AC over, eyes shift to VOR
SOUTHAMPTON, England _ A day after the cliff-hanger final of the 2013 America’s Cup, sailors worldwide shifted their eyes to system checks and sea trials of the first Volvo Ocean Race one-design in the Solent. The first VOR-65 is for Sweden’s SCA team which will enter an all-female crew in the 2014-15 VOR.
The first week in the hands of Team SCA was so much about speed but about testing systems and hardware. Team SCA bowman Liz Wardley, 33: “We haven’t lit it up yet, but everything felt great. It’s the start of a new class. This boat has never been sailed before so it’s great to be involved from the beginning. Being one of the first people going out sailing on it is pretty cool! You always have a bit of an apprehension when testing a new boat, because you wait for something to go bang. It didn’t happen.”
The first VOR-65’s first week involved fitting in the mast, launching the boat, doing an extreme pull-down test (in which the boat is tilted to up to 50 degrees to test the hull loads) and checking the engine, the dagger boards and all electric and hydraulic systems. And, of course, the first blue water outing.
The VOR women’s boat can race with 11 sailors. To date, 5 Team SCA crew members have been named: Britons Annie Lush and Sam Davies, Australians Sophie Ciszek and Wardley and Carolijn Brouwer of the Netherlands. “Team SCA is not a second-hand’ project,” says Brouwer. “It is a first class professional project with great potential. I know what it’s like to spend weeks on a boat with 10 other people. Of course, there will be challenges, but equally this is an incredible opportunity for women’s racing. I’m thrilled to be able to be part of it.”
The VOR has shifted to a one-design boat to bring down the costs of mounting a campaign. While there has been criticism of the one-design _ it allegedly stifles innovation _ it has slashed budgets from tens of millions of euros for a single race to €10-12 million for two. The VO-65 is a product of Farr Yacht Design. The boats are being built at yards in Britain, France, Italy and Switzerland. The next VOR starts in Alicante, Spain, Oct. 4, 2014. To date, only 2 teams have been confirmed: Team SCA and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. There are 2 campaigns under in the Netherlands for a Dutch boat but to date no announcements have been made.