The amount of activity surrounding PUMA Ocean Racing in the little state of Rhode Island is astounding. We're very fortunate to be building our boat near Newport. Not only is this where I call home, but Newport has a long tradition of expert boat building.
Our hull and deck are now one piece. I'm sure New England Boat Works is happy we're being contained to one bay now! Next steps are to complete the deck details and to build out the inside of our new racing machine. Hall Spars is up the road in Bristol working on our mast. And while our sails were built out in Nevada, they will be completed one state away at North Sails in Milford, Connecticut.
Another massive project that is currently underway are the graphics. For reasons I can not explain, our GM Kimo Worthington has once again taken it on to personally oversee the graphics. To tell you the true, it's better him than me because if I were in charge we'd have a pretty plain looking boat in order to save on weight. But the graphics on this new boat are amazing and you'll all see them soon enough. Kimo is surrounded by some incredibly creative and talented graphic designers from GBH in London. The paint is being put on by air-brush artist Dean Loucks. It is a huge project and Kimo and the gang are going to have a lot of sleepless nights up to launch day!
While it's a huge relief that we have a structure resembling a boat now, it's an even bigger relief to have our full sailing team announced. We spent a lot of time and brain power on our final crew selection. I'm confident these two new members are the right fit for our team.
We've lured Kelvin Harrap (NZL) away from America's Cup racing and back into ocean racing. That's the thing about the Volvo Ocean Race, you may think you've gotten it out of your blood (even after a 10+ year hiatus), but it's a hard drug to kick. Kelvin said he was a bit concerned that he is lacking in offshore experience, but if you've done this race twice, you're more than qualified in my opinion! Having done two trips around the world, plus working with various America's Cup campaigns, PUMA has really lucked out with Kelvin and he will fit the multiple roles that we have waiting for him.
The final hire we made completed our under 30 requirement. We literally searched the world for a sailor to fill this final spot- turns out we didn't need to look very when we chose fellow Rhode Islander Rome Kirby. Rome has been living and breathing sailing for as long as I can remember and was born to do this race. I used to watch his junior races with his Dad (Jerry) and would always comment how this kid has the natural ability to make a boat go fast. Not only can he sail fast, but he has the drive to succeed and a tremendous work ethic. Even though he's the real rookie of our team, Rome takes on the attitude of a veteran, something he has learned by being around the best sailors in the world from a very young age.
From here on out, the big push is on. Between now and May, our boat will be transformed from a hull to a Volvo Open 70. A big thank you to the entire boat build and design team who are putting really long hours in so we can meet the beginning of our training schedule.
Very exciting times.
This story first appeared on the Volvo Ocean Race website.