It’s interesting to check back on this older video posted at the initial stages of this 2014-2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Having decided on doing one-design boats for more level competition, the boats are a collaboration between many designers, yards and builders.
And now that the boats have safely crossed all the oceans of the race (with only 3 short legs remaining up the coast of Europe with a finish in Gothenburg, Sweden) it is safe to declare that they must have really been built well, as there were very few structural or mechanical breakdowns. It has been a mercifully non-eventful event for the shore crew and the sailors. Everyone is in one piece and aside from the obvious boat damage sustained when Team Vestas Wind smashed into a little island (ok, a reef) requiring a full repair back at Persico Marine in Italy, all the boats have fared well. And this can be directly attributed to smart sailing, a great and sturdy design for the boats and rigs and great boatbuilding.
Kudos to all the involved boatbuilders and designers. The VO65 is here to stay for the next edition of the race, presumably in these very hulls which might owe part of their structural soundness to the fact that they were actually built to be used for 2 races. It’s been a real pleasure to watch the teams conquer the seven seas in boats that don’t appear to be too light or under built. Let’s not forget that this race has evolved from massively heavy and well appointed boats who were built to sail around the world. The evolution to light-as-possible racing machines is a good one, and dare we say that the new one-design element has been a great addition to the race, forcing skill and experience of the crew to the surface.
However you slice it, the boats are built with as much modern technology and state-of-the-art go-fasters onboard with the simple goal of winning the race by being the fastest around. The days of pushing as hard as possible, testing the limits of the boat and it’s construction are here to stay. And It’s nice to be able to see how these boats were conceived and built to endure everything the mighty ocean and the sailors who push as hard as possible can throw at them. The boats – all of them- and their designers and builders are all winning. The ultimate winner, though, is yet to be determined… time will certainly tell that story.