Volvo Ocean Race organisers continue to paint a vision for the future, with the latest in the ’round table’ meetings presented in Galway. There are three pillars that are being used to steer the future of the race – the first element is a technical cost containment and reduction programme, the second, an increase on the value to teams, sponsors and ports involved in the race, and the third is to keep the race seriously attractive to the best sailors in the world.
The latest presentation focussed on technical rule changes to make the race appeal to a larger audience and to limit costs.
VOR CEO Knut Frostad opened the meeting by saying:
“Just like any sailing project the more time we have to prepare ourselves, the better the chances we have of doing a good job,” he said. “Our number one objective is to increase the number of competitors in the next race. We know that we need a larger fleet in the future for the race to be able to reach its full potential.”
“An important element in achieving more boats on the start line in Alicante in 2011 is a reduction of costs and an increase in value for the teams. In the short term, whilst the race is going on and whilst everyone has it fresh in their minds and is focused we have to work on the cost reduction side of the equation. To that end, changes already announced include a reduction in crew members, from 11 to 10, and nearly a 40% reduction in race sails.”
In an effort to encourage female participation, a new rule will allow ‘female’ teams to carry 12 sailors, including the media crew, two of whom may be men. This represents two extra crew members over an all-male crew.
Technical changes were also announced including:
- The maximum weight for the keel fin and bulb will be set at 7,400 kgs in the future. The fin will be required to be solid, with no fairings permitted.
- The weight of the yacht is to be increased so that it may fit into the range between 14,000 kilograms and 14,500 kilograms.
- Headfoils will be banned; headsails will either be set on furlers or with hanks.
- The overall weight of each yacht’s batteries will be reduced by 100 kgs.
- Each Volvo Open 70 will also be required to carry a renewable energy source capable of generating 80 Watts of electrical power.
- No two-boat testing will be permitted until after the ‘race’ boat has been launched, or after a yet-to-be-defined date, which may be as late as the race start.
The next ‘round table’ session is scheduled for 22 June in Stockholm.