The Russian entry has finally revealed its true colours with the unveiling of a new identity and a new look for the 2008-09 race.
Originally launched by team principal Oleg Zherebtsov as Russian Challenge, the team will now be known as Team Russia.
Explaining the thinking behind the change of name and visual identity, at a press conference during the Austrian Boat Show in Boot Tulln, skipper Andreas Hanakamp, said: 'Our new name Team Russia is visually represented using letters from the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. It is hoped that the true essence of Russia on the international sailing stage is represented carefully using the power of this identity.
'As our entry into the Volvo Ocean Race continues to build momentum, it is important to Oleg that the boat represents new Russia and its expression of freedom through the sport of sailing.'
Hanakamp recently paid a visit to the Green Marine boat yard in Lymington, England, to check on the progress of Team Russia’s challenger for the 2008-09 event.
The second generation Volvo Open 70, designed by Rob Humphreys, is out of its mould, the deck has been fixed to the hull and fitting out and fairing has begun.
It is on schedule for launch in May. A full programme of testing and racing is then planned for the summer in preparation for the October race start in Alicante.
Meanwhile, Team Russia has adopted WDCS (www.wdcs.org
), the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, as an environment partner. The aim is to work together to highlight the need for better global protection for whales and dolphins.
Hanakamp has been an active supporter of WDCS for many years. He said: 'The Volvo Ocean Race is the premier round the world yacht race across the oceans of the planet. However, there is another race and that’s the race against time. Action is needed now to protect whales and dolphins, the ambassadors of the world’s oceans, and their habitats.'
Whales and dolphins are the key visible indicators of the status of the marine environment. In 2007 the first dolphin species was officially declared extinct: the Yangtze River dolphin, also called the Baiji. A number of other whales and dolphin species will face the same fate in the coming years without global cooperation to ensure their survival.
'Crossing the world’s oceans, the Volvo Ocean Race provides an amazing opportunity to raise awareness and worldwide support to protect whales and dolphins,' says WDCS spokesman Erich Hoyt. 'We now have the potential to make the race a true success story for these amazing marine mammals.' http://www.volvooceanrace.org/