Driving a Volvo truck in testing conditions through Europe is not unlike helming a Volvo Ocean Race boat. So says our reporter Rick Deppe, who is following the convoy of hull number one from Persico, Italy, to Green Marine, England.
"When you’re helming a Volvo boat, it’s a lot of responsibility. Well, when you’re driving an exceptional convoy, it’s a lot of responsibility too" - Rick Deppe
The first Volvo Ocean 65 hull, the Volvo truck towing it, its driver and three attendees have been on the road for five days now. They left the Persico factory in Bergamo, Italy, last Friday.
They are taking the ferry today from Hook of Holland to Harwich and the crossing from the Netherlands to the UK will take them six hours. The convoy is expecting to arrive at Green Marine in Southampton, tomorrow at lunchtime.
Once in the English boatyard, the hull will be put together with the other elements of the very first One Design boat to be sailed in the next two editions of the race.
But that’s for later. The 65-foot long structure is still travelling across a snowy northern Europe. It is quite a spectacle as the heavy load, taking up two lanes of highway, displays the slogan "Coming soon to an ocean near you" on the side of the hull.
“It’s really tiring but it’s really fun. It’s just a massive adventure!” says Volvo Ocean Race’s Rick Deppe, who is on the road to report this momentous journey.
“Paul Hamels is driving the lorry. We call him the Flying Dutchman. He drives a lot of boats and big machinery. His life is quite comparable to that of the sailors. He has an unusual job and is away from home for a really long time. He works very unusual hours.
“He is almost the helmsman of the boat at the moment. When you’re helming a Volvo boat, it’s a lot of responsibility. Well, when you’re driving an exceptional convoy, it’s a lot of responsibility too. You cannot just turn and go too fast. He plays it pretty cool.”
Hamels may be used to these unusual deliveries but that doesn’t make the trip an easy cruise. The snow in Europe has been slowing the convoy down in Germany, but they made it on time to the ferry nonetheless.
“The other truck drivers have asked Paul what was going on,” adds Rick. “You see people slowing down and taking pictures. You know, it’s pretty important and we’re going to do it at least seven more times!”