Following Saturday’s overwhelming victory of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the in-port race in Alicante, VSail.info talked to Patrick Shaughnessy, president of Farr Yacht Design, about his office’s design in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.
VSail.info: Abu Dhabi’s performance in today’s very light and tricky conditions was undeniably exceptional. Were Ian Walker and the crew geniuses or simply very lucky?
Patrick Shaughnessy: I am always very hesitant to use the word genius. Obviously the team has put in a lot of effort into research, design, boat building, maintenance and training and as a result it’s a team effort but I think that everyone in the team is cautiously optimistic. Of course we feel strong and it was a nice result but it is just the beginning of a very long race and you have to be cautious about that. Certainly, the conditions were very difficult and I think the team was fortunate, I think that’s a better word, to be in some relatively clean air and be able to extend their lead.
VSail.info: Did this race serve as your first real opportunity to assess your boat and the rest of the fleet?
Patrick Shaughnessy: I think it’s difficult to draw comparisons against the other boats because most of them weren’t sailing in very close proximity to each other but for us it’s affirmation, winning the Fastnet Race and then this race, it’s a piece of good solid momentum and the team is really excited. Some of the areas where you feel you maybe made some tradeoffs in the design process where the boat should or shouldn’t be strong are coming through and it’s a good quality feeling.
VSail.info: It’s good to see you’re positive because according to Juan Kouyoumdjian, in an interview in Valencia a couple of months ago, Abu Dhabi and Camper were the clear favorites this time. Do you feel you designed the favorite boat to win the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race?
Patrick Shaughnessy: I think that, with all due respect to Juan, there is a little bit of gamesmanship there in his comments and, certainly, in our team we took them in good part. We have a strong team, we assembled it very well and we have done a lot of the right things but I don’t believe we are the favorites. We were one of the last boats in the water, if not the last one, we had a very short training time and feel more the opposite. We feel we have to push very hard to achieve more with less. I would never say that we’re favorites, definitely not.
VSail.info: Despite this short time since you launched your boat do you think Farr Yacht Design has done a good job?
Patrick Shaughnessy: Yes, I think that so far we had good confirmation on some of the choices. You make choices in your race modelling and in how you choose and pick your concept and you do that relative to a sort of theoretical fleet of boats and when you come to sail against the actual boats of the fleet they will, obviously, stack up a little bit differently. We feel that the choices we’ve made are the correct ones and I don’t think there is anything we feel at this stage we could have done differently. We feel confident.
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