Tim Jeffery på the Telegraph och en del andra verkar tycka att E4 kan bli klurig att köra runt jorden. Säkert supersnabb, men kommer båt och besättning att palla?
Flat pack boats in land of IKEA
To Stockholm to see the second of the Ericsson boats for this winter’s Volvo Ocean Race. In novel fashion she was built by Killian Bushe in Kista, a Scandinavian Silicon Valley suburb of the Swedish capital and bang next door to Ericsson’s world HQ.
Not only have 7,000 visitors looked in to see the boat under construction but so too have 10,000 employees. Nice idea for a race that starts in Spain in October and won’t been seen again in Europe until early next summer.
This is a company that works its sponsorship hard. In the last race Ericsson had client meetings around the world and the revised course through India, Singapore and China means three billion new consumers to try and make a connection with.
Back to the boat. The striking thing about Ericsson 4, as the team call her, is her flat bottom.
There’s nothing new in this in terms of race boat design but, boy, does it put a premium on how the helmsman ‘lands’ the boat when driving at speed.
It’s no coincidence that over the years there’s been a number of racing boats which have suffered structural failures when doing something seemingly as innocent as motoring along.
Therein lays the problem: the boat is bolt upright. Much better to be heeled so that the flat floor actually becomes Vee-d in section.
But we’re talking a different order of magnitude with the Volvo 70s. Quite possibly, these boats will be launched off one wave at speeds up to 40 knots, take some big air, and then crash into or beyond the next trough or crest.
Remember that water is not as soft as it seems. It’s incompressible, so slamming into a wave at 40 knots wouldn’t be far off hitting a wall in a car traveling at 50mph.
Designer Juan Kouyoumdjian told the audience at the unveiling that: “Some boats come along every now and again with soul. This boat has soul.” E4 might have this but she’ll also need some grit in her character too given the abuse the seas are going to mete out.
Angular boats are all the rage for this Volvo Ocean Race. The Rob Humphreys-designed Russian boat has both serrated bow sections and topsides that when you lean over the side, instead of seeing the hull curve away from you is as flat as a wardrobe.
Skipper Andreas Hannakamp jokes that the boat was built too big and was put through a band saw to shave her to the right size.
I think he was being apocryphal.