Juan Kouyoumdjian talks to VSail.info about the Volvo Ocean Race (Part I)

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Valencia Sailing

If there is ONE person to talk about the recently presented one-design VO65 it can only be Juan Kouyoumdjian, the Argentinean whose office designed the last two, and most probably the current, Volvo Ocean Race winners. We caught up with Kouyoumdjian and other members of his design office to assess the current and future status of the Volvo Ocean Race. It was a very interesting and eye-opening discussion that lasted more than one hour. As a result, in order not to make it too long, the interview is split into two installments [The second part will be published on Monday morning]:

VSail.info: As you understand, my first question can be no other but the VO65. Have you seen the new boat?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: No, I haven’t. I have just seen a rendering of it on a computer.

VSail.info: Let’s then take one thing at a time. First of all, are you in favor of having a one-design boat in the Volvo Ocean Race?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: No, I’m not in favor of a one-design boat. We sincerely love the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s been a very important part of our lives for the past few years. We lived great adventures through the Volvo, we had really good times and very good memories. We believe the Volvo Ocean Race is in some kind part of us, so we obviously wish the best for this race. We certainly don’t believe one-design is the best solution and I’m concerned by the impact of this decision in the future of this race and whether due diligence was done to arrive to this radical conclusion.

VSail.info: Why? Is it because your office wasn’t chosen for this new design? I hope it’s not sour grapes you are expressing here.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: No, no, it has nothing to do with that! It all depends on what the focus is. If we are talking about a grand prix offshore race then it’s not a good solution because you can’t really call grand prix something that is one-design. There have been a lot of good things that have come out of the development of the VO70 just as much as the Open60 or any class that is a development class. So, from that point of view it’s not the right choice.

Now, if the objective is a different one, if it’s a commercial objective or a marketing one then I can’t answer because I’m not an expert. I don’t know whether it’s going to work or not, whether it’s going to be a success or not. It’s not my field of expertise. I’m answering your question purely from the point of view of all the good that has come out from such an event as the Volvo or the Whitbread before, the primary events of grand prix offshore racing.

VSail.info: During the presentation, Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, mentioned quite a few times that one of the key elements of the new boat is cost reduction. In his view a team with a budget between 12 and 15 million euros can have a good chance with the new boat. In addition, this is probably the best road to obtaining at least eight teams in the next edition of the race.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I can certainly agree with him in the fact that it would seem, looking ahead in the future and under the current situation, that achieving the objective of eight entries through cost reduction could be an important part of the process. But was this truly the best solution to achieve eight entries? Again, I’m not intrinsically embedded in the process but how much is this one-design going to cost? In order to reduce costs through the boat what is it going to cost?

VSail.info: According to Frostad’s statements and the official press release, the cost of the boat, “ready to sail”, will be approximately 4.5 million euros.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: If that’s the case then they aren’t saving that much. They are saving just half a million euros, three quarters of a million. Let’s say they save one million euros at the most! Is the cost-saving of one million really going to make the difference with the end result of a smaller, slower, less exciting boat? Ultimately, the concept might be right. Let’s reduce costs, let’s make the VOR for teams of 15 million euros and then we can get eight entries. That’s fine but what they are proposing is not in line with that objective.

Juan kouyoumdjian has all the reasons to smile as he now has all the chances to a third consecutive victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Alicante, 5 November 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

VSail.info: You say the potential saving is about half to one million. Does that mean the current boats cost approximately 5 million euros?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, the boats we designed.

VSail.info: Obviously, I’m always referring to the boats designed by your office.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I was told that Abu Dhabi cost twice as much but this doesn’t mean you can’t build a VO70 for 5 million euros. Obviously, Puma is different from Telefonica which in turn is different from Groupama but I can definitely confirm they are in that range of 5-5.5 million.

VSail.info: Have you been contacted by the Volvo Ocean Race in order to make a proposal for a one-design boat?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: NO. Capital N, capital O. I would like to make a comment regarding your previous question. The cost of 4.5 million will be for one boat but what if a team enters with two boats and embarks in two-boat testing? It’s going to be much higher.

VSail.info: Certainly and someone asked the same question during the press conference. I think it’s not clear whether they will allow two-boat teams, so we shouldn’t be making any judgments based on that assumption.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: This is where it is becoming a joke! One of the primary teams in the starting blocks to go ahead and possibly win the next race is basically thinking of doing a long period of two-boat testing and development to even get a third boat and then enter the race with two boats and win it. Why do they want a third boat? Because they have a tremendous program.

What do you have to do to win the next Volvo Ocean Race? It’s very simple. You have to be the richest and the first one in line. You buy the first two boats. You then engage yourself into an agreement to enter two boats. You do a very long period of two-boat testing and you then engage yourself to buy the eighth boat. By the way, when is the eighth boat going to be delivered because there won’t be enough time to build all these boats by the same boatyard.

A team that has the capacity to start two-boat testing tomorrow will obviously beat the team that will receive its boat two-three months before the start.

VSail.info: Of course but they can always implement rules that prohibit or severely limit two-boat testing.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes but the teams interested in doing that what are they going to do? They will do something else. In addition, take the team that enters first and buys the first boat. They can pick the best sailors they want from the beginning and then sail for a year. They can then buy one of the last boats to be built and it will be a better one than the first ones because everybody knows that construction improves over time. As a result, they will have more time on the water than anyone else and the best boat, even without two-boat testing. Don’t you think they will have an advantage over a team with just one boat that didn’t have much time to sail?

VSail.info: I agree but this is always under the assumption they allow teams to have two boats.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Even if they don’t allow two boats there will always be teams that have much more time on the water than others. If they allow two boats it will then become a race of who spends more money on the two boats and be the first.

VSail.info: Won’t that always be the case? Imagine we had no change at all and we continued with the current VO70. Who can prevent a rich team from coming here on July 9th to hire you? They will be the first, they will have the designers with the best pedigree and they can hire any sailor they want.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Why can’t we have another ABN AMRO situation? We were in the same situation when we started working with ABN AMRO. Why can’t we have a 25-year old designer out there, a brilliant, extremely clever guy that kicks our ass if someone gives him the chance? Who said we can’t have that once again? Why do you think this is impossible?

Not only that, imagine there were five teams right now interested in the next race. One comes to us, another one goes to another designer and so forth. They all can start building their boats at the same time and they will launch them more or less at the same time and not in intervals of 7-8 weeks as they now claim.

Anyway, I wish them the best of luck. What can I say? The Volvo Ocean Race has been very important to us, it’s part of our lives and we really like the idea of a grand prix offshore event. The world of sailing always needed it and this has been proven by history. Whatever has been developed through the Whitbreads and the Volvos has found its way to the normal boats people sail. The decision to do that on a one-design leaves a void open so that, eventually, somebody else could organize it. The Volvo Ocean Race has now become the Clipper Plus and if someone wants to organize a true grand prix offshore event we’ll be there.

If AUDI weren’t allowed to take their hybrid cars to Le Mans we would have never seen hybrid engines in our street cars. This is how development happens and now the Volvo Group has clearly said they don’t want any development in the Volvo Ocean Race. I hope that within their car design office they don’t have the same policy.

VSail.info: You are partly right with that but there is a big difference and I agree with Knut Frostad’s argument. What AUDI and BMW might develop in Le Mans will then be in a few years in my car and your car. In sailing however it’s different because there is no Beneteau team in the VOR that could develop their racing yacht and then apply the developments to their cruising sail boats.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes but this is not necessary. We did the First 30, a 30-footer with Beneteau, and right now I can think of two items in that boat that wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t discovered them through the development of our VO70 racing yachts.

VSail.info: What are these two items?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: The aft sections of the boat and the correct use of inflections in the back of the hull, for example. However, it’s not only about the features you find on the boats it’s also the methodologies and what we have developed here in the last 5-6 years in terms of software, approaches, analyses and tests. Although we apply them to racing yachts they can be applied to any Beneteau yacht. The improvements we have made from the ABN AMRO boats to the current ones are incredible.

There is another very important factor that you overlook which are the sponsors. If you look at the sponsors our boats had, particularly Ericsson, they all embraced and actively communicated that level of technology and development inherent in the Volvo Ocean Race, up to now. If you eliminate this aspect of the race you will completely change the sponsors that want to be involved. The sponsors that will fund a boat now will not be able to communicate and say “Look, my boat is winning and my technology is contributing to that!”.

With a one-design boat a commercial sponsor can’t communicate in that aspect and the only solution is to either put more money or pick the best sailors.

VSail.info: They put a premium on seamanship, on the sailors.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, but what can a sponsor add to that? Nothing. They just put money to hire the sailors or train longer or even buy two boats. Maybe this new race is targeted to teams related to stopovers. Maybe their goal is to have eight stopovers and eight teams related to these stopovers. In that case they don’t really care about the competitiveness of the race but they are only interested in having the race in their city.

VSail.info: Talking of stopovers, wouldn’t the Sanya team have more chances in a one-design race? Their boat is the slowest of the fleet, so no matter how brilliant sailors they might be, they have an inherent disadvantage.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You will have the same situation with one-design, even more. With a one-design boat you will guarantee that the richest team will win. They will hire the best sailors first and, by the way, their salaries will double. I salute this because I think they weren’t paid enough to sail around the world in the conditions they do it. They seem to be lucky now and at least they should expect their salaries to double or triple. Not only that but the costs of refinements, whether it’s the sails, the mast tube, the trim of the boat, will go up.

Even a Laser gets refined and in the Laser world if you have more money and you are better prepared, you win. If that happens in the Laser class do you really think it won’t happen with a canting-keel 65 footer? This is definitely going to be the case. Maybe this is what we should do! We could be hired to optimize the one-design! Can you imagine that scenario?

VSail.info: Wouldn’t that depend on what the rules allow you to do on a boat?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Pierre, we could do it right now on a Laser! If we can do it on a Laser, don’t you think we can do much more on a brand new canting-keel 65-footer? The concept of one-design is a utopia, it’s unfeasible. Again, if, I say if, they allow a two-boat team, they are guaranteed to win because they will have the best sailors and the best boats.

It’s not going to work. You can quote me on that. I haven’t thought about it much but the more I think about it the more I’m convinced it’s not going to work. The announcement is very nice but the reality is that it’s not going to work. Still, it depends on your definition of the word “work”.

VSail.info: One of the primary objectives is to have at least eight teams on the starting line.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: We can have eight teams with VO70′s as well. There are 4 or 5 of them that can be used again. If the objective is to have at least eight, the most logical option would have been to use the existing boats because you would only have to build four new ones! The objective is not to simply have eight teams but also bring down costs. If I understand well, Knut Forstad claimed that team budgets can be brought down to 15 million euros. This is not going to work.

Not only that, with the current boats we have a Volvo so close that it will be decided in the last in-port race! We currently have three boats that can win it or lose it in the last in-port and one of the arguments against multiple designers and an open design was that there would be a boat that would mathematically win three stopovers before the finish. How stupid is that?

VSail.info: However, if Telefonica hadn’t had suffered the unfortunate breakages a few hundred miles before the finish in Lorient, all top-three boats would have been your designs.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You asked me earlier on what would have happened if the richest team came next week, after the finish of this race, and immediately hired us for the next one, assuming we had VO70′s again. This is what happened at the end of the previous edition. Knut Frostad asked us not to sign an exclusivity agreement with anybody but open it up to more teams. This is how we ended up with our current three teams plus a generic design which could have been used by the least-funded teams. When people present problems, and Frostad presented it as a problem back then, there is always a way to find a solution without going to extremes.

Frostad came to see us here in Valencia back in February or March and we had lunch together. He basically told us that something had to be done, that Volvo Group wanted at least eight teams and that costs had to come down. We then discussed one of the other options that consisted in freezing the R&D, something that goes against our very own business interests, we engaged not to do any more R&D and offered the drawings of our boats, giving them the freedom to do whatever they wanted with them. There were three or four boats that could be reused and we moved on that path. We then answered his questions regarding that option but, obviously, the decision had already been taken some time ago. We were a bit foolish.

At the time, he was saying he was considering five different options and one-design was just one of them. It wasn’t about picking a one-design package, it was about analyzing five alternatives. One-design was an option, leaving everything as it is was another one and freezing R&D was another alternative. He was in a process trying to assess which of the five alternatives was the best one, as he claimed. It now seems though they already had the one-design package in process at the time.

VSail.info: My understanding is, from what was said during the presentation, that they have been working on that with the four boatyards during the last six months.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: That’s another issue! Four boatyards! How can that be cheaper? This also raises another problem, which is responsibility. If something breaks on a boat, which one of these four yards will be responsible?

VSail.info: I don’t know, I’m not an expert on those issues but I would guess the boatyard that built the broken component.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: But who sells the VO65′s? Is it Green Marine? Will Green Marine take responsibility for the work of Persico or Multiplast? It’s not going to work. Don’t forget that what we have here is four different companies trying to make a profit because I don’t think they are doing this for free. Maybe they are doing it for free, I don’t know, but these happen to be the four most expensive boatyards on this planet! So, they need to come out with a more exciting boat, a faster boat, build it quicker, build it cheaper but at the same time all the actions they seem to be taking go against these very criteria! Somebody is doing a bad joke, this really seems like a bad joke! In any case, I, again, wish them the best of luck.

VSail.info: That’s why I asked at the beginning whether what you express here is sour grapes. You didn’t get the job, someone else got it and your design office is left out of a sector where you, undeniably, had great success.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Why do you assume that we didn’t get THE job? We have already been asked to optimize the one-design. If we wish, we can be involved again.

VSail.info: Are you saying that a potential future team has asked your office to optimize the Volvo one-design?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, in the case it was going to be a one-design.

Coming back to your previous question, we don’t think there was a selection process where someone else was chosen and we lost. We were never asked to make any offer, what we discussed were just the pros and cons of the five alternative options. If cost reduction is one of the primary goals, the first thing you do is to invite bids. In fact, the last thing you would ever do is to go to one guy and four boatyards. That’s the most expensive thing you can do. The Volvo Ocean Race has been a very important part of our lives, they have chosen a path towards the future, Knut Frostad has himself made a choice and we can only wish him the best of luck.

33 Comments For This Post

  1. Peter Says:

    Well, at least he is not being too unpolite this time. A hard way to learn…

  2. ELVSTROM Says:

    Juan K TOTALLY LIES during in the interview:

    First he says: “Maybe this is what we should do! We could be hired to optimize the one-design! Can you imagine that scenario?

    At the end of the article he states: “why do you assume that we didn’t get THE job? We have already been asked to optimize the one-design. If we wish, we can be involved again.

    VSail.info: Are you saying that a potential future team has asked your office to optimize the Volvo one-design?
    Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, in the case it was going to be a one-design.

    Wait, What? Did he just get hired during the interview? What a Bull Sh**ter! It’s no wonder Knut went with the Farr Office.

    If I was Paul Cayard, I’d be wondering about my AC72 – wing and platform.

  3. steve alloway Says:

    fantastic, looking forward to part 2 :-)

  4. acintel Says:

    You’re bitter Juan K. Just frustrated and bitter and that leads you to say stupid things. Get over it man!

  5. malcolm Says:

    Wow, what an interview…………… i think Knut Frostad jumped the gun. he should have let some time pass before a decision was made. Juan K makes some very valid points, but you can tell he is upset with what is going to happen. each team who enters the race should be free to bring whatever boat they want as long as it meets the class rule. Put a dollar number if you want, but don’t try to control the teams, as the top one’s will bugger off. i love the VOR, why don’t they go back to the Whitbread rules and concept, that worked. Let it be.

  6. FibreOptics Says:


    Its pretty clear that the one design option was not the best kept secret… so I would not be surprised if he has been approached from a team.

    What it does surprises me is that there has been no selection process for the boatyards or the design!!!!! And the worst volvo70 designer and most expensive boatyard has been chosen (FARR and Persico). Also is funny that persico is going to build the hulls (please crews, bring some bolts on board, see Abu Dabis experience).

    I agree on the side of development, can anyone imagine if in 2005 a volvo One design was chosen? We could be watching today a race with 6 MOVISTAR, not a nice scenario.

  7. cyclone Says:

    Well it is all politics.
    If one office that has zero credentials in this race it is the Farr office.
    The only boats they came up with were slow or sunk or nearly sunk.
    I understand Juan is bitter (he is human after all) first of all that it is going te be one design as it is his business and he was extremely succesfull in it. And second he did not got a chance to tender. It was better pr for volvo if they had said: well with the juan design office so succesfull it is almost one design sailing anyway so then lets use the most succesfull office to design the one design or at least write out a tender.
    Now the pr slogan would be: Volvo goes one design, designed by the office that comes up with slow boats and we do not know if they will stay afloat.

  8. Pete Moran Says:

    JK comes across as very bitter to me. Apart from that he essentially admits that his designs (ie 3 leading boats = one design) will win it.

    I don’t buy his argument about the best sailors either. These guys grow into the race to become better boat handlers with some luck and some great tactical decisions. It’s the old cliche; a champion team will beat a team champions.

    I also don’t understand his arguments about the Laser. If you optimise the Laser and everyone has equal access to that design it’s still one-design racing.

    Lastly, no-one wants the same leg winner time after time – the sponsers nor, the fans. If we get F1 type bias we’ll end up with stupid rules designed to ‘fake’ competition like F1 are having to (engine limits, DRS, crazy tyres). All sorts of rules that limit competition because it would BORING if one team wins every race!!!!!

  9. samuel Says:


    Juan K boats have won the last 3 editions of Volvo Ocean race, including this one and you dare to criticize him??!!!!!
    Abu Dhabi boat costed twice the price and is the slowest one, such a shame for Farr!

    Farr just had be chosen because he has links with emirates and gave more money, chicks, champaign to the officials of Volvo, Knut included…

  10. Glue head Says:

    He sounds like a spoiled kid who just found he wasn’t mommy and daddys favorite. While his designs have proven the best in the vo70 class, he is a pain in the ass for the vor measurement/rules committees. I can’t imagine why they don’t want to employee a design firm that has given them way more issues than everyone else. *sarcasm*

    The vo70 is the only class he has had any amount of success in- team origin tp52 was off pace, open 60 pindar was off pace, speedboat should be at the bottom, and the beneteau 30 is a freaking slug compared to say the beneteau 10r (Farr designed).

    He is the first to point fingers- remember the joint Farr/jaun k BMW iacc yachts? And again with his press release putting the other vor yacht designers and team builders on blast for breakages. Maybe he needs to hire a pr firm to filter the crap coming out of his mouth.

    Optimizing the new boats? I hope Knut specifically writes a rule against that (or at least just his firm). Jaun k cannibalized the pyewacket so badly that not even the original designers wanted anything to do with fixing it.

    I will be surprised if the Artemis ac72s are on pace with BMW or etnz/Luna rosa… Or even the package ac72…

  11. ELVSTROM Says:

    Why do we give such credit to the designers. I think it’s the sailors that win the race in the end. I think the crew of Abu Dhabi are pretty much stinking up the course. I bet that the Spanish or the French teams would be winning/leading sailing Abu Dhabi or Camper.
    Everybody thinks that Juan K is so great but its the people that win in the end. Juan K is a loose cannon.

  12. Peter Says:

    Yes, we dare. His daily dosis of arrogance is just far too much.

  13. victoria Says:

    Where is Part 2,

  14. FibreOptics Says:

    Yeah, maybe is just the sailors and not the boat…. maybe Farr is so unlucky having the worst crew in the last 3 editions… Have you checked the last position report? Can you tell me the designer of the boats in position 5 and 6 (last)? They look at least 1 knot slower than de other 4 boats. Botin and juank are really lucky with the crews…

  15. Narciso Ventoesom Says:

    Desculpas amigos, mas Juan K é Genio sim senhor!! GOD GOD GOD

  16. Donal Says:

    Doesn’t really matter now. but facts are facts. Farrs boats are not on the same level as JK boats. Also, the cost savings will not workout that well. The solution is cutting back on what cost the most, materials. Look at the Class 40. Growing faster then any other class. Their secret….. Stick to trusted materials and simplify the boats. No worries, I am sure IMOCA won’t make the same mistake as Volvo.

  17. Chris Sayer Says:

    I agree, one design does not lower costs and the boat/design is not the expensive part anyway. Removing the devlopment side from the race changes it to something that it has never been. A sad day and a big step backwards.

  18. J. Trueba Says:

    Juan K is the best designer, NO DOUBT.
    Botin made also a good boat.
    The worse, and most expensive boat came from Farr. SHAME on Farr!
    Volvo decided to choose just another designer without even asking the others. This doesn’t sound like a smart choice, nor clever, nor elegant, from VOLVO and it made them look stupid to me.
    This lack of other competing choices is the main argument of Juan K critics, and I believe that he is very right. Juna K is angry and I don’t blame itm because after winning the three VOR last editions, three in a row, he did NOT deserve to be left apart. VERY UNFAIR!

  19. DJC Says:

    VOR can save a lot of money, choose a production charter boat for the next race.
    If you want to sail slow, go all the way, sail very slow!
    Sailing is the only sport where the rulemakers permanently want to stop new development.
    Lets run the 100m with cement boots, thats fair, one design!

  20. victoria Says:

    The Volvo as we know it is finished, it’s a sad day. Will Knut make another statement at the presentation in Galway to justify his decision or will he be Farr, Farr away

  21. J. Trueba Says:

    Chris is VERY right. Design developments are not a big part of the money spent by each team. One design is not a good decision. Volvo should reconsider their decision, that only shows how bad they did it this time. Let’s hope that Volvo cars are better than that!
    It would be GOOD for Volvo to change their minds now, the sooner… the better. It would have a huge media impact, and could be very good for their reputation. Good for Volvo propaganda, as well as for the sport, speed and even safety of the new boats and teams compiting next time.

  22. Wetdoc Says:

    “If AUDI weren’t allowed to take their hybrid cars to Le Mans we would have never seen hybrid engines in our street cars. This is how development happens and now the Volvo Group has clearly said they don’t want any development in the Volvo Ocean Race. I hope that within their car design office they don’t have the same policy.”
    The best of the article!!
    Great JuanK !!

  23. R&Daddicted Says:

    But the question now is…what is going to happen with the rigging? Who is going to be the mast/spreaders/booms/cables supplier?
    I think this edition has shown how tricky these parts of the boats are and what is going to happen if a mast/cable brake? Can a team have a spare mast (500/600 k€)?
    I think all the teams have changed several parts of the standing rigging during this race, with a cost saving system I will assume they will use the same rigging for the entire race…will the same kind of product last that much? Nobody knows and what they would need is an Intensive R&D program!l €€€€€€€€

  24. Skiffiemark Says:

    @ J. Trueba, despite the winning boat being Groupama, Camper is set to take three of the four trophies on offer… Botin maybe better designer?

  25. fernando@maite Says:

    It’s obvious that Juan K is bitter with Frostad decision BUT that’s not the point…He’s a kind of artist…a sensitive designer so welcome his passion about his creations…The Volvo Ocean Race not only transmits technology through the boats but also passion through the sailors…
    Regarding Frostad decision I believe that he never support JK. He always tried to favor Farr design. And this last and obscure decision clearly shows this preference. I think that they can decide for a One class concept…but afterwards they should organize a pitch among the most recognize design studies…If then JK, the best of them in my opinion, doesn’t want to participate it would be his decision but taking this decision without pitching it shows a lack of management attributes…

  26. J. Trueba Says:

    Yes. I agree. While nobody doubts that Juan K boats are VERY good and half as expensive as Abu Dahby from Farr, Botin boat might be the best boat. Only one boat and looks like he will finish in 2nd position overall.

    Regarding the Volvo managment decision, I couldn’t agree more, with words like:

    “obscure decision…”

    “… they should organize a pitch among the most recognize design studies…” and

    “… taking this decision without pitching it shows a lack of management attributes”.

    All of them sound to me like wise words that show how bad Volvo did it this time.

    SHAME on Volvo!

  27. victoria Says:

    Well the final inport race say’s it all a bad decision to go with Farr

  28. Tim Aitch Says:

    I hope Juan K does optimize a boat and it beats all the rest. He has raised a lot of hackles, but only because he designs better boats that all the rest. 3 Volvo ocean races and an Americas cup. It’s hard to see how you can leave this guy out. And he has also brought boat design forward a long way. I think he and other designers might start their own Ocean Race. It would certainly shake Knut up, if the VOR was the second most prominent round-the-world race on the planet.

  29. J. Trueba Says:

    I just found out that Iker Martinez, nominated along with his fellow Xaby Fernandez best racing sailors in the world this year, also thinks that Volvo chose the wrong option.
    Iker doesn’t feel like going to the southern ocean with a boat that he doesn’t know how she has been built and designed, nor how she is going to react… “It is probably not worth while (to go there with such a boat)”, Iker said.
    See what he said, mentioning terms like development and mainly the word “seguridad”, meaning safety, in the original Spanish text:

    “creo que hay además un apartado muy importante en esta regata que es el desarrollo y también la seguridad. Estás en el océano Sur, donde hay mucha mar, donde las cosas se complican… E ir a un lugar de esos, con un barco que no sé muy bien cómo se ha construido, ni diseñado, ni sé muy bien cómo puede reaccionar… pues probablemente no me compense. Yo creo que no seré capaz de coger la responsabilidad absoluta de 11 personas en un barco en el que no tengas tú el control absoluto y total. Como yo soy el primero en el barco que tengo que empujar quiero hacerlo con la seguridad de que eso va a responder”.

  30. ed Says:

    Juan K is so seriously over rated . He just aint that good. He relies on his over ego office of designers and just crunches numbers. He has no real flare and is not a scratch on the likes of Vrolik.

  31. Tim Aitch Says:

    I would like to focus on the claim made by Knut Frostad, that the VOR isn’t like Formula 1, in that the sponsors do not gain directly from the techno-war between boat designers, and this circumstance justifies spending $200,000,000 dollars over the 4 years without contributing a whit to cutting edge sailboat design. I’ve spent a lifetime dealing with these pseudo-intelligent remarks from company officers, that wish desperately to be more intelligent than nature has made them. Invariably, these type of statements don’t stand up, with the net result the utterer is left looking more foolish than if had said nothing at all. This is just such a case in point.

    Firstly, if there is an important link between sponsorship dollars, and technology that pertains to the sponsor’s corporate activities, Volvo should be involved in auto-racing. They aren’t because the clunky cars they make don’t cut it on the race track; however, the real falsehood in Knut’s remark, is to claim sponsors pony up F1 money because the on-track development is integral to their corporate activities. This simply isn’t the case. Occasionally F1 developments make it on to road cars, and sometimes road car technology makes it on to the track. Auto manufactures take far more from the image of F1 than they do from the technology; furthermore, much of the F1 sponsorship comes from companies that have nothing to do with automobile production. Here are some examples: Cigarettes, alcohol, banking, insurance, apparel, telecommunications, oil, watches, tools, etc. For comparison consider the VOR sponsors: Groupama: Insurance; Camper: Shoes; Puma: Sports Apparel; Telefonica: Telecommunications; Abu Dhabi & Sanya: National Awareness; Ericsson: Telecommunications.

    Clearly Knut’s claim that F1 technology is driven by sponsors, who wish to make use of that technology, is laughably incorrect. So how about his assumption that dumbing down the techno aspects of the VOR fleet will not have a negative effect on the sport’s public appeal? Quite a difficult thing to measure in advance, but try to imagine F1 with a spec car. How long could they maintain their position as the pinnacle of mankind’s automotive achievement. No, they would be rapidly supplanted by a Formula that provided that ineffable thrill of watching mankind outdoing all that came before him.

    Point of Market Entry, is a business concept, that examines customers first entry into a new market area. To be successful you want to be the guy that the newcomers turn to. I have considered my own introduction to this edition of the VOR. Whilst I had followed the Whitbread editions and had the pleasure of climbing over Lawrie Smith’s, Silk Cut, admittedly on the hard, at Hamble Yacht Services, I have ignored the sport for nearly a decade. Then one day I caught a TV broadcast of the in-port race from Cape Town, and started an internet investigation that got progressively more interesting the deeper I dug. One of the main driving factors was learning about the boats, especially the technological revolution that had taken place over the last decade, canting keels, dagger boards, sail shape, refinement in the ballast tanks. Further reading introduced me to Juan K, and his remarkable achievement of designing the winner of the last three editions of the VOR.

    Knut’s flawed vision of the future of the sport does away with all that. He claims to have thoroughly examined the options, but the solution he arrived at is second rate. There must be a way of meeting those objectives which are meritorious, while maintaining the techno-war that brings us the spectacle of man designing and building sailboats some 7000 years after the first one was launched, which are better than anything that proceeded them.

    It truly is lamentable that the future of this great race is in the hands of Knut Frostad, whose recent proclamations plainly reveal him as in individual of substandard intellect. He is visibly and manifestly ill-at-ease operating at the forefront human endeavor, and is desperately flailing to dumb his environment down to a level he is comfortable with. Unfortunately, he is not only diminishing he own personal credibility, but raising serious question-marks as to whether Volvo, has the brain trust to successfully compete in the contemporary global climate.

    I would like to nominate Google as the sponsor of a fresh Around-the-World Ocean Race. It would be a stage that would highlight their own ability and willingness to compete at the forefront of technology, and they have the global public presence and skills to promote such a race to an audience broad enough to finance proper top ocean racing machinery. A Volvo Ocean Racer will conceivably clunk your corporate logo around the world, but a Google Ocean Racer will roar around the same course with unparallel speed and style, and consequently confer upon your corporate logo that elusive cachet that identifies you as a leader of the age.

    Tim Aitch
    July 2012

  32. Euan Says:

    Many of Tim Aitch’s assertions are questionable and his arrogance when jumping feet-first into an arena where he admits to being out of touch is extremely unhelpful. Moreover, this type of cheap personal abuse is simply shameful. You may disagree with the decisions made by Frostad (and I certainly do) but please do this in an honourable way; he has worked hard and done his best and does not deserve to be vilified by someone like Aitch.

  33. Laura Says:

    Juano is my friend. I didn’t realise he was so despised……sad really….

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