Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton thinks more can be done to drive down team budgets for Volvo Ocean Race competitors.
As the teams gear up for the final leg of the 2011/12 race, Volvo race management have unveiled sweeping changes for the next two editions - the most significant of which will see the teams sail in identical yachts.
The plans detailed by VOR chief executive Knut Frostad at a presentation in Lorient yesterday, will significantly reduce the cost of mounting a competitive campaign and are aimed at increasing the size of the fleet in future editions.
Similar to the way in which the America's Cup World Series currently operates in the AC45s, each team will buy the same standard platform 65-foot (19.8m) monohull racing yacht.
The yachts, which are designed by United States-based Farr Yacht Design and constructed by a consortium of boatyards in the UK, France, Italy and Switzerland, can be bought "ready to sail" at a cost expected to be around €4.5 million ($7.1 million) - about a 30 per cent reduction in what it cost to design and build a boat for the current campaign.
Dalton believes the move is a step in the right direction for the event, but said management also need to look at reducing the personnel costs attached.
"The central problem in our sport at the moment is cost. Anything that controls cost has to be good for the sport," said Dalton.
The six boats contesting the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race are about to embark upon the ninth and final offshore leg, leaving Lorient tomorrow bound for Galway in Ireland.
Team New Zealand now concede the overall race win is out of their grasp, but they are hopeful of improving their podium position from third to second if conditions fall their way over the final leg.
The race will finish on July 7 with the final in-port race off Galway.By Dana Johannsen Email Dana