So we’ve talked lots about naval architecture and technical specifications over the past few months. But what you first notice about our Volvo Ocean 65 fleet are the designs on the hulls and sails, right? All boats look different and they all represent something different, too. Here is a look at the symbolism behind the paint job.
Victor Fraile/PSI/Volvo Ocean Race - Not just a coat of paint - Agathe Armand /Volvo Ocean Race
The first time Dongfeng Race Team went for a sail after their christening earlier this week in China, a swallow flew straight into the boat, landed on one of the DFCV employees and then hopped into the cabin.
Now that could just be a nice naturalist story, but there is more to it. Dongfeng’s boat is covered with funky patterns actually representing swallows. These are highly symbolic birds in China and the sponsor’s main logo consists of two swallows. It could have been a coincidence – but in a country fond of symbols, this can very well be a sign of luck.
The red colour of the boat can also be found everywhere during the Chinese New Year and other holidays: it stands for luck and happiness.
Tom Bushell/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - Not just a coat of paint - Agathe Armand /Volvo Ocean Race
There is red too on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, along with yellow and silver. The Emirati boat left Green Marine’s shed on Wednesday and its hull graphics were finally unveiled.
The red is taken from the flag of Abu Dhabi, the sunset yellow reflects the Emirati climate and the sunrise over the desert and the platinum silver reflects the Bedouin tradition of collecting silver.
We love a good mix of colours, but the strongest feature will be the falcon on the boat’s sails. The falcon is the national bird of the UAE – you’ll find it on UAE bank notes. Falconry is a well-known desert sport and the best bird can be traded for millions of dirhams.
Also, coming back to the boat, their Volvo Ocean 65 is once again named Azzam, which means determination and is a popular name for high performing falcons.
You cannot see that falcon yet, but 'just wait until you see the full effect when the sails are up,' said ADOR’s skipper Ian Walker. And you will do next week, when the boat hits the water for the first time.
Rick Tomlinson/Team SCA - Not just a coat of paint - Agathe Armand /Volvo Ocean Race
Nature inspired Team SCA’s graphics too. If you look closely at their deck plan, you can see grass, pine trees and dandelions painted in pink and white. They reflect the eco-friendly values of the global hygiene company sponsoring the all-female team, and they are all tough and resistant species vital to the eco-system. A sign that women sailors will be as tough as the plants decorating their racing machine?