Dock Talk: It’s been emotional, folks, but it’s time to move on
ALICANTE, Spain, August 21 – Battered, bruised, happy, worried. You name it, at least one Volvo Ocean Race sailor felt it after a roller-coaster of a Round Britain and Ireland Race. So what next?
For Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, it was a week of smiles but keeping a tight lid on the growing optimism built on a near-perfect build-up to Race start on October 4 in Alicante.
Their record-smashing victory in the monohull class in the Round Britain Race confirmed what many have guessed: skipper Ian Walker is going to be a very serious force in the 12th edition after a couple of under-performing boats scuppered his hopes in the previous two.
Typically, he played Mr Cool when he sailed into Cowes – “we’ve got plenty of areas for improvement” – but the ever-present grin on his wind-battered face told a different story.
“While this has been a great race and a great result, our main focus will always be the Volvo Ocean Race and our preparation will continue with that goal in mind,” he said.
The only downside was that two of his key men, Justin Slattery (ribs) and Phil Harmer (hand), suffered pretty painful injuries during the 1,800 nautical mile round trip and their Volvo Ocean 65 boat Azzam had a couple of mechanical issues of its own.
Dongfeng Race Team, like Iker Martinez’s line-up, spent most of their five days around the British and Irish coasts chasing Azzam’s heels eventually finishing third behind the Spaniards.
That was a pretty impressive result considering Charles Caudrelier’s crew still has a distinctly wet-behind-the-ears, rookie feel to it with four Chinese newcomers.
Not that they were resting on their laurels this week. For them it was the journey up north from Southampton to Newcastle for a sea survival safety course alongside the other race crews.
The training, which covers everything from fire and medical emergencies to survival at sea, is a pre-requisite of entry to the round the world race, and an important step that all crews must undertake over the coming days.
Jiru Yang (‘Wolf’) summed up: “Wow! That was two of the most intensive days of my life – and also probably the most useful. I just hope I never need to use what I’ve learned.”
As for Martínez, he was topping up his safety knowledge after competing in the past two editions and his mind could understandably have been on his yet to be named boat. A title sponsor should be confirmed for the team in the next two or three weeks.
After the Round Britain and Ireland Race, he revealed: “We did have some electrical problems that did not help us, especially with navigation.”
He still has three more berths plus the onboard reporter to confirm for his boat but there was no update on this during the course of this week.
Team Alvimedica grabbed fourth place in the Volvo Ocean 65 race, pipping the all-female Team SCA by just 10 minutes after a near five-day tussle, and their relieved skipper Charlie Enright reckons that the Jekyll and Hyde weather encountered showed the strength of his crew.
“Tough conditions and tough terrain are a good way to test character, and it became clear that we have a good group of characters,” he said.
The hardcore training and racing over the last couple of weeks has been an eye-opener for Team SCA, but Abby Ehler believes that it is beneficial, and the perfect preparation for the big race.
“To train in the worst conditions possible makes you realise how hard it is,” she reasoned. “You cannot hear each other, and you cannot see each other through the lifejacket hoods - so you learn a lot about what it would feel like to be in those circumstances.”
Team Brunel, meanwhile, were keeping their own counsel after watching the progress of five of their rivals in the Round Britain and Ireland Race from their training base in Lanzarote.
The newest kids on the block, Team Vestas Wind, were concentrating on launching their boat for the first time this week and they report that it’s a case of so far, so good.
Volvos on the Indian Trail 2014
The Dutch "Volvos Classics Doing The Indian Trail" adventure has reached its end, but it is still being featured in the news.
The Southern Cal VSA chapter has posted a feature article by Munyungo Jackson on meeting Team 83 as they crossed the border into Arizona. Read about it here: www.socalvsa.org/news/?p=1366
Upon arrival in Fairbanks Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch News ran a local feature article available here: www.adn.com/article/20140818/dozens-vintage-volvos-roll-fairbanks-after-long-drive-panama
Hemmings Daily also ran a recent article about the event which is available here: blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2014/07/28/indian-trail-rally-takes-vintage-dutch-volvos-from-panama-to-alaska
Volvo 240 - a Swedish icon turns 40
On 21 August 1974, the Volvo 240 was shown to the media for the very first time. The model series would become an unprecedented success for Volvo and around 2.8 million would be produced over the course of 19 years.
1974 was a big year for Sweden. In the spring ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, an 18 year old Björn Borg trounced the tennis elite, and Volvo presented one of its most important models ever.
On 21 August the media got to see and drive the new car for the first time. The journalists were flown by chartered plane from Volvo's head office at Torslanda to the little town Borlänge, where a row of Volvo 244 GLs were waiting for them. Each and every one had an orange paint job very typical of the time - with orange interiors to boot.
The Volvo 240 was a development of the 140 series, but a lot had changed. The innovations were primarily at the front, its appearance was greatly inspired by the VESC safety car that had been presented two years earlier. Most prominent of all were the large bumpers - the car was a total of 13 cm longer than the 140 series. The characteristic lattice headrests were among the new additions to the interior.
The newly developed B21 engine came in a 97 hp carburettor version and a 123 hp fuel injection version. The front of the car was a new design using MacPherson struts and rack and pinion steering.
In October 1974 production of the more exclusive 260 series, which originally came in two versions, DL and GL, began. The 264 had a new 2.7 litre, 140 hp V6 engine. The engine called B27 was built in Douvrin in northern France and was the result of a partnership between Volvo, Renault, and Peugeot.
During its production period, the Volvo 240 was made available with a variety of engine options. A world première that was introduced with the 1979 model was a car with a six-cylinder diesel engine developed in partnership with Volkswagen. The diesel engine was also available as a five-cylinder version in select markets. The 1981 model saw the launch of the 244 turbo with 155 hp. The huge sensation, however, came a bit later in the form of the 245 turbo wagon - the first series production estate car with petrol turbo.
Through the years, the Volvo 240 was produced in a range of different versions. In addition to two, four, and five door versions, there was also an exclusive coupé version, the 262C, built by Italian firm Bertone, producing a total of 6622 cars between 1977 and 1981. At the other end of the size scale was the 264TE and the 245T, both of which were extended by 70 cm. The 264 Top Executive was a luxurious limousine edition, and the 245 Transfer was an extra large estate, which was, among other things, used for school transportation in rural areas.
A world first in environmental terms came in the autumn of 1976. Volvo made its first delivery of cars in the 200 series with three-way catalytic converters and Lambda sensors to California. The Lambda sensor meant that 90 per cent of the harmful gases such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides disappeared in the catalytic converter. In 1977 Volvo won the American National Environmental Industry Award. In 1978 the Volvo 240 was named the USA's cleanest car by the California Air Resources Board.
The Volvo 240 Turbo would also become a successful race car. The biggest title was secured in 1985 when Thomas Lindström and Gianfranco Brancatelli won the European Touring Car Championship, ETC.
The Volvo 240/260 received a number of awards for its safety. In the UK Volvo was awarded the Don Safety Trophy for its traffic safety promotion initiatives and designs above and beyond legal requirements. In 1976 the Volvo 240 was chosen as the standard for continued safety work by the USA's Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA. For four years at the end of the 1980s, the Volvo 240 estate was the safest car of its size in the USA according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The Volvo 240 has become a collector's car, with the turbo being in particular demand among enthusiasts, with ever increasing prices being paid for more commonplace models in good condition. The availability of spare parts is good, and it is still possible to buy many parts through Volvo, with the range of newly produced components steadily increasing.
The Volvo 240 was also produced in Kalmar and in the Belgian city of Ghent. The final car rolled off the line at the Torslanda plant in Gothenburg on 5 May 1993. The model had by then survived for longer than anyone could have imagined 19 years earlier.
Volvo CEO Pehr G Gyllenhammar handed over the keys to the final 240 to be sold to the customer in a special ceremony. Pehr G Gyllenhammar had himself had several custom-built 240s as company cars, and at the ceremony he said: "We have had the world's safest car, one of the most worthwhile cars to buy, and a car that is already living legend and will be even more of one in the years to come."
The Volvo 200 series is to date the company's most produced model, with 2,685,171 240s built, and 177,402 260s. In total, 2,862,573 cars were built between 1974 and 1993.