Visit Pensacola


Published on September 16th, 2012

Though the start of the next Volvo Ocean Race is over two years off, there is an urgency to finalize decisions for the new VO65 one design boat to be raced in the 2014-15 and 2017-18 editions of the race. To insure the deck layout evolves from what has been learned in the past, race organizers are involving the people that have been in the trenches.

Among the group are Chris Nicholson and Neil Cox, skipper and shore manager of the CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who are applying their experience of preparing boats for the past two races. They worked on PUMA’s campaign for the 2008-09 edition and as skipper and shore crew manager did the same for the CAMPER project in 2011-12.

Both have been part of working groups around the new boat project since even before the announcement of the new one-design. Now consulting for the project, they confess that the exercise is rather different from their previous experiences.

“It’s not an easy one because in the past, we had only 10 other people in the crew and one sponsor,” Nicholson says. “Here, we’ve got to consider several teams, including a women’s boat, who will have their different views. It won’t suit everybody perfectly but as an overall package, I think it will deliver nicely.”

They recently visited the Multiplast boatyard at Vannes, France, where a group of sailors, shore crew, designers and engineers met to assess a plywood mock-up of the deck.

Also in the group were sailor Phil Harmer and shore manager Ben Wright of Groupama, Sanya’s Richard Mason and female navigator Sam Davies. Also taking part were project manager James Dadd, Pat Shaughnessy for Farr Yacht Design and Jean-Baptiste Mouton for Multiplast.

Rick Deppe, attending the workshop for the Volvo Ocean Race. describes the process: “With Neil in charge of the master list, Chris takes control of getting everyone in position to make manoeuvres.”

“They think of everything. The day started with them getting the boat off the dock. Can the helmsman see the guy on the bow, etc, etc? Next they hoisted the main and at every stage of the manoeuvre anyone can stop the process and throw out ideas. It may seem strange, but doing it this way can lead to tiny but important changes of position.”

After a week-long deck mock-up workshop in Multiplast, one of the four boatyards of the consortium responsible for the construction of the new boat, they are advocates for the one-design project.

Nicholson: “One design will be great racing. The hull shape itself is safer, which makes the deck safer. Above that, the bigger jump is that sponsors know than they can get a fast boat on the water. That was the sponsors’ bigger concern in the past. Now that problem is taken away. That alone will be a success.”


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