Volvo Ocean Race: Plugging in the new one-design – first pictures

The plug of the mould of the new 65-foot hull being shaped at Persico Spa.

Work on the new 65-foot one-design that will contest the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race is underway in Italy. Here, we get a first glimpse of the process.

'Pretty cool to see it there looking like a giant slab of marble waiting for Michelangelo to come along and create his David.'

How do you build the new one-design Volvo Ocean Race monohull? You start with a hull. Yet, you need a mould to build that hull. And you need a plug to build that mould.

The plug of the mould of the new 65-foot hull being shaped at Persico Spa.
That’s the ongoing task at Persico Spa, in Bergamo, Italy – one of the four boatyards responsible for the manufacture of the high-performance racing yacht that will take the start line in Alicante in 2014. Built out of a polystyrene block, the plug is now being shaped by a high-tech milling machine.

'Pretty cool to see it there looking like a giant slab of marble waiting for Michelangelo to come along and create his David,' said Rick Deppe, reporting for the Volvo Ocean Race from northern Italy. 'Of course this block of marble is actually a huge piece of polystyrene and Michelangelo is a 'Belotti' 5 axis milling machine.'

Persico specialises in pieces of equipment such as moulds for the automotive and marine industries. Most of their processes are automated and their work is extremely accurate. Persico was involved in the last edition of the race, building Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Open 70 Azzam. This time, they are responsible for the hull only.

It is a three-stages process: first the plug, then the lamination of the mould over the plug and finally the construction of the hull itself. That is scheduled for the end of November: when the mould is removed from the plug, the hull is laminated inside the mould.

Persico Operations Manager Mark Somerville is a veteran of numerous America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race builds.

'We are really enjoying the process of working with Volvo and also the other members of the consortium,' he said. 'It’s a new challenge for us.'