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Bouwe BekkingoffshoreVOR 2011

Bouwe Bekking: Question and answers about Volvo Ocean Race

Credit:Dave Kneale/VOR
Bouwe Bekking answers few Questions about Volvo Ocean Race.

Q. This time 6 boats are on the start-line in Alicante, do you feel this is sufficient?

B.B. Of course this is one less than last time and it would have been nicer having more boats on the line, but the race will be more competitive then ever.
As well we shouldn’t forget that there are actually more sponsors having a boat in this race compared to the last race, when Ericsson and Telefonica had two boats entered, that is a very positive development. So all in all, I think with the economical recession in backmind, the amount of entries is healthy.

Credit:Maria Muina
Q. What do you think about the different approaches of the designs of all the boats?
B.B. I actually haven’t seen the boats from close by, so can only comment from what I have seen of pictures and videos. I will start of with the three Juan K boats. Puma, Telefonica and Groupama look all very similar on first sight. The stern sections look very similar how Ericsson 4 was. The chine forward is more aggressive than Juan's last design. 
Credit:PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Interesting is that Telefonica has gone for a higher freeboard than the other two boats. In the last race the Telefonica boats has issues with too much water coming over the deck when the breeze was up, this time the team have pushed the freeboard hoping this will help to keeping the nose up out of the waves.
This has of course a weight penalty, for the extra material added, but I think they had to burn up weight anyway, as their builder is the same from last race, and weights were right on targets.
Another point with the higher freeboard is that most likely they could move the 2nd internal watertight bulkhead further forward inside of the boat compare to the other two designs. Theoretically they are able to get their food and spares further forward in light air, helping to get the stern more out of the water and reduce wetted surface.
Credit:Maria Muina
The cockpit layouts are all a bit different, were Groupama has made some unusual choices regarding winch and grinder positions. It looks the central winch system is a heavier construction wise and since they have removed already two winches they might have an issue to come down to the minimum weight of 14000 kg. As well getting sails in and out of the interior will be harder.
Interesting is that all three boats having different mast manufacturers. 
The rig is a very important aspect.
Telefonica and Puma have swapped mast manufacturers, Telefonica now with Southern Spars and Puma have gone with Hall Spars.
Last race most people thought that the Telefonica boats had the best mast package, with lots of innovations, who now all team have “copied”. I can understand that Puma wanted the Hall package, as that was the big surprise of the last race. But also logistical it was a easy choice, since the rig designer and the factory of Hall are within a couple of miles where their boat was build.

Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
Why Telefonica have gone to Southern Spars? I can imagine that the sail designers have had a big word in this, as the SSpar and Northsails work closely together with software /cfd animations.
The rig of Groupama is done in-house, a risk in my opinion. Interesting is that they have chosen for 3 spreaders, while all others have 4.
Windage is less, but the panel sections in between the spreaders is much more. Hopefully they have enough control and is the rig stiff enough.

The interiors I expect be total different, have to come back to this once I have seen the boats inside.
In the next article I will go over Camper, Sanya and Abu Dhabi.


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