Olay Nautic, organiser of the race, didn’t have enough competitors to envisage organising the event on the scheduled date, which was originally 1 July 2011. The common objective which IMOCA and the organiser had in mind, namely a fleet of 10 boats, wasn’t achieved.
After consulting the skippers, IMOCA suggested to Olay Nautic that they postpone the race until the spring of 2012. Eleven projects have promised to participate in the Europa Race, the start of which will be given in Istanbul in May 2012.
Through this decision, the Class is confirming its desire to have a European Tour (Europa Race) on its schedule every two years, alternating with a Round the World race. Positioned prior to the Vendée Globe and the Barcelona World Race, the Europa Race will contribute towards the promotion of the round the world races, particularly across Europe, which accommodates the bulk of the IMOCA fleet.
On a competitive level the Europa Race, which is run in crewed configuration, shall be a platform for the last fine tuning sessions for the boats and minimises the risk prior to an important event.
To suit the needs of the skippers preparing for a round the world, one leg of the Europa Race will be raced in solo configuration prior to the Vendée Globe and double-handed configuration prior to the Barcelona World Race.
Cumali Varer, President of Olay Nautic, is already working on a new race format which will be presented between now and 15 July 2011.
Clearly this postponement alters the scheduled programme, particularly as regards The Transat, which was originally due to set sail in May 2012. OC ThirdPole, organiser of The Transat, was informed of the situation and was consulted prior to the final decision being made. OC ThirdPole has stood by IMOCA for a long while and understands the need of the Class to postpone the Europa Race. It will in turn study the possibility of postponing The Transat with the aim of gathering a minimum of 10 competitors at the start.
Up till now the IMOCA programme followed a four-year cycle of events, punctuated by its landmark race, the Vendée Globe. The integration of the Barcelona World Race, has put a new light on the things through its success and durability. In the future, the IMOCA calendar is set to integrate periods of solo races and double-handed races, each culminating in a round the world.
IMOCA is working in this direction, by associating race organisers in its thought processes.
– PR –