The Harken Tech Team takes on the Volvo Ocean Race Cape Town Stopover

56 winches, 27 pedestals, 5 winch technicians, 7 days and it’s game on…

As with any great event, it always helps if there’s a spectacular setting to provide that perfect backdrop. When entering the Victoria and Alfred marina in Cape Town, you can’t help but notice the striking mountain, offset with the sight of the brightly-colored Volvo Ocean Race boats dotted around the dry dock. At first it looks very peaceful, until you realize there’s a hive of activity as the blue-shirted Boatyard team run from boat-to-boat getting them ready for the next grueling ocean leg.

This was an interesting stopover as the boats arrived earlier than expected; meaning they had been hauled out onto land before the Harken Tech Team touched down at Cape Town airport.  The team was luckily ahead of the game as Simon, one of the winch technicians who also happens to be a South African, was already on the ground. He managed to make great progress taking all 56 winches off the seven boats and ready for the full team of technicians to get to work in the Boatyard upon arrival.

So what tech team members were there at this stop? There was Max from Italy, Neil from the USA, Callum from Australia, Mark and Alun from the UK, and Simon from South Africa. It may also interest readers to know that, after a bit of questioning, it was established that between them, this team of technicians has seventeen years of experience providing service work for Volvo Ocean Race boats, and 64 years of marine experience. Needless to say I found this impressive, but when I added up the numbers, the team simply said it made them feel old!

Cape Town was an A--level service. This meant the team of six technicians removed all 56 winches (Harken 990 and 1111s) on every boat, serviced, cleaned and reinstalled them. In addition, all 21 Harken pedestals were given a full service and inspection ahead of the next leg to Melbourne.

At this stage of the race you can really get a feel for the camaraderie in the Boatyard; everyone is like family. The team has a brief meeting at 8 a.m. each morning to keep on track. There’s no dragging out these meetings, it’s a quick catch up and then everyone just gets on with it. In all honesty, this is a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows what their job is, they do it to a high standard, and they work long, hard hours. No wonder people often refer to the Boatyard as a traveling Grand-Prix service center.

The boats are currently on the final push to Melbourne, Australia, not a big service stop for the hardware/winch technicians. Our next big service stopover is Hong Kong, a first for the Volvo Ocean Race and a chance for sailors to recharge their batteries before the push to Auckland, New Zealand, and then back through the Southern Ocean in this incredible race of extremes.

 This year we are telling the untold story of the Boatyard team behind the Harken hardware. The long days and nights, good, bad and ugly…we will share it all with you on our website and socials (see below). Keep up-to-date with our latest news and let us take you along for the Volvo Ocean Race ride.

Thank you all for following our story.

Until next time…

- Hannah Cotterell


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