With18,000 miles on the clock the VO70 movistar is due for a new keel, bulb and new mast laster this week

With 80 days to go to the start of the Round the World Race 2005-2006, and after sailing over 18,000 miles as part of its training programme, team movistar continues work on developing its Volvo Open 70.

“We have already shown that we have a fast monohull, setting the record for distance covered in 24 hours back in April,” remarked the team’s general manager, Pedro Campos, “but in a race as extreme as the Volvo Ocean Race that is not enough. That is why we are continuing to tune the boat. We know that the other teams will be strong too, and we also know that our boat still has room for improvement.”

Just back from the United Kingdom, where it took part in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Volvo Open 70 movistar was taken out of the water for a new overhaul and some improvements at its base in Sanxenxo. “In the last 2,000 miles, since we left Galicia on the 2 August, we have learned a lot about sailing the boat, especially in light winds,” commented bowman Pepe Ribes. “We have gathered a lot of information and the shore team is now working on the improvements that we want to make to the boat.”

But the main reason that the movistar is out of the water is not exactly because of the list of minor adjustments, as boat skipper, Bouwe Bekking points out: “We are changing the bulb on the keel and, also this week, we will step a new mast.” These two operations are part of the strict development programme for the boat, aimed at optimising the movistar’s performance.
“Luckily, we are sticking to the planned schedule, although the mast has been delayed a couple of days,” adds Bekking. We have already received the bulb, which has been made in Bilbao, but the mast is coming from New Zealand, and it will not be here until next Wednesday.”

The keel has been removed from the hull, it will be tested with ultra-sound to check its state after five months of tough training. “We want to be certain that everything is perfect,” insists Bekking the skipper. “The whole mechanism will be given an in-depth check, and also a new hydraulics cylinders installed for the canting keel.
The VO 70 movistar will be back in the water by the end of the month to add more miles and experience. “There are less than three months to go and we know that we have not reached the limit of development yet, concluded Campos.