Further changes to the next edition of the race are decided in Galway

The Galway sessions of Volvo talks – ahead of the 2011 event – were attended by French multihull ace Franck Cammas, solo sailors Rolans Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nelias and noted French America’s Cup sailor Luc Gelluseau.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad opened his presentation by explaining again why and how the race must embrace changes so as to become more successful in the future. They included the crew make-up for the next race. In an effort to encourage female participation, the new rule will allow female teams to carry 12 sailors, including the media crew, two of whom may be men. This represents two extra crew members over an all male crew.

In terms of the Volvo Open 70 Class Rule, the maximum weight for the keel fin and bulb will be set at 7,400 kgs in the future. There will also be a minimum keel fin weight to be defined at a later date. The fin will be required to be solid, with no fairings permitted.

The weight of the yacht is to be increased so that it may fit into the range between 14,000 kilograms and 14,500 kilograms, compared to a range of 13,860 to 14,000 in the current edition of the race.

The combination of these two adjustments is an attempt to create a common righting moment for the whole fleet which will yield closer racing between the existing and future fleets of Volvo 70s and stop the expensive research and long slow builds that result in maximized bulb weights. Teams with less time and funding have been compromised with the stability of their boats and hence competitiveness.

Headfoils will be banned, headsails will either be set on furlers or with hanks. Stacking of the boats, the movement of sails and loose stores, spares and equipment inside the boat, will be limited to the centre section of the hull.

On the energy side the overall weight of each yacht’s batteries will be reduced by 100kgs. This reduction will allow design and build teams to put the same 100 kgs into the primary and secondary structure of the hull without increasing the weight of the boat. Currently very few of the fleet carry any solar panels so each Volvo 70 will also be required to carry a renewable energy source capable of generating 80 Watts of electrical power.

Further discussion centred around two-boat testing. The organisers are seeking to ensure that a team needn’t build two boats to be competitive in the next edition of the race. With that in mind, no two-boat testing will be permitted until after the ‘race’ boat has been launched, or after a yet to be defined date, which may be as late as the race start. There will be more information on this at a later date.