The new look Volvo Open 70 Rule, published today along with the Notice of Race, confirm changes set to enhance the fleet racing in the 11th Volvo Ocean Race, which will start from its new home base of Alicante in Spain in the autumn of 2011.
The changes come as a result of extensive analysis carried out over the past 12 months by the Rule Management Group led by technical expert Ken McAlpine (Volvo Open 70 Rule) and rules expert Bill Edgerton (Notice of Race) in consultation with previous competitors.
"This is the first time the race organisation has had a process in place to draft the Rule together with the sailors and teams to this extent," commented Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad. "What we have come up with, I believe, are the right changes at the right time," he said. "What this Rule does is limit what it takes to win the race, therefore making winning it more achievable and entry into race more attractive to a larger number of teams," he explained.
Changes include a move to furling or hanked headsails - no headfoils are allowed and a reduction from 24 to 17 race sails per boat. A single-boat team can only build 15 new sails prior to the race, and a team using a new boat and a second generation boat can build only 23 pre-race sails. Stacking of sails and equipment is restricted to the mid section of the boat below deck.
There are also strict limitations on masts and appendages. The total weight of the yacht has now been increased so that it must fit into the weight range of 14,000 - 14,500 kg, and a maximum keel fin and bulb weight has been set at 7,400 kg.
"Everything has to meet the safety test," said Race Director Jack Lloyd. "Nothing we have changed in the new fin arrangement and the weight of the fin and bulb will take us back to the keel issues of 2005-06. The biggest message that came back from the designers and sailors was 'don't change too much'. The boat is fast and it is strong. The furling headsails we have introduced are aimed at keeping crew off the foredeck as much as we can. That is a major danger area given the weight of water coming across the bow," Lloyd said.
The limit of the construction of only one new boat per team is a new feature; however, a team is permitted to campaign an additional second generation boat. There is a total ban on two-boat testing before the race and if a single-boat team is using a separate second generation training boat, which they do not enter in the event, the team is limited to only 110 sailing days during 2010.
In addition to the 2,000-nautical mile qualification run, which has been a feature of the Notice of Race for some years, each team must now compete in a new 600-nautical mile qualification race, which will be held prior to the race start in Alicante.
The crew limit for an all-male or mixed team remains at 11, including the Media Crew Member (MCM), but new this time is the requirement for three crew members to be born on or after 1 September 1980. A female team can, however, comprise a crew of 14 including the MCM, representing three additional crew members over an all-male crew. No additional crew members are permitted onboard for in-port racing, which this time will be held in each stopover port.
The points system has also been overhauled and points for offshore legs will now be multiplied by five, and scoring gates multiplied by two. The in-port races will not attract a weighting and points will continue to be awarded for the best performances over two races to be held on each in-port race day.
Frostad confirmed that the key objectives when drafting the Volvo Open 70 Rule and the Notice of Race were:
• to reduce costs for participating teams
• to ensure improved safety and reliability of the boats
• to ensure that the Volvo Open 70 Class maintains its status as the fastest and most spectacular offshore racing monohull
• to ensure that an entrant can be competitive with a second generation boat from the 2008-09 race
To examine the full detail and all the changes made to the Volvo Open 70 Rule and Notice of Race, you can download your copy here:
For the in-depth story visit www.volvooceanrace.org
To watch an interview with Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad about the new Volvo Open 70 Rule and Notice of Race: www.volvooceanrace.tv