A 52ft canting keeler round the world one-design for the fixed budget SolOceans race


What do you make of this? I think she looks a bit like a scaled-down Open 60 of about maybe two generations back. Which, in a way, is what she is.

This is the SolOceans one-design, a 52ft canting keeler for racing round the world through the Southern Ocean. I wrote about this new race earlier this year . It’s due to start in France in 2009 and hull No 1 was launched and went sailing from Cherbourg this weekend.

The design is by Groupe Finot with input by Michel Desjoyeaux, hence the similarity to an Open 60. The race already has a title sponsor, waste management company Véolia, and the concept is very clever. A set budget of ?1.1 million charters the boat, buys sails and all the gear, the skipper’s and boat captain’s salary, insurance, the comms budget and guaranteed media exposure for two years.

The one-design idea and overall race and business control is reminiscent of Chay Blyth’s Global Challenge races, the low budget pro-am appeal of the BOC Challenges and the yachts and route are like a junior Vendée Globe.

I look at this and wonder why the Volvo Ocean Race didn’t do something similar. Then I think of all those mega-buck projects and well-fed teams of builders, designers and sailors and come to my senses.

This is perfectly placed between the Mini Transat and the Vendée Globe. I really like the look of the boat and I’m a huge fan of one-design racing – controlled costs, intensely close racing and ultra easy to understand.

I’ll tell you more about the SolOceans yacht when I see her in the flesh later this week.