Navigating sustainable innovation and equity in competitive sailing

NEWPORT, Rhode Island, USA  11th Hour Racing announced today it will join forces with the International Monohull Open Class Association(IMOCA) to drive sustainable innovation and support opportunities for female sailors within competitive sailing.

11th Hour Racing supports seven programs to source alternative materials, lessen the footprint of new boat builds, empower female leaders in sailing, and protect marine mammals. Credit: Marin Le Roux – polaRYSE / IMOCA

With a shared vision for a more sustainable and equitable future for everyone, 11th Hour Racing will support the expansion of seven programs recently launched by IMOCA, embedding sustainability in the DNA of the class — now seen as a leader in the sport — inspired by its skippers’ strong sustainability values.

These efforts focus on reducing the marine industry’s environmental impact by collaborating with boat builders and material experts to source alternative materials, empowering the next generation of female leaders in sailing in partnership with The Magenta Project, and developing solutions to mitigate collisions between racing yachts and marine mammals in offshore races. With 11th Hour Racing’s support, IMOCA’s ambition is to expand the dynamics of its collaborative projects, particularly within the maritime industry.

For instance, the Marine Mammals Advisory Group (MMAG) – the members of which include IMOCA, 11th Hour Racing, World Sailing, and The Ocean Race – aims to mitigate the instances of marine mammals being impacted by fast-moving racing yachts. The MMAG gained momentum after the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre, where 40 IMOCAs were equipped with Hazard Button technology in their navigation systems for the first time. This software enables skippers to instantly alert each other and race directors to the presence of marine mammals on the racecourse. In the long run, the data will help to define the exclusion zones and course directions to avoid areas with frequent mammal activity. The aim is for most IMOCA boats to have this system installed by the start of this year’s Vendée Globe in November.

“Our collaboration with IMOCA reflects our dedication to sustainable innovation and furthers 11th Hour Racing’s objective of setting new standards for inclusivity and equity in sailing,” said Jeremy Pochman, CEO of 11th Hour Racing. “IMOCA’s initiatives empowering females in key roles through partnerships like The Magenta Project exemplify their dedication to foster diversity and leadership within the class. And Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools quantify the environmental footprint of new boat builds in compliance with new construction rules looking at a lasting impact beyond the racecourse. This partnership raises the bar for standards within sailing and reinforces our shared mission towards a more equitable and sustainable future, both on and off the water.”

IMOCA skippers and teams vote on new rules at the Annual General Meeting in Lorient, France. New regulations aim to cut emissions by 15% – or approximately 60tCO2e – for boats built between 2025-2028. Credit: Julien Champolion – polaRYSE / IMOCA

IMOCA is a class of skippers and teams, where each member votes to endorse new rules at the Annual General Meeting of the Class in Lorient, Brittany, France. For example, the Green Sail rule – defined as a sail crafted to reduce emissions by 30% per kilogram compared to standard sails – requires every participating IMOCA to carry at least one Green Sail in its onboard sail inventory. This year, the class introduced a new regulation for all new IMOCA boat builds between 2025 and 2028 to reduce harmful emissions by 15% — or approximately 60 metric tons of CO2 (60tCO2e) — a historic turning point in the maritime industry.

“It is with great satisfaction that we announce our collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, a valuable ally in promoting sustainable development within our IMOCA ecosystem and beyond. For the past four years, we have devoted considerable energy to setting new standards to reduce our impact, establishing virtuous scientific partnerships, and supporting programs to increase women’s representation in our circuit, both at sea and on land. Together, we look forward to continuing on this path and pushing these projects further, guided by innovation and environmental concern,” said Antoine Mermod, IMOCA Class president.

The IMOCA Class is expanding its onboard science program, collaborating with scientific partners such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO since 2015. By the end of 2024, this program aims to equip at least half of the IMOCA fleet with scientific instruments to monitor oceanic carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, microplastic pollution distribution, and meteorological data that enhances weather models.

IMOCA will also oversee Lorient’s carbon fiber recycling pilot project, managing its expansion, diversification, and implementation, focused on boosting the yield of recycled materials year over year.

To learn more about 11th Hour Racing’s sponsorships, visit 11thhourracing.org.


About 11th Hour Racing
11th Hour Racing works to mobilize sports, maritime, and coastal communities with an innovative approach to inspire solutions for the ocean. 11th Hour Racing promotes collaborative, systemic change through three primary areas of engagement: sponsorships, grantees and ambassadors. These philanthropic activities are provided through 11th Hour Racing, Inc., 11th Hour Racing Charitable and 11th Hour Racing Action. Learn more at www.11thhourracing.org.

About IMOCA
Founded in 1991 and officially recognized by World Sailing (International Sailing Federation) in 1998, the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) governs the class of 60-foot (18.28 meters) Open monohulls. Members of IMOCA seamlessly blend competition with the relentless pursuit of human adventure. Moreover, they establish rules to ensure fair play and safety, while fostering innovation around these oceanic monohulls, now the fastest in the world.

The primary objective of IMOCA is to develop the fleet of monohulls and provide its skippers with an attractive and coherent sports program. In 2018, IMOCA launched the IMOCA Globe Series, a four-year championship including the two most prestigious round-the-world races, the Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race. In its evolution, IMOCA pays particular attention to the development of collective reflection and innovation concerning environmental issues. This is to adapt its rules and practices for increased sustainable performance. As the first offshore racing class to vote on technical rules favoring the transition to a lighter and more positive footprint, while retaining the essence of competition, IMOCA demonstrates its commitment to sustainability. Additionally, the Class has partnered with the IOC-UNESCO since 2015, thus supporting the collection of oceanographic data in isolated regions of the globe.
 


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