October 6 2016
The start of the mythic next race edition is still over a year away, but at the state-of-the-art Boatyard facility in Lisbon (Portugal), the boatbuilding team is already working against the clock.
The boats will collectively undergo a stringent refit process, based around reliability, to ensure that they can race another... 45,000 miles around the planet !
Work on each sailboat will take around fifteen weeks, but the process will be staggered to allow a new boat to enter the facility every three weeks.
"To say we're on a challenging schedule is an understatement," says Sam Bourne, Head of the Boatyard's Deck Gear Division to Yachting Art Magazine. "We have seven boats to upgrade between now and next summer. Every three weeks a boat will come in, and from January 2017, we'll start to push the boats out and hand over to the teams. There's not a moment to waste."
It's the first time in the history of the race, that a one-design refit process has been decided. It will be completed in June 2017, 4 months before the start of the next edition in October 2017.
The first boat going into the refit process was raced by Dongfeng Race Team in the 2014-15 edition.
The Boatyard facility, which opened in Lisbon in May this year, will serve as a pre-race training hub for the fleet, allowing teams to access Atlantic conditions as they prepare for the gruelling next race which will see them race three times more miles in the Southern Ocean than in recent editions.