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Posts Tagged ‘volvo ocean race’

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VOR BREAKING

It sounds like Volvo 65 Hull Number 8 will indeed be on the starting line in a few short months, and our dockside insiders tell us it will be carrying a GBR sail number!

A slightly weaker rumor has skiff legend Chris Nicholson running the show, which leads us invariably to the speculation that number 8 might just be funded – in part anyway – by the British guy he’s often raced for, who we told you is the world’s most interesting racing yacht owner.

We’re also hearing that one of the existing skippers may be looking for a new job soon.  We’re not quite sure who it is yet, though fortunately there is a place to speculate on just that sort of thing.

 

August 17th, 2017 by admin

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Clean Report

Surprise! Our world exclusive scoop was confirmed by the folks at VOR today when they announced Pete Burling has joined Bouwe Bekking for the Dutch skipper’s 430th lap around the planet.  Maybe more importantly, this shot from the Sailor Girl’s excellent Fastnet coverage shows supernav Andrew Cape aboard the bumblebee colored boat as well.  Bouwe adds Capey and a golden boy who will undoubtedly be the fastest downwind driver in the fleet, and for us, there are now three clear favorites for the final crown of the VOD65 era.  Yes, it’s a bit early for form guides, but now’s as good a time as any if you’re looking to place your bets.  Our early call for the podium is below, in order.

  1. BRUNEL:  Bouwe has finished in pretty much every position on the leaderboard except the one that counts, and his youth is far behind him.  With the Dutch presence in the race and all eyes on the senior Dutch team, Bouwe has everything to prove and has never been more motivated.  We may have discounted his chances thanks to history and a less-than-optimal budget, but nabbing the ETNZ driver and Olympic destroyer means his priorities are in the right place.  In other words, in a fleet this close, a driver with a clear speed advantage and lots of durability is going to be the most important crew aboard.
  2. DONGFENG: They seemed likely to win the thing the last time around until losing the rig, and that was with n00b Chinese crew and a team more known for singlehanded prowess than good teamwork and communication. They’ve got one of the best navs (and solo skippers) in the world behind the nav station in Pascal Bidegorry, and almost everyone on the boat can drive the shit out of a boat.  Expect Caudrelier to work a bit more on conserving the boat, and rack up the podium finishes needed to win this race.
  3. MAPFRE: Always a bridesmaid, but this time, without the bride.  Well, without the fiery Iker Martinez who’s run the past couple of Spanish attempts at least, and with the more workmanlike, blue-collar Xabi at the reins and no Olympic distractions.  Tuke, Altadill, and Greenhalgh mean plenty of speed on the helm, with serious Spanish sailing and stacking  experience in big Pablo Arrarte and Antonio the boat captain.  Spain has something no one else has though: Joan Vila is one of the two best offshore navigators in the world, and few will argue that point.  Along with Stan Honey, this dude is pure money, and we’d expect MAPFRE to win quite a few legs – but probably not the race.

 

August 10th, 2017 by admin

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Blair Tuke made all the local papers when he signed up with MAPFRE last month with taglines like “Tuke Aims At First Triple Crown.”  John Kostecki famously became the first – and only – sailor to hold the distinction of winning a Whitbread/VOR, Olympic medal, and the America’s Cup, but since JK’s medal was only silver, it left things open for Tuke to be the first to get the “Real” crown – the golden one.

The pin-up looking Olympian may be fighting for it against a familiar face, with Pete Burling looking for all the world like he’s the latest addition to Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel entry in the Volvo.  There have been rumors of Burling looking for a big deal from one of the teams for a while now, and Bekking knows the importance of fast drivers more than perhaps anyone who’s done this race. This pic from before the Fastnet popping up in the forums doesn’t seal the deal, but the fact that Bouwe hasn’t been returning calls lately makes us think the Burling announcement is imminent.

Rumors continue to swirl about NZL 49er FX standouts Alex Maloney and Molly Meech joining another Volvo team, but whether it’s the long-awaited Team 8 (perhaps a Kiwi-ish effort under the management of Craig Monk) or they do part-time duty for an already-entered while training to improve on their Olympic Silver we do not yet know.  One great skiff driver and one giant of an athlete…both under 30…why wouldn’t you?

Talk it up in the VOR thread.

August 8th, 2017 by admin

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We don’t know yet whether Mudratz grommet Peter Cronin has what it takes to be an all-star professional racing crew, but we’re quite sure he’s already got what it takes to be the youngest On-Board Reporter in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race when the next race starts in 3 years.  We’ve been following Peter for a while now – Clean actually spoke to him last year for the SA Podcast during the Mudratz’ youth Melges 24 campaign – and he just continues to impress everyone with his energy and ability to share his experiences with the wider community.  Huge thanks to our Boatyard pals Bicey, Rodrigo, and Amalia for taking time out of their busy schedules to help fire up the next generation, and for understanding just how important that is.  Got teens? Share this with them.

You don’t have to be an old man to look back and reflect on your life, and I guess I’m lucky to have some wild examples of how seemingly unrelated experiences, chance encounters and everyday life events can come together over time, leading to opportunities one could never had imagined or even dreamt of. I am 17, and in 2 short years I have been fortunate to live a dream.

In March of 2017, after my grandfather’s passing, I learned I would be traveling with my grandmother to Portugal to spend a few days in the countryside and Lisbon. I would then travel to the UK for a few days, and end the trip by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2. It was to be a memorial trip, a trip that they had been planning for years; a trip he sadly would never take.

There are aspects of this vacation that any traveler would fall in love with: The blue water of Cascais, Portugal; the vineyards that seem to go on forever in the rolling hills to the North; the walled city of Obidos; or perhaps the area of Nazare, home of the biggest wave ever surfed. Yet when I was told we would be spending 4 days in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, only one thing came to my mind. Not the awesome restaurants, the 12th century buildings or the 21st century shops — but the fact that it was the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) Headquarters. I knew that I had to break away from my family and somehow make my way into the Volvo HQ, even if just to look through the locked fences.

Two days before I left for Lisbon, my skipper Zach and I sailed our third Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound race. We were sailing to defend our last two victories, but on the last race of the last day, we lost our grip on the lead we’d held throughout the regatta. I was commiserating with one of our biggest supporters – Sailing Anarchy’s Alan Block – and talking about writing an article on the race, and I wasn’t quite sure what he planned when he asked me what my schedule was in Lisbon, and if I thought I could escape the family for a day.

A day and a few texts later and I had an invitation from VOR communications boss Rodrigo Rico to come and check out The Boatyard!

It seems like ages ago when, as a 15 year old during the 2015 stopover I fell completely in love with the Volvo Ocean Race. As a young sailor, as part of our sailing club the MudRatz, I had been lucky enough to get a tour of parts of the VOR race village, meet members of the crew from Team Alvimedica and sail on an M32 catamaran. I was able to manage 3 visits to the village during that stopover, and my love of the race has only grown in the years since. The idea of getting a personal tour of the race HQ was a dream come true. Actually, it was beyond any of the dreams I had!

The days leading up to my visit to the boatyard were spent touring Portugal, but my mind stayed focused on one thing: The Boatyard. When I met Rodrigo and began learning about the Boatyard operations, my idea of “one design” was completely redrawn. While I understand the importance of the boats being identical, when Rodrigo explained the processes by which a hull was refitted and put back together, it blew my mind. He explained that for all eight boats, the same person would do the same job for each boat to ensure that there were no discrepancies between them.

For the past year, the VOR boatyard has been busy refitting the boats for the upcoming start. Rodrigo walked me through the stations of the boatyard where specific steps for each boat were completed. He explained to me that there were three steps that were completed indoors before the boat was ready to be set on its keel. Upon arriving in Lisbon, the boat was sent to stage one where the entire hull was taken apart and every single piece of equipment was logged. From gears in the winch pedestals, to bolts in the engine, every single part of the boat was recorded to perfect duplication between the boats. Furthermore, every inch of the hull and all the parts of the boat were examined with ultrasound to make sure there were no structural weaknesses.

After completing the first stage, the hulls were put back together and sent to stage two. First the hulls (including the centerboards) were sanded and washed, with the same pair of men that have sanded every other boat in the Volvo fleet working together, plank sanding the entire hull. By using the same people for the same job there is no doubt each boat is 100% identical and no one boat is faster than the other. After the boards were completed and the hull smoothed, the boats moved onto the third and final stage that was completed indoors.

Here, in stage three, the cosmetics of each ship were born. Rodrigo walked me into what looked like a run of the mill storage container but, upon opening the doors, I was amazed to see a fully automated paint mixing machine and the shelves fully stocked with paint. Because carbon fiber can be damaged when exposed to prolonged periods of UV, no carbon can be left uncovered. By having a fully automated paint mixing station, they can customize paint colors in quantities as small as a pint – this allows for minimal waste and exact duplication of colors. After the paint is mixed, the same team that has painted all the boats before, gets to work in covering each square inch of exposed carbon on the deck. After a strict inspection of the boat is completed, the boat moves out of the protection of buildings into the light of day, where fitting of its keel, mast, and communications tower began.

Because all of the boats had already been through these stages, there was no action in those areas of the boatyard, but the Sail Loft sure was busy. The first thing that caught my eyes were a stack of battens – in my experience, a little fiberglass stick perfect for giving splinters or dropping overboard before a regatta. I laid my hands on a batten that was easily 10 feet long and made purely of carbon fiber. As if that wasn’t enough to get my mind spinning, laid out in front of me was the largest sail I had ever seen. The square top alone may have been longer than an entire 420, and the main is nearly 100 feet tall! Covered in baby powder to protect it from moisture, the sail of team Turn the Tide on Plastic was getting its custom designed paint job. I knew that these sails needed to be made rugged, as they were about to go some 35+ thousand miles around the earth and experience unimaginable loads, yet the sheer strength and ruggedness I could feel in the sails was more like some kind of steel than any fabric I knew. I wish I could have seen an A3… Of course, that wasn’t nearly as mind blowing as getting to meet Dee Caffari, skipper of Team Turn the Tide on Plastic, when she came in to inspect progress on her sails.

As if the day couldn’t have gotten any better, Rodrigo took me somewhere I had only ever dreamt of being. Though four of the eight boats were scattered around the world, the other four were staying in Lisbon. Two were out practicing, team Turn the Tide on Plastic sat in the dock, and the last boat to reveal its team was on dry land towering nearly 20 feet in the air as it sat on its bunkers, awaiting its wrap. Rodrigo took me out of the sail loft and we began making a beeline towards the hull.

It isn’t too often that I find myself at a loss for words, but this surely was one of those times. I had just stepped on board a Volvo 65S, one of the boats that will be sailing in 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. As Rodrigo took me through the vessel, I felt like a kid in a candy store. From the hydraulic rams which control the canting keel, to the joystick for the remote controlled on-deck cameras, to the massive steering wheel, I just couldn’t take it all in at once. As we continued to go through the boat, I learned about the intricacies of systems I only had vague knowledge of: the desalinators, camera controllers, hydraulic systems and state of the art electronics. I got to feel firsthand how cramped everything is below decks, and I can only imagine how tough the conditions really can be, underway in the most challenging ocean race conditions…though that still doesn’t stop me from dreaming that one day I’ll be racing on a Volvo Ocean Race boat!

The next time I come in contact with the Volvo boats will be in the spring of 2018 in Newport, and it can’t come soon enough. I’m excited to watch the race and I know I will see it from a different perspective based on everything I learned at the Volvo Boatyard. Perhaps in 15 years MY name will be on the roster for the Volvo race.

-Peter Cronin, Mudratz.

August 7th, 2017 by admin

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We’re not mad at the RORC for another year of solid starting line coverage of Europe’s most interesting distance race.  Watch the full Fastnet start above, the A.D.D. amongst you can fast forward to around 2:30 for the Volvo and maxi fleet start.

August 6th, 2017 by admin

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This Dongfeng Race Team video on the eve of the weird Leg Zero (featuring the Fastnet and some other practice racing) gets us started quite nicely, thank you.  You’d think this was straight out of Sam Greenfield’s fertile mind, but according to the Youtube, it comes from Eloi Stichelbaut and Jeremie Lecaudey.  Maybe they’ve been watching too many Sam Greenfield videos?  We’re waiting to see what comes from creative superstar Jen Edney, the sole woman selected to be an OBR despite thousands of applications from female reporters…

August 1st, 2017 by admin

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Dee Caffari is quite possibly the hardest woman in the history of sailing.  We don’t need to list her accomplishments here, other than to tell you she was the first – and only – woman to solo circumnavigate in both directions, including an Eastabout trip in a monster steel boat.

Dee’s new challenge may be her toughest yet, and we salute the folks at the Volvo Ocean Race for signing her up for Boat 6 – an environmental and education platform that’s more about PR and outreach than it is about assembling a world-beating team.  That’s not to say she has no chance; with a free hand as skipper and without the big-sponsor politics that came along with Team SCA, Dee may finally be able to show what her project management and teaching skills can do.

But it won’t be easy, and at this late date, it might be a shit show.  No matter: She’s the consummate seaman (seaperson?) and her inclusion in the race means the pro-youth, pro-environmental message will have a hell of a communicator to deliver it.  Listen to The Sailing Show podcast for 22 solid minutes with Dee about the upcoming Team Dee, and as always, hit the VOR forum for the latest chatter.

June 24th, 2017 by admin

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A sharp-eyed Anarchist found the Volvo Ocean Race’s tender proposal for the inshore foiling multihull portion of the VOR’s new format, and it’s as forward-thinking as we hoped.  Will the VOR’s next in-port series provide the kind of kick start to the sport that the Volvo Extreme 40 did back in 2004-5?  Read the full six pages here, or read on for the bits we found interesting:

“boats must be capable of close, foil borne racing in a wide range of conditions…winds of up to 30 knots.”  We likey.

“The design must be capable of stable foiling with minimal adjustment from the sailing team…a design that…provides a stable foiling platform…without complex and/or expensive, constant manual trimming. Stored energy may be considered, as well as the automation of certain trim and foil control.”  In other words, these boats will fly without input from the sailing team. It’s the ‘holy grail’ of foiling that some top foilers have been chasing for a decade; powered, automated, electronically controlled flying that removes most of the grinding and foil-driver positions from the boat.  Good for women and younger sailors, great for spectators.

“A ‘lake’ version should be considered – designed for sailing in considerably lighter winds”.  Because Hong Kong.  Also, because something’s gotta go racing in a series between VORs?

We will consider a solid wing, mast and sail, or a hybrid combination. Tenderers are encouraged to think ‘out of the box’ when developing their submission.  Who knows what you get when you ask designers specifically to ‘get crazy’?

Maximum cost expected c.750,000 Euros for each of the 8-10 boats of 32-50 feet.  Note the cost of the 33′ DNA TF-10 trimaran is not far off this number…

 

June 8th, 2017 by admin

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On the 21st episode of the Sailing Anarchy Podcast, we go straight to the source for an analysis of the new direction announced last week by the Volvo Ocean Race.  First, Clean updates us on the Podcast’s status, tells us his story of hunting and killing a 300 pound alligator in Charleston, and gives us his view on the new Volvo plans.  Then VOR big boss Mark Turner explains the reasons for their decision to use foiling monohulls for the offshore legs and foiling multihulls for the inshore legs of the two or three races following the next one.  Listen for Turner’s views on what other options they considered, what the new 60 footer will look like and how it is expected to perform, how the new lease model will effect the organization, and why teams have had such difficulty finding major sponsors.  The discussion moves to the timetable for full flying boats to take over the race and safety considerations between mono and multihulls, and finally what kind of events would make up the more permanent annual racing schedule for VOR teams.

Next we spoke to Nick Bice, Director of Boats and Maintenance and founder of the Boatyard, about more technical matters: How, exactly, a new-rules VO60 can be converted to an IMOCA-legal Open 60, what kinds of differences does a Volvo require compared to a singlehanded boat, and a whole lot on foil control systems and logistics for a two-fleet race owned entirely by Volvo.  Clean and Bicey got deep into the subject of the continually shrinking crew component and the impact of this shrinking pool to ocean racing and the sport in general, and plenty more.

Finally, we spoke to pro trimmer and former VO70 crew (ABN AMRO2, 2005) and medical officer George Peet on the anniversary of his crewmate Hans Horrovets’ death about a race that remains very close to his heart.  GP and Clean got deeper into crewing issues with a general discussion of the state of professional offshore racing as well as the usual pull-no-punches analysis of the new classes with a guy who always tells the truth.  As a bonus, we got Bear – one of the nation’s top Moth racers – to give us his America’s Cup picks…

Enjoy, and subscribe to the SA Podcast for more great shit (iTunes, Stitcher) , including our full form guide and preview of the America’s Cup dropping today.

May 27th, 2017 by admin

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The best-kept secret in sailing (outside of ETNZ’s wing control) comes at the end of a long press conference from Volvo HQ in Gothenburg, SWE.  Here’s a synopsis of Mark Turner’s speech, in order of importance (to us), and we encourage you to post any comments or questions you have for Turner and the VOR in the synopsis thread so Clean can fire ’em at Turner later for an interview to be published this weekend.

1) The offshore portions of the 2019 or 2020 Volvo Ocean Race will be contested in what the new design chief calls a ‘Turbo IMOCA’; 60 foot foiling monohulls with adjustable-flap foils; while the in-port racing will happen in foiling cats.  The 60 footer will be ‘convertible’ to an IMOCA, and the VOR in-house design team led by Guillaume Verdier.  The cats are being opened up to a design tender process starting today at between 32 and 50 feet.

2) The 2020 Race has a wishlist of 8 teams, and all boats will be owned by VOR and leased to teams in an attempt to reduce the initial barriers to a new team/sponsor.  Turner says the new lease program and pooled services program allows a similar budget for future races to that of today’s programs. This lease thing is a BIG deal, and speaks as much to Turner’s cred with the Volvo Board as anything.  One paper calls the new moves (including the design and build process) a USD$50 million price tag for Volvo.

3) Sustainability looks to be a real goal this time rather than just more lip service to ‘green’ sponsors.  VOR spent the last ten years bowing primarily to the god of social media – their new pet deity is now a clean ocean, and they’ve got funding and support from 11th Hour, Akzo, and the United Nations, and their goal is a fleet of Zero Emission races.  2017/18 sustainable goals will be met with help of rules requiring team use of official RIBs, hydrogenerator minimums, fuel maximums, etc.

4) It’s obvious the VOR has struggled pulling in team sponsors – that’s why you saw the Hong Kong team’s offer accepted yesterday, why there are still 3 empty boats, and why VOR is still trying to find someone to run a ‘clean the oceans’ entry for an all-women/all-youth/50/50 mixed team for the coming edition they say is already half funded.

5) Volvo and the VOR have formed a major partnership with World Sailing, principally to help create a pipeline for young sailors to become offshore pros and VOR crews.  This includes new VOR Academies (presumably in partnership with existing organizations) and keeps Turner and his hefty experience involved in the possibility of the offshore racing Olympic event that World Sailing has been chasing from the IOC.

6) Course may be radically different, especially for the 50th anniversary 2023 event.  More racing between races or a straight up 2-year race cycle, with race activity every year.  Maybe a crewed non-stop race around Antarctica.

 

May 18th, 2017 by admin

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