these amazing machines, as well as providing an excellent opportunity for US companies to get into sponsorship of shorthanded ocean racing.
The race will be managed jointly by OSM and the FNOB who have already a good experience with organizing a race from New York. The program has the boats going to Newport RI at the end of May with a race to NYC with media onboard each boat on the 24th. There will be a race village at North Cove Marina and a Grand Prix on the Hudson River on the 26th. Race start is on June 1st.
The potential is huge for the first American sponsor to get involved; both in terms of the marketing opportunities offered by the race start in New York, as well as beginning a long term relationship in a sport with undeniable values and an incredibly captivating story to be told in the lead up to the Vendee Globe 2016, singlehanded, nonstop around the world.
I am working hard to be on the starting line for the race and this latest news creates a great starting point for a sponsor willing to accompany me in my quest to be the first American winner of the Vendee Globe. We are certain there is a company out there for whom this is the perfect opportunity to expand their reach, both in the US and in Europe; it’s just a matter of finding them in time to be on the start line.
Finally, to help you all navigate the future of IMOCA (just so everyone’s got the jargon right):
Open Sport Management or OSM promotes the IMOCA class worldwide.
IMOCA manages the technical side of the class. This is still skipper-run and this is where the decisions about one-design, etc. are made.
OCEAN MASTERS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP is the new name of the racing circuit,
FNOB is the organizing body of the Barcelona World Race.