A huge refit process is underway in Lisbon to turn the seven round the world VO65s and one new yacht into virtually new condition for the next Volvo Ocean Race in October. Elaine Bunting reports
Small fishing boats lie alongside; seagulls pick their way past fishing pots and nets. The River Tagus winds by. Nothing much happening in this semi-derelict pocket of Lisbon’s outskirts, or so you might think.
But appearances can be deceptive, because behind the doors of this listed former market lies the refit of the Volvo Ocean Race VO65 one-design fleet. What few would argue are the hardest raced one-design yachts in the world are getting a massive makeover to turn them into almost mint condition in time for the race to begin its circuit of the globe again this autumn.
In charge of operations here are Nick Bice and Neil Cox. They run The Boatyard, the much-vaunted service facility that maintained and serviced the yachts during the 2015/6 race. In this new facility in Lisbon, a 120m covered shed, they have expanded the scope of The Boatyard to refit the seven existing yachts and fit out the new VO65 being built for new sponsor Akzo Nobel.
They are running a very tight schedule here which takes boats that have done as much as 60,000 miles and stripping them totally before servicing and refitting every item. It is done in 15 weeks and involves 22 on site, rising to 45 or 50 when equipment suppliers arrive to fit final systems.
In the video above, Neil Cox, a project manager and sailor who is a veteran of three VOR races, explains some of the processes of this mammoth task.