The new Volvo 65 that will be used in the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. Farr Yacht Design/Volvo Ocean Race
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter for June 29, 2012
Just announced is the new boat for the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The key issue facing organisers is getting sufficient boats on the start line to make a commercially viable race.
That means that budgets have to be reduced, while not taking away of the media appeal of the event – and hopefully improving on an event that is keenly followed by media and fans (daily print media excepted in NZ).
The aim is to have a fleet of at least eight 65ft one designs on the line for the start in Alicante, Spain 2014.
That move, together with some other cuts to budgets, plus the fact that a lot of the infrastructure created for the 2011/12 race will be able to be rolled over, should get the overall cost down significantly.
Balance that against a tanking European economy, and it is still a big ask.
Many will be disappointed that the outstanding Juan K Yacht Design was not selected. The option of taking, say a Telefonica, and re-jigging that as a one design has not made the cut either. That obsoletes the current fleet, with organisers preferring the prospect of getting two events out of the new Volvo 65.
The new design from Farr Yacht Design is promised to be with 2.7% of the potential of the Volvo 70. At 25kts that is a speed difference of just over .5kt. To be honest, most wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Rather than speed, the real issues will be of quality control, one design integrity and reliability.
Emirates Team NZ have an encounter with a Committee boat after having to avoid a spectator. ACWS Newport
Training day Luna Rossa/Carlo Borlenghi
The Volvo 65 will be built by a consortium of four European yards, primarily for reasons of logistics. Quite who takes responsibility for boat integrity in that design/build mix is an interesting matter. Certainly it is not the teams, as at present. But it is the teams that are responsible to their sponsors for performance and reliability.
Our minds would be a little more at rest, if a builder like Core Builders Composites were involved, with their AC45 experience to draw upon, and their ability to produce a very strong one design, high performance product straight out of the box.
Tiger,(IRL)- Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2012, Cowes IoW Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com - copyright
No announcement has been made on that other area of reliability – spars. Of which there have been three race suspending incidents in this edition of the race. Southern Spars are the only choice – their record in Volvo and Round the World races is second to none. While budgets are important, reliability is even more so, in a race of this type.
Part of the solution to this quality conundrum is to have open review of the various elements. Quite how many of the international marine industry would participate to effectively tune up their competitive rival's product, and pass on IP remains to be seen.
Certainly the design blanket concept has worked well enough in the past – with the New Zealand Challenge in the 1987 America's Cup and Laurie Davidson, Ron Holland and Bruce Farr being involved. But that was to do a task which none of the three could have done individually.
Musto Skiff sailor on trapeze cruising downwind, in the height of the English summer (look at the gear they are wearing!) - Musto Skiff World Championships 2012 www.photoskiff.com
Overall the Volvo 65 concept seems fine. The move to make it even more media friendly is a step in the right direction, as is the move to provide more crew protection for high speed sailing.
The next test will be the choice of route, and the lesson there has to be to pick venues that pull the crowds and fans. Sorry, but that is virtually the only criteria. And staging an event in a stadium devoid of fans demeans the value of any game, no matter what the sport.
Also featured in this edition of Sail-World.com's newletter is the second of a two part series looking at 3Di sails, following a look through North Sails Auckland loft - where J class sails were flowing out the door at a regular rate.
The 60 metre long loft floor close to the Viaduct harbour allows several J class sails to be worked on at one time by two shifts of sailmakers working 20 hours per day. North Sails Richard Gladwell
It is interesting to see the extent of the grey sails being used in the J class regatta at Falmouth, which we also cover in this edition of Sail-World.com's newsletter.
We also look at the kites Norths are manufacturing which are sold by another company, for use in ships, but also will be available for yachts to assist in dismasting situations.
Starting now is the America's Cup World Series in Newport. Already there has been plenty of action in the Practice Races, including one incident involving Emirates Team NZ and one of the Committee boats. The New Zealanders suffered some damage – we have some quite dramatic photos in this edition. Don't miss Bob Fisher's reports on the on and off the water action, in both the AC45's and AC72's.
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