Designed by innovation, built for endurance
Protecting what's important
The Volvo Ocean Race 65 yacht is an exercise in design and engineering that ensures the success – and survival – of the crews taking part. Built to ‘one design’ using a single set of specifications, every yacht is an expression of true craftsmanship and packed with innovative technology. It is fitness for purpose, in ocean-going form.
Marcello Persico, whose company, Persico Marine, is part of the consortium that builds the Volvo Ocean Race 65, sees a clear parallel between these yachts and the latest Volvo cars. “Volvo Cars builds innovative, intuitive products that put people and safety first,” he says. “These values are shared with the Volvo Ocean 65 racing yacht. My job is to use the best engineers and boat builders to make yachts that delight and protect sailors, just as Volvo customers rely on the people behind the cars.”
Protecting people is at the heart of Volvo Cars, and at the heart of the Volvo Ocean Race 65. The yachts are so strong and durable they will actually stay in service for two of the marathon sailing races – the previous 2014-15 event, as well as the current 2017-18 race.
The boats’ hulls are made partly of carbon fibre – strong enough to withstand the pounding of the toughest oceans, and light enough to make them extremely fast. There are eight bulkheads, to boost structural strength, while the rigging is made from carbon fibre and the sails are made using advanced 3Di moulding technology. Picking the right material for the job is as important for a racing yacht as it is in a Volvo car.
Built to perform
The technical innovation includes sophisticated communication equipment, to ensure a crew’s safety. The organisers can track every boat’s exact position and the sailing conditions. Video, satellite and communications technology on board each boat enables the public to follow every single competitor, over every wave. Each boat has five HD cameras and two on-board microphones. These cameras can all operate in slo-mo, night vision and with wide-angle lenses.
Each sailing yacht also has an engine – a Volvo Penta D2-75. The diesel power on board generates electricity for all communication equipment, computers, lights and heating, as well as offering an emergency power source. The engines must be able to handle high speeds and violent motions, as the boat is rocked by storms. These engines are highly regarded by the international sailing community for their power, quietness and clean running.
The Volvo Ocean Race yacht is built to perform in the toughest conditions. And, as with the thoughtfully designed interior of every Volvo car, the cabin and deck of the Volvo Ocean Race 65 is designed around its crew.
Personal safety is never far from a competitor’s mind – the crew are permanently tethered to the deck whenever they’re out in the open. In the freezing climate of the Southern Ocean they wear specially designed thermal suits to stay warm that can take up to half an hour to put on or take off. Below deck, competitors grab sleep in four-hour cycles, strapped into slim bunks, with their feet angled towards the front of the boat so any impacts with big waves are absorbed by their knees and not their necks. The thoroughness and attention to detail required to create a yacht that can withstand such a punishing is considerable, and it takes an incredible 36,000 man-hours over the course of seven months to put one together.
Looking ahead is crucial to crews that take part in the Volvo Ocean Race, and to the future of the event. For the next edition in 2019-20, a new design of boat – to be built exclusively by Persico Marine – will be used. Using the knowledge gained from the current boat and making use of advances in technology, it will be built to protect those on board, with safety and environmental performance in mind. Just as the next generation of Volvo cars will be a new chapter in an already successful story.
The race to the horizon
The fascinating background and history of the Volvo Ocean Race have turned it into one of the best-known and toughest endurance races in the sporting calendar. For four and a half decades, participants have challenging themselves and each other as they sail its course. In this article, we will trace the race back to its beginning - and beyond, looking at the developments that shaped modern sea travel and made it possible in the first place. We trace the history of the race all the way back to the opening of the Panama and Suez canals, and then how - decades later - Robin Knox-Johnson became the first man to sail single-handedly round the planet. We then describe the foundation of the race in the 70s, and the developments that turned it into the event we know today - with its cutting-edge boats, teams of world champion sailors and non-stop coverage.
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.
An ocean of endurance
It’s the supreme test of teamwork, communication and physical endurance – guiding a boat on an eight-month journey of 45,000 nautical miles, using the power of the wind alone. This is the Volvo Ocean Race.