Sunday, March 12, 2006

Open to debate

When there are problems within teams on competitions like the Volvo Ocean Race they are usually resolved behind closed doors. But for movistar the frustrations and fears became too much and the skipper and crew invited cameras into a fascinatingly frank discussion, shown on the tv broadcast late friday night.

Having had to fix the boat five times so far and nearly sinking in the deep southern ocean near Cape Horn, there were open doubts about whether the boat is safe. One crewman asked what could be said to their kids if the boat sinks and they don't come back. Another said he had "zero faith in the boat and the people fixing it right now". And the skipper Bouwe Bekking said Farr "just deliver the plans, they're not liable for anything".

Farr have responded - a press release on their web site admit the design failures on Pirates and Movistar, putting them down to the learning experience. As they ruefully put it "It is humiliating that this system has been the cause of such upsetting consequences to two
great competitors in this race"

Is it the VO70 spec or the Farr design that has failed? The success of the ABN boats suggests the latter. But its been painful for movistar's skipper and crew. And unlike the crews on the other boats, they are still at sea, days away from Rio.

Graphic from Farr Yacht Design

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