The new 60-foot Imoca Foncia is launched after a record time build of six months

Foncia, Michel Desjoyeaux’s new 60-foot Imoca was launched yesterday afternoon (20 September) in Port-La-Forêt, France. After the design phase dating back to January, the latest generation VPLP/Verdier designed boat was built and assembled in record time – six months. Michel and his team now have just 40 days to get used to this highly original monohull before the start of the Route du Rhum on 31 October.

A new look

“We’re finally going to be able to go out sailing,” said Michel Desjoyeaux clearly pleased, but a little impatient to discover how his 60-foot sails. The launch marked the end of a fascinating chapter and a moment of release for all those involved in the birth of this racing machine. The new Foncia was built in just six months, or in other words just half the time it took to build the previous monohull, aboard which Michel won the Vendée Globe.

After Safran, Groupe Bel, PRB and Virbac-Paprec 3, Foncia is the fifth monohull designed by the VPLP team in conjunction with Guillaume Verdier. She does however differ in many ways from her cousins. The chine along her side (including a very pronounced upper chine) and the gull wing deck are the stand-out features on the new Foncia. These are some of the elements that are the result of having to come to terms with the new class rules imposed by the IMOCA Class.

These limit the mast height to 29 metres and affect the available sail surface, meaning she needed to be lighter. “The goal was to lower the weight. But we haven’t gone to extremes in terms of lightness as we need to ensure she is sturdy enough,” explained Michel. “From a structural perspective, we have a certain margin. The shape of the hull means we were able to make her more solid, without making her heavier. So we made savings in other areas like the boom, for example, which is 50% lighter than on Foncia 1.”

The deck layout is based on that of the previous monohull, except that the cockpit is 70cm narrower, meaning the area for manoeuvres is smaller to make it easier and more comfortable to work. The lines are arranged in a more efficient manner with furling lines for the headsails passing under the deck. As for other changes, the daggerboards are angled inwards, which helps support the boat rather like foils, but without the drawbacks of curved daggerboards.

Finally, and this is a key feature, the rudders can be changed over very quickly. The symmetrical system means that a problematic rudder can be removed in just ten minutes. As for safety, there is an emergency hatch at the bottom of the boat (practically invisible to the naked eye) and an additional watertight compartment has been added. Without being revolutionary, Foncia includes a number of modifications that will now be tried and tested at sea.

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