REPORTAGE Vendée Globe, round-the-world cockpits compared

manholesJust before the Vendée Globe began(HERE what is happening in the ocean) our correspondent from Les Sables d’Olonne Francesca Goi 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. About the foils we have told you HERE, today we analyze the cockpits, the “cockpits.”


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.

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.

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. Charal is a powerhouse of technology and power, and to see her sail is extraordinary. Jeremie is out of the running for the win, as a rudder failure forced him to return to Les Sables, but he is in contention for the 24-hour mileage record once he gets going again.

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. Kojiro wants to complete his second Vendée Globe, after dropping out in 2016. The word that describes DMG Mori is caution.



The cockpit of the Medallia is similar to what we find on other boats without foils. The more comfortable sailing of a centerboard boat required no special protection in the cockpit area, which is certainly less wet than that of a foiler.


Faster and faster hulls, thanks to foils, but also more and more water on deck and violent impacts to the boat and, especially, the skipper. Concentration can never wane, and constant sail adjustments require the skipper to spend more and more time in the cockpit. For Arnaud’s greater comfort, the cockpit has been enclosed further by extending the cover by one meter, and for his safety, the surface area has been reduced so that in case of violent impacts or falls, the possibility of trauma can be minimized.

Changing the sail plan and mast position changed the deck layout and the halyard and sheet runners. At the stern, a false deck has been created, with a kind of slide that allows sails to be kept outside and moved more easily.

Photos of Gauthier Lebec


For Charal, foils also highlighted the need for greater skipper comfort and safety, with increasingly closed cockpits. Sailing with foils brings a lot of water to the deck, and consequently to the cockpit. Due to the violent impacts of the abrupt decelerations, a wave came to be created in the cockpit that could easily enter below deck, threatening the skipper’s safety and electronic instrumentation. Hence the choice for more protection of the area where the skipper will spend most of the time during the race. To hoist and lower the sails, Jeremie Beyou wanted cameras that would allow him to follow the operation without leaving the cockpit.


Due to the amount of water pouring into the cockpit, it was realized from the first sailings that the protection was not sufficient to ensure the skipper’s safety and comfort, As in the case of the other foilers, the coverage was therefore increased by about one meter. This also made it possible to add an additional solar panel. Winches (4), rigging and triplines to open jammers and control hook systems in the mast are manageable from the cockpit. As with other foilers with enclosed cockpits, protection from water is at the expense of height: there is no room to stand upright in the new cockpits.

Francesca Goi


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