Spain’s VO70 “MoviStar” breaks the World Sailing Speed Record
By Mike Hanlon
April 12, 2005
April 13, 2005 “Pedro! We just broke the world record!” With the aid of a short and simple satellite phone call from the Pacific Ocean, MoviStar skipper Bouwe Bekking communicated the best news back to the Head Office of the MoviStar Sailing Team in Spain. After months of preparation and just a few days into the second part of their ocean traning schedule for the Volvo Ocean Race, Bouwe excitedly told his colleagues the big news: “We covered 530 miles over 24 hours! We’re thrilled!”
“The boat and the team are giving great results and the feeling on board is fantastic. We felt confident that we could beat some record, but this was a pleasing surprise” continued skipper Bekking. Four days out of Wellington (New Zealand) en route to Cape Horn (Chile) travelling south-southeast some 2.000 miles, the MoviStar once again confirms everybody’s expectations for the new VO 70: “We hoped that the boat would give us many pleasant surprises – confessed Pedro Campos, General Manager of the team -, but in all honesty, we never thought we’d get such great news so soon!”
“The first thing I want to do is to congratulate the whole crew and the team in general for bringing home this incredible record to Spain. This news illustrates the excellent work that’s been carried out up till now. While we want to remain prudent, the news makes us feel quite optimistic in our expectations for the future” continued Campos.
Iker Martínez –the Spanish 49er gold medallist in Athens 2004– spoke about the feat noting “we averaged 22,08 knots over 24 hours. The boat literally flew! It’s hard to describe the sensation as it cuts through the waves at this speed”.
Pepe Ribes, bowman and on-board communication manager, shared the optimism: “I think its fantastic news. As with any new boat, the MoviStar has had its share of problems, with needed adjustments and changes, but we’re seeing that it’s fast and dependable. Its innovative systems, such as the canting keel, require much training but I’m sure we can better our results with the schedule of activity going on now”.
Great news for sailing
“This is brilliant news - just what the boat was designed for”. Glenn Bourke, Chief Executive of the Volvo Ocean Race, openly expressed his enthusiasm for the achievement. “Congratulations to the MoviStar team. Our speed predictions for the new Volvo Open 70 were right on target, showing that it’s possible to cover 500 nautical miles in just one day. The new record of 530 miles –pending ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council– shows without a doubt just how fast the new design is”.
Pedro Campos is aware of the magnitude of the news: “This is a historic record for sailing. Nobody has ever gone so far in just 24 hours sailing in a single hull boat. And this was just a training session! The whole team’s extremely proud of the accomplishment. Seeing Spain’s flag and the emblem of Galicia’s Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo gracing this magnificent boat just adds to sense of satisfaction and appreciation”.
The former Volvo Ocean Race class, the VO 60, was well known to be a potential force in breaking records. The reigning mark for a single hull yacht under 60 foot, 484 miles in 24 hours and averaging 20,16 knots of speed, was set by the Illbruk of John Kostecki on April 30, 2002.
Speed records are ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council after receiving all the information from the Volvo Ocean Race, the organisation that monitors the boat’s position 24 hours a day.
The current world speed record holder for single hull sailing is held by a boat twice the length of the MoviStar: the 140 foot Mari Cha IV, owned and skippered by Britain’s Robert Miller. The British boat, which differs as well in that it carried 24 men aboard (in comparison to the MoviStar 10), set the record on October 7, 2003, covering 525,7 miles over 24 hours, averaging 21,9 knots.
The next challenge: Cape Horn
More adventure and excitement awaits the MoviStar team as they pass through one of the most treacherous passages of the world of sailing: Cape Horn. Known as “the End of the World”, the Cape is located on the Southernmost extreme of South America, being for many years the only passage through the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, until the opening of the Panama Canal. Baptized by the Dutch navigator Willem Schouten in 1616 in honour of his home town of Hoorn, the Cape boasts an impressive mantle of rock over 400 meters high and sharp cliffs topped off by a lighthouse. Aside sits a monument to all the sailors that have lost their lives in the attempt to navigate through.
Although Bekking has already made the passage on various occasions, he knows that it must be approached with respect. “Our trip to Wellington was supposed to be uncomplicated, but we encountered tough conditions in sea and wind. Now with the speed record behind us, our team is eager to take on the next challenge” notes Bekking.
Passing through parallels 42 to 55, the team will soon reach this unique spot, a goal in itself for many sailors such as offshore helmsman Iker Martínez “despite all the technology and advancements that come with modern day racing, you’re up against the whims of the elements. We hope to encounter good conditions and carry on the journey without complications”.
“From Wellington to Cape Horn the MoviStar will cover 4.300 nautical miles – notes Pedro Campos – followed by an additional 2.400 miles to the port of Rio de Janeiro, for a total journey of 6.700 miles non stop from New Zealand”.
In closing, Campos shared the sense of expectation “while each mile means another notch in our belt for experience, it takes us one step closer to one of the most important moments of the project, the arrival to Galicia, Spain.”
The Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race will begin in Vigo on November 12, 2005, heading for Cape Town, South Africa. The teams will set their feet on the ground at ten different locations: Galicia (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Melbourne (Australia), Wellington (New Zealand), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Baltimore/Annapolis (USA), New York (USA), Portsmouth (UK), Rotterdam (Netherlands), and finally Gothenburg (Sweden), after completing 31,250 nautical miles – 57,875 kilometres – of racing.
A total of seven inshore regattas will be held, one in each of the ports of destination. The first inshore race will be held on November 5, 2005 in Sanxenxo (Galicia).
Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Sweden, Brazil and the USA are the strongest countries in this year’s race.
The racing boats will be single-hull VO70, with a length of 21.5 meters (70.5 feet) and 31.5 meter (103.3 foot) masts.
The mainsail of a VO70 has 172 sq m; the spinnaker can reach up to 500 sq m, and in bearing courses can deploy a potential of up to 700 sq m of sail surface.
The 2001/02 Volvo Ocean Race was won by the “Illbruck Challenge” German team, with John Kostecki as a skipper, followed by the Swedish “Assa Abloy” boat, skipper Neal McDonald, and the Italian-Finnish “Amer Sports”, with Grant Dalton as skipper. The boats covered a total distance of 58,523 kilometres (31,600 nautical miles).
NOTE: the record was set on April 6, 2005