Yachting: Volvo race changes rules to attract more women



GALWAY- Organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race announced Sunday changes to the next edition of the round-the-world yacht race aimed at boosting the number of women who take part.
For the first time in the 36-year history of the event, formerly called the Whitbread race, no women sailors are taking part in the 2008-09 edition of the race, which involves eight teams and began in Alicante, Spain in October.



Yachting: Volvo race changes rules to attract more women
Organisers decided that female teams will be allowed to carry 12 sailors, two of whom may be men, instead of just 10 for an all male team during the next edition of the world's most grueling offshore yacht race scheduled for 2011-12.
The change in the rules for the crew make-up for the next race was "an effort to encourage female participation", they said in a statement following a meeting in Galway, Ireland where current race entries have made a stop.
Specialists say female entries have disappeared from the race due to the selection of the more powerful Volvo Open 70 yachts in 2004, which are longer and require more physical force to control than the old Ocean 60 yachts that were used before.
"These boats are animals," said Lisa McDonald, who attempted to raise a mixed campaign for the last race with her husband Neal after skippering Amer Sports Too in 2001.
"They are wild and furious and pretty powerful so until there is a new rule, it is difficult to imagine girls being competitive in them," she told the Volvo Ocean Race website in January.
The organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race also announced several other changes for future editions designed to make the race more competitive and less costly.
The maximum weight for the keel fin and bulb of participating yachts in the future will be set at 7,400 kilogrammes and headfoils will be banned.
Organisers are also looking to ban two-boat testing which favours teams with bigger budgets. One of Swedish team Ericsson's two entries in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race, the Ericsson 4, currently leads the overall classification.
Volvo is seeking to make it possible for a team to be competitive with a budget of between 15-20 million euros in future race. They hope lower costs will attract about a dozen teams, instead of the 7 or 8 in recent editions.
The current Volvo Ocean Race is to conclude in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in June after negotiating 10 stages over 37,000 nautical miles.
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Sunday, May 31st 2009
AFP
           


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