Designed by Antoine Koch and the Finot-Conq studio, Thomas Ruyant’s Imoca For People was launched on Thursday in Lorient. It carries the colors of both Advens and Leyton, who are combined in a twinned project which links Ruyant the winner of the Route du Rhum 2022 with the Briton Sam Goodchild. Tip & Shaft tells you more.
After starting out in sailing with Thomas Ruyant by supporting his for the last Vendée Globe he finished in sixth place, Advens immediately decided to go for a second Vendée Globe, with even higher ambitions. It is just as president and founder, Alexandre Fayeulle told us in May 2021. “I found this sponsorship a great tool. And now, like Thomas, I like winning, so the objective is to give ourselves the means to aim as high as possible.” With this goal foremost in their minds, Ruyant his team and his partner decided to embark on the construction of a new boat.
And all this is reiterated once again today by the same Alexandre Fayeulle: “The question was whether, to maximize our chances of victory, we went again with the same boat or we built a new one. Quite quickly, we chose this second option because Thomas had quite a few things he saw as potential improvements in which he had already been discussing with Antoine Koch for quite a while.” Koch, who was in the team during the development of the first Imoca, LinkedOut, was then charged with the design of the new boat along with Finot-Conq, (see our interview). The boat was then built at CDK in Lorient and unveiled last Thursday, under the name of For People.
But there was the question what to do with LinkedOut after the Route du Rhum 2022, the last race of Thomas Ruyant on this boat? “After the Vendée Globe, we thought of all the possibilities, in particular a charter or a selling it. And then it took us a few weeks to tell ourselves that it would be best to keep it to enhance the learning of Thomas’ future boat“, explains Thomas Gaveriaux, managing director of TR Racing, Ruyant’s team structure. “The fact is that we were very attached to LinkedOut, we also know that we will have the chance to sail the new boat and the performance reference Imoca side by side, it is priceless to progress” adds Thomas Ruyant.
“Sam quickly became the favorite”
The decision to keep LinkedOut was made. Next thing for the team was to find a skipper to take charge of it from the 2023 season onwards and to build this as a two boat project. “To be completely honest, we had offered it to a first skipper during 2021 as an opportunity presented itself,” says Alexandre Fayeulle, without wanting to give the name of the person in question. “Then we launched a selection and Sam Goodchild quickly became the favorite”, continues the boss of Advens.
Thomas Ruyant confirms: “We had discussions with some others, but Sam, whom I had met in the Figaro and in Class40, had a lot going for him: he is a super efficient sailor and has a very interesting Anglo-Saxon profile, a really solid character, who says things as they are, and above all had a big desire to do the Vendée Globe which is shared by his partner.”
His partners are of course Leyton who had been thinking of the Vendée Globe for some time after having graduated through Class40 and the Ocean Fifty. Caroline Villecroze, marketing and communication director, explains: “In October 2020 when we decided with Sam that he was to become our skipper in the Ocean Fifty, he told us that his main dream was to do the Vendée Globe. At that we said that if an opportunity presented itself, we would look at it with him. From the end of 2021, we began to take a closer interest in it. We thought of working with the Alex Thomson’s team, who Sam knows very well. And we also studied co-partnership projects.”
That was all until a meeting between Alexandre Fayeulle and Maxime Jacquier, general manager of Leyton, over a coffee at the start of the last Transat Jacques Vabre. “Initially, it was just to talk with him and his team about the LinkedOut project which had impressed us, knowing that our objective was to go even further in our societal actions,” continues Caroline Villecroze. “We also looked at 11th Hour Racing with curiosity and interest. Alexandre presented how he was seeing his new project and that pleased us enormously.”
The two partners therefore began to explore the feasibility of a joint project which was not necessarily the Leyton boss Fayeulle’s initial idea: “We could have done the project alone with the two boats, but there is clearly an added value for us to have Leyton in on the story, because we are really in a collective logic.”
6 million annual budget
This collective approach, definitively validated in early Summer 2022, means that Leyton and Advens are no longer the partners of a single skipper, but of both, with equal and identical branding on both boats, and also the same societal commitment under the name of For People. “As Thomas capitalizes with his previous boat and can push the cursor further with the second boat, we benefit also on the societal aspect,” explains Alexandre Fayeulle. “We capitalize on the last three years during which – with this boat under the colors of LinkedOut – we have managed to get 400 people back in to work who previously had almost zero chances of finding a job. We will continue to support Entourage [association that launched the LinkedOut device, editor’s note] in its development, but the idea is to go further with For People, which, thanks to the more generic name of the boat, can support other initiatives with potentially high impact both in France and internationally.”
And that is an aspect which also convinced Leyton. “We have always wanted to engage in concrete actions, which we have done by working with the Magenta project to have a certain number of women sail on the Ocean Fifty. This For People project makes it possible to bring an international dimension and to accelerate our societal impact in other countries, especially those where we are present”, confirms Caroline Villecroze.
Co-partners of this project over the next three years, do Advens and Leyton share the budget equally? “That is not a subject on which we wish to communicate”, replies Villecroze, who agrees to confirm that this commitment to the Imoca represents “a higher investment” for Leyton compared to the Ocean Fifty. Alexandre Fayeulle who is the personal owner of the two boats does not want to speak on behalf of the two partners either but explains for his part: “The annual operating budget with the two boats is 6 million euros. It would be more if the two projects were independent, we save between 10 to 15% with the sharing of resources. And there is potentially room for another sponsor if once comes along to bring an added value. We want partners who are really contributors to the project, not just taking from it.”
As soon as he returns from The Ocean Race, which he is currently racing on Holcim PRB, Sam Goodchild will become both team-mate and competitor to Thomas Ruyant. “People tell me that I’m taking a risk by leaving a very good boat to a great sailor, but Sam will bring us a lot, given the experience he is gaining in The Ocean Race with a great team, it’s a win-win situation“, says Thomas Ruyant. “If things are well said and anticipated, it can make a difference to the other teams. And of course, when the start line is cut, he’ll be a competitor like any other, I won’t do him any favours!”
Photo: Pierre Bouras / TR Racing