Dutch company Mastervolt has become the official electrical supplier to the vessels in the Volvo Ocean race. The Dutch company says its integrated, technologically advanced systems and rugged components can handle the abusive conditions of this around the world race.
As the Volvo Ocean Race battles on, engineers from Mastervolt have continued to monitor electrical performance. Each power generation system has stood up to the brutal conditions including a hot, spray-laden atmosphere, heavy condensation, and sudden impacts.
“During Leg 1, we noticed that a few of the teams could optimize their use of the technology,” explains Mastervolt’s Dennis de Beer, who has monitored and checked the systems at each port. “Many of the sailors have spent years racing vessels that have traditional electrical components. The move to an integrated system that optimizes power management took time for them to become accustomed to and to learn all of the features available to them.”
At each stopover, Mastervolt engineers draw valuable data from the system for analysis. Being cautious of not to share ‘power tactics’ between competitors, advise each crew how to get the best from the short recharging cycles and the features of the onboard system.
“During the first service schedule at Cape Town, all of the teams were very impressed with the equipment,” de Beer reports. “We had virtually no issues, and spent most of our time simply tweaking the systems. The main request was to remove the audible alarm for the charge sequence, as this could wake any sleeping off-watch crew.”
The improvements worked, and Leg 2 went without a hitch. “Despite the extremely challenging environment, with high ambient temperatures, little or no wind, and very high humidity, all the teams were happy,” de Beer said. “These conditions put a huge strain on power equipment, especially as most standard components will start shutting down or de-rating once the temperature nudges 400C. At Mastervolt, we design components to cope with these extremes, and they really proved themselves on this leg.”
The Mastervolt system was also chosen because of its minimal cable runs, which lighten the vessel and the fast recharging ability of Lithium Ion Ultra batteries.
Charging comes from multiple sources including the main Volvo-powered engine, with a limited fuel supply to minimize weight and the Mastervolt alternators. “As a general rule, the teams are going through two charge cycles every 24 hours,” says de Beer. “Each cycle supplies roughly 260Ah of capacity to the Li-Ion Ultra batteries at 24V. The two Mastervolt Alternators produce 300A at 28.5 Volts, which recharge the Li-Ion Ultra batteries very quickly.
Mastervolt will continue to analyse the data from the systems at each stopover, as well as checking crucial components and connections in extreme ‘wet’ areas of the boat, but so far, each system has performed exactly as expected.