Handicapping the Fleet
Handicapping the Fleet
Grant Dalton returns to his ocean-racing roots, as Emirates Team New Zealand will manage the Camper entry in the 2011'-'12 race. According to Dalton, “The Volvo project instantly energizes our team, allows our designers and engineers to get going, and, in Camper, we have found a great partner. They are a family company with family values and a culture that fits very well with Emirates Team New Zealand and our family of sponsors.
“The team has the capacity to integrate a Volvo Ocean Race campaign to sit alongside its commitments to the Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas, the Audi MedCup, and the next America’s Cup.
“There is some certainty in the America’s Cup following BMW Oracle Racing’s defeat of Alinghi. It’s apparent that with the timing of the America’s Cup, either 2013 or 2014, Emirates Team New Zealand can comfortably integrate a Volvo campaign into its operations.
Dalton said a Volvo Ocean Race campaign was a natural fit for the team. “Our objective, once the team had re-established its credentials, was always to diversify as a means of keeping our people busy, focused, and creative.
“With Louis Vuitton, the team started the Louis Vuitton Trophy. Dean Barker and the team campaigned successfully on the Audi MedCup TP52 circuit last year. Now, we have a Volvo Ocean Race campaign to organize from scratch.”
Dalton has been busy going through his Rolodex, hiring many veterans to fill out the new ocean-racing team. Australian Chris Nicholson, watch captain on il Mostro last time around, will serve as skipper, while Roberto “Chuny” Bermudez de Castro and Stu Bannatyne have signed on as watch captains. The level of afterguard experience here is immense, and instantly makes the team a major contender. The rapidly rising match-racing star Adam Minoprio has joined the team as one of the three required under 30 crewmembers. It'll be exciting to watch this ocean-racing rookie adapt to “Life at the extreme.”
The Emirates Team New Zealand design team, headed by principal designer Marcelino Botin, is already hard at work designing the team’s new yacht. Cookson Yachts, of Auckland, will build the boat, and the team plans to launch it in the first quarter of 2011. Botin's team previously designed ETNZ's all-conquering TP52 as well as Puma’s il Mostro, which finished second. On the starting line next year, expect ETNZ to field a powerful boat rivaling the best of the new Juan designs.
On paper, the only drawback ETNZ seems to have is the lack of a Volvo Open 70 for training and sail design. With a reduced number of sails allowed in this race, it's imperative for teams to conduct pre-race testing of designs and their crossover points. Teams still can't rely solely on computer computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. Dalton and company will need to work hard to catch up on sail development when their new boat hits the water in early 2011.