In the Volvo Ocean Race, recent events have been slated as enough to warm the cockles of the heart of old Ebenezer Scrooge himself and though they may be the fiercest of rivals on the water, off it the teams showed the true festive spirit of team spirit and harmonious understanding on Christmas Eve.
Working from 0900 to around 1300, the shore crews toiled under the sun to prepare five cradles ready to transport the remaining boats in Leg 2 from the race’s safe haven port in a few days’ time. In turn, all five teams worked on each boat’s cradle before moving on to the next.
The cradles will be used to hold the 15-tonne Volvo Open 70 boats while they are shipped from the secret safe location in the Indian Ocean to a setdown point on the Northern Emirates coast. From there, they will race the final miles into Abu Dhabi early in the New Year.
'The teams all know they’re in this together,' said Race Director Jack Lloyd who oversaw some of the labours on Saturday.
'Not one of them can survive by themselves on this stage of the race but they’re working together really well to prepare things for the boats’ arrival.'
As the race’s five remaining boats in Leg 2 toil for the smallest advantage in the Indian Ocean, the only competition in the safe haven port between their shore teams is against time and the logistical headache of safely hoisting the craft on to the ship. 'Nobody has ever loaded a Volvo Open 70 with their rigging and mast in on to a ship before,' Lloyd continued.
'There’s potential for massive problems. A big wave or strong breeze could rock the boats as they are put on to the ship. They could be damaged in a heartbeat.'
'It’s quite some challenge.' Lloyd and his team also inspected the exact location of the finishing point for the first part of the Cape Town to Abu Dhabi leg which is being kept secret to lessen the risk of a piracy attack. They then checked out a huge barge which will be used to hold the cradles and boats before they are moved on to the ship.
Both won Lloyd’s thumbs up as well as a representative of DHL, the Volvo Ocean Race’s transportation partners. Now Lloyd is praying for a Christmas gift of strong enough winds to keep the boats racing strongly into the stop-off point but not so powerful as to make loading too hazardous.
Volvo Ocean Race website