Hydrogen hopeful

World-first hydrogen IMOCA yacht is under construction at Black Pepper Yachts in France.

Photography by Gilles Delacuvellerie

30 January 2023


The 60-foot foiling IMOCA, a third evolution Manuard design, features a pioneering zero emissions energy system using hydrogen fuel cell technology.

British yachtsman Phil Sharp has revealed details of a new zero-emission hydrogen-powered IMOCA, ahead of the 2024 Vendée Globe race.

The new monohull, designed by French sailboat design office Manuard, is currently under construction at Black Pepper Yachts in Nantes. The shipyard says the build uses existing moulds that have been recycled and reworked.

Due to be launched this summer, the yacht will compete in the IMOCA Globe Series, starting with the Transat Jacques Vabre in autumn, followed by a return qualifying race for the Vendée Globe 2024.


Managed by OceansLab, a sustainable sports management company, this new IMOCA will see a unique and innovative ocean-racing campaign with the aim of demonstrating scalable clean technologies within the maritime sector.

OceansLab says its new IMOCA will also be the first to “exclusively use hydrogen fuel cell technology,” thanks to a ‘Hydrogen Power Module’, created and developed by the team at Genevos, where Sharp is a co-founder.

“IMOCA race boats are the most innovative and extreme of ocean-going vessels,” said Sharp.

“They are an ideal platform to showcase vital clean technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells, and prove their durability in the harshest of ocean environments.”

OceansLab will be the first race boat to integrate a hydrogen-electric energy system, a technology that is applicable to a vast range of commercial and recreational vessels. It’s said the IMOCA‘s zero-emission energy system will power all onboard energy, in addition to propulsion outside of the races.

“Replacing fossil fuel power with renewable energy solutions is an important step forward not only for our sport, but the entire maritime sector. Ultimately, I am sailing to win races, while also proving that by using the latest clean technologies, this can be done with zero emissions,” said Sharp.

As well as hydrogen fuel cell technology, OceansLab will demonstrate how other crucial clean innovations, such as recyclable composite materials and solar PV, can perform together to create an eco-efficient yacht.

“To meet climate change targets we need to start developing zero-emission vessels across the entire maritime sector, today. This campaign will be an important benchmark in demonstrating that practical hydrogen solutions now exist that are ready to be embraced at scale,” he added.

OceansLab will compete in the IMOCA Globe series grand slam events including transatlantic races, the Transat Jacques Vabre and Route Rhum, and major round-the-world races, the Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race.

Sharp has achieved over 25 podiums in transatlantic and coastal racing, as well as winning two offshore championships and breaking three World Sailing Speed Records.



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