Wondering what’s happening with the rigs of the new Volvo Ocean 65? It’s well underway at Southern Spars, New Zealand. The sole spar suppliers for the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, are working fast: three masts are already being finished and the first boom is ready to go.
Southern Spars will supply all the masts, booms and rigging for the 2014-15 and 2017-18 races. According to Project Manager Kevin Batten, the build of the high modulus masts and high modulus box booms is well underway.
'We’re right into it,' he said over the phone earlier this week. 'We have masts 1, 2 and 3 on the shop floor being worked on. Mast 1 is ahead of the others and has most of its internal fittings installed.
'Mast 2 has some of its internal components fitted and mast 3 is just in the jig and is getting drilled off. Mast 4 is now out of lamination and is getting trimmed. We have mast 5 half way through lamination.
'Boom 1 is fully painted and boom 2 is with our paint team now. Boom 3 is in the jig and is getting drilled off and we have boom 4 in lamination.'
The Auckland-based company will ship the first two masts in April to Green Marine in the UK. Like all the suppliers involved in the One Design project, Southern Spars not only has strict deadlines to meet to make sure the first boat hits the water this summer, but must also deliver reliable and strictly identical products.
The company’s product reliability has already been proven in the last edition of the race, when Southern Spars supplied full rig solutions for Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand and Team Telefónica, who came through the race without suffering rig problems. They also supplied partial packages to Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg and winners Groupama sailing team.
'These new rigs will go around the world twice and the masts are deck stepped,' added Batten. 'So it has been a bit challenging to get all the electronics and control lines through the mast base into the boat. The masts are all jumper-less with three spreaders. In general, we are using a lot of our previous experience to make sure the rigs will be reliable.'
And Batten is confident that Southern Spars processes can guarantee all the masts, booms and rigging to be the same.
'Making sure everything is one design from mast to mast was a big job in the beginning. We have a process here: we pick fibre for each mast and check the resin content to make sure each mast is the same weight for the mast section. Once the masts come out of lamination, we weight them all to make sure they meet the designed weight.
'When the masts are laminated we have a datum mark in the mould. This mark is transferred onto the mast tube. When the masts are set into the drilling jigs we line up the datum mark with a mark on the stands so we know every mast will be drilled the same.
'We spent a lot of time designing all the mast and boom jigs. There are new stands in the factory for the Volvo masts and booms these stands are bolted to the floor. The drilling jigs are then bolted to these stands so each time a mast or boom is installed in the stands we know they will be the same.
'We are absolutely confident that we will have everything identical.'
by Volvo Ocean Race
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9:58 AM Sat 9 Feb 2013GMT
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