The Volvo Ocean 65 – cool design, emotional impact
Radical, high-performance, tough, affordable, world-class – the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 that will contest the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race is a spectacular feat of design and construction.
The new boat has been designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States, and is being built by a consortium of four boatyards in Europe – Green Marine in the United Kingdom, Decision in Switzerland, Persico in Italy and Multiplast in France.
The shift to a one-design solution is a radical departure for the race, and one that will put more emphasis than ever before on the racing out on the water.
"If it hadn't been for the new one-design rule, then I probably wouldn't have done the Volvo Ocean Race again," says Ian Walker, who is returning in 2014-15 to skipper Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's entry. "It's definitely going to be the tightest race in history – it has to be!"
The first high-performance racing boat was completed and delivered in September 2013.
Over to Patrick Shaughnessy, President of Farr Yacht Design.
"The overwhelming impression will be of a top level Grand Prix racing boat,"says Shaughnessy. "So we tried to be pretty smart in how we address a couple of key little things but at the same time produce an image of a boat that's very forward thinking has a unique look in its stem profile, its cabin shape and some of these things that'll make the boat iconic in the industry. It'll be something that looks special, and look special for a while."
The fact that the boat is a one-design means Farr Yacht Design have been able to find the right balance between speed on the one hand and safety and affordability on the other.
"Conceptually, the new boat has a lot of similar features and is going to be a very high performance offshore racing boat," says Shaughnessy. "What separates it a little bit from the Volvo Open 70 is that it is trying to address the cost issue associated with the hardware in the event so the boat is a little smaller in many of its parameters, which are scaled to try to address cost."
So, while a lot has been done to bolster reliability and reduce costs, this is definitely a boat that is going to attract world-class sailors to compete in a race that epitomises Life at the Extreme.
And it will certainly appeal to fans too.
"When you come down the dock you're gonna see a boat that's really cool," says Shaughnessy. "The stem shape has been styled to be emotional, forward looking and be relevant for years to come so it's a boat that's exciting and modern and it's gonna be iconic."
– Teams competing in the race will buy the boat from Green Marine, on a first-come first-served model.
– The boats produced will compete in the following two editions of the race.
– The boats will be delivered with everything included and "ready to sail", on a strict one-design rule.
– The boats will be delivered with the latest technology on board.
– The boats will be launched at a rate of one every seven to eight weeks from September 2013.