For the first time in Volvo Ocean Race history, teams will race identical one-design yachts. Conceived by the race organizers with a goal of reducing the cost of mounting a campaign to help teams with smaller budgets be competitive, the Volvo Ocean 65 is a 20-meter yacht designed by Farr Yacht Design in Annapolis, MD to strike a balance between speed, safety and affordability.
Every boat in the race is built to identical specifications by a consortium of boatyards. Each has exactly the same rigging and equipment, and no modifications of any kind are permitted. All sails are built by North Sails, and each boat must race around the world with just 12 sails including four replacements – a major inventory reduction from previous Volvo Ocean Races – with only eight sails allowed on board at any time.
This newfound parity means any team can theoretically win the race, and the sailors have embraced the new boats. “If it hadn’t been for the new one-design rule, then I probably wouldn’t have done the Volvo Ocean Race again,” said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker. “It’s definitely going to be the tightest race in history…it has to be!”