Harken Tech Team in Itajai for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race
It was a long leg from Auckland to Itajai of around 7,200 nm which turned out to be the toughest yet for both the boats and the Teams! With three teams Chinese jibing, the boats were under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, Dongfeng even lost a mast forcing them to make a jury rig and motor sail to Itajia.
The boats are not meant to motor sail for that long and don't have enough room for the fuel required. The team came up with a cunning solution to solve this problem by converting one of their water ballast tanks to take fuel for the trip.
ADOR won line honours completing leg 5 in 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes and 10 seconds with MAPFRE and Alvimedica close on their heels. Dongfeng limped home 8 days later.
Itajai was labelled as a partial service, meaning all winches would be serviced but the pedestal mechanics and gearboxes would only be inspected. This is due to both the time restraints and the fact that the work carried out in Auckland was a full service including all winches, gearboxes, and pedestals. All winches were in really good condition making our life easier.
Our main challenge for this stop was going to be how to turn around Dongfeng Race Team in the minimal time they would have in Itajai. There were only three days for the boat to come out of the water, get a new mast, service all the winch systems and electronics, and get the boat ready for the in port race. That meant 90% of the Boatyard working on one boat at one time, as you will see in our Tech Team video!!
To do this effectively was going to be challenging. There is always a difficult waiting game when the boats arrive; waiting for the boat to be lifted out the water. Unfortunately, the winches are used to steady the boat while it is being lifted, meaning we have to wait to be able to remove them and begin the service. Luckily, all the other teams were serviced and ready so we could put all four technicians to work as soon as possible. Doing this sped up the operation considerably, meaning within twenty minutes of the boat hitting the cradle all the winches were off and in our workshop. The system was then cleaned and inspected before putting everything back on the boat the following day. Job done!
The Teams now have the 5,010 nm leg up to Newport, Rhode Island. This is a coastal leg with lots of options to consider. It will include good trade winds, but there will also also times with no wind as they hit the Doldrums. The weather around Rhode island is also famed for being very tricky...let's see who comes out on top!
See you in Rhode Island!
-Mark Gardner: Volvo Ocean Race Project Manager