Knut Frostad announced sweeping new rule changes to the Volvo Ocean Race for the 2014-15 event yesterday, reflecting the new realities of ocean racing and sponsorship. “We’re extremely proud of what our commercial and rules advisory team accomplished these past few months, especially with the current race shuffling up our ideas a bit,” said the VOR head man.
Current Volvo Ocean Race rules have been widely criticized for encouraging boats that are so fragile that only 2 boats are even racing on the current leg, the others suffering damage ranging from broken masts to holes in their hulls. VOR organizers have a solution for the next race that addresses the criticism: “The sole VOR racing team will race from port to port with the goal of generating maximum media exposure by becoming the fastest monohull in the world, or breaking spectacularly while trying,” said Frostad. “We’ve been forced to accept the complete cluelessness of boatbuilders, riggers, and designers when it comes to pushing the boundaries, and we have a response: the Volvo Safety Ship (VSS), which will trail the boat on her way around the world.” The VSS will be a state-of-the-art cargo carrier, staffed with boatbuilders, engineers, and spare racing yachtsmen, all prepared to deal with any problem with the racing yacht. “Not only will we carry enough spares and know-how to ensure the boat can keep racing with only the shortest of stops, but we’ll actually carry an entire spare Volvo 90 aboard to deal with total hull failures.” In moderate seas, a broken Volvo Open 90 can be lifted aboard the VSS and replaced with a new boat in less than 3 hours – quick enough for the internet to barely notice.
Anonymous web denizens are already up in arms at the new rules, and they’re venting on the web. “F*ck the VOR a$$holes,” writes ‘Bull Gator’ on the popular Sailing Anarchy website, while “The Shadow” writes “Frostad is the ultimate p*&sy, when I sailed around the world we didn’t even have clothing, we had to wear tarred paper sacks to stay dry!”
But Frostad apparently has the full support of Volvo management, as evidenced by a statement released today. “The new Volvo Ocean Race with the Volvo Safety Ship truly embodies what Volvo Motor Cars is all about: Safety.” Volvo says that it appreciates the decades of yachting fans who’ve followed the Volvo/Whitbread, but that “commercial reality has finally sunk in, and sailors just don’t matter very much on a worldwide level.”
The website for the new race will go live on April 1, 2013; keep your eyes out on www.volvooceansafety.com.