Around the World with Harken’s Tech Team

VOR65 service video, episode 1: Cape Town

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes during the stopovers of the most exciting races in the world? 

Harken’s Tech Team are on the ground working hard to help make it all happen and we’d like to take you along for the ride!

Follow us as we track Harken’s team of technical specialists around the world to various event stopovers to see what really goes on behind the scenes. Gain access to exclusive videos, write-ups and photos from the team as they work to keep top sailing athletes and their yachts performing on the water.

Cape Town: November 2014

HARKEN TECH TEAM:Mark Gardner: Volvo Ocean Race Project Manager
MISSION:Cape Town stopover: hardware servicing for the 7 Volvo Ocean Race Yachts


Each Volvo stopover is divided up into service levels much like a car; depending on how many miles the yachts have done and how difficult the previous leg is, this will denote the service level required.

Servicing is split up into the below three main categories:

Minor:  full dismantle and inspection of all winches, re-lubrication and reassemble

Partial: full dismantle and inspection of all winches. Pawl springs replaced winch re-lubrication and reassemble. Visual inspection of pedestal and drive system

Full: full dismantle and inspection of winch and pedestal / drive system, pawls, springs, seals and bushes replaced, system lubricated and reassembled.

The number of Harken technicians varies depending on how much work is required for the specific stop. For a full service it would take six days for one technician to service one Volvo 65. We have seven boats and most of the time only 6-7 days to do the work. This means we need more technicians and we need to work quickly!


The fleet were delayed into Cape Town due to a lack of wind, this meant that we had only five days instead of the predicted seven to carry out the service work required, because of this standby technicians were called in and we increase our numbers from the original three to four.  

The first boat over the line was Abu Dhabi on Tuesday afternoon. The yacht was quickly lifted out of the water onto its cradle and the work could begin!

The first step is to speak to the sailing crew and shore crew to make sure any problems they had during the leg with Harken equipment was recorded for investigating.

The second step is for the Harken technicians to remove all eight winches from the boat and take them to our workshop within the Volvo boatyard where they are cleaned and inspected.

Cape Town was a partial service level so all pawl springs were replaced.

The winches were then reassembled and lubricated onboard the boat.

Finally the drive system including three MX pedestals, four 606 gear boxes and one X- Box were visually inspected and any work required carried out.

This is then repeated on all seven boats in preparation for the start of leg 2. There were no major problems during this stopover and the boats were in very good condition considering!

The temperature was up which made it more difficult as it was impossible to work on deck in the middle of the day (you literally couldn’t pick your tools up as they were too hot to handle). Because of this we ran an early start to the day, working from 7am to 7pm with an hour off at the hottest time of the day.  Meaning we had more time on deck in the cooler hours of the morning.

The boats all went back in the water on the same day, the forecast was for the wind to increase so Volvo took their chance to get all the boats back in before it was too windy to do so.  After a day of sail trials there was a bit of fine tuning of the winch system to be done on the boats but all in all a good job done!

Next stop Abu Dhabi, 13th – 24th December!

Stay tuned for our next update!

Mark Gardner: Harken Tech Team Volvo Ocean Race Project Manager



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