Solid Six

Solid Six

Boats and teams of Volvo Ocean Race. Part 1: Boats and teams of the Volvo Ocean Race.


To the disappointment of many fans, only six yachts have made it to this regatta, but four years ago, during my visit to VOR headquarters, this number was declared «necessary and sufficient». Sufficient, you say? Well, get it!

It's an empty lyricism, though. Let's get back to the start of the race.

The Chinese are coming!
Perhaps the main surprise for everyone was the participation of a Chinese team called Sanya Lan (Sanya is a city in Hainan Province of China, where one of the stages of the regatta comes, «lan» in Chinese means «blue») - it was announced only on June 17, just three and a half months before the start of the regatta. It seems that the Chinese have adopted the Russian rule about «slow buckling» - well, let's see in June how they will manage to go «quickly» (at least in one single sport).

Of course, we couldn't talk about building a new boat - the syndicate bought a rather successful old Telefonica Blue yacht (ranked third in the last race) and «finished» it off with the third version of the class rules. In the regatta the boat was led by the most experienced Mike Sanderson (By the way, it's under his leadership that the mega-yacht Mari-Cha IV has set its famous records - the crossing of the Atlantic and the daily crossing). Interestingly, one of the watchmen aboard Sanya is Chris Mayne, well known to us as a TR 52 racing driver aboard a Russian yacht. Synergy (on Synergy, Chris was the grotto trimmer). There's a navigator on the team Axel Magdalwhich became widely known for its unusual tactical decision at the Pacific stage during the previous VOR race, making Ericsson 3 the winner of the longest ever stage from China to Brazil. Connoisseurs still remember the manoeuvre when the boat suddenly turned and walked at a right angle to the main course, letting almost the entire fleet ahead. When it turned out that aboard Ericsson 3 did not smoke Chinese grass, and carefully counted the weather patterns, it was too late: picked up by a cyclone boat traveled through the entire fleet and the first went to Cape Horn, without giving the rivals any chance.

Some difference between the Team Sanya project and its competitors from the technical point of view is in the abandonment of North Sails, which have already become a kind of standard, using Doyle Sails instead. (Looking ahead, we must say that the Chinese team's hopes for high quality yachts failed at the very beginning of the regatta: soon after the start of the first stage, a long crack in the bow was formed below the KVL. The extent of the damage was such (the crack was more than 3 m long) that the boat had to not only withdraw from the repair course, but also refuse to participate in the first stage.

After the repair it was airlifted to Cape Town (the starting point of the second stage). However, the second stage was not successful for the yacht either...

Technical and lyrical digression No. 1

As I have repeatedly written in my notes on Facebook, carbon fiber is a very difficult material - having a high initial specific strength (that is referred to the weight of the material), carbon has great problems with the strength of fatigue, falling as the parts under alternating loads.

The designers of the Soviet «defense» - not the most, I will notice, stupid people in the world - were extremely careful in their use of coal, trying to limit its use to only «disposable products» devoid of fatigue loads. For example, rocket bodies that «carry heat and light to the territory of a likely enemy». We can recall that the prototype of the MiG-29 fighter had a lot of carbon parts, but the results of the tests almost all of them were replaced by aluminum, with which the machine and went into series. There is one more circumstance - the current rules of class VO 70 limit the temperature when baking body parts at 90 ° C, which excludes the use of particularly strong resins with a curing temperature of about 150 ° C. In addition - and this is quite an important point! - carbon «can hide its defects» well: even a thorough flaw detection yesterday does not guarantee that a carbon plastic part will not break today. And the case of Sanya Lan confirms it well.

Hot New Zealand guys
The list of the remaining five teams should definitely start with a crew with a long name... CAMPER WITH EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND. It's still the same familiar sailing team ETNZ. Having won everything in the TP 52 class, the New Zealanders thought about what to do next. Since the America's Cup was clearly «a hook-and-go» at the time, the tough guys chose the Volvo Race - there was no more serious competition at the time.

The boat was designed by a man familiar to the team - the Spaniard Marcello Botín, creator of the ETNZ victory machine in the TP 52 races. There are no questions here - the team knows the designer, the designer knows the team. If we take into account the huge victorious experience of New Zealanders (both as a crew in general and individual - say, at the Olympics), as well as the high result (second place) shown by M. Botin's yacht construction in the last VOR race, it becomes clear that this combination was an unconditional favorite, whose future leadership was not contested by anyone. Especially since the yacht was built at «the New Zealand shipyard, which is home» to the New Zealanders. Cookson Boatswith the highest reputation.

However, the design of the Camper has caused lively debate among amateurs and professionals. The boat was conceived very unconventionally: its keel is placed in front of the mast, and both centreboards - on the contrary, behind the keel and mast.

I don't think you can remember another such configuration! What does such a design give? The author himself evades a detailed explanation of the reasons, but we can assume that the arrangement of nodes in this case turns out to be more dense, they are assembled into a compact «pile», and the CBC is shifted back. What does it do?

First of all, the fact that the yacht will be less cited on the sharp courses.
Secondly, the fact that the longitudinal moment of inertia of the new yacht will be less - roughly speaking, the boat will have a smaller keel (from bow to stern) rocking.

Indirectly it is testified by the words of M. Botin himself: «Our boat will be a little bit faster than others on the sharp courses and in conditions of excitement, and in other conditions will be not worse than others».

Of course, every sandpiper praises his swamp, but Marcello Botin is somehow overconfident about the high performance of his boat. Let's see - chickens in Volvo Race are considered not in autumn, but in summer.

An interesting feature of the yacht is that a whole series of variants of its coloring have been prepared for her, which will be changed periodically. According to the designer, this is done in «order to bring at least some animation to life on board».

Let's go, France!
Second in some conditional rank of potential leaders, I would risk putting the French team Groupama under the control Frank Camma (although many would disagree with me, I know).

This brand for sail lovers for the past few years has been associated with the «Big Green», a huge trimaran. Groupama III. On it, Frank and his brave team set a record for the record in a wide variety of ocean distances up to the circumnavigation of the world. The last one, however, was only achieved on the third attempt. However, it can not be said that the team Kamma, unlike the New Zealanders, abounds in cool specialists in coastal (and in general on the face) racing, but its highest experience of record ocean crossings with extremely high speed, no one would dispute.

And if we take into account the fact that she is extremely accustomed to the distance competition (when you race without seeing an opponent nearby), it becomes obvious that this crew is an extremely strong competitor on the ocean courses.

However, there is one serious problem: sharpening at record speed is not the same as the ability to conduct tactical combat.

And since it has to be conducted both at a distance and in port races (which now - at least give up), this dangerous opponent has a very weak spot.

The boat for Groupama was designed by a famous Argentinean designer. Juan Kouyoumdjian (by virtue of his shrouded name I prefer to call him «Mr. K.«), who has long since succeeded Bruce Farr as «chief designer of racing yachts on Earth».

The success of his yachts at the last two VOR regattas (they both won) has generated the highest demand for the work of an extraordinary Argentine (he designed half of the boats of the current regatta), and B. Farr, who once gave him a turn from the gates of his design bureau, remains for a year to bite his elbows. The yacht was built by the famous company Multiplast, which created almost all the famous French record multihulls. So the builders had no experience, and the question of prestige was at stake - to produce for their national team the first boat in France class VO 70 at a decent level!

Well, and since no French team has participated in the round-the-world with full crews for almost 20 years (and even that participation in 1993 ended in disgrace with the landing of some riders in prison - walked too hard in one of the ports), the task looked doubly important - worthy and loud to return to the regatta! French National Pride and all that...

That's why no money was spared, the more so that the President of Groupama is an avid yachtsman himself. Specially for this project Multiplast has seriously re-equipped the shipyard, bringing its technological level to the standards of aerospace industry. The floor and walls of the assembly halls were painted with a special paint to retain the dust, new stoves for «baking» carbon-fibre «cakes»were purchased. The accuracy of the matrix setting was controlled by laser levels and rangefinders - few shipyards today can boast such equipment.

As is already typical of «Mr. K.»no special details about the boat construction are given, we can only note that the cheekbone introduced about 10 years ago by the Argentinean cheekbone now starts almost from the stem itself.

I would venture to assume that this is not so much a hydrodynamic but rather a strength effect: the cheekbone plays the role of the rib, increasing the resistance of the bow to longitudinal twisting under the influence of the boom. This is very important both for high speed on sharp courses (which is more than enough now) and for the reliability of the yacht (during the last race, at least one of the major breakdowns was caused by the insufficient longitudinal rigidity of the hull on a sharp course).

According to some reports, the Groupama team has a record budget, seriously exceeding the costs of other competitors.

Given the very reverent attitude of the French towards their national dignity and sailing success, I willingly believe it. A yachtsman at the head of a sponsoring company can take a quarter of an annual turnover. «Because there was already a pre-pre-price»dent, - as the well-known Modest Matveyevich put it.


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