Life at the extremes

Life at the extremes

Rough seas, scorching sun, high winds and lashing rain - no, I’m not talking about what you might encounter on a typical British summer day (although they are familiar aspects…): rather, these are the elements that the teams of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will have to contend with on a daily basis. The epic, gruelling race kicked off with the first leg from Alicante to Lisbon, for a 46,000-nautical-mile voyage around the world, before the daring mariners arrive at the grand finale in The Hague next June.

The longest leg of the route will cover 7,600 nautical miles from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajai on the east coast of Brazil. And the boats go to some very remote places, where there is no help available and even helicopters can’t reach; when the teams are in the Southern Ocean, the closest object to them is the International Space Station. It’s a competition of team-against-team, and man-versus-nature, in what is known as one of the most challenging and thrilling ocean-going races. It’s life at the extremes.

Epic adventures

So where does SE10 fit into all this? As the PR agency for Volvo Penta and Volvo Construction Equipment, we have written a number of stories on the race and our clients’ involvement. For Volvo Penta that has meant talking about: the diesel engines that provide auxiliary power (and propulsion power, when needed) for the Volvo Ocean 65 race boats; the gasoline engines that power the rigid inflatable boats (for in-port use); the engines that power generators for the on-shore Volvo Pavilion; plus giving an insight into the job of providing technical support to services the engines. And for Volvo Construction Equipment, we’ve talked about the on-shore events such as the Building Tomorrow conference, and the Operators’ Club challenge where excavator users challenged willing visitors to take part in some fun activities.

On the face of it, creating these stories is the bread-and-butter of what we do at SE10. But in a wider context, it gives us the opportunity to discover new things. For example, the rig (at a height of 30m) is half as long again as the 20m hull length, and the canting keel (a sort of sailing ballast) can swing +/- 40 degrees to counteract the force of the giant sail and provide extra stability – and speed – for the boat. And each crew will feature members who are not only sailors, but also experts in nutrition, engineering, medical care, plus an on-board media reporter.

When we talk to those involved or read updates from the Volvo Ocean Race’s in-house communications ream, it’s not hard to see why this race is an exciting, nerve-racking, tense, and gripping event. In-port races prior to each leg help build the dramatic atmosphere.

Logistically too, it’s a feat of engineering, due to the tight timescale of opening and closing the ‘race village’ in each of the 12 host city ports. The Volvo Pavilion – which is used for events, seminars on sustainability in the oceans, and visitor hospitality – actually comprises three pavilions which are sent in rotation around the world.

As the sailing teams head round the globe in arduous conditions, they need to be physically and mentally tough enough to take on such a challenging race. And for all the support teams too, as SE10 will be helping to promote and publicise the race and our clients’ involvement. It should be an action packed nine months. Good luck to all involved!

Image credit: Volvo Ocean Race

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