Team Russia put the seal to a weekend of celebrations in an official naming ceremony of its Volvo Open 70 yacht Kosatka, (Russian for Orca, Killer Whale) in a christening at Gunwharf Quays Marina, Portsmouth (UK) on Monday 16th June.
Birgitta Westerberg, co-founder with Oleg Zherebtsov of the Solntse (Sun) Foundation charity for sick and underprivileged children in St Petersburg was asked to be godmother to the boat. She named Kosatka in honour of the speed, power and exemplary teamwork shown by Orcas. Breaking slightly with tradition a bottle of champagne was sprayed over the bow of the VO70 while the audience toasted the boat with a shot of Nemiroff vodka.
With a contingent of over 100 Russian guests, including friends and business associates of Team Russia's principle Oleg Zherebtsov, spectators were treated to a pyrotechnic display and unveiling of the environmental message the boat will take around the globe while competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, the premiere round the world yacht race that starts in Alicante this October. The event covers over 37,000 nautical miles and visits 11 ports, culminating in a finish in St Petersburg, Russia in June 2009.
'We Sail For the Whale'
Team Russia and the WDCS, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, have formed a partnership to highlight the urgent need for better protection for the world's whales and dolphins. The logo 'We Sail For The Whale' will head its campaign to call for the creation of twelve new marine protected areas - for whales and dolphins by 2012.
The route of the Volvo Ocean Race will cross many areas important to whales and dolphins. Starting in Alicante, Spain in October 2008 and finishing in St Petersburg, Russia in June 2009, the Race will visit 11 ports around the World over a 10-month period.
Since its unveiling Team Russia's Volvo Open 70, designed by Rob Humphreys and built by Green Marine, has provoked a great deal of interest and intrigue. Using two spray rails at the front of the boat to provide 'lift' downwind and less blue water over the deck, the Team expect to see advantages in this avant-garde design. 'We are planning to take the boat offshore over the next week to really put her through her paces,' explains skipper Andreas Hanakamp. 'The proof of the effectiveness will then become apparent. However, we do expect to see some good results based on the positive effects we observed during tank testing.'
Team Russia will move down to Portland, Dorset (UK) over the next few weeks where it will set up its training camp during the build up to the start of the Race. However, Kosatka will be back in The Solent at the end of the month for the JPM Morgan Round The Island Race.
by Julie Turner
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