In Rio de Janeiro, the Volvo Open 70's and Volvo Extreme 40's were brotherly moored next to each other. The fleets and competitions were separated, but the passion for speed was shared. That is why many Volvo Ocean Race sailors ended up as guest crew on the multihulls.
The second Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix series in the Guanabara Bay showed again some exciting races. The Britons predominated as Team Basilica won convincingly, followed by Motorola - CHR. Tommy Hilfiger (USA) took a third and Team Holmatro (NED) a fourth. Holmatro skipper and class' initiator Mitch Booth gave his retrospective view on last week's Grand Prix.
'We didn't perform as well as we wanted', said Booth on Monday morning after the prize giving. 'We made some bad mistakes on the first day. We came back with consistent results, but that was not enough for a podium place.'
After the first series in Spain, Team Holmatro had one crew change before the start in Brasil. Mark van Gelderen was replaced by Herbert Dercksen from the Netherlands. Daan Koene (NED) and Taylor Booth were still in.
According to Booth, the location and conditions in Rio were fantastic for the Volvo Extreme 40 class: 'The event itself was more than we can ever expect. The geography of the bay and the wind range from light to medium are just ideal for us. And the water is always flat. That is where the VX40 is designed for.' The Guanabara Bay is small, so the catamarans sailed close to the shore and to the village, which is good for the show. Booth: 'It is hard to say how may people were looking, but the support was quite good.'
VX40 Holmatro in Rio - Volvo Extreme 40/ Ben Faber
Training pays off:
Due to shifty and light winds, it was pretty tricky on the race course. It did not seem to bother Team Basilica of helmsman Alistair Richardson. Booth: 'They were outstanding and miles in front of us. For the rest of the fleet is was close racing.'
What makes the difference? Booth: 'Basilica has trained all winter long and that became very evident. Especially on the first day on the short course. Their boat handeling and teamwork are great. Their training paid off well.'
The VX40-concept has an interesting feature, as every team may bring one guest.
Booth: 'We have seen the whole range of top level sailors from all sides of the sport.' James Spithill from Australia, a match racing champion and helmsman of the America's Cup team Luna Rossa, was one of them. But also Chris Nicholson (AUS), watch captain of Movistar, couldn't resist the attraction of the VX40 and sailed onboard the Volvo Ocean Race cat.
To be announced soon:
'The interest in the class is overwhelming and comes from all over the world,' said Holmatro-skipper Booth. 'There is an enormous information request, so we expect more boats by Rotterdam. There are three more multihulls in production at the moment.' The Volvo Extreme 40 class will move to Baltimore, Portsmouth and finally to Rotterdam. Booth: 'We expect to announce the new Grand Prix series over the next two months. It will be more that just a one-year program during the Volvo Ocean Race.' The ultimate goal is to create a World Grand Prix series with ten to fifteen teams racing in a professional circuit.
Mitch Booth won two olympic medals and is still running an olympic Tornado campaign with Herbert Dercksen (NED). How different is the Volvo Extreme 40 from a Tornado or Formula 18 catamaran? Booth: 'The skills are very similar, but on a bigger scale. The main difference is the number of people onboard. Instead of two persons, there are four crew members. That makes a difference in teamwork and co-ordination.'
In addition to the Volvo Extreme 40 series, Booth and Dercksen will participate in all major Tornado and F18 events this year. Booth: 'In fact, we will be in Palma next week for the Princessa Sofia Trophy.' But on April 28, Team Holmatro will be back on its 40-foot multihull for the third battle in Baltimore.
Final results of the VX-40 Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro after 16 races:
1. Basilica (GBR), 133 points
2. Motorola-CHR (GBR), 110 points
3. Tommy Hilfiger (USA), 98 points
4. Holmatro (NED), 96 points
5. Volvo Ocean Race (BRA), 91 points