VR enables one prototype build of Boris Herrmann’s IMOCA60

Herrmann and crew

The professional sailing team Malizia has revealed it designed and tested its racing boat Malizia – Seaexplorer completely in VR as a digital twin in cooperation with Pico and VRtual X.

This is the new racing yacht for Boris Herrmann, who bills himself as a pioneer in sustainability and resource conservation.

Herrmann and his crew were able to use the Pico VR headsets to simulate in the 3D model of the racing boat in a realistic environment. This allowed them to, for example, check whether they could still reach certain levers and switching units when the boat was lying on its side at 20 degrees or more. The detailed virtual version of the cockpit interior also made it possible to test whether they could still see the sails . . . and also those of competitors.

Every detail change could be tested immediately under realistic operational scenarios thanks to VR.

The yacht was launched in July 2022 in Lorient, after development at the shipyard in Brest (France), and is already taking part in the first competitions.

“In designing our brand new IMOCA60, we broke radical new ground in terms of both design and sustainability,” says Herrmann. “Innovatively designing a racing yacht always harbours a high level of risk, which we were able to minimise with the help of Pico VR headsets. The first tests and races show that we didn’t overdo it.”

Pico is Team Malizia’s technology partner and has supported the project from the initial design idea to the final racing boat.

The design and construction of all IMOCAs is complex, as every gram of weight is crucial and the teams must be able to operate the boat optimally. The cramped space conditions in particular meant that the traditional approach normally requires the construction of five or more prototypes. But with the VR in play, only one prototype was built.

Herrmann plans to collect valuable data about the oceans with his mini-laboratory onboard the yacht and transmit it to marine researchers in the upcoming toughest sailing races in the world, including the Ocean Race 2023 and the Vendée Globe 2024/2025. He crashed out of the last edition of the Vendée Globe, just ninety miles from the finish line, after striking a fishing vessel.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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