Volvo Ocean Race: One design boats, One design sails

Published on May 20th, 2013

North Sails will provide the sails for the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 class, which will be the boat used for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. Built by North Sails at their Nevada factory and finalised in Vannes, France, the Volvo Ocean 65 sails will utilize North’s 3Di technology – a 3D moulding technique giving the sails a flying shape.

In 2014-15, each one-design Volvo Ocean 65 will race around the world with just 12 sails, a major reduction in the inventory from previous races and another significant cost saving introduced as part of the project. Just eight race sails are allowed on board, with no (non-repair) recuts and only four replacement sails. With the exception of the A3 and the storm jib, all sails will be built to varying deniers using North Sails’ 3Di process, using pre-impregnated tapes made of black Twaron Aramid and clear Dyneema SK75 fibres. No carbon is allowed in the sail material as it blocks the signals to and from the satellites essential for communication and data transfer.

Production and delivery will be carefully controlled and a Pre-Race set of sails will be built and made available as the boats come off the production line every seven weeks. Race sails will also be built in batches so that the same mould is used for the production of eight sails of one type. Each sail type will then be finished in the same loft by the same team in one go to ensure an identical shape and production quality.

“It is really hard for us to bench-test something then scale it up to going around the world,” said Jeff Neri, General Manager at North Sails. “We can spend time trying to model what the sails will go through but there is no modeling when it comes to the Volvo Ocean Race. Our main objective is to make a really durable sail that holds its shape and stays together for as long as the race needs it to stay together. Secondly is making sure that all the sails are exactly the same – we have to make sure that the sails weigh the same, perform the same and last the same.”

“We are very pleased with our agreement with North Sails and we are confident we have a good solution for our One Design sail package,” said Jack Lloyd, Race Director. “We realised early that it would be too complex to keep the One Design sail project as part of the One Design boat project. So we removed it and dealt with it as a separate product. With North Sails, I believe we have a true One Design sail solution.”

Sail Inventory:
Mainsail: fully-battened, three reefs
J1: good for 8-15 knots upwind, has hanks and battens
J2: good for 13-25 knots, on a furler with vertical leech battens
J3: good for 22-35 knots, also on a furler with vertical leech battens
Fractional Code 0 spinnaker (affectionately dubbed the ‘fro’): used in a broad range of angles, sheets to the outrigger
Masthead Code 0: used in 0-6 knots upwind, or downwind in more breeze
Masthead A3 gennaker: the only dedicated downwind sail, typically used at true wind angles of 120° and aboveJ4: good for 35 knots+ as a storm jib, and also as a staysail

An additional four sails to choose from the above can be use during the race.
A J4 will also be on board: good for 35 knots+ as a storm jib, and also as a staysail.

An outrigger will extend 1.5m outside the hull either midships for the jibs or aft near the stern for the MH0, FR0 and A3.

Volvo Ocean 65 notes:
* The one-design Volvo Ocean 65 is designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States and built by a consortium of boatyards in Europe: Persico (Italy), Multiplast (France), Decision (Switzerland) and Green Marine (England). Click here for full details.

* Teams competing in the race will buy the boat from Green Marine, on a first-come first-served model.

* The boats produced will compete in the following two editions of the race.

* The boats will be delivered with everything included and “ready to sail”, on a strict One Design rule.

* The boats will be delivered with the latest technology on board.

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