Juanpa Cadario: VOR, entrevista a Marcelino Botin

VOR, entrevista a Marcelino Botin

Foto copyright Botin & Carkeek

Fuente info VOR


Thursday, December 1st 2010, 17:30 GMT

Marcelino Botin has made something of a name for himself designing winning IMS boats over the years, mainly in the Mediterranean. So in late 2003, when Emirates Team New Zealand were looking for new design impetus following their 5-0 America's Cup loss to Alinghi, he was earmarked as a key talent by their design coordinator Andy Claughton.

Since then, Botin has been successful not only on the America's Cup stage, designing Emirates Team New Zealand's Louis Vuitton Cup winner, but also designing TP52s which have won the Audi MedCup over the past three seasons.

Botin Carkeek's first attempt at a Volvo Open 70 began with a very promising design for PUMA, which finished second. With time and resources now on his side, Botin is intent on giving CAMPER the tool to win the race.

He grew up sailing from his native Santander on Spain's challenging north coast and met his South African business partner Shaun Carkeek in 1991, when they were studying Naval Architecture at Southampton University.

Some world-renowned designers grew up scribbling boats since they could hold a pencil; for Botin his choice of career path was much more pragmatic: a means to an end, to have a career in the sport he enjoyed, but he confesses he did not stand out as a sailor.

"I got started because I liked sailing. I was never that good. But I never wanted to do anything else, really. I started when I was young in Optimists, and I had a lot of friends who sailed," the quietly spoken Botin recalls.

"At some point, I decided I had better do something I liked. It is pretty sad if you end up doing something in life you don't like and so I was determined. I thought something related to sailing would be nice, and I have always been pretty technically minded, so I went to Southampton, studied for four years and came back to Spain and started from there designing IMS boats."

On returning to Santander, Botin Carkeek began by getting sponsorship for a small IMS 33-footer backed by an insurance company, an offshoot of Zurich. It led to a second boat, a 46-footer which won the Copa del Rey. The company quickly grasped what made winning boats under the IMS rule, and it was not just about speed.

Botin considers that their greatest opportunity to date was granted to them with the Camper Emirates Team New Zealand project, as it has given them the chance to complete a ‘research and development programme' (R&D) and testing plan: "I think the biggest difference for us this time to last time, is time. Last time we had absolutely no time to design the boat.

"We had just finished with the America's Cup in 2007 and this was August 2007 and we had to, if I remember, produce the lines for September, it was something like that. It was basically three months to design the boat and we had done no preliminary work at all."

"We did not know the rule at all. We had to develop all the tools for the Volvo Ocean Race, which are very, very different from the America's Cup or any kind of windward-leeward regatta racing. It was a struggle to get the boat in time and to do any kind of sensible research.

Botin confessed, "In fact, we were pretty surprised that the boat actually was reasonably competitive, to be honest. This time it has not been like that at all. We have had time to develop the tools, to develop the VPPs, the routers, the CFD, everything. And we have had time to design the boat. Obviously this time there is no excuse!"

Where will the big gains and losses be design wise do you think for the next race? "One thing which is pretty evident from the last race and the way these boats perform, is that you can make up a lot of gains if you are fast in the up range of speeds, when you are doing 28 knots instead of 25 or 26 knots. That means a big gain over 24 hours and that sort of speed difference is not achievable when you are doing 12 knots of boat speed. Basically then you need to have a very good all-round boat, but it has to be especially good in that high range, high speed stuff."

And having been with Team New Zealand since 2004, what insight can you give to their success, as they presumably are returning to their ‘roots' by challenging for the Volvo Ocean Race Trophy?

"For us it is business as usual, an extension of the America's Cup and the TP52's that we have done over the years now. As well as the Cup stuff we did the TP52 and now the Volvo, so it many respects it is business as usual.

"The way we have worked with the Volvo Open 70 is the way we have worked with the TP52. The guys in the team have lots of ideas and one of the characteristics of this team which makes it so interesting to work with, is that the whole team is like a unit."

"Everyone comes along with ideas and puts them on the table. Everyone is free to come in and discuss things, they are all very knowledgeable about the design and what makes boats go fast. That, for a designer, is something that is very inspiring and very good. Everybody has ideas and they are good ideas. And you see that in their boats.

"On the TP52 many of the ideas came from the sailing team, not from the design team. And in turn, that makes a huge difference to how the boat is being sailed and the way they look at the boat and value it. It is their creature as much as ours."

And what do you see as the key ingredients in the make-up of Team New Zealand? "Obviously they are very talented, that is the most important thing. They would probably be successful in whatever boat they sail in.

"As a team, what makes it so special is that it works as a unit. It is a very compact group of guys who have sailed together for many years. They know each other and get along and there is respect across the board for everyone in the team. Mutual respect is one of the main things. Everyone can have an idea on how something should work and if it is a good idea, then it gets incorporated.

"It is amazing how excited everyone is, amazing, especially after all this America's Cup hiatus lasting so long.

"But when the Volvo plan was put on the table everyone was excited and suddenly the whole place started to boil over with ideas. Everyone wanted to have an input and it was very exciting. Dalts (Grant Dalton) was more excited than anyone else and I am sure would love to be on the boat and sail, but he is very realistic about how things should be done. The team looks really good, the navigator, the whole job they have done so far.

"My impression of them is that if we can produce a good boat for them, they will be a formidable challenge for sure."