New rule announced for Volvo Ocean Race 2008-9 boats

The official race rule for the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 was released yesterday. After the stresses and strains experienced by the first generation fleet of Volvo Open 70s – one of which sank after structural keel failure – the emphasis is on durability.

Led by chief measurer James Dadd, the race organizers and Rule Management Group have concentrated on the issues which contributed to structural problems in the 2005-06 edition of the race – particularly in the area of canting keels. The intention has been to stay true to the stated philosophy of producing ‘fast, single mast, monohull keelboats of similar performance, suitable for long distance racing offshore at the highest level of the sport’.

A summary of the key changes are as follows:
– Maximum weight for keel, fin and bulb of 7.4 tonnes (To ensure weight saved in the structure could not be added to the keel to improve performance)

– A reduction in the overall weight range of the boat to 13.86-14.00 tonnes (previously 12.5-14 tonnes) (To ensure there is enough structure put into the boat to improve durability)

– A ban on bomb doors (To prevent water ingress)

– All spinnakers may be furled and one additional masthead spinnaker to be added to the inventory (To make handling easier and safer for the crews and improve light air performance)

– Set appendage configuration – two dagger boards and one or two rudders (Reduce research and development costs and retain the
characteristics of ocean racing boats)

– No spinnaker poles (To cut down on the research costs for different
sail configurations)

– Ban on titanium in keel rams (To reduce cost and increase

Meanwhile, the new route continues to take shape with the Volvo Ocean Race commercial team travelling to talks with port representatives in Asia and the Middle East. The next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will start in the autumn of 2008 in Alicante, Spain.

Source: Scuttlebutt