"The perfect programme is one where everyone shares the same vision, where everyone feels good and positive together and the adeventure is shared equally between the team, the partners, and of course the public." says Sophie Vercelleto who shares the management of the Kairos team with Roland Jourdain. Their company runs the project Des Voiles et Vous, the 2015 build former Safran.
"It is a proven, mature boat which will be in the prime of its life, well optimised with many miles under its keel." she contends.
Meanwhile it takes time not only to build and work up a brand new boat, such as Alex Thomson and Jérémie Beyou are each having built.
"Our timing is close to the optimum." says Beyou who right now is taking time out from his first participation in the crewed Volvo Ocean Race around the world. "The construction of a new boat takes about one year to one and a half years. The best of the new projects will compete on next year's Route du Rhum, maybe, but for sure the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre. To only launch the boat in the same year as the Vendée Globe start, time is already too short."
To be early and risk being copied, or go late and run the risks due to lack of proving time ?
Do you go early and show your hand and risk being copied by later projects, or do you wait and try and gain a design advantage by havign the very latest, less proven technology?
Banque Populaire VIII was launched in the summer of 2015 for the race starting November 2016. But, remember those teething problems. The boat maybe finsihed second in the Transat Jacques Vabre but there were issues which required the VPLP-Verdier design to be refitted through that winter. Much more is known about the required engineering and structure of foils but how much development and refitting time do you build in as your contingency?
"We are working in particular on the foils but also on the overall balance of the boat. Our Imoca will be different from those that existed before, " highlights Beyou, who has chosen to build early like 2016-17 winner Armel Le Cléac'h did.
Even now if three years seems a long time away, that is really only if the project runs trouble free. If not, and a prototype system breaks or fail, that is costly in terms of time and resources
If the prototype breaks the time spent repairing or rebuilding can seriously impact on training and tuning time on the water, and eat into the finance originally dedicated to the evolution of Imoca.
"That's why we chose to be the first to build and launch even if we are copied. We should always be one step ahead, "contends Jérémie Beyou.
2018 a crucial year.
"We have moved up into the next dimension. From eight people, we now have thirteen working on the project including our design office. And if you want to win the Vendée Globe, we have to look at what the winner of the last edition did, examine his programme, and try and do things better. But in saying that I'm not Armel (Le Cléac'h) and our partner is also different. In other words our budgets are not the same."
And the others ? What are they doing? There are many skippers working hard right now to be there.
Verceletto smiles, "Do you know what Kairos means in Greek? It's the qualifying time, the favorable time and an opportune moment . For us the times that dictate the performance, human and the boat, will really be down to what we do in 2018. This will be the key year when everything is happening, " says Vercelletto, whose company manages skipper Morgan Lagravière who, after his 3rd place with Eric Peron in the recent Transat Jacques-Vabre is now looking to build on that momentum, especially looking forwards to the solo Route du Rhum in 2018.
"And 2018 is the year in which the real bonds are formed among the skipper's team and with new partners. I encourage partners to come and join us, it is now that everything is set! Because in 2019 it is about sail, sail, sail and sail some more. The Vendée Globe is already only tomorrow. "