VOR rules refined to improve durability while safeguarding the Volvo Open 70's status 20/9/06

The official race rule for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, released today, shows subtle refinements from its predecessor with the main focus on improving durability while safeguarding the Volvo Open 70’s status as the world’s fastest ocean going monohull.

To that end, weight distribution, restrictions on appendages and the integrity of construction materials in keel mechanisms are the main elements of version 2 of the Volvo Open 70 rule – upgraded from the 2005-06 race.

The race organisers and Rule Management Group (RMG), led by chief measurer James Dadd, have concentrated on the issues which contributed to structural problems in the previous race – particularly in the area of canting keels.

The intention has been to stay true to the stated philosophy of producing ‘fast, single mast, monohull keelboats of similar performance, suitable for long distance racing offshore at the highest level of the sport’.

Summary of key changes

Maximum weight for keel, fin and bulb of 7.4 tonnes

(To ensure weight saved in the structure could not be added to the keel to improve performance)

A reduction in the overall weight range of the boat to 13.86-14.00 tonnes (previously 12.5-14 tonnes)

(To ensure there is enough structure put into the boat to improve durability)

A ban on bomb doors

(To prevent water ingress)

All spinnakers may be furled and one additional masthead spinnaker to be added to the inventory

(To make handling easier and safer for the crews and improve light air performance)

Set appendage configuration – two dagger boards and one or two rudders

(Reduce research and development costs and retain the characteristics of ocean racing boats)

No spinnaker poles

(To cut down on the research costs for different sail configurations)

Ban on titanium in keel rams

(To reduce cost and increase reliability)

Commenting on the Rule, Glenn Bourke, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: ‘Evolution rather than revolution was uppermost in our thoughts when we considered changes to the Volvo Open 70 Rule. At every turn we have endeavoured to provide encouragement for designers to distribute weight sensibly while limiting performance penalty. Introducing a maximum keel, fin and bulb weight achieves that.

‘The other changes we have made, like outlawing the use of titanium in keel rams, puts the emphasis on improving the reliability and durability of the boats. All the changes and refinements we have made are based on the feedback we have had from the approval authorities, insurers and the designers and crew members from the 2005-06 race – the first time that the Volvo Open 70 was campaigned.

‘We firmly believe that we have arrived at a sound formula without detracting from the exhilarating performance of the boats. What we don’t want is a situation where, having created the world’s fastest monohull ocean racer, we are asking the designers to apply the hand brake.’

Meanwhile, the new route continues to take shape with the Volvo Ocean Race commercial team travelling to talks with port representatives in Asia and the Middle East.

The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will start in the autumn of 2008 in Alicante, Spain.