Aboard the new HUGO BOSS yacht, round-the-world sailor Alex Thomson set sail through London's iconic Tower Bridge for the christening ceremony. The new HUGO BOSS boat was redesigned by Alex Thomson and his team, naval architects VPLP and boat builder Jason Carrington to improve the vessel’s performance and sustainability. Its appearance is striking, thanks to renowned designer Karim Rashid, who emblazoned it with a one-of-a-kind shade of pink. These talents came together with one singular mission: to create a groundbreaking yacht that wins the Vendée Globe in 2020.
The process of designing a racing yacht like this one is incredibly complex. We carry out lots of different tests and studies, and evaluate a lot of historical data on our previous boat, as well as looking at others in the fleet. All of this data helps us to form a better understanding of the direction we want to go in. Every element of the new boat, from the foils and the shape of the hull to the layout of the cockpit and working environment, has been designed by our team, together with VPLP, specifically for me as the skipper to race in the Vendée Globe.
HUGO BOSS was built in Hythe, Southampton, UK under the direction of Jason Carrington who I believe to be one of the very best boat builders in the world. There is so much knowledge, experience and technique in that boat shed so, for us, it was the clear choice. It was also important to us, as a British team, to build the boat here in the UK, something which has allowed us to work incredibly closely with Jason and his team throughout the process.
There are around 30 people at the boat yard itself. In addition to that, we have a team of about 10 internally who have worked across the project, as well as our wider team. We also then have our naval architects, VPLP, whom we continue to work very closely with. In total, more than 100 people have worked on the project across all areas.
People have come to expect HUGO BOSS to be black with silver or white. But, of course, the IMOCA rules also state that specific areas of the boat must be fluoro for safety reasons. As a team, we have always made it our mission to lead, never to follow. We like to be first and for people to ask ‘what will they do next?’ When Karim’s initial designs came back and we saw the neon pink vision for the first time, it was unexpected for a lot of the team. But, for us, what better way to stand out from the rest of the fleet and continue to make a statement in this sport?
To brand the next HUGO BOSS sailing boat is an honour. It is special to work on this project as HUGO BOSS is such established brand, and Alex Thomson is so well respected in the sailing world. It is my diversity that affords me the ability to cross-pollinate ideas, materials, behaviours, aesthetics and language from one typology to the other and here was an opportunity to speak about speed, exclusivity, energy and courage through the visual aesthetics of the boat.
I think about using colours to create an experience, and to create human engagement. I love pink and techno colours – colours that have a vibrancy and energy, so they were a natural selection for the project. I am very graphic in all my work, be it interiors, products or architecture. They are blank canvases for colour, like a white seamless room on a movie set, a perfect stage for accessorising, for embellishing.
Every round of designs had to be analysed from a performance perspective. It led to a lot of iterations and revisions but, ultimately, that helped us in finalising the best possible brand identity functionally and aesthetically, marrying HUGO BOSS and ATR with my own aesthetics.
Our design takes direct inspiration from the attributes and weave of carbon fibre, making it the focal point of the design. The lines in the pattern speak to each individual fibre found in every carbon strip that makes up the overall weave. The result is a hypnotic, endless weaving of lines that gives the boat a strong yet delicate nod to the fibre, which also elegantly addresses the theme of reduction.
In 2018, the painstaking process of designing and crafting the HUGO BOSS boat began. The result is an IMOCA 60 yacht unlike any other before it. Take a look behind the scenes at the intricate process.