It is a far cry from the french IMOCA hotbed of Brittany and until now the 60 footers have rarely raced in the Med. The sailors of the Vendée Globe rarely ventured inside the Strait of Gibraltar. Some will remember and indeed may have raced on the crewed Istanbul Europa Race (2009). Others will have exited and returned through the Med on the Barcelona World Race which happens every four years.
But from now onwards the sports calendar will actively promote the Med as a racing destination for the IMOCA fleet.
The Monaco Globe Series lifts the curtain on 2018 and the new cycle
Although it yields a regular pool of young offshore racing talent, and always has, the Mediterranean has been isolated from actual offshore races. But many sailors who have taken on the Vendée Globe come from the Med or have their home port there. Recently there has been Kito de Pavant (Port Camargue), Sebastian Destremau (Toulon), Jean-Pierre Dick (Nice), and now the German skipper aiming for 2020, Boris Herrmann, whose boat Malizia II sports the flag of Monaco.
A passionate sailor Pierre Casighari is the vice-president of the Yacht Club of Monaco. He is the man behind the Malizia project and the architect of this spring's innovative new event for the IMOCAs, the Monaco Globe Series. It will comprise 1400 miles, two up, between Monaco, Corsica, the Aeolian Islands and the Balearic Islands, between the 1st and 8th of June.
"The Monaco Yacht Club is at the heart of the whole initiative," says Boris Herrmann. "The club are the main sponsor and are now a major player in the run up to Vendée Globe. And showing off the Imoca fleet in the Mediterranean, allowing people to see and understand what it is of course very important to us ".
The German skipper and Pierre Casighari will team up to compete in this their 'home' regatta that the Monegasques wish to see run regularly in the future.
© DRFirst reason to come to the Med… Sport
The Monaco Globe Series lifts the curtain on seven major races which constitute the new Imoca 2018-2020 championship. Eight skippers have already confirmed their participation and more are interested. The current expectation is that around 12 boats will compete to race around the rocky islet off the north coast of Corsica.
The programme is new, designed to appeal to all. From mid-May to mid-June, solo and doubles races represent opportunities to train for next Vendée Globe. Between each race stopovers are ideal to bring in and host team's supporters or partners.
This is just one of the key initiatives which appeal to Fabrice Amedeo (Newrest - Art et Fenêtres) will be in the game: "The Mediterranean program will allow me to make solo miles alone on the Douarnenez - Cascais race, then two handed miles with an experienced skipper on the Monaco Globe Series to help up my game, but also to be able to sail with clients and employees of sponsoring and partner companies in Barcelona and in La Ciotat ".
Second reason, it's a dream set up for public relations
An ambitious programme of PR is in place for Paul Meilhat who will pair up with Gwénolé Gahinet in Monaco and Saint-Tropez.
"This Mediterranean programme is a real innovation and it comes at the just right time," says Elodie Viglino, assistant director of communications at SMA. " Public relations is one of the pillars of our activation programme. Now, here we can meet our customers and collaborators who are from Montpellier, from Marseille and Nice all on their own home patch. We will create events throughout the course, in Lisbon, in Montpellier and in La Ciotat, Monaco and Cannes. We are delighted with this new dynamic that brings our needs as sponsors to the fore as well as solely the sporting goals. For us, it kicks of an important period leading up to the Route du Rhum ".
© V. Curutchet / DPPI / SMAAnd a third reason: because it's beautiful
The courses of the Monaco Globe Series and the Giraglia Rolex Cup will take sailors through some of the most beautiful areas of the sea that the Romans called Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), including the Straits of Bonifacio, the Aeolian islands including Stromboli, Menorca, Cap Corse, Bay Saint-Tropez, Gulf of Genoa.
"We have a beautiful playground with sun, wind, bays at every turn, » confirms Kito de Pavant who is ready to host teams to a technical stop in his home of Port Camargue. "The waters are warm and we go to beautiful places appreciated by the partners. On the Giraglia, it is also an opportunity to show our boats to a whole group of the sailing fraternity. »
It is a prelude to the Barcelona World Race
"The idea of going sailing in the Mediterranean a few months before the next Barcelona World Race made sense. And we also consider that it is an area still relatively unexplored and unexploited for IMOCA. So, it is important to go there », says Guillaume Evrard, general delegate of the Imoca class.
And then, from the Med, the Barcelona World Race, the two handed race around the world, will start on January 12, 2019 from the Catalan city. The formula of this fourth edition has changed to include a stopover of 10 days in Sydney and the opportunity to change co-skipper after the stop Australia. The new format will allow each boat to qualify three sailors for the Vendée Globe. A dozen teams are already in the frame.
The Mediterranean programme 2018
- May 9th-13th. Douarnenez - Cascais (Portugal): qualifying race for the Route du Rhum
- May. Stay in La Ciotat
- June 1-8. Monaco Globe Series. Two days of exhibition runs. Start of the big race on June 3rd.
- 9-13 June. Stopover in Cannes
- 13th of June. Start of the Giraglia Rolex Cup: Saint-Tropez / Giraglia / Genoa