Harken Tech Team in Lisbon for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race
May 17th saw the start of one of the Volvo Ocean Races trademark legs: Newport, Rhode Island to Lisbon, Portugal. The fleet started with an amazing send off from the local race fans and began settling into the 10-day 2800 nm leg.
The 15 knots enjoyed during the start soon turned into lighter air, proving quite a challenge for the fleet in the first 24 hours. Apart from light and shifty conditions, the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) off Newport would also need to be negotiated successfully. This caused a bit of controversy as half the fleet crossed into the exclusion zone and would have to make a trip to the protest room on arrival in Lisbon.
On the navigators' minds since the start of this leg was how to successfully navigate the permanent fixture of the Azores high pressure. Basically, there are two calls to make: sail further north (more distance, more breeze), or a bit further south (less distance, less breeze). Team SCA made the bold call of sailing quite far north and managed to reel in the pack, shedding 83 nm off their deficit. Dongfeng Race Team led the pack out of the high, only to end up parked in a windless hole while the rest of the fleet started to hook into the Portuguese trade winds.
Team Brunel eventually triumphed on this leg with an elapsed time of 9d 11h 09min 49s. They were followed by MAPFRE and Team Alvimedica in second and third places. Current race leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finished fifth, just 30 minutes behind fourth place Dongfeng Race Team. Team SCA finished 6th.
With the return of Team Vestas Wind, the scene is set for the tricky coastal legs before the fleet finally finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The Lisbon service period was the last opportunity for the Harken Tech Team to give the fleet a full check and service. Initially scheduled as a partial service, the Tech Team pulled out all the stops, going the extra mile to also service all primary 606 gearboxes and X-boxes.
Unlike Newport, where the boats stayed in the water, Lisbon was back to normal with the boats hauled out for service. This meant the Tech Team were back in the scissor lifts and removing winches at 7 meters above ground. Once removed, the winches were taken back to the mobile workshop for full inspection and cleaning before being reinstalled and lubricated.
All of this was accomplished in four days, with the fifth and final day left for test sails and final tweaking of the systems.
Leg 8 Lisbon to Lorient
Leg 8 started in very challenging conditions on the Tagus River. The fleet were met with almost no wind and the effect of a strong incoming tide. MAPRE led for most of the in-port section of the restart only to lose the lead to Team Brunel while exiting the river mouth.
Shortly after the exit, the teams saw up to 30 knots of breeze which led to multiple position changes, setting up for what should be a very tactical coastal leg to Lorient, France.