As a One Design class, it will of course be identical to the existing fleet of seven Volvo Ocean 65s in every way, and will be launched in May next year, five months before the start of the next edition. The team behind this new build will be announced early in 2017.
“It’s exciting to welcome an addition to the fleet ahead of the next edition, as this was not necessarily expected,” said Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s Director of Boats and Maintenance. “We now have a real prospect of starting the next race with more boats than in the last edition.”
He added: “There will be absolutely no advantage in terms of physical performance or reliability. The new boat will be identical to the existing fleet in every respect.
“All of the Volvo Ocean 65s were built with at least two editions in mind, possibly even a third – and the seven that finished the 2014-15 edition are still in fantastic condition.”
Persico Marine is the lead contractor for the new boat, and will use the same moulds, materials and process of building the original fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s. After completion, the boat will be delivered to the Boatyard facility in Lisbon, where it will undergo rigorous measurement tests.
“When it comes to measuring, we run a fully transparent process. Anyone from any team can come and witness the boats being measured in our refit facility in Lisbon, to ensure they fit the bill,” said Bice.
“Our tests on the existing boats have shown they have not lost any of their rigidity or performance, so whilst the team building a new boat will have ‘no excuses’ from a mental perspective perhaps, there will be no real advantage in physical terms.”
An extensive refit process is currently underway on the original Volvo Ocean 65s. That process is designed to ensure that the components make another 45,000 nautical miles around the world, but also includes significant upgrades in communication equipment, safety, energy generation, and performance electronics as well as new designs of sails which will level the playing field again to some extent.
The Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante in October 2017 and finishes in The Hague over eight months later, taking in a total of 11 landmark cities.