The Volvo Ocean Race organisation has introduced a new rule, from 16 March 2011, that effectively forbids two-boat testing.
The teams entered in the race can now only sail their 2011-12 race boats. This now allows other potential syndicates to acquire these second generation Volvo Open 70s, including the winning and second placed boats from 2008-09, to work towards being on the start line in October.
Jack Lloyd, Race Director, says the introduction of the new rule is part of the ongoing cost cutting measures introduced by the race organisation. 'The measures were implemented following the 2008-09 event and cover from the way in which the boat and the sails are produced through to training with the new boats.
'The costs involved in two-boat testing are very high as a second boat needs to be maintained in full race condition and requires a full crew to sail and maintain the boat.
'This measure will not rush the boat builds as the teams have known about the rule since late 2009 and they have planned their build schedule around the availability of funds and the design process. They all know how much time each process takes and that trying to cut corners may affect the quality of the final product.'
To comply with the rule, the teams have taken a break from sea trials on the training boats and are now fully focused on the completion of their new Volvo Open 70s, which will be launched this spring. With less than 32 weeks until the first in-port race in Alicante, launching the boats and resuming training is a priority and a major milestone on every team’s agenda.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team have just returned from Persico's state-of-the-art facility in northern Italy where the boat is being built and are pleased with the progress that has been made. 'We were impressed with Persico’s attention to detail and are confident that we will have a very impressive Volvo Open 70 for the Alicante start line,' says skipper Ian Walker.
'I saw the keel fin being milled, the finishing of the keel bulb and the joining of the deck to hull. It is like a huge jigsaw coming together in a surprisingly orderly fashion. I can't wait to see the progress when I return in a fortnight,' he adds.
In Newport, Rhode Island, USA, PUMA Ocean Racing Team eagerly awaits il Mostro’s successor. 'The end of a new boat build is always the same story. The sailing team is chomping at the bit to get the boat out of the shed and take it for a ride, and the boat build team is trying to keep the boat in the shed to finish every little detail. At the end of the day the sailors have to learn patience and let the build experts do their thing,' says skipper Ken Read.
Groupama Sailing Team plans to launch Groupama 4 on 9 May and although her hull has been removed from the mould, there is still a great amount of work to do.
'We're less than two months from the planned launch. The major structural changes are done, but there is still some grafting (carbon bonding) to finish. We then have to manufacture the fittings and install the systems: hydraulics, engine, deck hardware, galley and electronics,' explains Groupama’s head of construction, Pierre Tissier.
'Part of these installations will take place at the Multiplast yard in Vannes, France, then Groupama 4 will be transported by road to the team base in Lorient at the end of April for the finishing touches,' adds Tissier, who has been monitoring the build of the new monohull from the start.