|Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race ©|
The Volvo Ocean Racing is coming round fast and we’ve already seen the first two new generation boats hit the water. What makes this race more exciting than ever is the diversity in mast and rigging suppliers. The first two editions of the race sailed in the VOR70’s where much more clear cut than what we are about to see this year. First time round, Future Fibres rigging system completely dominated while in the last edition Southern Spars EC6+ lateral system was on every boat, bar one. In terms of masts, Southern Spars has been the majority ‘shareholder’ over the first two editions with Hall Spars supplying the odd mast or two.
However, this is all about to change in this year’s edition. There are currently 5 teams entered (not counting the Mike Sanderson’s entery which is still shrouded in mystery) and there will be no fewer than 4 different mast and 3 standing rigging suppliers on the start line.
Groupama 4 is using a mast supplied by Lorima, based in Lorient. For their lateral rigging they have placed their faith in the expertise of Carbo-Link, the Swiss rigging manufacture who has its development intertwined with the Alinghi challenge and defences of the Americas Cup.
CamperStaying true to their Kiwi roots, this team will be sporting the full Southern Spars package for their mast and rigging (EC6+).
Another ‘Home-town’ mast for the Rhode Island based team. The Hall Spars seamless mast will be stayed with Southern Spars EC6+ for their lateral rigging.
Abu Dhabi Racing Team
The full package, mast and rigging will be delivered by Future Fibres. Future Fibres announce itself as a premier mast builder last year and to back it up has won the order the mast for this well founded team.
Full Southern Spars package.
Clearly this is a sign of a expanding and maturing market. Competition between the various suppliers is fierce and the resulting product development to maintain or gain a competitive edge is never ending. Regardless of who may win the ‘battle of the rigs and rigging’ on the water in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the biggest winner will be ‘the man on the street’ who will benefit from the ever growing choices in composite masts and rigging available to him.