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Spinlock have designed custom lifejacket for the 2017-18 edition Volvo Ocean Race

27 Jun 2017

The link-up is part of a Technical Partnership Scheme which has seen the Race work closely with the sailing and marine industry leaders to develop new and innovative products capable of withstanding the toughest conditions on the planet.

And with the 2017-18 fleet set to race three times more Southern Ocean miles than in recent editions when it sets off from Alicante on 22 October, reliability has never been so important.

Spinlock’s new Volvo Ocean Race edition lifejacket will be worn by all sailors in the fleet as they race 45,000 nautical miles in search of the trophy.

As award-winning designers and manufacturers of rope-holding equipment and personal safety products, Spinlock knows all too well the importance of solid design and durability – and as the toughest test of a team in professional sport, the Volvo Ocean Race proves an invaluable real-life test bench for their products.

“It’s exciting to be able to push the boundaries with a product like this, in collaboration with the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Myles Uren, Product Manager at Spinlock. 

“The speed, the risks and the loads on the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race have increased massively over the years, yet it’s the same crew that are racing them – so it’s our job to take our products and innovate in order to try and help them out as much as possible.”

The new lifejacket was designed and developed based on extensive feedback and testing by Volvo Ocean Race veterans, including new Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari and two-time Race winner Phil Harmer – and has since been successfully tested by many of the 2017-18 crews in training.

“Safety is a critical element in the Volvo Ocean Race, and not only does personal safety equipment need to meet specific requirements, it needs to be functional and comfortable to wear,” explained Abby Ehler, Logistics Manager at the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard, who was also instrumental in coordinating the development of this new Spinlock product.

“Spinlock have worked with us to develop products through feedback, testing and experience, to ensure that they are both technically efficient and unobtrusive for the Volvo Ocean Race’s world-class sailors.”

The biggest challenge for the designers? To create a lifejacket durable enough to withstand mile upon mile of Southern Ocean slamming, but lightweight and comfortable enough to encourage the sailors to actually wear it, around the clock, for eight months.

“Until now, lifejackets have often been designed for the recreational sailor, resulting in often cumbersome and limiting design factors, so it’s fantastic to see Spinlock’s enthusiasm to research and design a tailor-made product meeting the specific needs of the competitive offshore sailor,” continued Abby.

Spinlock’s CEO Chris Hill said: “We are delighted to be joining our fellow industry leaders as Official Race Supplier. The Volvo Ocean Race sailors and shore support have all expressed an overwhelming desire to improve the lifejacket used and taking their feedback and detailed requirements into consideration, we are now well equipped to take our knowledge to develop the next generation in personal protection.”

Along with the custom lifejackets for the crew on board, each Volvo Ocean 65 will also be equipped with Spinlock lifejacket harnesses, safety lines, carry equipment packs and PLB/MOB devices when the Race begins on October 22nd 2017.

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