Volvo Ocean Race: The Monohull-Multihull Question

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by brian eiland, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Volvo Ocean Race: The Monohull-Multihull Question

    (April 6, 2017) – While final preparations and team announcements continue for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, the event’s leadership team are working in parallel to map out the race’s future.

    The edition after this one, the 14th, 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 organisers announced today.

    Verdier has joined the Volvo Ocean Race Design Team and is currently working with the race on the crucial issue of whether the new boat will be a monohull or multihull. The final decision on the proposed designs will be announced on May 18 at an event in Gothenburg, the home of the race’s owners and title sponsors Volvo.

    Verdier is the ‘quiet’ achiever who has been involved in most of the leading designs right across the sport in recent years – from giant multihulls like Gitana’s Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, to be launched in July, through Team New Zealand’s current America’s Cup flying multihulls to maxi-monohulls like Comanche, and the leading Vendée Globe IMOCA 60 foiling projects such as Hugo Boss and Banque Populaire VIII.

    The monohull-multihull question is just one of a series of key decisions that will be finalised prior to the announcement. Together, the decisions 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,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner. “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.”

    A Consortium approach was used for the initial build of the Volvo Ocean 65s, but Nick Bice, the race’s Chief Technical Development Officer, said the preference this time was to contract with a single builder. “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 upcoming edition, starting on October 22 2017 in Alicante, will use the same Volvo Ocean 65 boats that have since undergone a one million euro per boat refit process in the race’s Boatyard facility in Lisbon. These 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 brand new but still identical Volvo Ocean 65, commissioned by team AkzoNobel, for the 2017-18 race.

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

    The race opted to go with Verdier after inviting input from half a dozen industry-leading yacht designers, including Farr Yacht Design, the team that kick-started the One Design era in the race by delivering the successful Volvo Ocean 65 project.

    Verdier’s goal will be to lead the Volvo Ocean Race Design Team to build a new fleet to the same exacting levels of matched One Design achieved with the current boats, but very much connected to the big evolutions in foiling technology the world of sailing is currently seeing.

    “We’re bringing together a wide-ranging depth of experience from events such as the America’s Cup, offshore multihulls and IMOCA Open 60 projects,” Verdier explained.

    “We are starting from a blank page, and whatever kind of boat we design, whether it’s monohull or multihull, we will learn a lot from this process of working together.”

    He continued: “I think sailors just want to have fun, and are attracted to a new way of sailing. In the Open 60, for example, we made something which was quite radical, but also very safe, and that’s key for the Volvo Ocean Race.”

    Marcello Persico said the company was delighted to be building the next generation of Volvo Ocean Race boats.

    “We’ve been working closely with the Volvo Ocean Race for the last eight years and we feel part of the family,” he said. “I believe that Persico Marine will deliver excellent support and service to the Volvo Ocean Race as it embarks on the next phase in its history.”

    Source: Scuttlebutt, Volvo Ocean Race
  2. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    I was thrilled to read this week that the Volvo Ocean Race is considering changing from monohulls to multihulls for the 2020/21 race. They will make an official announcement at a big press event in Gothenburg, Sweden on May 18. The announcement, which they bill as one of the most radical shake-up’s in the events history, will also include changes to the course.

    I have been a big advocate for multihulls for a very long time and while I can easily see both sides of the argument, I am fervently hoping that they choose multihulls; here’s why. The Volvo Ocean Race has long billed itself as the preeminent fully crewed offshore ocean race and they have to use the words “fully crewed” to distinguish themselves from the Vendée Globe which is, by most measures, the Top Ocean Race: period. There is more innovation, more excitement and more than three times the number of competitors in the Vendée. I appreciate and understand that the VOR has had to reel in costs by making the boats smaller and going for a One Design option, but I think that all has been at the expense of the event itself. Here is just one example. The longest 24-hour run in the last VOR was around 570 miles - I am not sure exactly but it doesn’t matter. In the recent Vendée Globe Alex Thomson, after 10 weeks alone at sea, sailed 536 miles - in a smaller boat. I’m sorry the VOR 65’s are just not that cool when compared to the IMOCA 60’s and the image of the event being the Biggest, Best and the Toughest ocean race is no longer true.

    A change to multihulls would be a game changer for the Volvo Ocean Race. You can sail a multihull with fewer people meaning teams can save on crew wages which these days can really add up. When I did my first Whitbread back in the early 80’s we got $1000 per leg and there were four legs. That was $4K for a years work. Salaries are not up there with most other professional sports but they are steadily climbing. So that’s one place to save some money. I am told that multihulls are cheaper to build than monohulls. For one you don't need all the complicated and expensive canting keel mechanism. I am presuming that the VOR will do as they have done in the past and front the bill for building the fleet and if you can save on each boat, you can end up saving a bundle. They are going with a new boat anyway so why not make the change?

    Multihulls are significantly faster than monohulls which means that they can get around the course in a whole lot less time, a big savings for each team. The real reason for going with multihulls is because they are sexy and fast and fun to watch. Any boat that is not dragging all that lead around is fun to sail and to watch. Changing to multihulls, and hopefully going for a boat that is at least 70-feet in length, would allow the VOR to regain their Biggest and Best Ocean Race status.

    In an interview with VOR Chairman Mark Turner on the race website he was very cagey about which way they were leaning, but I have known Mark for a number of years and if I were a betting man I bet he/they decide to shake things up and go the multihull route. Mark is a risk taker and an innovator. He was the founder of the highly successful Extreme Sailing Series and that event is raced in catamarans; foiling catamarans no less.

    One of the arguments against racing around the world with a multihull is because there is always the risk of capsizing. I think Tomas Coville, the french sailors who circumnavigated the world alone on a 100-foot trimaran, put that to rest. If one man sailing alone can avoid capsizing then I am sure a fully crewed boat can do the same.

    So that’s my ten cents worth. Frankly I don't think that they have any other option. If they go with a new design and it’s a monohull then they will have to go bigger than 65 feet. Anything smaller would be a joke, but going bigger would cost more. There are not many places to go in monohull design so they would end up with boats that look like the current design unless they open up the boats to full-on out-of-the-water foiling. Nope, the VOR press release said that the upcoming announcement would be about a “radical shake-up for the event.” Going with the same old, same old is no radical shake-up in my opinion.

    Brian Hancock - owner Great Circle Sails
  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    By Hancock's reasoning, the world Superbike and GP motorbike championships should be run using F1 cars from now on.

    According to Hancock's reasoning, the Moth and A Class cat world champs should now be sailed in kitefoilers.

    It's simplistic and silly reasoning.
  4. schakel
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    schakel environmental project Msc

    A VOR in MOD70's would be obtainable.
    On the other hand: why not do both;
    and a round the world race for Multi's and for kanting mono's?
    I think IMOCA class in the last Vendee globe was a big succes.

    What happened to the new MOD70 class?
    I saw on their site they do not have a race programm for 2017:
  5. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    I tend to agree with you, why not both?

    Of course the logistics of the segmented legs might present some problems due to the speed differences between the multis and the monos
  6. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    The fact that the MOD70 class has died out surely provides a good reason for the Volvo to NOT go to multis. The offshore multihull scene has arguably lost ground to the monos in recent decades. They haven't found the key to maintaining interest in their own events, so why should they take over monohull events?

    My last offshore racing season was in a shorthanded tri. Most of my last season was spent racing our new high performance cat. I'm NOT anti-multi, but surely the offshore racing multi community should have the insight to see that when it has been only a minority interest for decades (and arguably a shrinking one at that) then most people simply don't care for them. Even in France, where the multis have dominated high-profile racing for decades, the vast majority of people sail monos.

    I suppose it won't really affect 99% of offshore racers, because the VOR canters are already irrelevant to some degree. In some ways it provides an interesting example where even when the most high-profile race is sailed in a high-tech type, almost no one else bothers to get one. The same thing may well happen if the Volvo switches to multis.
  7. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Good points
  8. schakel
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    schakel environmental project Msc

    More news from the developing multi's for the 2020/21 VOR.

    (Copied from the VOR site):

    Guillaume Verdier weighs in on the monohull vs multihull debate – and the challenges of designing a boat for 'relentless' sailors
    April 12
    Text by Jonno Turner
    Verdier and his team of designers will be working alongside a Volvo Ocean Race Advisory Board, featuring race veterans and team directors.

    Hi Guillaume! Tell us a little bit about the team you’re putting together to lead the design of the next generation Volvo Ocean Race boat...

    The group will be made up of my usual French team, plus some Kiwis. There’s around 16 of us in total, and we’re very used to working together. The thing that’s pretty unique about the way we work is that we’re rarely on site together. We’re also quite interchangeable in the way we work – we’re a group of specialists, but all of us are more or less capable of doing the full thing.

    How important is it to get the input of Volvo Ocean Race sailors in the design process?

    It’s super important, and we’re introducing some Volvo Ocean Race veterans into the design team really early on for that reason. You get a unique perspective from the sailors, as they explain to you all of their tricks, how they survive on board, and how they look to exploit the boat to the max.

    That’s important – after all, if you design a single-handed boat, for example, the way that it’s sailed is completely different to a fully-crewed boat. You have to make a judgement of the machine you design based on the capacity of the sailor to exploit it.

    How do you balance the battle between speed and safety? And how much do you take a sailor’s daily life on board into the design process?

    It’s important, for sure, and it will probably affect the width of the boat a little bit. We’ll make changes for ergonomic reasons to ensure that the sailors are – well, not comfortable – but at least surviving on board. For instance, the cockpit might be a little bit more protected than in previous generations. That little bit more shelter allows the sailors to maximise the potential of the boat.

    We will make extra effort to keep the crews safe, as Volvo Ocean Race sailors have a reputation for pushing really, really hard. They’re relentless. In single-handed sailing, there’s a tendency for the sailors to be a bit more careful about their boats, but in a Volvo Ocean Race team, I think they push it harder than ever, which makes it more prone to breakages. We may have to consider downgrading the performance factor slightly in order to retain a certain level of security, which is a key aspect to bear in mind especially when you’re racing in the Southern Ocean.

    I’ve got to check safety a bit more due to that. I’ll try to turn that into benefit, probably by making the boat stiffer, and I’ll try to transform the safety aspects into some interesting features. It’s about trying to see a ‘problem’ from another point of view.

    The next generation of boat is part of a series of major announcements on 18 May which will take the Volvo Ocean Race into the next, exciting phase of its history. Do you feel a pressure or responsibility on your shoulders?

    I feel pressure in that there is always huge risk in designing new boats. It’s a big challenge to design a machine that is extraordinary to sail but safe at the same time. It’s always a fine line, and at the end of the day, we always have pressure when we send someone to sea, racing around the world.

    But it’s a feeling that I’m used to. In the last Vendée Globe, I had 12 boats and you want to see everyone come back, so yes, in that way, there is pressure, and you feel it.

    The sailing world is desperate to know whether we’re going to see a monohull or multihull design in the next race. What are you considering right now?

    For sure, there are benefits to both designs. In Europe we have a lot of experience with offshore multihulls, and they’ve been proven to be durable. But there’s always a risk of capsizing, and the boats are always on the edge of safety, structure and performance, and that’s a big decision to make. But I must say, from a technical and design point of view, a multihull would be extremely interesting. We have the technology, but it’s never really been done yet in the way that we might do it.

    Do you think that the Volvo Ocean Race has a monohull identity? In a recent fan poll, the popular vote was overwhelmingly for a monohull…

    I don’t think so. I think actually that it doesn’t make that much difference – one hull, two hulls or three hulls, it doesn’t change the identity of the race. The object of the race is that a group of people race around the planet, fighting hard all the way. There are ups and downs – there are extreme periods and slow periods with no wind, and that’s the same in either a monohull or multihull. Whether the boat is a monohull or multi doesn’t change the identity of the Volvo Ocean Race for me, I think it’s all about the people that race it.

    How about foils? Are you considering adding these to the next generation boat?

    It’s a challenge because you’d have to explore the possibility of a foil that is capable of lifting you off the water, and to be able to sail with it over a long distance and many days and nights. It would also require a boat which is much stronger and stiffer. We know it’s doable, we know we have the technology, but it’s never really been done yet. The key with foil assistance in the Volvo Ocean Race is that we know that the sailors in this race would never retract them, whatever happens. Where the single-handed guys might slow down, they won’t – the Volvo Ocean Racers will never retract the foils. They’re much more relentless.

    But it’s an illusion to think that an offshore boat can foil all the time. If we do make foil assistance, it would need to be able to be safe, and it’s important that the sailors can disengage the foil. You have to make a boat that’s good enough that even if you break the foil, or in case of an impact, lose the foil, you can always get back home safe. When you have the foil on, you have to show that the foil doesn’t harm you when going through bad weather. That’s no different on either monohull or multihull.

    Persico Marine has been announced as the lead boatbuilder on the next generation of boats – have you worked with them before?

    Yes, I’ve worked with Persico twice before. Once was with Team New Zealand, and Persico Marine built the sister boat of the AC72, so that’s when I first met them. The second time was a boat that did the Vendée Globe called ‘No Way Back’, which is the sister boat of the eventual winner, ‘Banque Populaire’. That boat is one of the most beautiful constructions I’ve seen. I really appreciate the work that Persico do, and they’ve built some beautiful machines, so I have no doubt about their capabilities.

    Everything you need to know about Guillaume Verdier's design team:

    Guillaume Verdier – Coordination; Naval Architecture; Structure calculation; Hull; Appendages
    Nick Holroyd – Coordination; Naval Architecture; Class rule; Appendages
    Bobby Kleinschmidt – Appendafes VPP; Drawing; Naval Architecture
    Herve Penfornis – Deck Design; Systems; Onsite; Interface yard - Design; CAD
    Romaric Neyhousser – Naval Architecture; 3D Modelling; Sail Plan; Mechanical Systems
    Loren Pool – Mechanical Design
    Morgane Schlumberger – CAD; Structure; Weight Study; Stability
    Veronique Soule – CFD; VPP; Analyst; Drawing
    Giovanni Belgrano – Structure Calculation; Coordination
    Andy Kensington – Structure Calculation; FEA; Material Testing
    Adam Greenwood – 3D Modelling; CAD
    Martin Bivot – Structure Calculation; FEA
    Minkyo Seo – 3D Modelling; CAD
    Len Imas – CFD Hull and Appendages + Sails
    Romain Garo – CFD Hull and Appendages
  9. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    It's funny to see someone who is arguably more of a multihull sailor saying that it doesn't make much difference whether a race is in a mono or a multi. When the cats were dropped from the Olympics, multihull sailors and multihull class associations were loud in proclaiming that multis were a separate discipline to monos and therefore needed their own representation.
  10. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    I am not sure that you are wrong, but i am forced to wonder how much of monohulls dominance is a result of major races refusing to allow multihull to even enter. S2H for instance just prohibits them, an Orma 70 is not considered seaworthy enough to do the race.

    The same is true of the Transpac, Transat, Newport to Bermuda... basically none of the major distance races even allow multihull to participate, though some have started holding multihull protests races alongside.

    So long as monohulls are banning multihulls from participating of course the number of sailors choosing monohulls will be higher. Open up the options to compete an I bet there is a huge shift in the market. Turning the VOR into a multihull race could be a major step in doing just that.
  11. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready


    Thanks Schakel-good find! I sure hope they go to a multihull-that Team is perfect to break the new ground required for a VOR multi raceboat.

  12. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    It is wrong to say that none of the major races allow multis; they do but not many multis race. Multis have been allowed in the Transpac for years and they comprise only 10% of the fleet. They have been allowed in the Fastnet for years and comprise about 3% of the fleet. They have been allowed in the UK's biggest race for decades and their numbers have dropped dramatically compared to earlier years. In both cases, many of the entrants are the French pro boats rather than local ones. About 50% of Australia's ocean racing clubs have allowed multis, but only a single fleet has been formed. In small boats cats are allowed to have class racing just like the monos, and they comprise about 3% of the boats turning up to national titles in the US, Australia and the UK. The (formerly) biggest beach cat race in Australia, for example, has gone from 300 boats to 17.

    There is huge discrimination on this issue. The discrimination comes from the people who won't let monohulls have their own race without complaint. Monos must be the only type of sporting equipment in the world that isn't allowed to have its own races without criticism. No one whines about motorbikes being able to race by themselves, without cars. No one whines about skis being allowed to compete against skis, and not against snowboards as well. No one is up in arms about cats being allowed to race in the Texel cat race without having to race against the kitesurfers.

    It's hard to actually see a reason why mono races "should" be opened to multis. I haven't seen a motorcycle club feel that it "should" bring cars into its races. I haven't seen a longboard surfing event decide that it "should" allow surfskis and shortboards to enter. The shorthanded race organisers are not told that they "should" allow fully-crewed boats in their races. Hobie doesn't hold events for Nacras or for Lasers or windsurfers. No one complains about these "exclusions", so why do they complain when mono races exclude multis? Surely monos have as much right to have their own events as all other types of sporting gear does.

    The facts are clear - many ocean races have allowed multis but none of them have large multi fleets. These facts appear to indicate that the multis will NOT have huge growth if they are allowed to do major races. Multis have been complaining about this issue for eons while all the other new forms of sailing (canoes, ocean racers, shorthanders, centreboarders, kites, windsurfers, etc) have just done the right thing and created their own events. I suspect the greatest increase in multi racing will come when the multi racers stop blaming the fact that they don't get special treatment and start working out how to make multi racing more attractive.

    Most of the racing I've done the past couple of seasons has been on cats. We're now sailing F18 and loving it. They just don't suit the vast majority of racers and multihull sailors should not criticise mono clubs for doing what every other sporting body - including multi clubs - does. The really big question is not why monos don't allow multis to race, but why multihull sailors, apparently alone of all people, have come to believe that it's wrong to have specialist events just for one type of gear.*

    * apart from the multi-only events, of course. Apparently they are fine but mono-only events aren't.
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