Volvo Ocean Race: The ‘Behind The Scenes’ Race
Published on June 29th, 2015
The seven teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 weren’t the only ones involved in a race around the world. GAC Pindar, the logistics provider for the Volvo Ocean Race, was competing in their own unique round the world challenge.
GAC & GAC Pindar staff travelled over 30,000 miles to each of the host ports to understand the specific challenges that each would present over a year in advance of the start of the race.
Since then, GAC Pindar employees have worked over 21,000 hours to ensure the completion of the logistics task, including: the bump-in and bump-out at 11 host ports, the production of over 100 ATA Carnets for import and export customs and the storage of over $2,500,000 of spare boat parts at three locations around the world – Auckland, Dubai and Rotterdam – which had to be available for deployment at a moment’s notice.
With seven teams competing across 11 host ports and 5 continents, there have inevitably been many issues for GAC Pindar to contend with to ensure the smooth completion of the race.
Dongfeng Race Team mast recovery
GAC Pindar were key in successfully getting the Dongfeng Race Team back in the race after their mast broke on 30th March, over 2000 nautical miles from the next stopover in Itajaί, Brazil. GAC Pindar had just 20 days to deliver the 28.6 metre, $345,000 dollar mast to Itajaί so that the team could start leg six to Newport.
Emergency delivery was arranged from GAC storage in Dubai to Amsterdam and then to Sao Paulo by specially designed Boing 747 Cargo Planes. The mast was then transported to Itajaί by an over-sized truck and arrived two days ahead of schedule, allowing the Dongfeng Race team to re-join the race and maintain their podium position in the overall leaderboard.
Team Vestas Wind re-join the fleet
GAC Pindar was also instrumental in the return of Team Vestas Wind to the race in Lisbon, following their unfortunate incident in a shallow reef in the Cargados Carajos Shoals in Mauritius.
Initially, GAC Pindar redirected the various Team Vestas workshop containers that follow the team around the world to Genoa.
Once the stricken boat arrived in Genoa, GAC Pindar Technical Manager Ollie Smith was present on the ground in Genoa to oversee customs clearance for the vessel and to organise the transfer onto Persico Marine boatyard in Bergamo, Italy where the boat was re-built.
Race village logistics
GAC Pindar facilitated the transport of two identical race villages, which have leap-frogged each other around the world.
Sanya’s location meant that a total of five modes of transport were required to transport the race village from Cape Town in time – planes, container ships, ferries, trucks and a specially chartered barge.
The two container ships containing the race village could only go as far as Hong Kong. The only credible solution was to charter a barge to make the 60 hour trip down to Hainan Island on the southernmost tip of China. Truck bans from 6.30am – 9.30pm on Hanain Island further complicated efforts to transport the race village to its final location.
To transfer the race village from Sanya to Itajaί, 112 containers were shipped to Vietnam, then onto Malaysia and finally to Itajaί. In addition, 16 air freight containers had to be flown to Sao Paulo and then trucked the 500 miles to the race village site to meet the immovable race village deadline.
Once the race arrived in Europe, no air freight was possible and the transfer of the race village from Lisbon to Lorient was particularly difficult, requiring triple manned trucks, to travel 900 miles in just 26 hours to meet the tight deadline.
GAC’s Gothenburg born and bred Group President Bengt Ekstrand says: “The end of the Volvo Ocean Race is both a triumph for the seven competing teams and its organisers, and a true testimony to the power of GAC, its partners and our global reach and resources. GAC Pindar worked tirelessly with GAC employees at each venue to ensure the delivery of everything needed, regardless of the challenges that arose. Watching the boats sail into Gothenburg was a proud moment for everyone involved.”
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11, covering 38,739 nm on the way to the final In-Port Race on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams scored points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams competed in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition, the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. Click here for recap.