Gladwell on the shock Volvo Ocean Race news

Reading between the lines on the official statement, it would seem that the pace of change and capital requirements are too much for the backers of the race.

Had the race proceeded as planned it would have been necessary to build a new fleet of foiling 60ft monohulls with a parallel fleet of wing sailed foiling multihulls to be used in the In-Port racing. The plan with the move to the 60fter was to develop a boat which could enter other races for IMOCA60’s.

However, the DSS (dynamic stability system) foiling technology was used in the Vendee Globe race for the first time in the 2016/17 edition of the race. In the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre, six IMOCA60 yachts started with the DSS foils, and only one finished. That number increased to five out of six starters in the late Vendee Globe, and it would seem that the technology still has a way to go before it can be considered to be mainstream for a race such as the Volvo Ocean Race.

The last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race was the first with one design Volvo 65’s built under strict control by the race organisers. That move solved several issues – being the design contest which resulted in unique designs being produced, coupled with a high drop-out rate with one leg only being completed unassisted by two of the six entries.

The move to one designs proved successful with the drop out rate being resolved (save for one entanglement with an Indian Ocean reef) and with the boats finishing within a few hours rather than spread over several days.

It seems from the concluding response in the self-posed questions and answers that consideration is being given to using the Volvo 65 fleet for a third edition of the 45,000nm race, after which it may be that the switch to the Super60 would be made.

It is not known if the Volvo Ocean Race decision will have any bearing on the recent decision to opt for a (foiling) monohull to be used in the 2021 America’s Cup. French designer Guillaume Verdier is heavily involved in both projects.

A more conservative approach is expected if the next event is to proceed.

Image courtesy of www.yachtworld.com

Story by Richard Gladwell writing in www.sail-world.com

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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