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Team Russia at the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 08/09
Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Team Russia finishing leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race
Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Team Russia blasting away at the start of Leg 2
Photo: Paul Todd
Tank Testing the Team Russia VO70
Photo: Wolfson Unit
HYD with Team Russia at the Auckland Twisted Flow Wind Tunnel

The Team Russia Volvo Open 70 Kosatka for Russian businessman Oleg Zherebtsov was designed by Humphreys Yacht Design for the Volvo Ocean Race 08/09. Design work commenced in June 2007, leading to an intensive two-month research and development programme before construction commenced in August 2007.

A series of hulls were tank tested with the Wolfson Unit, firstly to investigate the trade-offs between form stability and wetted surface area, before going on to look at more detailed design features such as bow bluffness, spray rails, chine height, etc. Wind tunnel data was also purchased from the aborted Mean Machine project in order to jump start our rig aero modelling, before later doing our own testing at the Auckland Twisted Flow Wind Tunnel with Team Russia and North Sails UK. A full meteorological study was undertaken by Jure Jurman of the Slovenian Met Office, later joined by French meteorologist Jean Yves-Bernot. Structural Engineering was undertaken by Will Brookes.

The Team Russia VO70 is characterised by her aggressive spray rails, bluff bow and low chines. She has shown evidence of real pace, clocking numerous 500nm-plus 24 hour runs on Legs 1 & 2 as well as a 300nm-plus run in 13 hours during qualifying. Being a relatively small team, the decision from the outset was to build a very strong and robust boat, capable of withstanding the demands of the new Volvo Race course in a more self-sufficient way than some of the better financed teams. This was in the knowledge that with such short stopovers in this race, any serious damage sustained on one leg might render it impossible to get the boat sailing again in time for the start of the next leg. This conservatism has paid its price to a certain extent in terms of reduced bulb weight but the result is a boat that the sailors feel comfortable pushing to the limits without fear of failures.

Sadly Team Russia pulled out of the Volvo Ocean Race in Singapore after the finish of Leg 3 due to the global economic crash, where the impact in Russia seemed more severe even than elsewhere. For all concerned it was a disappointing conclusion – the sailors had seemed to be getting to grips with the boat but now we have to wait for another occasion to see the boat rise to its potential.