T-Minus One Year
T-Minus One Year
Twelve months can seem like an eternity, but when the long-range goal is an overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race, there’s little time to waste. "Gaining Bearing" in our October 2010 issue
How times have changed. Twenty-six years ago, when I got out of college and became a sailmaker, I wanted to do every race. I think I raced about 250 days a year in everything from Lightnings to J/24s to One-Tonners. I did every PHRF race on Narragansett Bay and every evening beer-can series. No race was too small, or too large.
That passion led to bigger and brighter moments, and has culminated with a second Volvo Ocean Race campaign with PUMA as our primary sponsor. The preparation for this next race is full on. If you went sailing around Newport, R.I., last summer, we might have almost run you over. Sorry— the boats are a bit out of control in small spaces. But, the sailing has simply been fantastic, and we’ve been ticking off a long list of projects that we wanted to get completed before we began building our new Volvo Open 70.
The sailing I do now couldn’t be any more different from my first few years in the industry. The last race I sailed was the 630-mile Bermuda Race in June. I can count on two hands and one foot the number of day races I have done in 2010. I haven’t been near a beer-can series in a while, and have forgotten most of the around-the-buoy racing rules. Offshore testing is where I spend my time these days. It’s not only where I need to be, but it’s also where I want to be.
The next Volvo Ocean Race starts approximately a year from now: Oct. 29, 2011, to be exact. In addition to the PUMA team, there are a handful of others also ramping up for the race:
Groupama: The premier French team and current holders of the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest outright lap of the planet. They purchased the winning boat from the last race, Ericsson 4. This team will come out of the box at a very high level with Juan “Juan K” Kouyoumdjian designing the platform.
Camper/Team New Zealand: TNZ is widely regarded as the best inshore racing team in the world, with a strong track record in the America’s Cup and on the Audi MedCup Circuit. Now, they are spreading their wings for the VOR. With a 20-person design team led by Marcelino Botin and plenty of offshore talent from Australia and New Zealand, they will be a tough team to beat.
Team Abu Dhabi: The nucleus of the Green Dragon Team from the last VOR has landed in the Middle East and will represent Abu Dhabi. They just bought our old boat Avanti (ex-ABN 2) as a trainer and will take all their experience from the last race into a new Farr design for 2011.
Telefonica: Rumored to be entering two boats in the race. If that’s the case, this will now be Telefonica’s third consecutive Volvo effort. The team is expected to sail one new Juan K design plus Telefonica Blue from the last race. With solid leadership, they, too, are among the pre-race favorites.
Volvo Event Management says they are going to get between 8 to 10 boats, which would be perfect. But, the rest of the entries are still unknown. We talk frequently to teams considering doing the race who want to purchase il mostro, which we sailed to second overall in the 2008-’09 VOR. First come, first serve to anyone out there wishing to own a great Volvo 70, which can be competitive in the upcoming race.
As for our program, we have settled in as a sailing team that gets along really well and brings a ton of different skills to the table. A major difference from the last race is that we are sharing a design team this time. Juan Kouyoumdjian worked exclusively with one team for the last two Volvo races, winning both: ABN Amro in 2005 and Ericsson in 2009. This time around, he is designing for Groupama, Telefonica, and PUMA.