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Volvo Ocean 65

The rigs

With a 25-year history in the Volvo Ocean Race and as suppliers of ECsix carbon rigging, it was perhaps an obvious choice to pick Southern Spars for the Volvo Ocean 65 one-design rig.

Southern Spars

Southern Spars is the world’s leading carbon fibre spar (mast, booms and rigging) manufacturer.

Experience in ocean racing is invaluable and Southern Spars has a wealth of it, beginning with the launch of Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 and supplying spars to podium finishers in every race since.

“Of the six Volvo Open 70s that competed in the last edition of the race, Camper and Telefonica were the only teams to complete the race without any serious rig damage. Significantly, these two were also the only teams to utilise a full rig and rigging package from Southern Spars, which, in turn, became a key reason why we were chosen as the Volvo Ocean 65 on-design supplier,” says Director Mark Hauser.

The race rigs are fully optimised. They use Southern Spars innovative Thin Ply laminate approach to get more refinement and precision into the mast and component laminates. To ensure the mast stays up, ECsix carbon fibre rigging is being utilised throughout. The ECsix cables have multiple layers of safety built into their design and have been proven to be the most reliable carbon fibre stays on the market. In the 2008-09 edition all seven teams that completed the race had opted for ECsix and not one suffered serious rigging failure.

Within one-design rules, all 10 rigs must be identical in terms of dimensions, weight and stiffness. Southern Spars’ robust production processes guarantee this. In fact, across the seven rigs bend-tested to date, there has been a discrepancy of just 1.4mm across the board.

Hauser adds: “Southern Spars is providing significant maintenance support to race crews through our Rig Pro Service network. Simon Barker, from the Auckland team, has joined the full-time race support team as Rig and Rigging Service Manager and will follow the boats from port to port. Simon will be supported by other Rig Pro staff at key locations where the un-stepping of the rigs is permitted – hopefully without too much work to do.”



  • Tube Length 28.4m (98’)
  • High Modulus Carbon Fibre
  • Deck Stepped
  • Designed through in-house computerised DesMan and RigCalc – integrated with the North Sails package
  • FEA (Finite Element Analyses) and refinement of tube and components
  • 202 pieces of Carbon Fibre pre-preg in each mast tube, and an additional 52 patches (structural reinforcements)
  • Precision laid carbon complexes (pieces) using Southern’s CNC fibre plotter
  • Blue Book Quality control Systems in place
  • Datum controlled, tooled and jigged fitting positioning to ensure One Design
  • Internal Carbon Rigging Tangs (rigging attachments fitted inside the mast)
  • Six Thin Ply Lightweight Spreaders
  • Bonded on track
  • Integral Low-windage Masthead

Southern Spars’ rig design and North Sails’ sail design software were developed together. These tools let us deliver a one off, spectacular rig which simply works, straight out of the box with no time wasted. Together Thin Ply a more optimised rig package can be designed.



  • Racing box boom
  • High Modulus Carbon Fibre
  • 68 kg complete weight
  • Foam cored side panels
  • Rotating gooseneck to lower torsional stresses and overall boom weight

The Volvo Ocean 65 sports a full noise 7.68m racing box boom. Its deep section provides maximum stiffness to weight efficiency and delivers maximum downwind effective sail area. With internal locks at the outboard end of the boom, reefing is efficient and easy for the crew to manage in heavy breeze.



  • Nine Stays
  • Intermediate modulus carbon fibre
  • Main stays have a 26-ton minimum break load
  • Forgiving enough to be raced hard

ECsix carbon rigging is four times lighter than comparative nitronic steel rigging. It has a multistrand construction based on a bundle of small rods for safety, durability, longevity and flexibility in the harshest ocean environment.



Rig 1 – Dongfeng Race Team

Rig 2 – Team SCA

Rig 3 – Team Brunel

Rig 4 – Team Alvimedica

Rig 5 – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Rig 6 – Team Vestas Wind

Rig 7 – MAPFRE

Rig 8 – Spare tube only stored in Amsterdam

Rig 9 – Spare tube only stored in Abu Dhabi

Rig 10 – Spare complete rig and rigging package stored in Auckland

All of the components, spreaders, booms and ECsix rigging from rigs 8 and 9 have been removed from the main spar and put in a spares container which will travel with the Volvo Ocean Race from port to port.

The Volvo Ocean 65s are rigged with the best available tools to finish the race without significant rig failure.

“As a past Volvo competitor and now race CEO, I know that when you are pushing to the limit you need to trust your rigging 100 per cent. For our new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 we needed rigging that could handle anything the race serves up,” said Knut Frostad.