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16 December 2004, 02:33 pm
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

Six boats are now fully under construction with the ABN AMRO's first boat due to begin sailing trials in mid January. Telefónica MoviStar will recreate leg four of the race and sail their boat home from Australia via the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn.

ABN AMRO - sailing in January

BOAT 1 for ABN AMRO will be out of the boat shed in Holland by the end of December. 'We have taken the wise decision to put the boat on a ship and take her straight to our training base in Portugal,' says skipper Mike SANDERSON. 'We've chartered our own ship so that we can put all our gear onboard and be as flexible as we can on when we leave. It's going to be one big traveling road show,' he added.

BOAT 2 construction has begun in Holland and the crew selection process for this 'high performance team' as it has been dubbed, is well underway. The skipper, navigator and two watch captains will be appointed directly, but the rest of the crew will be made up from two Dutch candidates, two from the USA, two from Brazil and two from the rest of the world. They will all be under 30 years old. Twenty from each group will be selected to go forward to a training camp where they will be assessed in lots of different ways including offshore sailing.

Atlant - mould ready

Jason CARRINGTON and the team at Green Marine in Lymington, GBR are working flat out on the Volvo 70 for Atlant Ocean Racing. 'We're fairing the mould at present' says Carrington. The mould went into the oven on December 9 where it will stay until mid February. 'We have made a full size mockup of the interior and all the frames are up,' explains Carrington. 'We use it to design the interior of the boat. We can see exactly where the galley will go, the engine box, fuel and water tanks etc. All the systems go into the mock up and then they are transferred across to the actual boat. This saves time as the race boat won't be ready to take all the interior fittings and systems until she's close to finishing.'

'Magnus [OLSSON], is in charge of the rig and the sails are currently being tested in the wind tunnel in New Zealand,' Carrington adds.

Brasil 1 - oven temperature perfect

The boat is being constructed by Marco LANDI's ML Boatworks, in Indaiatuba, a small city near São Paulo in Brazil. Former sailor and engineer, Landi is one of the most respected boat builders in Brazil. He worked in Europe for three years, learning the secrets from some of the most prestigious European boat builders.

'In a big project such as this, the technique is really important,' says Landi, adding, 'but we also must remember that nothing will be successful if we don't work with accuracy and precision. Since our main goal is to make the boat as light as possible, we will do everything we can to cut weight. In some parts of the boat, we are even using the same technology as space shuttles.'

The boat will be ready at the beginning of May. It will first go in the water in Angra dos Reis, in Rio de Janeiro state, and then the team will make one or two Atlantic crossings to train the crew and test the boat. During the first part of December, Chris MELLOW, who worked with Knut FROSTAD's team in 2001 and helped with the representation of the team in Cookson's Boatyard in New Zealand, arrived in Brazil. He is working alongside with Landi and the first thing he checked was the temperature in the oven for the lamination. He will work with a team boat builders from New Zealand: one arrived with him and two others will arrive this week next week.

Premier Challenge - hull plug but female deck mould

Grant WHARINGTON has opted for a female deck mould and a hull plug for his Volvo Open 70. The outside of the plug has been glassed and laminating started this week. The plug will be complete by Christmas and the female deck mould laminating will begin over Christmas. The boat is being built by Mal HART at Hart Marine in Mornington, one hour south of Melbourne. Mal HART, who also built Grant WHARINGTON's maxi Skandia, has put 25 men on the project and is expecting the boat to be finished by April.

Telefónica MoviStar - into the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn

The Australian yard of Boatspeed, just outside Sydney, is making quick progress with the Volvo 70 for Pedro CAMPOS and Bouwe BEKKING. The majority of the bulkheads are in the boat and the interior fitting out has started. 'A big help to everybody has been the building of a full size wooden mockup of the interior from the aft watertight bulkhead to the forward watertight bulkhead,' says Bouwe BEKKING. [This is a similar process to the one used at Green Marine for Atlant's new 70.] The canting keel arrangement, bunks, galley, navigation station etc. and all the machinery and electrics are now being transferred to the race boat.

'Boatspeed has done a great job so far,' Bekking said. 'Moulds have been built for everything which gives 100% accuracy and the lightest finish possible. The planning has been superb and it is a joy to see how Boatspeed has approached this job.' The deck will be fitted at the beginning of January and the boat will go in the water in early February for immediate sail trials. The team will base themselves initially at Noakes Boatyard in Newcastle just up the coast from Sydney, using the marina belonging to the NCYC yacht club, which is only five minutes from the open ocean.

For the first month, the boat will be day sailed to test all the systems, but the real trial will start on March 11th when the team sets sail for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. They will recreate leg four of the race, with a 48-hour pit stop in Wellington, New Zealand, before carrying on through the Southern Ocean around Cape Horn to arrive in Rio. The team will stop for a short rest in Rio before sailing back their base in Sanxenxo in Galicia where they hope to arrive around mid May.

The latest images from each of the build programmes can be found at http://media.vemuk.com

Lizzie Green (As Amended by ISAF)
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