Alex Thomson has announced that his team will buy the Banque Populaire IMOCA 60 on which Clarisse Cremer was due to compete before she was controversially dropped by sponsors earlier this year
British four-time Vendée Globe competitor Alex Thomson has announced that his team has agreed to purchase the IMOCA 60 which Clarisse Cremer was set to race in the 2024 Vendée Globe before she was controversially dropped by the team.
When Cremer lost the backing of the French banking giant earlier this year, the story made headlines far beyond the French offshore racing community. The skipper claimed she had been dropped by the team due to the impact of her pregnancy on her training and qualification schedule, something Cremer says her sponsors aware of when they re-signed her to race for Banque Populaire for the second time in the 2024 Vendée Globe.
Cremer was due to skipper the current Apivia, FRA 79 – widely considered the fastest IMOCA 60 in the fleet of the most recent generation. The Guillaume Verdier design was built by CDK with input from Francois Gabart’s MerConcept and launched in 2019.
Previous skipper Charlie Dalin sailed Apivia to cross the finish of the 2020/21 Vendée Globe in 1st place, and also took 1st in the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019, and 2nd in the Route du Rhum at the tail end of 2022, his last race in the IMOCA.
Dalin is due to launch a new IMOCA later this year, while Cremer was scheduled to begin sailing FRA 79 in Banque Populaire’s colours.
However, following the controversy surrounding Cremer’s dismissal, Banque Populaire announced it would drop out of the 2024 Vendée Globe altogether. This left the boat effectively back on the market – and the hottest property in the over-subscribed IMOCA fleet, with both race-ready competitive boats and new build slots currently extremely hard to find.
Via Twitter, Thomson announced on Tuesday 21 March:
5 West Ltd, represented by Alex Thomson, has reached an agreement to purchase the IMOCA 60 owned by Team Banque Populaire.
A similar message was sent out on their social media channels by Banque Populaire which stated:
Team Banque Populaire has signed an agreement to sell its IMOCA with the company 5 West Ltd represented by Alex Thomson, as part of a project that would allow an upcoming skipper to participate in the Vendée Globe aboard this ship. [Banque Populaire] wishes Alex and his team success in this new challenge.
The announcement raised much speculation about which upcoming sailor might be skippering the new acquisition. Thomson’s team are supporting newcomer Scott Shawyer and Canada Ocean Racing in his goal to reach the 2028 Vendée Globe, though there has also been plenty of conjecture from fans who hoped to see Cremer return as skipper of the boat for the 2024 Vendée.
Yachting World contacted Alex Thomson Racing to find out more about their plans for the IMOCA and the forthcoming race cycle, but they are remaining tight lipped for the time being. We’ll update more when we have it.
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