Putting a successful Open 60 race campaign together is a long-term, step-by-step process – doing a two-boat campaign does not make it doubly harder but there are more logistics to consider and more time needed. The next 4-5 months are critical in respect of making design decisions and planning for the build of the new boats, without forgetting the most vital component of concluding sponsorship negotiations to fund the new team [see below]. The Offshore Challenges Sailing Team has a wealth of expertise to draw upon and years of experience to avoid the mistakes that can be made by a fledging team. The technical and boat-building team is headed up by, the experienced, Neil Graham: “We are in discussion with a number of design firms to design two new IMOCA 60′s. The two new 60′s are both optimised for the marathons in the IMOCA World Championship circuit – the double-handed Barcelona World Race in 2007 and the solo Vendée Globe in 2008. Choosing the correct designer to work with the team is one of the key decisions for the project. It is also one of the hardest decisions to make! From an armchair perspective, it’s easy – you just pick the most talented designer or the designer with the best track record. In reality, the decision is far more complex. All of the design firms we are assessing have the ability to produce a race winning boat. What really makes the difference is the relationship between the designer and the team. If the designers don’t gel with the team, or vice versa, it reflects on the end result.
”We have also commenced our R&D programme. Looking at every element, of the boat, from mechanical systems to sails and appendage design. There is obviously a great deal of benefit to be derived from our previous campaigns with Kingfisher/Skandia (IMOCA 60) and B&Q (75′ trimaran). The lessons learnt from the previous 60ft project are invaluable and directly applicable to our new boats. There is a less obvious benefit to drawn from our multihull campaigns. However, some of the technology, especially in electronic systems, communication technology, instrument systems and auto pilot technology is directly transferable,” reported Graham.
A principal part of the design is who your ‘riders’ are. Kingfisher was custom-built to Ellen’s height and strengths and then custom-refitted to work for Nick Moloney in the last Vendée Globe. The Offshore Challenges Sailing Team, that includes both MacArthur and Nick Moloney, is actively seeking the right sailors to join the programme for short-handed and solo racing.
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