The Volvo Ocean Race recently announced some design changes for the 2019-20 event, and I for one am very pleased. It’s true I have been ranting on Sail feed (sailfeed.com) against the unimaginative slab-sided boats currently in use (and set to do another lap as part of the 2017-18 race, beginning in October). However, I don’t think it was because of my rants that the changes have been made. I think it’s because Volvo hired Mark Turner as CEO, and Mark is an innovator. He has long been involved with the IMOCA Class, where the true innovation in offshore ocean mono hull racing has been taking place, including once serving as the group’s chairman. You only have to put one of the new generation IMOCA 60’s alongside a VOR 65 to see what I am talking about.
The good news in the latest announcement is that the future boats for the VOR are going to be more like the IMOCA 60’s—on steroids, no less. To accomplish this feat, the VOR has tapped French designer Guillaume Verdier and his team, a group with vast expertise not only in IMOCA design but also in creating some of the world’s most exciting multi hulls, to create a new 60 ft one-design to replace the Volvo Ocean 65. The boats will be smaller but more powerful and include a set of lifting foils, something that is missing from the current generation of 65-footers, making them look, quite frankly, a little frumpy compared to the other grand prix boats now flying around the