See images of the Groupama 4 Volvo Open 70 under construction

The deadline has passed and from now on, teams entered in the race which have been using existing Volvo Open 70s as their training boats may now only sail their 2011-12 race boats, currently under construction and very close to completion.

This frees up the second generation training boats for other potential syndicates wishing to enter the race.

Jack Lloyd, Race Director, says the introduction of this new rule, which effectively forbids two-boat testing, is part of the ongoing cost cutting measures introduced by the race organisation. “The measures were implemented following the 2008-09 event and cover from the way in which the boat and the sails are produced through to training with the new boats.

“The costs involved in two-boat testing are very high, as a second boat needs to be maintained in full race condition and requires a full crew to sail and maintain the boat.

“This measure will not rush the boat builds, as the teams have known about the rule since late 2009 and they have planned their build schedule around the availability of funds and the design process. They all know how much time each process takes and that trying to cut corners may affect the quality of the final product.”

To comply with the rule, the teams have taken a break from sea trials on their training boats and are now fully focused on the completion of their new Volvo Open 70s, which will be launched this spring. With less than 32 weeks until the first in-port race in Alicante, launching the boats and resuming training is a priority and a major milestone on every team’s agenda.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has just returned from Persico’s state-of-the-art facility in northern Italy where the boat is being built and they are pleased with progress. “We were impressed with Persico’s attention to detail and are confident that we will have a very impressive Volvo Open 70 for the Alicante start line,” says skipper Ian Walker. “I saw the keel fin being milled, the finishing of the keel bulb and the joining of the deck to hull. It is like a huge jigsaw coming together in a surprisingly orderly fashion. I can’t wait to see the progress when I return in a fortnight,” he adds.

In Newport, Rhode Island, PUMA Ocean Racing Team eagerly awaits il mostro’s successor. “The end of a new boat build is always the same story,” says skipper Ken Read. “The sailing team is chomping at the bit to get the boat out of the shed and take it for a ride, and the boat build team is trying to keep the boat in the shed to finish every little detail. At the end of the day the sailors have to learn patience and let the build experts do their thing.”

Groupama Sailing Team plans to launch Groupama 4 on 9 May and although her hull has been removed from the mould, there is still a great deal of work to do.

“We’re less than two months from the planned launch. The major structural changes are done, but there is still some grafting (carbon bonding) to finish. We then have to manufacture the fittings and install the systems: hydraulics, engine, deck hardware, galley and electronics,” explains Groupama’s head of construction, Pierre Tissier.

“Part of these installations will take place at the Multiplast yard in Vannes, France, then Groupama 4 will be transported by road to the team base in Lorient at the end of April for the finishing touches,” adds Tissier, who has been monitoring the build of the new monohull from the start.

See images of the Groupama 4 Volvo Open 70 build preparations for the 2011-2012 Volvo Open Race at Multiplast in Vannes, France, by clicking on thumbnails at top of page.

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