A key point in the calendar of the IMOCA Class is announcing its new World Champion and for 2008 the annual title goes to 32 year old French skipper Armel LE CLEAC'H.
Armel LE CLEAC'H (FRA) shares the IMOCA Championship podium with Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) and Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), exactly the same podium as the Vendée Globe, but the reverse way around.
LE CLEAC'H, skipper of Brit Air, has won his place by finishing second in both the Artemis Transat and the Vendée Globe. The Vendée Globe carries the maximum points in the championship, and all 12 sailors that completed it will be rewarded accordingly. This year the top 10 of the World Championship ranking is made up of five French skippers, four Brits and one American. Amongst them will be Sam DAVIES (GBR) in fourth place who was the first Brit and first woman to finish the race.
So at the age of 32, since winning the 'Solitaire du Figaro' in 2003, LE CLEAC'H has gradually but convincingly established himself on the IMOCA circuit. He is hoping to add to this recent accolade by winning the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre.
LE CLEAC'H commented on winning the World title, "We are really happy! This title goes to the whole team who have worked together since the start of the project. Consistency reaps rewards. The whole way through the project our main aim was always to have a really good Vendée Globe and to finish in the best possible place we could. We've finished second in the two greatest solo races on the circuit. That proves that we got our timing right, and had the right approach, even if we were denied an actual win.
"As far as the boat's concerned, we got it right, as at no point have we had to make any major modifications after any of the races. I'm also really pleased that my sponsor Brit Air has made it as IMOCA World Champion after only three years in sailing.
"I'd like to finish by saying that it's a great podium, I'm just in front of Marc who has vast experience and has one of the best boats and then obviously there is the winner of the Vendée Globe, Michel DESJOYEAUX himself. It goes without saying that [sharing the podium with them] gives me a lot of pleasure. I'm continuing this season with Brit Air and would really like to finish it off by winning the Transat Jacques Vabre for the first time."
2008 IMOCA World Championship - Top 10
1. Armel LE CLEAC'H (FRA), 371 points
2. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), 368
3. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), 351
4. Samantha DAVIES (GBR), 338
5. Vincent RIOU (FRA), 316
6. Arnaud BOISSIERES (FRA), 290
7. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), 288
8. Brian Thompson (GBR), 260
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), 256
10. Richard WILSON (USA), 226
The 2008 title is made up from the coefficients from the Vendée Globe (coef 10) and The Artemis Transat (coef 4).
(since the Championship creation in 1991)
2008 - Armel LE CLEAC'H (FRA)
2007 - Bernard STAMM (SUI)
2006 - Jean LE CAM (FRA)
2005 - Mike GOLDING (GBR)
2004 - Mike GOLDING (GBR)
2003 - Bernard STAMM (Suisse)
2002 - Roland JOURDAIN (FRA)
2001 - Roland JOURDAIN (FRA)