Tips From the Boatyard - Sail Magazine

Tips From the Boatyard

Volvo Ocean Race Sailmakers on 3Di Maintenance
Author:
Publish date:
01-13_07_180304_JRE_03695_4605

Within the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard sits a communal sail loft which provides service and repairs for all seven teams sailing in the 2017-18 edition of the race. The sail loft employs only five sailmakers who look after 56 sails in each stopover. If you’re thinking, “wow, these guys are slammed,” the answer is yes and no.

“We could not have managed this race with only five sailmakers for seven teams ten years ago,” remarks Nathan Quirk, Boatyard sail loft manager. “We would not have even tried because it was impossible. That reflects how good the 3Di product is.”

Since 2009, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet has evolved from open rule yachts and string sails to one design VO65’s with a 100% North 3Di inventory. With that, the teams have also changed from each having two to three sailmakers on staff to trusting the five-person shared loft for all their sail maintenance. The ability to manage the sail repairs is a testament to Nathan’s team and North 3Di.

Introducing the one design rule has also driven the teams to test the limits of their equipment. With an equal playing field, the only edge teams have is who can push themselves and their equipment harder than the next boat; far more than anyone ever thought or expected when the VO65 was introduced in 2012.

“Everyone has a lot of confidence in the boat and equipment. They are now racing hard through the Southern Ocean in 40-45 knots, where in the past you’d back off around 35 knots,” says Richard “Scoob” Kiff, Boatyard sailmaker. “The boats are strong, and the 3Di sails are on another level now. You can just keep pushing until something breaks.”

Nathan, Scoob and the Boatyard sailmakers take care of the most abused 3Di sails in the world and can provide expert insight in sail damage control. The guys stopped by the North Sails HQ in during the Newport (Rhode Island) stopover, and we sat down with them to grab some tips on preventive maintenance for 3Di sails.

Teamwork (or lack of) Contributes to the Health of Your Sails

Scoob: The format of the Volvo allows for teams to join late and with very little pre-race sailing. The teams with more sailing time tend to have better sail shape, kind of the opposite of what you’d expect. With experience comes better boat handling which also results in better sail handling.

02-13_08_180501_VEH_MTK_01390

Back To Basics

Nathan: 3Di sails last longer than anything we have seen before, but you still want to minimize flogging. A lot of the damage we see on these boats is just from flogging. Pre-start in a club race or a smaller regatta is the same thing. A lot of people put their sails up long before they need to, and sit their flogging or sailing around unnecessarily. Sails have a lifespan, with 3Di it is longer than you’d expect, but the better you look after them, the longer they’re going to last.

Scoob: When the sails are set up, and in use, we rarely see a problem. It’s the flogging that causes problems.

03-13_09_180511_JRE_53284_6975

Thinking Ahead Saves Your Sails

Nathan: Most of the repairs we see are because the teams did not have the right sails up in the right conditions. Maybe they couldn’t make the sail change or just getting the sail down was a struggle. And the competition is so tight in this edition of the race the guys are pushing everything until the last possible minute. Compared to an IMOCA, who are solo and more cautious, the Volvo teams are influenced by the boat next to them.

04-13_09_180520_JRE_65074_3651

Is ALL Your Gear In Good Condition?

Nathan: Most sail breakages or damage occurs due to another area of the boat failing. Making sure the rest of the boat and especially the rig and rigging is well maintained, and functions correctly is a big thing for sail care.

Work With Your Service Team

Nathan: After every leg, the sail coordinator from each boat will come into the loft and have a chat with us and tell us what happened, what went wrong during the leg, what went right. They give us guidance for the repairs. The discussion provides us with the team’s priority and also helps to save time because we have a worklist.

05-13_07_180227_JRE_01573_4001

Prepare for 3Di to (pleasantly) Surprise You

Nathan: By far the Southern Ocean Leg this edition is one of the hardest in recent races. And yet, there was no major damage. The leg was three weeks of sailing in 35-40 knots or more. Some of the teams saw 60+ at times during squalls. Historically, we have seen a lot more damage. With 3Di you see cuts and chafe, normal wear and tear, but the sails all stayed in one piece, which was amazing.

Scoob: We see chafe here and there, but not major repairs. We used to see sails arriving into port in two pieces, but we have not seen that this race. There was the issue with MAPFRE, but the sail damage was a symptom of something else.

Learn more

180608NS3Di_emailbanner_VOR

Related

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more