It will be the sixth IMOCA in the “PRB” saga, a sponsor that has been linked to the Vendée Globe single-handed, non-stop around the world sailing regatta since its second edition in 1992-1993. Being his patrons Jean-Yves Hasselin, he managed to finish in seventh position out of a total of fifteen participants, eight dropped out; Isabelle Autissier in 1996-1997, who had to abandon the regatta due to a broken rudder. In 2000-2001 Michel Desjoyeaux wins the Vendée Globe and shortens the hundred days of regatta by finishing in 93 days, 3 hours and 57 minutes; Vincent Riou also won it in 2004-2005 with the same boat, improving Desjoyeaux's time by six days less. In 2008-2009 Vincent Riou had to retire at Cape Horn due to a broken mast, having previously recovered Jean Le Cam alive, an action that was rewarded by the Vendée Globe Organization with a third place.
In 2012-2013, Riou also had to withdraw from the regatta when he was sailing near the coast of Brazil due to an impact with a drifting floating metal buoy, which caused the breakage of one of the outtriger shrouds (deck crossbar for lateral support). mast) to starboard and damage to the side of the ship; as in 2016-2017 she due to damage to the pivoting keel after fifteen days of regatta. And in the last edition, held in 2020-2021, Kevin Escoffier was forced to leave due to the sinking of the sailboat when he was sailing southwest of the Cape of Good Hope, being rescued alive by Jean Le Cam.
Escoffier is proud to have, as he puts it, the "honor" of representing PRB, the longest running commercial sponsor in IMOCA history, with 30 years of uninterrupted support from great sailors in the Class, including Isabelle Autissier and the winners consecutive Vendée Globe races Michel Desjoyeaux and Vincent Riou, who has been taking a keen interest in the new project. Escoffier recalled that PRB president Jean-Jacques Laurent had informed him, even while he was still on Le Cam's ship in the Southern Ocean, that the sponsorship would continue with a new ship.
For better or for worse, in the face of adversity, the PRB company continued to be linked to ocean sailing, making the decision to build a new IMOCA OPEN 60 to be at the start of the next edition of the Vendée Globe in 2024 skippered by Kevin Escoffier .
Regarding the designers who have drawn the lines of the different IMOCA "PRB", these have been created by Paul Lucas, Finot-Conq, Farr Yacht Design, Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost, Guillaume Verdie who has launched a proposal that recalls to the concept that Sam Manuard used with L'Occitane en Provence for the 2020-2021 edition with a “spathulate” bow and huge foils that come out of the waterline.
Verdier has accentuated the shapes of the hull for the "PRB" with a redan on the upper part of her sides and more pronounced edges from the stern to the stem at the bow, with a closed cabin from the base of the mast to the stern just forward of the mainsail sheet rail.
For Escoffier, there are two essential watchwords: versatility and reliability. The Verdier plan has also undergone significant changes for this purpose. Above all, because, as the last Vendée Globe showed, each circumnavigation of the world is different in terms of weather conditions, so it is not about making a boat that is too typical. Kevin Escoffier wants to ensure ample capacity to exploit his 60' whatever the conditions encountered.
"The objective is to have a versatile, reliable boat with a controlled mass. We will accept losing a little due to flat seas in light winds to gain performance in a formed sea and in stronger winds. I had the opportunity to participate in the construction of different boats. I also sailed a lot in the last PRB. These are references in terms of sensations, behavior at sea. These experiences will obviously serve me and will be valuable in the construction of PRB. Our Verdier plan will be in line with LinkedOut (6th in the Vendée Globe with Thomas Ruyant) and Apivia (2nd in the Vendée Globe with Charlie Dalin). It will be an evolution of these boats that will obviously integrate the gauge changes", comments Kevin.
The bow design, in particular, is the hallmark of this generation. "Unlike the old generation IMOCAs, which have a pointed shape, the current architectural approach is to add volume to the bow. This is what we have done on the PRB with a wider and more powerful bow to prevent the boat from enter the waves. The goal was to have a monocoque that was as stable as possible and could easily handle medium speeds, we didn't design it with high speeds in mind," explains Kevin, who has opted for versatility and reliability with this new 60 '. But if the design evolves, there is something that remains unchanged on board the PRB boats, and that is the orange color, symbol of the construction products company, which this year celebrates 30 years of sponsorship in sailing.
One wonders if Escoffier, an articulate and quiet sailor, married father of two, feels pressure to continue his high-performance results as he rejoins the IMOCA fleet. But Escoffier says that the expectation of the French and international sailing public is not a problem for him. "I hope it's a good time (on this boat) and people expect things from me, but, you know, the person who puts the most pressure on my results is me," he said. "I'm the one looking for a good result when I go sailing, because I live for that; I'm happy if people have expectations of me, but in the end it's me, not them, who puts the pressure..."
All eyes will be on the first regatta that the new «PRB» will tackle in September during the Défi Azimut, prior to the Route du Rhum in November. And, it is not known if Escoffier will decide to compete in the Vendée Articque on June 12, as he does not have much time to get the boat ready.