Volvo Ocean Race 2014-5 preview

Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind
We look at the latest developments of with the fully crewed round the world race and the teams
Choosing the Volvo Ocean Race winner used to be such a simple task. Either it would be the red boat or you just picked the team that bought the previous race winner and you were quids in. Now that the Volvo Ocean Race has gone one design with the introduction of the new Farr-designed VO65s, the form guide has become a whole lot harder. Unquestionably the racing in this race will be closer than it has ever been before and will become ever more so as the race progresses. However while it is tempting to imagine the seven entries (one more than 2011-12) constantly within sight of each other as they race around the world, in practice the fleet will inevitably spread out, due to minor differences in boat speeds due to variations in trim, set-up and crew skill, plus differing choices of tactics and routes, while the biggest hold-ups will be due to breakage. Thanks to the one design, no longer is the fully crewed round the world race a design and boat speed fest. Instead the main variables are the resources of the team, the length of preparation time, the experience and quality of the crew, particularly their ability to investigate and refine the minutae of their boats (within the limits of the rule) to get the best out of the new one design. The one design has succeeded to some extent to achieve the organisers desire to reduce the cost of entering and being competitive in the Volvo Ocean Race. Specifically this time around the big budget teams have less of an advantage over smaller budget ones, but nonetheless they will still hold an advantage and since the Volvo Ocean Race is scored on accumulated points over the nine legs, rather than combined elapsed times, it makes no difference whether