A shared spirit
The power of people
“You win the Volvo Ocean Race by collaboration, by continuously learning and by great teamwork,” says Ian Walker, skipper of the 2014-15 winner, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. “Teamwork, not necessarily individual talent, is the key. Of course, individually every one of them is a great sailor. But it’s how they work together as a unit that really matters.”
Volvo Cars and the Volvo Ocean Race share a passion for people, and the spirit of teamwork is at the heart of each. The belief that we can do amazing things by working together and bringing out the best in each other. This is what you need to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, and to create innovative new cars that make people’s lives more enjoyable.
Bringing people together, united by a clear vision of what you want to achieve, is the key to success in the Volvo Ocean Race, says Martin Strömberg, a winner in 2011-12 on Groupama. “The year we won, we had a very diverse crew,” he says. “The different nationalities, cultures and skill sets all came together, complementing each other. It may be easier and more comfortable when everyone speaks the same language or comes from the same culture, but you soon learn that diverse skills can improve performance.”
The crews in the race need commitment and positivity to succeed. It’s all about a shared spirit, says American Sara Hastreiter, one of the youngest competitors in the 2014-15 race: “There is a real affinity with the people you sail with. When you work together, you can do things you would normally think are impossible,” she says. “Coordination and communication are critical – after all, it may be dark and the ocean rough. You’re being pounded by the weather and sea, it’s howling and your words are being whipped away by the wind. That’s where the training and teamwork really matter. You can do superhuman things. You do it because you have to.”
Close collaboration lies at the heart of what makes the Volvo Ocean Race special, and what drives Volvo Cars forward as a company. Thomas Ingenlath, chief design officer at Volvo Cars, says: “Car design today isn’t just about delivering beautiful shapes. You need to have a holistic view. You have to work with colleagues in the electronics department, communications, everywhere.”
The strength to lead
That sense of togetherness and team spirit is central to Volvo Cars’ way of working, and good leadership plays its part. Just as the skipper of a boat guides their crew through tough conditions, so the leaders at Volvo Cars must perform their role strongly and communicate the right message to their team.
Henrik Svensson, manager, audio systems, at Volvo Cars, says: “Everything starts with people at Volvo and, as a manager, I am a role model for my team members. It’s my job to inspire them, support them and challenge them to do better.”
“In Sweden there’s a long history of trusting people to resolve problems in their own way without supervising too much."
Audio systems manager, Volvo Cars
“As a company we want to be among the leaders in every area,” continues Henrik. “Not only in the products we make, but also the way we do things.”
The Swedish way of working is that every voice counts. Conny Blommé, senior interior design manager, says: “The style of leadership at Volvo reflects Swedish culture. In Sweden there’s a long history of trusting people to resolve problems in their own way without supervising too much, and that has created a lot of ingenious solutions. It encourages people to find new solutions in a creative way.”
Working together, with a common goal, allows people to achieve more. This is the spirit that unites the Volvo Ocean Race and Volvo Cars.
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.
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.