Technical partnerships key for the Volvo Race

Kim Hollamby
Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Volvo Ocean Race Director Nick Bice commenced the InnovationLAB activities on Wednesday with an update on the event, which has progressed substantially since he last appeared at METSTRADE last year.

By Kim Hollamby: METSTRADE Online Community reporter

Overview of this years race:

The race is returning to the Southern Ocean for this episode and other welcome changes include a return to measuring elapsed time, with amendments to the points system too. There is a concerted push to get more female sailors involved, either in single or mixed gender boats and rule changes have been made to accommodate this. There will be more information than ever before live from each yacht too, through the use of onboard reporters and by enabling social media accounts for every participant sailor.

Engagement will extend also to the provision of M32 catamarans, to enable guest sailing. An extended prologue series will include the Fastnet Race and a race from Lisbon to the start line at Alicante. The assembly port has been moved to Lisbon and a deliberately budget capped refit is well underway on the seven original boats, while an eighth yacht is under construction. “We’ve been analysing the structure of our fleet, each hull having completed 60,000-70,000 miles and the indicators are very good,” Nick explains. “It’s full noise in Lisbon – we love it there and our suppliers and anyone else at METSTRADE are more than welcome to visit us at our base.

Technical partnerships

“Today though we’re here to unveil some of our key suppliers. “North Sails is working on a new inventory for us. We’re collaborating with Spinlock on some new safety innovations, including the development of a new Volvo Ocean Race deck vest. Mastervolt pretty much helped me to develop what we wanted a supplier relationship to be in the last race with its dedicated attendance at each stop. Ropes are a big deal too and we’ve been drawing up race specific requirements with Gottifredi Maffioli. Southern Spars already has four of its team refitting the rigs in Lisbon. You’d expect Volvo Penta to be providing our inboard power again. However for this edition they will also supply new technology catalysed gasoline engines for the team RIBs."

AkzoNobel will ensure our paintwork is to a common standard, to meet strict adherence to the one-design. B&G has been part of the race for a long time and we’re looking to working with them as we fit the boats with their latest and greatest products. Harken is a big part of our team and we’re working with them to develop an offshore specific 990 winch. Riwal is a new name though – this company is responsible for providing scissor lifts for each team to provide safe access to the boats when ashore.

Challenges for the near future

A one-design class can stifle innovation but we want to break that and promote our developments more widely. “One of the issues we have identified is our desire to see all of this development trickle down into the broader marine industry. As for the future of the race, we are undecided at this point. Mono, versus multi, versus foiler? Everyone has an opinion. We know though that there is a big future for the race. One of my missions is not to forget the roots of the route and to make it a great sporting occasion. What I want is for the whole industry is to engage with us as we’re starting a technical partnership scheme here at METSTRADE 2016. We welcome contact from any exhibitor who might wish to engage with us to test product. I am inviting industry fronteers to get involved with us on this platform."

Looking forward to get in touch,
Nick Bice

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