[Source: Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority] US-based Farr Yacht Design (FYD), one of the world’s foremost racing-yacht design teams, has been appointed to develop Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Open 70 for the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race, representing a major boost to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA)-backed outfit’s title ambitions.
With more than 25 years experience, FYD-designed racing yachts have won more than 40 World Championships and have achieved a multitude of successes at international grand prix events including the Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup, Vendee Globe, Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Barcelona World Race, Transat Jacques Vabre, Copa del Rey and many others.
FYD is undertaking a five-stage research & design process with the final geometry to be completed for a late September build start.
“Farr Yacht Design was selected because of its ability to tailor to our specific requirements and its strong commitment to research and design which has been ongoing since the conclusion of the 2008/2009 Volvo Ocean race,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA. “We anticipate being able to announce the appointment of the yacht-builder early September after finalising selection of six tender qualifiers from throughout the Middle East, Europe and the Far East.”
FYD’s appointment comes hard-on-the-heels of ADTA’s announcement that two-time Olympic medallist, Ian Walker of Great Britain, will skipper Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Walker will also play a key role during the research and design of ADTA’s Volvo Open 70 racing yacht, drawing on years of practical experience to give the team a competitive edge in the nine-months of intense, head-to-head sailing over the 39,000 nautical mile course.
The FYD team – led by the company’s President, Patrick Shaughnessy – brings significant expertise to the table, having worked extensively with the Telefonica team in the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race – an experience it believes is critical to making Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing a competitive force.
“In preparation for and during the 2008/2009 Volvo Ocean race, every member of the FYD team spent considerable time sailing Volvo Open 70s. The experience we gained has allowed us to view the design challenges a little bit differently. That real world experience adds to an always evolving set of tools that we bring to bear on any R&D project,” said Shaughnessy.
“The 2011/2012 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be a great sporting challenge and we feel that a well managed process can deliver competitive advantages. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team has made good decisions in its key resource appointments, starting with Ian Walker as skipper. We believe the team will have a well designed yacht, a well built yacht, and a well sailed yacht.”
One of FYD’s key challenges is to adapt to the 2011/12 campaign rule changes, namely sail number restrictions – something the company is confident of achieving.
“The largest change comes from the restriction on the number of sails a team can use. These restrictions place a large priority on sail inventory planning, and ultimately sail reliability. The choices we make during the design process regarding sail inventory have large consequences for the way the yacht will be used throughout the race,” added Shaughnessy, who has a 14 year competitive sailing pedigree and 21 years design experience with FYD.
ADTA has also contracted Jason Carrington of Great Britain as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Technical Manager.
Carrington – who has helped build five Volvo Ocean Race yachts, has project managed three campaigns and competed in more than 30 top-tier events globally – is a major addition to the team’s on-shore and competitive race credentials, bringing with him a unique insight into all aspects of the demanding campaign.
ADTA and Walker are also currently in the final stages of appointing the team’s other crew members, and are committed to including a UAE national in the Sporting Team and another two on the Shore Team. An open selection process will begin this month in the emirate.
Plans are also being progressed with Abu Dhabi stakeholders for the UAE capital’s New Year 2012 hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race, when it sails into the sport’s record books as the first Middle East stopover in the event’s 37-year history.