French designer picked for Volvo Ocean Race yachts

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Guillaume Verdier of France will design the one-design yachts for the Volvo Ocean Race that follows the one set to start in October.

Guillaume Verdier of France will design the one-design yachts for the Volvo Ocean Race that follows the one set to start in October.

As final preparations and team announcements continue for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, the event’s leadership team is working in tandem to map out the race’s future.

The edition after this year’s event will be contested in brand new one-design racing yachts designed by France’s Guillaume Verdier and built under the direction of the Persico boatyard in Italy, race organizers said today.

Verdier joined the Volvo Ocean Race Design Team and is working with the race on deciding whether the new boat will be a monohull or a multihull.

The final decision about the proposed designs will be announced May 18 at an event in Gothenburg, Sweden, home of race owner and title sponsor Volvo.

Verdier has led designs ranging from giant multihulls such as Gitana’s Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, which will be launched in July, through Team New Zealand’s current America’s Cup flying multihulls to maxi-monohulls such as Comanche, and leading Vendée Globe IMOCA 60 foiling projects, such as Hugo Boss and Banque Populaire VIII.

The final design of the new racing yachts will be announced May 18 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The final design of the new racing yachts will be announced May 18 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The monohull-multihull question is just one of a series of key decisions that will be finalized in the coming weeks. Together the announcements will form the most radical shake-up of the Volvo Ocean Race since it began life in 1973 as the Whitbread Round the World Race.

“Conceived in 2011, the current fleet of boats was built to be competitive for two editions,” Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner said in a statement. “We need to move now on the future boats to keep all our options open on boat type and design. We’re excited to work with someone as talented as Guillaume Verdier, who will be a perfect complement to the wider Volvo Ocean Race Design team and the input we plan to have from a wider group of professional sailors and industry partners.”

On the decision to award Persico the lead role in the building of the boats, rather than the consortium approach used for the Volvo Ocean 65s, Nick Bice, the race’s chief technical development officer, said: “The consortium did some good work last time around to produce such matched boats, but we prefer to contract this time with a single builder, who in turn will undoubtedly subcontract a number of other builders around the world to achieve the build in time and to budget. Persico have been a strong partner over these past few years, and we are delighted to be working with them again.”

The decision to continue with a one-design concept follows the introduction of the Volvo Ocean 65 monohull for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, which produced the closest racing in the history of the event.

The coming edition, which will start on Oct. 22 in Alicante, Spain, will use the same Volvo Ocean 65 boats that have since undergone a 1 million euro-per-boat refit process in the race’s boatyard facility in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Those boats were designed to be fast enough and reliable enough to complete at least two laps of the planet at the highest level of professional racing in a fully competitive and equal state.

The fleet of seven existing boats from 2014-15 will be supplemented by a new but still identical Volvo Ocean 65, commissioned by team AkzoNobel, for the 2017-18 race.

With more than six months to go before the start, four teams have been announced. The remaining teams will be revealed in the coming months.

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