Lower costs and harder work for the crew are on the menu for the next two Volvo round the world races after CEO Knut Frostad announced in Lorient a new design of yacht to be used by all the competitors for at least two races from 2014.
At 65 feet, the new design, from the Annapolis-based architects of Farr Yacht Designs, looks very similar to the current 70-footers but the boats, to be built by Multiplast in France, Decision in Switzerland, and Persico in Italy, will all be finally assembled and marketed by the leading UK builder Green Marine of Lymington.
Financing for a minimum build of eight has been secured – there are just six boats in the current race – and each will cost, according to Frostad, about €4.5m. That is as much as 50 per cent. less than the current 70-footers and is part of an attempt to reduce the overall budget from €25m.-plus at the moment to about €15m.
In theory, a reduction in the crew size from 10 to eight – more
are allowed for an all-woman entry - plus a dedicated media
communications member, should also reduce costs. But, it could
increase the workload and the danger of injury.
In Newport, Rhode Island, where the latest America’s Cup World Series regatta began in earnest, John Kostecki, a former Volvo race winning skipper and now tactician for the America’s Cup holder Oracle Racing USA, gave an overall welcome to the move.
"It's clear the Volvo Ocean Race is trying to keep up with the changing global economic climate,” he said. “The new design should keep costs down and make entry to the race affordable. Farr Yacht Design has a proven track record in the race through the years, and it will be exciting to see the new design on the water."
Not so happy will be the designers who have been involved in the race but will now be cut out. Not least the Argentinian, Juan Kouyoumdjiam, whose designs have won the last two races and will, barring amazing catastrophe, win the current race when it finishes in Galway next weekend.