Southern Spars wishes to congratulate all teams and sailors involved in the 2014-2015 VOR (Volvo Ocean Race), as the first race with a one-design rule, this edition will never be forgotten.
With the yachts now identical, a premium was placed on sailors and their ability to push their boats for long periods of time. As such, this race saw the yachts, masts and sails, placed under unrelenting pressure for nine straight months.
Southern Spars was chosen as the supplier for mast and rigging packages against stiff competition. Southern’s reputation for great reliability and performance as well as ongoing support amongst the world’s best sailors and the race management won the day.
Mark Hauser, director at Southern Spars, says that experience is extremely valuable and Southern Spars has now supplied masts to 38 Whitbread/VOR contenders.
“Of the six Volvo Open 70s that competed in the last edition of the race, Camper and Telefonica were the only teams to complete the race without serious rig damage,” says Hauser. “Significantly, these two were also the only teams to utilize a full rig and rigging package from Southern Spars, and we believe this reliability is a key reason why we were chosen as the Volvo Ocean 65 one-design supplier for this and the next race.”
The strict one-design nature of the VO65s meant that all masts had to have identical strength, weight and bend characteristics, which Southern Spars went to extreme lengths to achieve. The result being a discrepancy in bend profile of just 1.4 mm across the board.
They also provided significant support to the crews and race management, with a team present at all major stopovers and a full check over by Southern Spars’ service division Rig Pro at the Auckland half-way point. “Southern Spars provided maintenance support to the race crews through our Rig Pro Service network,” says Hauser. “Simon Barker, from the Auckland team, actually joined the full-time race support team as Rig and Rigging Service Manager and followed the boats from port to port. Simon was supported by other Rig Pro staff at key locations where the un-stepping of the rigs was permitted.”
Richard Lott, the company CEO, says that Southern Spars’ contribution to the race highlights the complete package, from design, through production, to maintenance that Southern Spars provides.
“Southern Spars really enjoyed our role as rig supplier to the Volvo Race. We have been involved with the race for a long time now and I think this was probably the toughest one ever on gear. With the boats being One Design, the only way to make a gain on the competition was to drive the boats harder and this is what the crews did. Some of the shots from the Southern Ocean and the Bay of Biscay showed just how hard the teams were pushing.”
The entire VO65 package, including the masts, boom, and ECsix carbon rigging, also supplied by Southern Spars, will be used again in the next edition of the race. Lott feels the status of the event and offshore sailing in general are very positive looking ahead to the next race.
“The results and stories that have come from this race are great for the sport of sailing. Whether it is the overall win by Abu Dhabi, the excellent performance by the Franco-Chinese Dongfeng, leg wins by nearly every crew, including the all-female Team SCA, or the gargantuan effort by Vestas Wind to get back into the race. Congratulations to all.”
Southern Spars +64 9 845 7200 www.southernspars.com