Fifteen days into the 2016-17 Vendee Globe race French skipper Vincent Riou was in fifth place. Despite sailing a non-foiling IMOCA 60 he was chasing the top four foilers – Alex Thomson, Armel Le Cleac’h, Sebastien Josse and Jérémie Beyou – pretty hard – until he was forced out of the race by a collision with an unidentified floating object which destroyed his keel.
Back then Riou and his sponsor PRB who own the boat didn’t believe the performance advantage gained by fitting foils matched up with the risk of damage or the cost of the upgrade.
Now though Riou is a foiling convert and when he takes on the Route du Rhum solo transatlantic race in under two weeks he will have the benefit of a new set of foils recently retrofitted to the PRB-sponsored IMOCA 60.
Riou, who rents his boat from PRB and has paid for the foil package upgrade is yet to make a decision on whether he will be at the helm of PRB for the next Vendee Globe in 2020. The Frenchman won the 2004 edition of the gruelling nonstop singlehanded around the world race.