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Volvo 70 Demolition Derby
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solosailor
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Jan 28, 2009, 10:59 AM

Post #1 of 8 (14360 views)
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The Volvo Ocean Race committee is putting the bravest face possible on the carnage that has occured to a larrge part of the fleet. The conditions that were met by the fleet were no worse than the conditions that many yachts have encountered and sailed through safely if not uncomfortably.
From the start of the race these yachts have had major structual failures on every leg.
The race is now more of a demolition derby.
It will be interesting to see how many make it to Rio without stops to rebuild.
Hopefully the sponsor will order the organizers to get serious about design and construction perameters for the next iteration of Volvo 70's.
The designers and engineers who signed off onthe current yachts should issue refund cheques for failure to provide a yacht that could safely complete even a portion of this demolition derby.

John N. Dennis


The Publisher
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Jan 29, 2009, 11:26 AM

Post #2 of 8 (14340 views)
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From Dee Smith, Professional Sailor
It is sad to hear the Volvo bashing. This is a great adventure race and boats do break. People that have not done the race should not criticize it. Personally I wish I was there, it is the best sailing I have ever done. I had the pleasure of sailing a three-day tune up on Telefonica Blue in August. Yes, the boat was built light but it was engineered to complete all the legs. Anyone can send these boats over the waves too hard. The good guys that are not breaking know when to slow down.

Following this race, engineers will really know what it takes to engineer a carbon boat to sail upwind at these speeds and come out the other end. Over the last eight years I have seen a lot of boats break frames in the bow with a lot less pressure. This is going to be good for everyone.

My hat is off for Bouwe and his boys. They knew what was ahead of them before they built the boat and they had the confidence to send it out in the worst of the conditions and keep racing. Also, Torben, staying in the lee of the Philippines and holding back was a very good tactical call. They were ahead in the overall series and if only one boat beat them, they would still be ahead and have their boat ready for the next race. Maybe the greatest achievement goes to Ken and Puma, breaking their boom, fixing and then racing into second place. These three boats are filled with sailing heroes.

Yes it is sad the others broke. Was it fate or were they not put together as well as the others? Or, did they simply push the boats too hard? It might be a combination of all. The leaders had the most time to design and build their boats; I would say that is the biggest reason.

As for the future courses, it would be so easy to get to Asia downwind. That would be to reverse the course and go west. The only areas that would be upwind are getting around Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope. Then the boats could be sailing in the tropics through the Pacific and go around Australia the right way. This is the simple way to sail downwind and get to the places the sponsors want.



billreilly
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Feb 4, 2009, 1:00 AM

Post #3 of 8 (14095 views)
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Back in the 'good old days', the Whitbread (now Volvo) race was an elapsed-time race. The total of all the legs was your finishing time, meaning that you had to complete each leg, or you got a DNF for the race. One of the things that I don't like about the new Volvo points system is that you don't have to finish every leg. It's not a 'round the world' race anymore, it's now just a regatta circuit of shorter races that happen to take the boats around the world. This is the main difference between the Volvo and a proper 'round the world' race.

I think that Volvo should consider going back to the original system, and maybe then the designers and skippers would have different priorities when building their boats.

---
Bill Reilly
bill@passageweather.com
www.passageweather.com





The Publisher
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Feb 18, 2009, 6:12 PM

Post #4 of 8 (14002 views)
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From Jeff Duvall: (Scuttlebutt 2774) With respect to those who think that there should be an end to the around the world races because some boats suffer failure's. I ask why?

Only be pushing the envelope and perhaps risking lives would we ever have such remarkable achievements that we have had over the years? If you ask any of the sailor's out there who accept the risk and challenges why they do it, I am sure that not one of them has any regrets about putting themselves in harm’s way.

Only by pushing ourselves as individuals do we truly achieve greatness from within. I for one applaud all those who go forth and live life as opposed to those who sit on their bums waiting for life to come to them. How boring that must be.

It is those men and women who have inspired me to face a challenge's head on and truly experience life to the fullest. So the better question is not why "they" are doing it? But more importantly why aren't you?

From Charlie Clifton: Jeff Duval's call to be "pushing the envelope and perhaps risking lives" is fine as long as the only life being risked is his. If he wants to jump over 47 busses on a motorcycle, the EMTs who come to scrape up his remains encounter little risk. But when he calls for rescue 1,000 miles from shore in 40 knot breeze with 20 foot seas because he was racing as fast as possible in a boat barely strong enough, he puts at risk the lives of people who may not share his spirit of adventure. That is the answer to his question, "I ask why."


The Publisher
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Feb 18, 2009, 6:13 PM

Post #5 of 8 (14001 views)
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From David Foscarini: (Scuttlebutt 2775) Speaking as an “armchair” navigator, I find the discussion of the new route of the VOR interesting. The route was known for over a year before the race started so should not have been a surprise. The route is the same for all the competitors. If I remember correct the comments back then were about the challenge of the “upwind” leg. Upwind sailing is a huge part of the average sailors experience, why should it not be part of a major ocean race.

Before we bash the course should we not bash the teams including designers for not being prepared for the rigors of the course? It seems there are still “new design” problems with the boats in general. I guess knowing when to “throttle back” or even duck and hide are skills that have to be practiced like any others.

From Daria Blackwell, USCG Lic. Captain: The comment David Foscarini made comparing the upwind leg of the VOR to an average sailor’s racing experience suggests that he has never done an ocean crossing. There is more than a slight difference between a couple of hours bashing upwind with full crew in a typical club racing boat and thousands of miles bashing upwind alone in an Open 70. Having crossed the North Atlantic double-handed this summer, dealing with gale after gale averaging 30-40 knots and seas of about 30 feet much of the way, I have tremendous respect for the VOR racers. We had warm bunks, hot food, could heave to when needed, and were sailing in relative comfort with the wind most of the time. When we had the wind on the nose, it was chaos. Like being inside a washing machine. Wet, totally bashed up and bruised, unable to cook, use the head, walk upright, or sleep, everything became an extreme chore. Luckily, those days were few for us. Those VOR guys have none of the comforts…they are extreme endurance experts…and they do not slow down for anything except maybe a leak in the boat. They have my admiration and my sympathy. Amen.





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Feb 18, 2009, 6:14 PM

Post #6 of 8 (14000 views)
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From Paul Zupan, Sausalito, CA: (Scuttlebutt 2776) In regards to the controversy over the damage that occurred in the last leg of the Volvo Regatta, it seems to me that the nay-sayers are missing the point. It seems they are assuming that the damage that occurred to several of the Volvo boats prove that that the design is inadequate for ocean racing. However, I think just the opposite occurred. I invite any number of “ocean proven” boats to participate in a test of their sea worthiness in an upwind beat in 50+ knots of breeze and huge swells (up to 15 meters?!).

It’s easy to underestimate the ferocity of that scenario, but I’m sure none of the people that experienced it will soon forget. I would bet that more than 50% of any such “ocean proven” designs would drop out with severe damage, not to mention loss of life. With four out of eight boats finishing the Qingdao leg, and only the loss of the end of Ken’s finger, I have nothing but praise for the boats and the crews that put themselves through that nightmare. I would say that the designers have more than done their job in terms of building a safe fast boat for what is an exciting event.



From Euan Ross, Jakarta: With regard to the comments made by Paul Zupan, Sausalito, CA: No, there is something wrong (or rather a whole range of factors) and the yacht industry needs to do something about it. The weather in the China Sea was not exceptional last month and the waters are hardly unknown; the Asian Grand Prix fleet and countless cruisers plough these waters all year. That’s not to say it isn’t tough – in my experience 45 kts on the nose in the China Sea can be more challenging even than a similar blow in the Southern Ocean due to the steep, breaking waveform.

But the boat makes a big difference and current trends towards flat bottoms, coupled with extensive use of monocoque panels in sandwich construction is counter intuitive, to say the least. You don't see many power boats designed like that. Back in 1990 on that passage with an S&S 36, the boat was safe and solid as a rock – albeit a submerged one; but a few years later when we lifted out our J/130 in Manila after a delivery from Brunei, you could see daylight between the hull and the keel. Such is progress in yacht design. God knows how Chaz, Jonno and the lads get the TP52 conversions back to Hong Kong in the winter these days.


From Charles Doane: Mr. Zupan, in defending the record of the Volvo boats during their windward thrash to China, suggests they in fact did well and invites so-called “ocean proven” boats to try beating upwind into 50+ knots and large seas without suffering severe damage. It seems to me the Australians do this on a regular basis in their Hobart race and generally fare much better than the Volvo crews did on their boats. The one time I did a Hobart race nearly 200 boats bashed their way into a 50-knot buster for several days, and only one, to my knowledge, suffered structural damage. Not to disparage either the Volvo boats or their crews, but there’s no denying these sleds are fragile!


maynardco
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Jun 29, 2009, 3:37 PM

Post #7 of 8 (12841 views)
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Anybody know of a summary of issues encountered by the VOR fleet associated with use of carbon fiber? Specifically failure of the material or construction?


jaimeeterry
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Dec 19, 2019, 12:54 AM

Post #8 of 8 (951 views)
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Back in the 'good old days', the Whitbread (now Volvo) race was an elapsed-time race. The total of all the legs was your finishing time, meaning that you had to complete each leg, or you got a DNF for the race.
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