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Aussie expertise boosts one-design process

Volvo Ocean Race sailors Phil Harmer and Chris Nicholson working on the new design at Multiplast, France © Rick Deppe / Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race sailors Phil Harmer and Chris Nicholson working on the new design at Multiplast, France © Rick Deppe / Volvo Ocean Race

Chris Nicholson and Neil Cox have played major roles in getting two boats on the start line for the Volvo Ocean Race but their latest assignment breaks new ground even for them, as they apply their expertise to the new one-design project currently underway.

Nicholson and Cox worked closely together to help get PUMA's il mostro on the water for the 2008-09 edition and as skipper and shore crew manager they oversaw the CAMPER project from the team side last time out.

Recently arrived from Multiplast in France, the two Australians stopped by the race headquarters in Alicante before flying out to the Farr offices in the United States, where the new 65-foot boat has been designed. 

"The one thing with Coxy and I is that we were right there with PUMA in 2008-09 and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in 2011-12 -- from the very start right through the build and on to the race," explains Nicholson. 

"There aren’t many people, who can understand the effects a decision here has on other parts of the programme. Hopefully we can help that along."

Cox adds: "The Volvo Ocean Race wants to deliver a ready-to-sail yacht to the teams. Our job is to minimise the amount of additional work that happens when launching this new one-design boat."

A two-time Olympian, the modest Nicholson sailed his fourth Volvo Ocean Race as CAMPER’s skipper. It was Cox's fourth edition too.

Both experts have been part of the working groups around the new boat project since even before the announcement of the new one-design. Now consulting for the new project, they confess that the exercise is rather different from their previous experiences. 

"It’s not an easy one because in the past, we only had 10 other people in the crew and one sponsor," explains Nicholson. "Here, we've got to consider several teams, including a women’s boat, who will have their different views. It won’t suit perfectly everybody but as an overall package, I think it will deliver nicely."

After a week-long deck mock-up in Multiplast, one of the four boatyards of the consortium responsible for the construction of the new boat, the two men are definitely embracing the one-design project. 

"It was good because there were quite a few people there who have done the race before," affirms Cox. "Everyone in France was there for the right reasons, trying to pull in positive information. The boat is not just for us -- it’s for the people in the industry who will hold us the next six years of their lives!"



Nico adds that "one design will be great racing. The hull shape itself is safer, which makes the deck safer. Above that, the bigger jump is that sponsors know than they can get a fast boat on the water. That was the sponsors’ bigger concern in the past. Now that problem is taken away. Just that alone will be a success."


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