A new approach to the maintenance of a grand prix fleet is keeping the Volvo show on the road but this new and radically different setup could have benefits for others

Imagine Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and all the other Formula One drivers having to hand in their keys to the grand prix organisers as they stepped out of their cars at the end of each race. Imagine then a situation where they wouldn’t see their priceless machines until a day or two before the next race. During this time, as the circus left town and rolled on to the next venue, the drivers and their teams would not be allowed to work on the cars. Even when the cars were handed back, fully serviced and ready to roll, all that teams could do would be to fill them full of fuel and replenish the driver’s Camelback with water before heading out to the qualifying session.

While it might sound implausible in grand prix motor racing, this is pretty much what’s happening in the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. This time around as crews tie up after finishing a leg they might as well be leaving their 65 footers on Volvo’s park and valet pontoon. As the sailing team steps off, their shore crews climb aboard, but unlike previous races, this time it is only to prepare the boat for Volvo’s central maintenance team, The Boatyard, who will take their machine for a 6,000 mile service.

Only after three to four days will the race team get their boat back, leaving just enough time to fiddle, fettle and polish before being pressed back into action for the in-port and pro-am races shortly before starting the next offshore leg.

See March 15 issue of Yachting World for the full story on how the Volvo Boatyard operates and what the teams think of the new system.

March issue on sale Thur 12 Feb