Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard gets a boost from Riwal
The Volvo Ocean Race is underway, and soon, the seven Volvo Ocean 65 sailboats will be heading across the Southern Ocean toward Itajai, Brazil on the 7,600 mile (7th) leg of the 45,000 mile (83,000 km) race. This year, Riwal is playing an important role in the race as an official supplier. Riwal has provided 20 scissor lifts and two forklift trucks to the mobile Boatyard that sets up in the 12 Host Cities to support maintenance on the boats between race legs. As reported in the previous Highlights, there are actually two complete mobile boatyards that leapfrog each other to stay ahead of the sailboats.
According to Neil Cox, Head of the Boatyard, each stopover is an extremely hectic but vitally important time. “The principle of the Boatyard is to facilitate the entire fleet,” he explains. “Basically what we do is to follow a service manual – just like if you bought a brand new car and came back to the dealership. Right there in front of you is a list of all the mandatory work that'll happen. We have a series of jobs that cover everything from the sail making, the hydraulics, and the electronics, to the keel system, the masts, the rigging and every other component or system of the boat. So that is the first priority and then we also take on any work that has come up during the leg, any kind of damage or anything like that and try to facilitate any additional work for the teams as best we can. Then the teams themselves also have small shore crews for the detail work.”
Altogether, says Neil, there is a staff of 24 Boatyard specialists, but they are also supplemented by staff from the various suppliers, so the crew grows to as many as 65 at some of the Host Cities. “The big challenge is that you have a limited time frame and the available man-hours dictate everything. There’s a five-day window and you’ve got to take care of seven teams on the service we plan for, plus whatever necessary work we discover during the stopover. So you’ve just got to be as efficient as you possibly can.”
This is where the availability of the Riwal scissor lifts proves so valuable, says Neil. “Because efficiency is key, it’s great that we can just roll the scissor lifts out of each team’s container and our own container and then our testing guys are up in the lifts going over the hull, our painters are doing touchups and hull surface preparation, and so on – using those scissor lifts immediately.” So far, it’s all worked “like magic”, he says. “They are such a high-use component of the whole set-up. We’re always trying to get as much time with them as possible.”
Neil also has high praise for the way the Riwal team helped out prior to the start of the race. “The Riwal guys were very helpful in bringing people down to do training, so every team now has certified fork lift and scissor lift drivers. Getting that training beforehand has been a huge asset. Riwal has played a huge role in facilitating what we do. Without them it would be all that much harder and it’s not lost on anybody – just how reassuring it is to be able to open up the containers and get right to work. That’s what Riwal has meant to us.”