The final refit ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 is completeIf you don’t understand, don’t worry! As MAPFRE gets back on the water in Lisbon, our shore crew manager Antonio Piris Talpi,” explains all.

Assembly period

A period where the boat is fully prepared before the race, and all the final checks made to the fleet, are undertaken in Lisbon.

“This process consists of the fine-tuning of all the different areas of the boat: hydraulics, electronics, sails…that must be revised by the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard. The aim is for the all the boats in the fleet to be one hundred percent ready for the round-the-world race, and to check that they all have the same assembly”.

Main activities

  • Assemble the boat cradle
  • Lift the boat out of the water and place it in the cradle to undertake the fine-tuning revision procedures. Check the state of the base, keel, paintwork of the hull, etc.
  • Remove, disassemble, reassemble and step the mast. Every element needs to be revised, and any changes made to ‘tired’ rigging. For measurement purposes ensure that the crosstrees have the correct angle in accordance with the rest of the rigging, and the mast has the correct weight, its centre of gravity.
    • Disassemble everything so the boatyard staff and measurers can undertake the corresponding checks and measurements, which we make with them. If there is any difference in one boat in respect to the others, it is corrected with the corresponding weight.
      • What if the boat has a lighter mast? Small lead weights must be added to the crosstrees until the centre of gravity and the weight reach the standard weight established for the fleet. It is not the case with MAPFRE, as we have seen that the mast has the correct weight, but this also means that it is heavy. The others have had to add weight to even them out, proving that nobody has any special advantage over the others. The weight and angle of the crosstrees has to be the same for the whole fleet, and until now there hadn’t been a comparative check across the whole fleet. They are sealed so they cannot be manipulated, as there is always a little bit of a controversy with this.
  • Paint the deck with non-slip paint to ensure safety and grip for the round-the-world race. “We really needed it because we had a kind of ice-skating rink instead of a deck on board! It takes a long time because everything has to be covered; a special canvas is mounted around the boat so not to spray the “neighbours”. It is a very lengthy and laborious procedure. The whole deck has to be disassembled and then reassembled.
  • Ultra-sound is applied to the hull, mast, boom, keel, daggerboards and rudders to guarantee there are no defects, which would not be detectable on sight.
  • There are tasks that have to be undertaken once the boat is on the water again, to check that everything on board works properly.
  • Change the oil in the hydraulic system, which moves the canting keel. This avoids blockage in any of the valves, which might occur with a simple shaving. Any tiny shaving that the filter has not been able to clear and remains in the system, can lead to an electro-valve not closing, and the keel could not withstand the position that the crew requires at any given moment. It is like a blood clot in a vein. The movement of the keel is extremely important.
  • Prepare the boat with the boom, daggerboards…
  • Assemble the main sail.
  • Revise all the safety elements on board to prepare them ahead of being officially ‘sealed’ by the organisation.
  • Tool and spares kit.
  • Pack and weigh all the material that will be stowed on board.
  • And a long etcetera.

Perfection does not exist, so I am not a perfectionist. I look for balance across all the different areas,” declares Talpi.

On 5th October MAPFRE will undertake its first sailing tests following the final refit. Meanwhile, the crew will have their last few days of rest before leaving on Sunday 8th October heading to the Volvo Ocean Race start port in Alicante.