joining the club?

There is a new movement in the Volvo Ocean Race. France’s Guillaume Verdier is to lead a new design project for 14th edition, with Persico Marine selected as lead boatbuilder. The monohull-multihull question to be resolved in coming weeks and the new boat is part of radical shake-up of race to be announced 18 May, in Volvo’s home town of Gothenburg, Sweden
Verdier has joined the Volvo Ocean Race Design Team and is currently working with the race on the crucial issue of whether the new boat will be a monohull or multihull. The final decision on the proposed designs will be announced on 18 May at an event in Gothenburg, the home of the race’s owners and title sponsors Volvo. In the meantime…

I suppose with even Optimists now foiling it was almost inevitable a designer at the forefront of sailing boat foil design would get involved with the Volvo Ocean Race

So now the speculation begins or perhaps expands.

With Guillaume Verdier joining the design team for the next generation One Design VOR Racing Boats all those naysayers that the ‘Volvo’ is in danger of getting stale better eat their words.

Famous for his IMOCA 60s with their Dali foils or Comanche through to ETNZ’s AC boat then we are looking at a wide range of influence and therefore possibilities.

From a personal point of view, given that the Volvo Ocean Race have been working to control costs which was a very large part of the decision to go one design in 2014-2015 I think the thought of 6-8 Comanche rushing from port to port around the world is fanciful at best – spectacular perhaps but… dream on.

A fleet of foiling multis might be an awesome sight but with the raced in 2017/18 returning to the Southern Ocean in a great measure than for years the thought of a bunch of foiling tris, which are just as very stable upside down as they are right side up would mean that a knockdown or pitch-pole could result in a Bullimore type rescue rather than just a hairy moment.

I would guess they would be more than just a robust fully crewed ORMA as the race (and the sponsors) could not afford the sorts of attrition rate seen in a typical Vendee Globe.

Having said that, the footage from Armel and Alex in the last Vendee must surely have provided food for thought for Mark Turner and his team if they are to maintain Volvo’s “Life at the Extreme image.

Could you imagine the sorts of passage times of, say, a Open 60 type (perhaps like an Open 65), fully crewed, powerful, yet strong enough not to break with the regularity of an Open 60. Then add that to the mixed crew concept of the current race with the crews knowing they have pit stops to repair the bits and pieces they break along the way and the further development of the OBRs’ work and the fans being able to make a call once every 24 hours – sorry, that last part was an April’s Fool stunt (gave me a few seconds of a WTF moment though).

Add it all up and the transformation of the race could be well and truly complete with the Knut & then Mark show going forward with renewed vigour.

Of course my guesses could be totally wrong – and they are just guesses. Can’t wait for the official line to be announced in May this year. – -Shanghai Sailor