Volvo OceanLisbon Stopover - Meeting Nick Bice, Boatyard Manager

June 24, 2015, 1:38 p.m.

About 180,000 people visited the Volvo Ocean Race village in Lisbon for the stopover. The atmosphere at the village was electric because Team Vestas Wind was rejoining the race with a rebuilt boat. 'The boys are back in town' was their theme tune for the stopover and you could see the entire crew, including skipper Chris Nicholson, were looking forward to being back in the race.

Each boat in the Volvo Ocean Race carries a Silentwind Generator as backup for the main diesel generator. Normally the teams run their diesel generator five times every 48 hours, but this is reduced to three when they use the Silentwind Generator. The boats have a extremely high power requirement because as well as the specialist navigation and normal 'house' requirements they also have a very high demand for the media and filming equipment to provide the coverage we see daily. Those demands make the needs of a normal cruising yacht seem minimal by comparison.

At each stopover they create 'The Boatyard', a huge tent containing eight shipping containers, which they use as workshops and stores. The Boatyard is shared by all the teams. Inside the Boatyard there is a huge sailmaking loft, large enough to check and repair the colossal main sails for the Open 65s. The loft is surrounded by carbon fibre workshops, mechanical, electronic and rigging workshops and an administration area to co-ordinate any repairs.

This race has seen less major repairs needed compared to some previous races. The Boatyard Manager, Nick Bice, has the responsibility of ensuring each boat is safe and ready for the next leg. He is a laid back Australian who very obviously enjoys his work and is rarely is seen without a smile on his face. He told us that it was his personal project to see the race take further steps towards use of renewable energy.

The start of the next leg was not what the crews might have liked, with the wind dropping to almost nothing while they were upstream in the river and sailing against the tide. Suddenly the wind picked up and, to the joy of the crowds, real racing began. The next leg will be one of the toughest the teams have had to face with upwind sailing most of the way and the forecast showing winds of 50 knots right on the nose as they pass Cape Finistere into the Bay of Biscay.


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