Foil REPORTAGE at Vendée Globe, four IMOCA 60s in comparison

foilLe Sables d’Olonne (Vendée, France) – After the “fact sheet” with everything you need to know about the 2020/21 Vendée Globe (an edition that will set new boundaries technologically), we get into the “technical” with our correspondent from Les Sables d’Olonne Francesca Goi who boarded four IMOCA 60s of different generations ready to set off around the world and tells us, in three episodes, about the different design solutions applied on the boats: foil, cockpit and hull. Today we are talking about foil. (opening photo: Gauthier Lebec / Charal)


It only takes a quick glance toward the pier to realize that foils are the real stars of the 2020-2021 edition of the Vendée Globe. We boarded (or almost boarded, because of Covid Charal we admired it from the dock) four boats that will set sail tomorrow, Nov. 8, from Les Sables d’Olonne for a solo round-the-world voyage. We chose four representative boats to understand the evolution of Imoca and four teams with different philosophies, budgets, and priorities. Although there is only one classification at the Vendée Globe, we imagine that the race will be run in platoons. A first major distinction will be between boats with and without foils. Among foilers, it is possible to distinguish between the latest generation of designs, which were born around the foils themselves, and boats to which they were added later. The favorites, needless to say, all have state-of-the-art boats.

That said, the Vendée Globe is a long and demanding regatta where every element counts: with an average dropout rate of 50 percent, performance is not the only variable.


The first boat is Medallia by British skipper Pip Hare. Launched in 1999, she is one of the veterans of the race, in her third Vendée Globe. Reliable and high-performing, Medallia has a center keel. Pip aims to complete his Vendée Globe regardless of placement. The word to describe this project: cohesion. Despite initial difficulties in finding a sponsor to support the project, passion and determination of the skipper and team made the feat possible.

La Mie Caline – Artisans Artipole by Arnaud Boissières is a 2007 boat. Foils were added in 2012, along with major work on the boat’s structure. Arnaud, or Cali, as he is most often heard called, is on his fourth Vendée Globe. The word to describe this project is constancy: of the skipper, the project and the partners. Mie Caline is not among the favorites for victory, but Arnaud knows he can get a good finish, just behind the new generation boats.

Jeremie Beyou’s Charal, launched in the summer of 2018, is a state-of-the-art foiler. Jeremie is also in his fourth Vendée Globe, with an excellent third place at the 2016 edition (and is definitely among the favorites this year). Charal is a powerhouse of technology and power, and to see her sail is extraordinary. We are talking about a boat that has touched peaks of 37 knots of speed and that last week, on a flat sea day, with 18 knots of wind got up to 31 knots. The word that describes the project: dedication. Jeremie aims for victory.

DMG Mori, by Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi, launched in September 2019. We chose DMG Mori because although it is Charal’s sister-boat, it has a different project behind it. First, boat and skipper have fewer miles together under their belt, different budgets, and different priorities. Kojiro wants to complete his second Vendée Globe, after dropping out in 2016. The word that describes DMG Mori is caution. In the positive sense of the word: Kojiro is a very determined skipper who does not take unnecessary risks. DMG Mori has different foils from Charal’s and kept the bow structure of the launch. It will be interesting to see how two projects so similar and different at the same time will perform at sea.

Photos by Francesca Goi


Medallia is the IMOCA of British skipper Pip Hare. If Pip is in her first Vendée Globe, the boat is a veteran of the race. Built by Bernard Stamm to take part in the 2000 Vendée Globe under the name Superbigou, the boat was back at the start of the solo round-the-world race in 2016 with Swiss skipper Alan Roura. We boarded Medallia accompanied by Joff Brown, team manager of the project.

Hull-wise, the boat has basically retained the characteristics of the launch and does not mount foils. Nevertheless, we are talking about a high-performance, lightweight and fast hull that enabled a young Alan Roura to take 12th place at last year’s Vendèe Globe. The decision not to mount the foils stems from an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of the intervention and the fact that the sponsor’s involvement came with some delay. The team assessed that the increase in performance that the foils would bring, did not justify the investment, unless substantial interventions were also made to the structure of the boat. Pip will not start in Sables d’Olonne with the ambition to win, but to have a good Vendée Globe for himself, the team and the sponsors, and, most importantly, to complete the race.

Photos by Francesca Goi


The second project is La Mie Caline – Artisans Artipôle, by Arnaud Boissières. We were welcomed aboard by JC (Jean-Christophe Caso), a team member and experienced navigator. Although not a state-of-the-art hull, La mie Caline – Artisans Artipole underwent major modifications in 2012 to incorporate foils.

These are in this case first-generation foils, to wit. the same ones that had brought Jeremie Beyou to the third step of the podium in 2016 and that we find again today on Stephane de Diraison’s Time for Oceans. So if the hull remains the same as in the launch, adding the foils required the mast to be set back one meter, changing the center of gravity, sail plan and boat behavior.

The introduction of foils forced a reduction in sail plan. The J-1, large headsail, weighing 110Kg (dry) is gone . It was replaced by a J-1-sized Code 0, while still providing a similar range of use(as we tell in the interview with Gautier Sergent at the end of the race presentation feature where we explain the reasons for this choice related to the righting moment of foils ed.).

Photos Gauthier Lebec / Charal


Launched of September 2018, Charal is a boat designed around foils. About Charal we spoke with Gauthier Lebec, from the Beyou team. Larger in size than those mounted on the “2016 generation” boats, the new generation foils come out on deck. Charal’s are divided into two parts, with a distinct tip and shaft (thel foil is composed of two parts: the “tip,” the tip, and the shaft, the “arm” that connects the tip to the boat, to be clear, ed.), unlike, for example, Hugo Boss’s, which have a much more pronounced and continuous curvature .

The idea of Charal’s designers is to have longer shafts that can sink the foils deeply into the water and, as a result, allow the boat to fly higher to bypass the waves. From the 2018 launch, the one Jeremie Beyou will start with is the V3 (the third version of foils): compared to the V1 (similar to that of sister-boat DMG Mori), the V2 had a shorter tip, a geometry more similar to that of Apivia O LinkedOut, with a more pronounced L-shape. The shaft of the V2 was too short, so less scope for extension adjustment. In a way, V3 is more similar to V1: like V1 it has a long shaft, with the angle rather close to the boat, and like V2 it has longer length and more open angle.

Photos by Francesca Goi


We boarded DMG MORI with Simone Gaeta, rigger and foils and stearing system manager.
Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi’s boat is Charal’s sister-boat: same design and same shipyard, launched in September 2019, one year after Jeremie Beyou’s.

A new generation foiler, DMG Mori will sail with the foils from the launch, Charal’s V1, so they are smaller than those of the sister-boat or Arkea-Paprec and LinkedOut. If size is the variable that jumps out at you, designers today are also working on other elements. They can also vary the width and length of the shaft (the part of the foil that enters the water), knowing that the latter can have ventilation consequences, which is why we see boats with fences. For tonnage rules, the shaft angle instead remains fixed.

Despite the state-of-the-art boat, Shiraishi first and foremost wants to finish his Vendée Globe, which is why great work has been done on fiabilization before on the performance of the boat. Added to this, unlike the sister-boat, the team had only one year to fine-tune the boat, and Charal’s greater experience also benefited DMG Mori.

Francesca Goi

Tomorrow we will tell you about the solutions adopted for the cockpit of these IMOCA 60s!


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