Riding with the Volvo Ocean Race
Last Boat Safe at Last in Rio
by Kat Bennett
Movistar sailed into Rio on March 16, covering Leg 4’s 6,700 nautical miles in 25 days, 14 hours, 41 minutes and 40 seconds. Last place earned the team just two points, but those points moved Movistar into fourth place overall, just 11⁄2 points ahead of Brasil1.
Why was Movistar, one of the designs of Annapolitan Bruce Farr, so slow?
“The new design with the canting keel was supposed to be easier to handle,” said Jim Allsopp of North Sails One Design, the designer of Movistar’s sails. “But it has proven to be much more physically challenging than anyone expected.”
Deep in the Southern Ocean, Movistar’s hull breeched, and water entered the vessel. Pumping and quick thinking prevailed; Movistar was able to get to a safe port. Temporary repairs at Cape Horn kept the yacht in the race.
The waterlogged electrical systems failed as Movistar pushed toward Rio. Engines and alternators stopped working just days before the finish.
Even with her keel patched in a fixed position, Movistar was able to sail up to 30 knots. Capt. Bouwe Bekking gave some of the credit to his sails. “Haven’t blown out or destroyed any of our North sails and didn’t break any battens,” he wrote in his log. “The mainsail still [has] plenty of miles in it.”
Here’s how the fleet stands at the end of Leg 4
1: ABN AMRO One (Netherlands), 49.0 points
2: ABN AMRO Two (Netherlands), 35.0 points
3: Pirates of the Carribbean (USA), 30.5 points
4: MOVISTAR (Spain), 28.0 points
5: Brasil 1 (Brazil), 26.5 points
6: Ericsson (Sweden), 21.0 points
7: Brunel (Australia), 11.5 points
Based in Annapolis, North Sails One Design has made most of the sails for the Volvo fleet.
“All of the boats use three-dimension
al laminates, which have fibers continuous from front to back,” Allsopp explains. “But each boat uses a slightly different sail design and fabric composition, which affects weight, strength and flexibility.”
Movistar’s sails were developed by the North Sails D
anish design team under Henrik Sunderland.
Races like the Volvo Ocean Race, which test the newest technologies under the toughest conditions, are laboratories for developing the safest and best equipment for everyone.