Composites Set Sail

A race around the world and a race against time inspired 20 skippers to embark on a chance at the ultimate title. The Vendée Globe is the only single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race and is regarded as a critical test of individual endurance. Founded in 1989 by Philippe Jeantot, a French deep sea diver, the race takes place every four years. The skippers set sail on November 12, 2012, from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, and finished at the same location.

The International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) administers the “Open 60″ class of sailboats competing in the Vendée Globe race. This class of high-performance racing yachts is “open” – meaning it does not represent fixed boat designs – and consists of 60-foot monohulls. The IMOCA defines and updates the class rules and helped coordinate the Vendée Globe race.

High-performance sailing yachts, used in challenging environments, are engineered to be stronger, faster and lighter. To meet these standards, boats are now largely constructed from composite materials, which offer significant advantages in terms of weight, strength and adaptability. The top three finishers of the Vendée Globe, profiled here, used composite materials throughout their yacht designs, as did most of the other competing yachts.

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