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27 January 2005, 10:26 am
Creating the Perfect Machine
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

'It doesn't get any better than this!' Iker MARTÍNEZ beamed with optimism while admiring the results of the construction of the Volvo Open 70 Telefónica MoviStar as the hull was released from its mould. 'It's a first class effort and an example of fantastic teamwork. There's no doubt BoatSpeed was a great place to carry out the construction'.
'We were all thrilled to see the perfection of the hull and the precise finish,' declared the 49er Olympic gold medallist, who arrived last December in Australia and is now working and preparing for the race.

Just 10 months from start of the race in Galicia, the Telefónica MoviStar Team is finalising the construction process of this spectacular boat designed to bring Spain its first victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Down under, the BoatSpeed craftsmen are working according to schedule, timing to perfection the execution of the construction plan supervised by the Telefónica MoviStar Team. A smooth running schedule is a major advantage for a competition such as this, as rushing delicate construction work adds significant risk to the project. The new Volvo 70, Telefónica MoviStar will, taste the Australian sea in February.

'We have to follow the Volvo rules to build our 70' explains Iker. 'The hull, deck and some bulkheads have to meet a minimum weight per square metre, and as such we've tried out a series of different materials to make sure they reach, yet not surpass it. More weight means less strength. Ten different measurements of the entire boat are carried out and if you are under the official weight you can not compete. Fortunately, the first samples show that we are keeping up with the requirements, with a very positive tolerance rating. After this first test, we can even say that we have even exceeded designer Farr's expectations'.

Everyone at the Telefónica MoviStar team has one clear objective at this stage and that is to build the most competitive and well-balanced boat of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, the same goal the other participating teams are working hard to reach. This competitive atmosphere means every decision counts in the race to success. 'We decided to build a female mould, which gives the lightest possible finish to the hull, saving precious weight' said Pedro CAMPOS, manager of the team and the skipper in the in-shore races.

'The weight we save in the hull can be used in the bulb, which gives us speed. According to our calculations, we estimate that just 25 kilos of overweight would result in a loss of two hours over the entire race, or 15 minutes in each of the eight legs. This may not seem like much but if we look at what happened in the last race, we can see that in many legs the difference between the winner and the second place was less than 10 minutes. In leg 8, five boats came in over a period of 7 minutes' he added.

'The mast also has an established minimum weight plus a given centre of gravity,' explains Bouwe BEKKING. 'With these targets we need to be even more precise, perhaps even more so than with the hull, as the weight of the mast is up high, which has a significant effect on the boat's performance. To give you an idea, fellow America's Cup teams consider that a good rig is just as important as the correct hull shape'.

Using the designer's years of experience, the Volvo Open 70 is a boat unlike any other created before. The result of a series of comparative studies, tests and modelling, the designers of Telefónica MoviStar tested more than 600 combinations before deciding on the definitive model. Wind and sea conditions were also taken into account in deciding the final design.

'The first thing is to define the shape, which needs to be excellent to achieve minimum wind resistance. Testing under different conditions, including all possible winds we could encounter in this race, we saw defects in design and shape which meant the boat would not perform optimally or have the strength we needed to win. We decided to create our own mock-up where we could install our own mast. As the rig needs to meet certain flexibility standards, the sails designers and the mast engineer worked closely together to define base criteria, which were then used in constructing the mast. From there, we carry out a final check of each of the parts used in the rig' Bekking continued. 'The tough work was worth the effort: The rig is finished and we are very proud of the results.'

The comprehensive training plan for the Telefónica MoviStar team, is considered perhaps the hardest and most demanding of all the crews. Bekking outlined the plans: 'Our idea is to carry out the navigation tests in February, departing for Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of March, including a short 24 hour pit stop in Wellington. This way we can navigate leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006, one of the most demanding, as it crosses Cape Horn. From Brazil, we will go on to Annapolis, Maryland, where we will do another pit stop of 48 hours, and then we will cross the Atlantic Ocean on our way to Galicia, where we hope to arrive around mid May to keep training, fit out the boat and make the final crew selection'.

With this intense training and competitive calendar in mind, Iker MARTINEZ, sums up: 'It's not just a round the world race. When we finish, we'll have travelled round the globe one and a half times!'

Lizzie Green (As Amended by ISAF)
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