Volvo Ocean Race: Seeking to improve crew safety and protection

Published on October 10th, 2013

With the new VO65 to be used in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race now launched, and photos and video showing that it has all the life (and possibly more) of the VO70 that was used in the past three editions, is the crew safe enough when these extreme machines hit their top speeds?

Scuttlebutt reader Bradford Swett expressed his concern…
Looking at the Volvo Ocean Race boats, they look incredibly wet. The IMOCA 60 that is used in the singlehanded Vendee Globe race protects the sailor in the cockpit with an extended coachroof, etc. It seems reckless to sign up for the Volvo Ocean Race in a boat designed with so little regard to crew comfort.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, responds to Bradford’s concern…
The protection of the crew has never before been more in focus than it is on the new Volvo Ocean 65.

In the last Volvo Ocean Races, the boats had hardly any coach roof/cabintop at all, and some even had a flush deck (Telefonica). What we have done with the new Volvo Ocean 65 is to exactly pick up the good developments within other boats such as the IMOCA 60’s, and in fact we did put a large coachroof with an overhang on the new boat to give the crew far better protection than in the past.

The fact that the Volvo Ocean Race is crewed racing means that you cannot sit inside the boat and sail fully protected with an auto-pilot steering the boat as you must do in the singlehanded Vendee Globe. The soloist needs that protection – it is not humanly possible for them to sail their boats at 100%.

However, in the Volvo Ocean Race you are able to, and must, steer and trim the boat manually to achieve maximum performance the whole time, so we need a bit larger cockpit than an IMOCA 60.

Additionally, if you went out of an IMOCA 60 coach roof while reaching at 20 knots in waves, you would also get the same amount of water poured over you. The difference is now, in both cases, the coach roof removes a big part of the pressure from breaking waves which was previously hitting your body full on.

The double entrances now on the Volvo Ocean 65, along with added helm protection and other features, are all there to exactly improve crew safety and protection.

Here is a video of the IMOCA 60

Here is a video of the newly launched Volvo Ocean 65




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