Article » Volvo Ocean Race update: Putting a boat back together

Volvo Ocean Race update: Putting a boat back togetherWe have been updating you on all the action in the Volvo Ocean Race, but here we can give you a little insight into the process of dismantling and reassembling a racing boat.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam is currently being “brought back to life” by the shore crew who took her to pieces as part of a regular stopover work schedule. They dismantled the boat to check it for any damage and are now putting it back together.

Mike Danks, the technical shore team manager for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing spoke to the Volvo Ocean Racing official website about the stress of moving the boat from the water. He described seeing the Azzam precariously hoisted almost 10 metres in the air by one lifting point, the keel frame. Which he said was a heart in throat moment.

“It does make you nervous seeing your boat up in the air,” he said. “One slip and you’re in a whole world of pain.

“Once she hits that water there’s work to be done. The rig is the next to go, that takes a couple of hours to put in and set up, then we run all the ropes, put the dagger boards back in, then the boom and tonight we’ll put the main on so the boat’s ready for yachting tomorrow.”

The lovely calm waters at Sanya Bay are creating a perfect platform for stepping the rig, which has not been such an easy task in the past. Previous ports like Alicante and Abu Dhabi had choppier marinas which meant this task was rather tricky.

After over one week out of the water undergoing meticulous work, Azzam is the last of the six Volvo Open 70s to be returned to the water.

Danks said his team, including five boat builders, two riggers, one electrician, two sail makers, one sail designer, an engineer and “a winch guy”, have been working 12-hour days to get Azzam ready.

The team have had no major repair work to do, with bubbling paint on the hull the most time consuming job they have faced.

“It’s just been general maintenance and a bit of bottom painting,” Danks said.

Once the rig is complete there are only a few more checks to be done and Azzam will be ready to take on the Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race on February 18 and the Leg 4 race to Auckland, which starts on February 19.

“There’s a few jobs we can’t get done until she’s back in the water. We’ll cant the keel a few times to make sure that’s ticking,” he said. “It’s just a matter of bringing her back to life.”

The DHL Shore Crew Award will be announced on Thursday. The previous winners in this race are Team Sanya for Leg 1 and PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG for Leg 2.

Picture: MARC BOW/Volvo Ocean Race