Sydney-Hobart line-up strengthens
Like the Danish-owned Nokia, which slashed 18 hours off the record for the 630 nautical mile course in a surfing dash to Hobart, the other V.O. 60s - from Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA - are water-ballasted yachts. But the 60-footers will have their work cut out winning line honours this year as three water-ballasted 80-footers are also expected - Shockwave, Wild Thing and Nicorette.
But whether or not the 60s win this year, it will still serve as useful practice for the Volvo Ocean Race itself, as for the first time the 2001 Sydney to Hobart will be a leg of the actual race. Once the fleet arrives in Hobart, they will have a three-hour ‘pit stop’ before they continue across the Tasman Sea to Auckland.
Farr Yacht Design still appears to be the most popular choice for V.O. 60 design, with five syndicates having selected their services. Illbruck Round the World Challenge (now illbruck Challenge - as of their America's Cup announcement) have been Farr clients for over three years and have now been joined by News Corp and Team SEB. Two syndicates have so far chosen to keep their identities to themselves.
Farr believe they have made significant advances since the last Whitbread race, commenting, "Farr Yacht Design started an extensive research program over a year ago to enhance the next generation of V.O. 60 yacht forms. The programme has been a significant success and has produced large advances in performance despite restrictive class and rule changes that have added interior weight to the yachts.
"The excitement mounts for the team as we see the research being put to use when the clients begin deciding the form of the racers they want to take around the world. FYD has invested extensively in developing new V.O 60 designs using state-of-the-art computational tools, both in research and design."