Volvo Ocean Race Innovations

The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 started yesterday with a In-Port-Race in Alicante, Spain. A new designed One Design – VO65 will be the sailing boat for this year.

Alvimedica win Volvo Ocean Race in-port race in Alicante. The jury might still be out on how close the offshore racing in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race will be but the action we watched today in Alicante leaves no doubt that inshore, it will be as close as possible. The first in-port race of this edition delivered as promised as the seven VO65′s battled it out on the waters off Alicante under nice conditions and a southerly breeze that topped 14-15 knots. The VO65 fleet went round the buoys three times and the win went to the young American rookies that race on the Turkish Alvimedica boat after a close fight with Abu Dhabi, thanks to a combination of excellent crew work and an on-the-spot tactical call in the third run. It was Vesta and Dongfeng that took the early lead in the first in-port race after an uneventful start and a first beat on the more favored right-hand side of the course. The Danish team rounded the first weather ahead, with the Chinese closely behind. The first run saw a hug lateral split in the fleet with Vestas, Dongfeng and Alvimedica opting for a radical strategy on the left-hand side, sailing out of the safety zone and well into the numerous fleet of specator boats. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi surged to the right-hand side, taking thus the lead at the first bottom gate. Ian Walker and his crew held on to their lead during the next two legs but could feel the young rookies on Alvimedica hot on their heels. The game-changing moment came in the third and final beat when Alberto Bolzan, the Italian tactician on Alvimedica, made the call for the left. That paid a big dividend for the Turkish boat and at the third and final weather mark Alvimedica was ahead with now Abu Dhabi behind them. Despite the fierce attacks by Ian Walker in the final stretch of hte final run, Alvimedica’s crew sailed to their first victory. In this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, in-port races don’t count towards the overall scoretable but will be only used to break the eventual ties after all offshore legs have been raced. However, there isn’t any doubt that today’s victory will be a confidence boost for the youngest crew of the fleet. A week from now, the seven VO65 will sail off Alicante and head to Cape Town where they are expected to arrive in the first week of November. By then we will know whether Charlie and his crew showed us today a small part of their potential.
Foto: Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

Canting keel

A canting keel is a form of sailing ballast, suspended from a rigid canting strut beneath the boat, which can be swung to windward of a boat under sail, in order to counteract the heeling force of the sail. The canting keel must be able to pivot to either port or starboard, depending on the current tack.

The canting-keel system utilises two opposing hydraulic rams, and is very similar to the style of system used successfully on the VO70s. As with the VO70, the system has been designed to operate safely with only one ram to ensure complete redundancy. FYD worked closely with the hydraulic experts at Cariboni in Italy to ensure that the geometry of the canting system resulted in a concept that is light and with a low centre of gravity, while still being relatively simple and inexpensive to produce. Hydraulic supply ports were also located in such a way as to be sympathetic to the needs of the sailors onboard, with good access and visibility.

In keeping with the conceptual philosophy of the rest of the yacht, the design brief for the VO65 required the appendage package to be significantly less costly than that of a Volvo Open 70 (VO70), with equivalent or higher safety factors… and a similar performance envelope. Although at the outset this seemed like a tall order, without the rigid constraints of the previous VO70 rule we found numerous fruitful areas to explore that delivered excellent return on investment in terms of performance improvements without additional cost or reduced robustness.

Foto: Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel
Foto: Sander van der Borch / Team Brunel

The VO65 keel fin is machined from a solid steel forging and is designed to comply with all of the stringent structural requirements of the previous VO70 rule. In addition, the fin meets or exceeds all the requirements of Germanischer Lloyd’s (GL) new Guidelines for the Structural Design of Racing Yachts over 24m including keel torsional strength and a complete fatigue assessment.

After reviewing the proposed stopover ports for the 2014-2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the organisers decided that an increase in maximum draft from 4.5m to 4.7m would be acceptable. This extra 200mm of draft allowed us to increase righting moment without increasing keel weight, giving the boat a noticeable performance improvement without incurring any significant extra cost.

Innovative features of Volvo Ocean 65


  1. Keel: The maximum draft has been increased from 4.5m to 4.7m. This allows an increase in the righting moment while decreasing the keel weight, giving the boat a noticeable performance improvement.
  2. Keel Pin: The new boat has an inclined keel pin axis that will be positive for performance: creating a large vertical force on the keel fin, creating lift and reducing the displacement and the amount of drag.
  3. Structure: There are eight bulkheads inside the Volvo Ocean 65 – compared to a typical number of four on a Volvo Open 70. The increase means a stronger and more solid structure.
  4. Reverse bow: The reverse bow is mainly a cosmetic feature, in the most photographed area of the boat, but it will also help keep water off the bow.
  5. Water ballasts: In the Volvo Open 70 there was only one water ballast in the stern. The Volvo Ocean 65 has two aft water ballasts and one forward water ballast.
  6. Onboard media packaging: There are five fixed camera positions and two uplink points, which will combine to give coverage from all angles. The camera and mic point in the companionway hatch will get right in the faces of the sailors. Cameras can be remote controlled and directed, while new microphone locations and systems will enhance voice  recording. Key to the project is that the cameras and microphones now have  much better protection from wind and water, enabling interviews in the cockpit.

For more details please visit Volvo Ocean Race boat page


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