Archivio della categoria Volvo Ocean Race 2014/2015

Vestas 11th Hour Racing completes transatlantic crossing


After a first offshore test of nearly 3,000 miles, Vestas 11th Hour Racing arrived in Newport, Rhode Island at around 1200 UTC on Friday.

The boat, which left the Boatyard facility in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday 19 April, completed its transatlantic crossing in front of a large, welcoming crowd, withstanding the fog and rain in Newport Harbour to see their heroes return to the States.

© Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race

“We’ve got a great group and it’s exciting to be back on the water,” said co-founder and team director, Mark Towill.

It marks a couple of major landmarks for the team in their 2017-18 race preparations – the first real sailing test of their boat, which underwent a one million euro refit at the Boatyard after the 2014-15 edition, and an invaluable opportunity to test out potential crewmembers.

© Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race

The team will now remain in skipper Charlie Enright’s home town before a return transatlantic in just over a fortnight, where, according to the skipper, they’ll be looking to push the boat a little harder to replicate race mode conditions.

Exciting times – 176 days to go! 

© Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race

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Meet the Volvo Ocean Racer eyeing Mount Everest


Where do you go after competing in the Volvo Ocean Race? Well, most sailors come back for another crack at sport’s toughest test of a team – but after taking on the 2014-15 edition, Team SCA’s Sara Hastreiter has taken on an altogether new extreme sport.

She was one of the least experienced members of the team, but was selected for her strength and determination to succeed – and she certainly needs those qualities in her new challenge: climbing some of the world’s tallest mountains. Here, she chats about the similarities between sailing and climbing, her Volvo Ocean Race experiences and her determination to conquer Mount Everest.

© Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Sara, you recently returned from a successful ascent of Aconcagua, located near the Argentina/Chile border – and the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, standing at 6,961 metres. This time 2 years ago you were sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race with Team SCA, what took you from the ocean to mountain climbing?

I’ve been looking for something as challenging as the Volvo Ocean Race as it began to look less likely that a women’s team would find sponsorship for the next edition of the race. I’m happy to continue sailing but few things are as extreme as the Volvo, and I’m someone who is always looking for adventure and challenges. I think I might just have found a challenge equal to the Volvo Ocean Race in training and attempting to climb Mt. Everest.

Do the Volvo Ocean Race and mountain climbing have anything in common? 

There are many similarities – not showering, freeze-dried food, very few changes of underwear, exposure to the elements, extreme temperatures, a beautiful night sky…. and pushing yourself further than you thought possible.

How can you compare the physical training between preparing for a Volvo Ocean Race to attempting one of the world’s biggest peaks? 

The commitment level is the same. During the Volvo Ocean Race, we always felt like we could never be strong enough… I feel much the same with mountaineering because of the variety of challenges and particularly the difficulties at altitude. You can never be fit enough – and even then, you never know how altitude will affect you. It’s a different type of fitness though. Instead of always trying to be stronger and build muscle, cardio is one of my biggest focuses – and instead of concentrating on muscles for pushing, pulling and lifting heavy objects like we did during the Volvo Ocean Race, I’m looking at carrying heavy loads on my back and building my legs to support me. There are small areas that I’d never thought of concentrating on but when I go to climb something now, I write down where I feel I have a weakness or need to concentrate on and then I can apply that in a gym setting. Like most things though, getting out and doing that activity is the best way to train, and especially for me, as altitude is something that will always be a huge challenge. At 18,000 feet you have 1/2 the amount of oxygen you do at sea level. Aconcagua, the peak I climbed in February, was 22,841 feet tall (6,962m). At the summit of Everest, 29,035 feet, you have 1/3 the oxygen.

© Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Do you think that the Volvo Ocean Race set you up to better cope with the challenges you came up against climbing Aconcagua?  

One thing is for sure, the challenges will continue to get harder as I become more experienced and push to bigger and more technical mountains. It’s like going into the Southern Ocean for the first time. You’re four legs into the Volvo Ocean Race, so you know how hard this race can already be, but you know the Southern Ocean is going to be an entirely different beast. So far, I’d describe the climbing at a similar challenge level to a good day in the Southern Ocean. It’s cold and uncomfortable but still enjoyable. Summit day on Aconcagua… that was a different story.

What are your thoughts on the rule changes to make it easier for female sailors to do the race in 2017-18? Your ex-team mate Carolijn (Brouwer) has already got a spot on Dongfeng…

It was really great to see the race take what was a really bold step in making the rule change. By making it more advantageous to include women on a team of seven men, they showed their commitment to women in the future of the sport. I’m not sure we’d have these same opportunities otherwise. I was really excited to hear the announcement of Carolijn joining Dongfeng. Having sailed around the world with her, I know she’s a fantastic sailor and helmswoman with a great spirit offshore. Her level of commitment to performance offshore and fitness onshore was something I always admired. She’ll make a great addition to an already fantastic team.

Tell us a little more about the day you reach the summit of the mountain – it was pretty tough by the sounds of it…

I’d describe summit day as the equivalent of a never-ending chinese gybe. On Aconcagua, summit day is 3,583 feet from high camp. You’re sleeping at more than 19,000 feet so the effects of altitude are pretty extreme. I woke up on summit morning at 4am with a screaming headache (which is fairly typical), and tried to soothe it away with a 600mg ibuprofen and about 1L of hot tea. The pain was so intense it actually made me vomit and I lost all that vital hydration, so my morning did not start out ideally. I worried the guides wouldn’t even let me leave the tent. I was luckily able to get some medicine to ease the nausea and the headache from our guide and felt better enough to get ready. We left camp three around 5:15am. Our summit day stood between two big storms and it was ridiculously cold. I’m luckily a human radiator when I’m moving so I was fine but by sunrise several people were feeling the effects of the altitude and cold. One was losing feeling in their toes and fearing frostbite, another suffering from a form of snow blindness, and two others who just generally weren’t feeling well…four climbers turned around in two separate groups, going down with two of our three guides. From this point, Independencia Hut, we were 1 mile from the summit. This may not sound far, but at 21,000 feet a mile may as well be 20. This left us with 6 climbers and 1 guide. This meant if one person needed to turn around, it was likely that we would all have to turn around. As we went along it was very evident that people were starting to feel worse and worse. One man completely collapsed after half a mile and we weren’t able to continue to climb toward the summit as a group. Myself and another guy, Rui, were still feeling quite strong and mentally sound and wished to carry on but not everyone in the group was pleased to be turning around and we found it safest to all turn back. Nearly back at Independencia Hut, we knew one of the other guides was on his way back up from camp three after safely depositing other members so Rui and I turned back around and headed toward the summit with an expectation that the guide Sebastian, would catch up. Only minutes after turning around Rui told me he could no longer go on – I tried to convince him otherwise but settled for accepting his warm tea and sugary snacks as I set off alone toward the summit. I picked a spot and rested and waited for Sebastian to catch up to me, not knowing if he would even want to continue, but I was still very willing!

Seb caught up and was keen for the summit so we set off again. We had expected initially to be at the summit at noon but because of the back and forth, Seb and I stood on the summit at 4pm. My legs had definitely decided they had had enough multiple times over the last few hours but Seb kept pushing and I kept following. I had dedicated my climb to a friends 6 year old son, Austin, who had been diagnosed with Very High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I was carrying his bear with me that he takes on hospital visits and thinking about that little man going through radiation that same week was a huge motivator for me to get that bear to the summit and share the story. In all, it took us nine hours to climb up and less than two hours to get down as we hustled to get back to camp three before the next storm, just on the horizon.

© Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo

Not many people can say that they’ve sailed around the world, climbed one of the biggest peaks on the planet, and are planning to conquer Mount Everest too. What have you taken away from your experiences so far?

It’s really exciting for me to have a new goal and to figure the ins and outs of a new extreme sport. I have a huge advantage coming from the Volvo Ocean Race and sailing in general as it’s given me a baseline confidence to push my boundaries and step outside my comfort zone. It’s also very empowering to be in another sport where the elements see no gender, and it’s down to you as an individual, your determination and skill. The biggest thing I take away from these adventures is the inspiration to never stop exploring. By that I mean never stop exploring the world nor my undetermined personal limits.

Hear hear. So what’s up next?

I’m headed to the Caribbean for some sailing and my next race is the feeder race from Antigua to Bermuda in May. I’ve then planned some mountaineering courses in the summer and am then headed to Russia in August to climb Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in “Europe” (under the definition of the ‘Seven Summits’). I’m currently working on sponsorship for climbing Everest and a few other adventurous endeavors I have in mind. Hopefully, as the plan stands now, I will continue on to Denali in Alaska next year and Broad Peak in Pakistan before heading to Everest in the spring of 2019.

Interview via the Magenta Project. You can donate to Sara’s sponsorship fund for Austin here.

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As Vestas 11th Hour Racing cross the Atlantic, it’s time to reflect on Earth Day


As Vestas 11th Hour Racing cross the Atlantic, skipper Charlie Enright and team director Mark Towill reflect on Earth Day, a key topic for a team that has sustainability at its core.

“Can you tell me one of the things you love about planet Earth?”
Not the typical question I frequently ask to any bleary-eyed sailor, but Earth Day matters to this team. 

Earth Day is a celebration of our wondrous planet and with it comes the message that ‘education is the foundation for progress’. The 2017 campaign focuses on environmental and climate literacy, as an informed citizen is a person capable of instigating meaningful change throughout our world. 

© Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race

Mark Towill and Charlie Enright are particularly passionate about the project, and with two sustainably-focused sponsors in Vestas and 11th Hour Racing, representing the vital elements of wind and water respectively, their joint goal is to lead through sustainability.. “Some of the things that make our planet special are how big it is, but also how small it is,” says Mark Towill. “There are a lot of us here and we need to look after it. To sail around the world is a privilege, and to see the amount of wildlife and the amount of pollution is really humbling. With that knowledge comes a deep sense of responsibility.

“In order to bring about change education is necessary. We’re excited to use the Volvo Ocean Race as an educational platform to bring further awareness and understanding to these issues. 

We’re about to sail around an ice gate, and climate change is real, the ice gates of today are different to how they were many moons ago. Unless we can incite change we’re not going to see a change in action and a change in culture.

Charlie Enright

“By having Vestas and 11th Hour Racing as partners, we feel more environmentally aware. When you have children you want them to enjoy clean water and clean air. I’m always amazed at home after a storm how much plastic ends up on the beach. If we can change that it can only be good thing for the future”.

Happy Earth day everybody, there aren’t many things in life education can’t solve. 

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A new addition to the North Sails inventory for the Volvo Ocean 65 racing machines


© Amory Ross/North Sails

Their sails have powered eight out of nine Volvo Ocean Race winners since 1989-90, with Steinlager 2.
Here’s everything you need to know about North Sails’ sails.

1) They’re not paneled, they’re composites
Instead of assembling cloth panels into a particular sail shape, the Volvo Ocean Race sails are composites. This means that 3Di material ‘tapes’ are laid in a specific arrangement, offering stable structure to the sail where it is needed most. The outcome? An unmatched weight to stiffness ratio and advanced durability. This is a patented process at North Sails, so you won’t be able to get 3Di composites from anywhere else in the world.

2) North Sails aren’t just above deck…
Sail design today encompases a lot more than it used to. When a new boat is commissioned, designers will often bring North Sails into the early stages of planning to collaborate on producing a well-balanced boat. This is exactly what happened in the case of the Volvo Ocean 65, when Farr Yacht Design worked closely with both North Sails and Southern Spars to create a cohesive package where the hull, appendages, spars and sails were all designed with the next in mind. And it’s not just about what sail you have, it’s what you do with it. That’s why each Volvo Ocean Race team receives a bespoke Velocity Prediction Program, illustrating the potential performance of their boat according to inputs such as true wind speed and angle, and advises the proper sail to be used in order to optimise racing performance in each condition.

3) Each sail is part of an eight-piece puzzle
Each Volvo Ocean Race team receives a full sail inventory, which assembles like a jigsaw puzzle to create a package. While the sails across the fleet are all identical, the difference lies in how they’re used – with slight variations of angle, trim and tuning. Each team will push their boat, rig and sails slightly differently, inching out every last bit of performance.

4) It’s all about the data
If there’s one thing that Volvo Ocean Race sailors are good at, it’s making the boat go fast. There aren’t many people who have raced relentlessly through the toughest oceans on the planet, and so the Volvo Ocean Race provides invaluable real-life test bench in order to continue the evolution of North Sails’ products. For the 2017-18 edition, the teams will have one more sail in their inventory, expanding the range from seven to eight sails.

“The teams were forever changing configurations in 10-15 knots upwind and tight reaching. When using the masthead zero the teams were pushing the boat too hard. Changing to the J1 made them under powered. So one of the changes we made for 2017 was to add a J0, which fits between the MHO and J1 and covers that range.” – Gautier Sergent, North Sails designer.

© Amory Ross/North Sails

5) With every change or upgrade, there’s a domino effect
The introduction of a J0 to the sail inventory has led to some other key changes in the range. For example, the Fractional Code Zero, or FR0, which was previously used in a very small upwind range between the J1 and masthead zero, is now a dedicated downwind sail. The FRO for the 2017-18 edition is made of 3Di FORCE, a new downwind application of North Sails 3Di composite sailmaking. This means that the sail is more stable with a 3Di structure throughout an increased range of conditions, which is great news for both sailors and designers. The added bonus of 3Di is that the sails are more easily repeated, as moulded sails offer more streamlined manufacturing and assembly than paneled ones. Each type of sail can be made in sequence: the mold is set once and the sails are consolidated one by one, which is key in a One Design class.

“The process of producing the raw sail shape is now fully automated and several quality control steps are taken along the way to ensure consistency. In the past, manually joining panels to produce a sail meant no two sails were ever identical. North Sails 3Di has solved this problem and is the only option for a One Design race at this level” – Nathan Quirk – Head of Sail Loft Division, The Boatyard

6) Surf’s Up
What would be the point of three times more Southern Ocean racing we’re going to enjoy in 2017-18 if we didn’t have the sails to make the most of it? Well, not to worry – the new sail inventory is perfectly-suited for a decidedly downwind course. That downwind FRO? It’s full shape and straight exit are designed to harness the wind and send the sailors surfing down 20ft swell. We’re jealous already.

7) It’s all in the planning
Although there’s no crystal ball when it comes to the Volvo Ocean Race, any round the world sailor worth his sea salt will tell you that there are plenty of miles to be gained by studying data – and sail designers are no different. North Sails have already done extensive routing with two inventories, to ensure they’re using the right balance – and with the introduction of the J0 and the changing of the FRO, there should be a lot less sail changes required.

8) Fortune Telling
There is no crystal ball when it comes to predicting a race around the planet, but sail designers can study the race route and draw decision making data from historical weather patterns.

“With the addition of one more sail, the crew are often quick to point out that it’s one more sail to handle, one more sail to stack. But after looking at the inventory as a whole and assessing the available configurations, we found that the amount of sail changes actually reduces significantly with the addition of the J0″ – Gautier Sergent, North Sails designer

9) Risk Reduction
There’s not much tougher test for a sail than the Volvo Ocean Race, and that’s why there’s a dedicated Boatyard team featuring a host of expert riggers, builders and sailmakers travelling to every Host City and working around the clock to keep the boats in good shape. They check between 60-80 sails every stopover, so reliability is key – and with 90% of all damage to sails happening during maneouvres and sail changes, subtle changes to the finishing of the sails to improve handling has been a game changer. To cut the time and energy used onboard, the luff length on the code sails has been reduced to allow for easier sail “peels” or changes, and, additionally, a relatively simple fitting – called an ‘integrator’ – has been added to the A3 (the biggest sail on board). This enables top-down furling which is preferred over bottom-up for larger running sails due to a faster, neater result and less chance of damage.

© Amalia Infante/Volvo Ocean Race

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AkzoNobel’s new boat completes epic journey


‘A massive journey to make’ | Volvo Ocean Race

It took three months of planning, and involved a 15-day journey of more than 2,000 kms, but team AkzoNobel’s brand new Volvo Ocean 65 has completed its long journey from Persico Marina in Italy to The Boatyard in Lisbon, Portugal. 

The new boat was rolled straight into the paint shed for the team to begin prepping it for branding before being fitted out with the necessary electrical systems, hydraulics, deck gear, keel system… the list is endless!

Sam Bourne from The Boatyard estimates the process will take up to 1,500-2,000 more man hours than the previously raced Volvo Ocean 65s. “We’re working with a completely bare boat,” said Bourne. “Even though team AkzoNobel’s Volvo Ocean 65 is brand new, it will actually require more work than the rest of the fleet that already have have some of the required boat fittings. “This is an exciting project for us. We have 20+ people working on this full time and we aim to have the boat out of the shed by mid-June.”

While the The Boatyard team are hard at work, we can’t wait to see what the final artwork will look like. So roll on mid-June! 

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