Pushed to the limits

Intensive training, attention to detail and striving for perfection. This is what makes successful Volvo Ocean Race sailors, and what drives Volvo Cars forward.

Sam Davies, skipper of Team SCA, at the helm

Ready for adventure

“I love doing things that scare me and the scariest thing I could think of was to cross an ocean,” says Sara Hastreiter. “So I did it – I sailed across the Atlantic. I loved the combination of adventure, being offshore miles from land and arriving at a new destination.”

Sara was one of the crew for Team SCA, which took part in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. “Just three years after my first sailing experience, I was in the selection process for the all-female Team SCA. It was extremely tough. It wasn’t just a matter of picking the best sailors. Team dynamic was very important. People had to bring out the best in each other.”

Getting selected for the race is just the start, says Sam Davies, British skipper of Team SCA – the training required to be ready for the race is a challenge in itself. “We moved to Lanzarote to train full time for a year and a half before the race began,” she says. “My son’s first words were Spanish. The race then took nine months, and it took a year to recover from it, so great is the physical and mental effort.

“In Lanzarote, we lived and breathed the Volvo Ocean Race, training at least six days a week, first with hard gym sessions – muscle building and cardio – and then sailing, including two transatlantic trips. A cook provided breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was designed to get us in perfect shape for the big race. We could see our bodies changing.”

Tested to extremes

The months that Volvo Ocean Race crews spend getting ready for the event mirror the rigorous testing that Volvo Cars engineers put each new car through before it goes on sale. All Volvo cars, for instance, are tested in the frozen north of Sweden, in the middle of winter – where temperatures plummet even lower than they do on the Southern Ocean, often to -35C and below. Inside the Swedish Arctic Circle, Volvo Cars’ test facility – just a handful of kilometres south of the town of Jokkmokk – recently celebrated 30 years of tough winter car evaluation. It’s part of a Volvo Cars network of proving facilities and test routes around the world, which include the summer heat of the Middle East and America’s Death Valley (where the temperature is regularly over 40C), as well as high-speed test tracks and rough desert roads. Putting the cars through these extremes means they have the strong, durable characteristics that you expect of a Volvo car.

“It’s a huge physical challenge to do an around-the-world race and be out sailing for three or four weeks non-stop between ports.”

Martin Strömberg

Volvo Ocean Race sailor

Martin Strömberg has now competed in three Volvo Ocean Races, and was part of the winning crew in 2011-12. He stresses the physical demands that the race places on competitors, and the importance of targeted training. “It’s a huge physical challenge to do an around-the-world race and be out sailing for three or four weeks non-stop between ports,” he says. “It’s incredibly tiring and you have to be very diverse in your physical abilities. In some ways it’s like doing a sprint, when you change sails and have to work fast and with great physical intensity. In other ways it’s like a marathon and all about endurance. You use every muscle in your body and it’s an enormous test of mental toughness.”

Pushing yourself to do more, to go further, is an integral part of the Volvo Ocean Race. And it’s the same philosophy that drives the people at Volvo Cars forward.

Let the adventure begin