A number of guest experiences are available where visitors can view the action up close onboard a high-speed RIB (rigid inflatable boat) at the start of each leg or as the teams arrive into port for each section’s emotionally charged finale. Visitors to the Race Village in Newport, Rhode Island in the US can take advantage of events that have proven to be a big hit at other stop-over ports during the round-the-world competition, and see how the engine they may have in their boat is the same model that is an integral part of the prestigious race. Some lucky VIP guests are also invited to be a ‘leg jumper’ where they leap from a team’s vessel into the water, shortly after the start of a leg, and are picked up by a following RIB.
“A big part of the Volvo Ocean Race is the guest experience and we want to ensure that from the minute the guests arrive in the race village, they have the time of their life,” says Nick Bice, director of boats and maintenance for the Volvo Ocean Race. “This starts with the team bases for the boats and the RIBs play a big role in that. During the leg jumper experience, there have been many VIPs who have had a lot of fun jumping off one of the yachts, and when they do, they’re picked up quickly and safely by the team’s RIB.”
Guests enjoy the ‘leg jumping’ experience at the start of each leg in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Premium RIBs for a prestigious event
Each of the seven teams has its own, identical, RIB, to be used for hospitality during the race as well as transportation of guests to the competition vessels on non-race Pro-Am days; Pro-Am days enable amateur sailing enthusiasts to be taught the skills of operating the impressive Volvo Ocean 65 yacht by the professional teams’ crew members.
“One thing we wanted to introduce when the RIBs became part of the race was consistency and a premium feeling,” says Bice. “During previous editions of the race it was the teams’ responsibility to provide their own RIBs and this would give a huge variation across the fleet. Now we have seven identical RIBs, fully branded and solidifying their place in an event as prestigious as the Volvo Ocean Race.”
The RIBs are also used by the teams for transportation of equipment and personnel to the race vessels.
“When the yachts arrive in port at the end of a leg, we go a few miles out in the RIB to meet them with our photographer and some crew relatives,” says Antonio Piris, shore manager for the MAPFRE team. “We also carry some fuel in case they are running out as the engine needs it for their onboard communications and other electrical devices, and they may need power to head to the pontoon safely. Sometimes we also carry some food in case they are desperate for something real to eat.”
Each RIB is powered by Volvo Penta’s V6-280 gasoline engine. The aquamatic sterndrive is an integrated package comprised of a 6-cylinder, 4.3-liter, freshwater-cooled engine and duoprop twin counter-rotating propellers. In general use, fuel consumption averages 1.1 liter per nautical mile at 30 knots. The engines in the RIBs are complemented by Volvo Penta’s electronic vessel control (EVC; a complete system from helm to prop which links engines with functional controls and software), and Glass Cockpit System, which collects and displays all operator information in one place via a single interface that uses the multi‐function, touchscreen displays.
Piris adds: “On leg start days and during the in-port races, any free spots onboard the RIB are quickly filled with crew relatives and invited guests. The RIB with the Volvo Penta engine, EVC and Glass Cockpit System is a great combination – our RIB driver loves it!”
Newport: The heart of American sailing
The Volvo Ocean Race has been underway for more than seven months, and the next leg will see the teams cover around 3,300 nautical miles on their transatlantic route from Newport in the US, to Cardiff in Wales. As an integral part of the race experience, the RIBs have been exceeding expectations of performance and fuel efficiency, with around 100 people transported on each vessel at the various stop-overs.
“Given our rich history in the marine industry, we have an intrinsic understanding about the importance of reliability and agility when it comes to powering these RIBs,” says Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas and head of the marine leisure gasoline segment. “The teams have found our engines to be an important part of their operations, for safety and efficiency.” He adds: “Newport is the heart of American sailing, and we encourage visitors to take advantage of the exciting experiences that this world-class race has to offer.”