Around-the-world with Harken’s Tech Team - Part 6


VOR65 service video, episode 6: Newport, Rhode Island

Harken Tech Team: Newport

Mark Gardner
Craig Blazer
Simon Botes

The Race

The 5,010 nm leg from Itajaí to Newport was thought by some to be one of the easier legs, but as usual the Volvo Ocean Race delivered more challenges for the teams. Shortly after the start, while sailing up the Brazilian coast towards Newport, the boats were ghosting along at only 2 knots. This wasn't going to last the whole leg though, and after encountering huge patches of seaweed, the fleet worked their way towards the equator and up to 25 knots of boat speed. The doldrums were almost nonexistent, and after a few tactical days, the fleet negotiated a massive front and hooked into the new breeze that it created.

Not even two days out, Dongfeng Race Team had the misfortune of another breakage — this time to their watermaker. As usual, 'Mr Fixit' Kevin Escoffier was on it and managed a fix that would last the rest of the leg. Dongfeng had broken their mast on the previous leg and overcame multiple hurdles to be ready for the start.

After lots of breeze the previous few days, the finish was a tight affair in little wind. The eventual leg winner, Dongfeng managed to seek out a three minute lead over the overall race leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. What a great comeback for Dongfeng! Following by less than an hour, Team Brunel completed the podium, with MAPFRE and Team Alvimedica filling 4th and 5th positions. Team SCA were last to arrive the next morning.


Harken service of the fleet in Newport was originally scheduled to be only a minor service. This would mean inspecting the winches while they were still installed on the boats. Due to the efficiency of the team and service systems during prior stopovers, it was decided to upgrade Newport to a Partial Service...

Partial service included removing all the winches from the boats and taking them to our mobile workshop in the Boatyard to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before being reinstalled on the boats.

The other change was that the boats were not hauled out of the water during this stopover. Normally the boats are on the hard with deck level about 7 metres up in the air, requiring the use of a scaffold or scissor lift for access.

As usual, our technicians shot into action, managing to complete the service of all winches and inspection of pedestals and drive systems within 3 days of the allocated 4. The 4th day was used to run through the boats with a fine-tooth comb, performing the final adjustments and checks.

At times the canting keel tests made reinstallation of the winches tricky — 40 degrees of heel is not exactly one of the best conditions in which to install winches — so we juggled between boats to carry out other service and still complete our job list in time.

3 days, 6 boats, 18 pedestals and 48 winches... no problem!

After a great stopover in Newport attracting around 125,000 visitors the fleet had a good send off and are now a few days into the 2800 nm leg across the Atlantic Ocean to Lisbon. This leg should hold some interesting weather developments and of course the close racing we have become accustomed to on this Volvo.

We are also looking forward to a 7 boat fleet again, as Team Vestas Wind are planning to rejoin at the next stop after an extensive rebuild in Italy at Persico Marine.

See you in Lisbon!

The Harken Tech Team

Other episode in the Harken Tech Team Series:

  • United States
  • Australia
  • France
  • Italia
  • New Zealand
  • Polska
  • Sverige
  • UK