A sneak peak of hull No.1 just hours after arriving in Southampton
Just a few hours after the packaging had been removed, work on VO65 hull number one was taking place as the workforce prepared the carbon hull for her fit out. I dropped by to take a look.
Until now the main focus of attention for the Volvo team in Green Marine’s Southampton facility has been the full sized mock up which has allowed organizers, builders, rule makers and equipment suppliers, as well as the teams themselves, to figure out how the new one design will slot together. Now those plans are starting to take shape as the first of the new hull and decks are prepared.
The hull was built at Persico in Italy and the first thing that struck me as I walked around the outside of the carbon shell is the standard of finish of the hull. You’d be lucky to see this level of fairness at any of the best gleaming exhibits at the world’s boat shows, impressive for a boat at this stage of build and that had literally come out of her bag just hours earlier. Under the class rules, filling and fairing the hull is banned and with this level of build that rule becomes irrelevant.
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Her dreadnought bow is the next feature to jump out, providing and aggressive, chin out type look that will clearly set these boats apart once they’re launched. The reverse angle of the bow profile offers little in the way of additional performance, at least that’s what I was told by the designers at the launch of the new class, yet when you see the profile in the flesh it becomes easier to see how such a shape is the product of extending the lines of the full forward sections. Trimming the lines back, as you might if you were trying to fit into a maximum overall length would clearly have resulted in a bluff rounded bow, just like Abu Dhabi’s in the last race. Even in hard nosed racing environments, sometimes looks count and here the VO65 is a step ahead.
Inside her new hull it is her basic construction that stands out. Open forepeaks, with minimum structure and few bulkheads is the norm among many contemporary grand prix racing machines as designers try to keep weight in the ends to a minimum. For the previous VO70s there were rules on the structure and panel weights that had to be incorporated and yet there were still problems within the fleet as bow section took a hammering when the going got tough.
On the VO65 the additional structure in this area is a significant step forwards and an indication of the step change that the organisers hope
to make with this latest generation of Volvo boat. Most noticeable are the deep longitudinals that run all the way to the bow instead of stopping short in the forepeak area as they did on the previous boats. There are more bulkheads to go in too, further beefing up the structure.
As they arrive at Green Marine for their fit out, each hull will sit on a precision jig, (as does hull number one), to ensure that the tight tolerances of the one design rule are met.
The first boat is due to be launched in June with the hull and deck coming together around 1 month before the launch. After that it is anticipated that subsequent boats will be launched every 7-8 weeks.