Ocean Race organisers appreciate it’s a rig issue

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's yacht Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, returns to Alicante with a broken mast on leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race. Picture: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's yacht Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, returns to Alicante with a broken mast on leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race. Picture: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race

Ocean Brothers at Beaulieu’s landmark 40th boating event

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As the Volvo Ocean Race fleet today prepared to round the north-east corner of Brazil and plug into the trade winds, thoughts were turning to the next event – and avoiding the carnage that has plagued this race.

So far on the current leg to Miami, the fleet – minus Sanya which is on its way to Florida on the back of a ship – has escaped serious damage.

But organisers know serious questions over the apparent fragility of the six Volvo 70s in this edition of the race have to be addressed.

Meanwhile, the number of entries for the 2014 race has also to be increased.

The key to that is reducing the cost of entry, put at around 20-25m euros for a new boat campaign.

‘We have no choice, but to address that,’ said race chief Knut Frostad – a veteran of the event.

‘Some people are saying that now is the time to change the boat because of the problems.

‘But our initial plan is to look to drive down the costs.

‘Of course we would like to fix what we can fix to avoid the rig problem.

‘If there is an opportunity to make the boats stronger we would like to do that.’

Among the options under discussion are a 65-foot one-design yacht and heavy modification of the V070 rule to slash costs.

The length and route of the race, as well as the number of stopovers, are also up for change, Frostad confirmed.

‘We have changed a lot of things for this race and we have learned what is working and the areas we might not have been so efficient.

‘We could look at having some more pitstops in Europe to save time, for example.’

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, Warsash skipper Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi entry has been match racing with the New Zealand yacht Camper, passing just feet ahead earlier this week.

‘We crossed only five or six metres ahead of Camper’s bow just as darkness broke,’ reported media crew member Nick Dana.

‘The excitement of being so close was obvious – it’s not often in ocean racing you find yourself in this sort of proximity to a competitor hundreds of miles offshore.

‘Both on, watch crews managed to get a few verbal jabs in before we rolled them and they headed to the east for a large cloud line.’

Late yesterday, Camper had slipped 22 miles ahead of Abu Dhabi, who held third place in a neck-and-neck tussle with overall race leader Telefonica.

Puma was leading the leg, only eight miles in front of Camper.

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