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Volvo Ocean Race- Rob Salthouse compares VO70 with new one design VO65

by Richard Gladwell, NZL on 8 Mar 2015
Vestas Wind at pace - but the VO65 is probably not fast enough to set a new 24hr mark - Practice Race in Cape Town: Team Vestas Wind Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
Veteran Round the World sailor, Rob Salthouse addressed a large group at the North Sails Auckland Loft, on the new Volvo65 one design used for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Salthouse is sailing the race aboard Team Vestas Wind, which has suspended racing after running into an Indian Ocean atoll on leg 2. Their boat is being re-built and is programmed to re-join the race in Lisbon Portugal

'Previously we would have got together 12 months before the start of the race and been part of the design and build – that has changed for the better and particularly the commercial side of it.

'The change to the VO65 definitely needed to happen.

'Now a team like ours can come into the race late and be on the start line with an equal change.

'Last race we were in the third generation of Volvo 70’s - the design triangle had narrowed, and most of the designs were at the top – there wasn’t much between the designs.

'All had their condition – Groupama was very fast in flat water and reaching – but they also had their slower points of sail depending on how their boat was configured.

'Now because the boats are one-design they say together on the same piece of water, and the results are much closer. Having said that in the first race I did at sea, we saw Assa Abloy over 50% of the time. The racing in the past has often been close, and we have seen some fantastic finishes including into Auckland.

'From a sailors point of view having one design sails, has made a big difference in that the sails are all the same area. In terms of cross-over charts, if you overlaid the fleets charts, everyone would have their own and they would all be very similar.

Big difference in righting moment
'For us coming in late, it was a big thing to get our sail crossover charts nailed down. Coming off the last race was not much of an advantage because these boats are shorter and carry less sail. They don’t have the righting moment that the Volvo 70’s did. We would sail a VO70 at 20-22 degrees of heel maximum in the VO65 we are sailing at 25-27 degrees that is just to try and get more righting moment out of the hull form and stability packages.

'That in itself creates some difficulties, particularly in In Port Racing – where the grinders actually call for the boat to be flattened off, so they can stand and grind!

'The Volvo 70 had a righting moment of 42tonne. The power to weight on a Volvo 70 is a lot better than on the 65's - which have a righting moment of about 33tonnes.

'Because the stability of the boats is lower the sail shaping and how we set the sails up is quite a lot different from what we were used to with the 70’s and having that much more power – they could carry the power a lot further.

'One thing that we have had to come to grips with in this race is the use of outriggers. They allow us to sheet our downwind sails, or jibs, from a reaching aspect about another metre outboard and allows us to sail lower downwind angles.

'Setting them up and using them down to leeward when you are sailing on a boat that is doing 18-20kts is not that easy.

'Every boat has broken one of the struts, except Team SCA. It was quite evident that a broken strut resulted in a loss of performance – of maybe 1.5-2kts slower in some conditions. They help you to open up the slot between the main and the jib, as well as flatten the sails off and allow you to de-power more than we have every been able to do in the past.

'Overall it has been quite a sharp learning curve with the change to the one-design.

Angled keel pin makes for interesting surfing
'The other aspect that is quite new with these boats is that the keel pin, which the keel hinges off is set at 6 degrees of angle.

'As you rotate the keel to windward, the front of the fin lifts up – that helps the bow to lift out when you are sailing at the higher speeds, but also to create the lift it is creating drag.

'In the VMG running of the boats, it has been quite a big learning curve and how you use that stability taking into account the extra drag perspective.

'Most of the teams are starting to get on top of this, but it has taken a while.

'Then you have the other aspect that in heavier breeze as to how the boat reacts when you are sailing down the face of waves and the keel strut is generating lift.

'We have only done 30-32kts in heavy running conditions, but it is interesting to see how the keel reacts in those conditions.

'When you take off down a wave on the VO70’s they get going- and at times you would like to hold them back a bit. Because of the keel angle on the VO65’s the more lift it generates, the more drag it creates.

'You get to the stage when you are going down the wave when the bow is well out of the water, and you start to feel the boat riding on the fin. It is quite a weird feel. At first you think you should get the bow down. But that is often the wrong thing to do because you can crash down very hard into the next wave.

'Again it has been a big learning curve as to how the boat handles in the different conditions.

'It will be quite interesting when the boats leave Auckland and get into a real seaway to see how they go.

'The drag off the keel limits these boats in the top end of their performance. The best speed we have had out of Vestas Wind was about 32kts – but it is a real struggle to get them up over that because of the drag from the keel lift.

'With the VO70’s the best speed we ever saw, aboard Puma was 42.5kts. Abu Dhabi hit over 40kts last time.

'The Volvo 65 are never going to be faster than the Volvo 70, but there are some conditions in which they will be close to the VO70 performance. You would need to have very good conditions to see the Monohull 24 hour sailing record fall (currently at 596nm) in my view. It will not be an easy mark to beat.

'There is quite a difference in the way the boats perform. As an all round package the boats are probably a little easier to handle for the less-experienced crews in heavier conditions.

'It is the same with all new boats you – they may be different, but the same principles apply. As we did in the last race, and it will be the same at the end of this race. People will get to the end of the race and still be learning on how to mode the boat, to keep it going and how to sail it faster.

'You are always learning about how to get the best speed out of it.'

Zhik 2019 Choice of Champions - FOOTERRS Sailing 2019 - FooterNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - Footer

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