Offshore Yachting : Offshore Yachting Apr May 2015
tack & Gybe 040 were built in batches so that the same mould is used for the production of eight sails of one type. Each sail type was then finished in the same loft by the same team in one go to ensure an identical shape and production quality. A ballot was drawn by each team for ultimate fairness. The boats were then purchased from Green Marine in the UK – at a cost reduction of around 50 percent on the previous VO70 – ready to sail. Seven boats have been built to date, all identical. In fact, over the seven boats, there’s an estimated weight difference of only 20 kilograms – incredible given the complexity of the boats and their diverse crews. The most significant consequence of the new one-design boat is that the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race will be won and lost by the athletes. “If it hadn’t been for the new one-design rule, then I probably wouldn’t have done the Volvo Ocean Race again,” said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s skipper, Ian Walker, who forecasts the current edition will be the tightest race in history. The speed differences between the boats will be smaller than ever before, but the speed on the water promises to be record-breaking. Despite being five feet shorter, the VO65 under the Team Brunel livery rolled out 540 Atlantic miles in 24 hours, compared to the 596.6-mile world record established by a Volvo Open 70 in 2008. Life on board a VO65 is as extreme as it gets. Unbearable temperatures, hostile weather and rough sailing conditions, constant dampness, sleep deprivation, one pair of clothes, restricted communications with the outside world and sustained competitiveness accompany the sailors for up to 25 days at a time – all at 30 knots boat speed in the open ocean. “It’s this potential for speed that makes crew fitness all the more vital,” says Frostad. Gone are the days when amateur sailors such as Cornelis “Conny” van Rietschoten could enter the sport in their mid-40s for a lark and then go on to win two consecutive editions on Flyer and Flyer II, albeit with a well- funded and professional approach to crew selection and training. Sailing legend, the late Magnus Olsson, mentor and close friend of Frostad, competed in six editions of the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race, from 1985-86 to 2008-09, tasting victory with EF Language in 1997-98 when he was 48. “The oldest crew member we have now is Team Brunel skipper, Bouwe Bekking who’s 52. He’s a highly professional sailor, very competent as a leader and crew member, but this edition will probably be his last.” This is Bouwe’s seventh participation, nearly 30 years after his first attempt in 1985-86, having twice finished runner-up and skippered two campaigns. Could Frostad back up his own experience, no less than four editions of the event, and take to the helm these days? “I’m not 60,” flashes the former professional offshore and Olympic sailor, before demurring and admitting that it would take some preparation. “If I had the adequate training, yes, I could.” Does he yearn for the thrill of the next Leg when he oversees the fleet’s farewell at nine ports across the globe? “Of course, but there’s plenty going on behind the scenes and that’s what occupies my time and energy these days.” Frostad took up the role of chief executive of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008 and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the race. He is accredited with revolutionising the event, thanks to his considerable business acumen coupled with his sailing credentials. His first stint as a competitor dates back to the 1993-94 ‘Whitbread Round the World Race’ when, as helmsman on Interim Justitia, he finished in second place. Four years later, he returned as skipper and project founder/director on Innovation Kvaerner in 1997-98 and again, for the newly-named Volvo Ocean Race, on Djuice Dragons in 2001- 02. In 2005-06 he was watch leader “At stopovers, we bring the public close to the crews and boats. They can come inside the Boat Yard, touch and feel, ask questions and experience.” Knut Frostad SOUtHeRN eXPOSURe Auckland was the fourth stopover in the VOR and Frostad says the race resonates with the Kiwis – “it’s in their DNA,” he says.
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