Volvo Ocean Race 2005

James Boyd looks at what could be done to improve the world's premier round the world grand prix
No one would doubt that the Volvo Ocean Race is the most competitive round the world race ever. Despite some degree of flexibility offered by the Volvo Ocean 60 design rule, the boats are well matched in their performance and for the first time this race has no 'slow' boats. This even matching is placing ever more emphasis on the quality of crew work and the boats are now so close that just one small error in tactics or boat handling, or any downtime caused by breakage, can have the direst of consequences on a boat's results. In short it is a great race... But is the Volvo Ocean Race in danger of becoming too elitist? What would happen if the present format continued for the next event in 2005-6? These are issues that the Volvo Ocean Race management have been looking into in great depth. They are currently conducting a major survey which will direct the future of their event and, if the rumours are correct, the next race will look significantly different. Perhaps one of the key differences between this race and the last - aside from Volvo's new ownership - is that campaign budgets have increased dramatically. Today the larger campaigns have budgets in excess of $20 million - twice what they were eight years ago. And it is certain that if the race maintains its present format it will not become any cheaper . This time round there are eight boats competing from seven syndicates. Many feel this is about the minimum number for the event to be considered a serious race. Although out on the water, the racing is about as good as it gets, in port eight 60 footers does not provide a great spectacle compared to other ocean racing events. If the cost of