Yacht Maintenance Centre Manager appointed
The Volvo Ocean Race has appointed Australian Nick Bice, shore manager for Team Sanya in the 2011-12 edition, to manage its Yacht
Maintenance Centre which will oversee shared services for teams competing in the new one-design boat in the 2014-15 race.
Bice, 34, has sailed in two Volvo Ocean Race campaigns and been involved on the shore side in two others.
His involvement with the world’s leading offshore sailing event goes back to 2001-02, when he was a boat builder with the Amer Sports campaign. He then raced with ABN AMRO TWO in 2005-06 and Delta Lloyd in 2008-09 before joining Team Sanya.
His fifth race will see him take on the key role of Yacht Maintenance Centre Manager for 2014-15, the first race to be sailed in the new 65ft one-design boats designed by Farr Yacht Design and built by a four-boatyard consortium comprising Green Marine (UK), Persico (Italy), Multiplast (France) and Decision (Switzerland).
“The new one-design concept extends a lot further than the boat,” Bice explained. “We're setting up a Shared Services Centre, even to the extent that all the bases are going to look exactly the same. So we're not only turning the boats into one-design: we're hopefully turning every element of the race into a one-design race.
“I'll be helping out all the suppliers and supplying the service to the teams to make sure their boats are 100% not only for the race but also at the stopovers.”
Volvo Ocean Race Chief Operating Officer Tom Touber believes Bice has all the skills and experience needed for the job: “With his background both as a sailor being involved in the race twice as well as shore manager/boat captain, he has exactly the experience to run this important part of the next race.
“Personally I have very positive experience with Nick in both in the challenging two-boat campaign with ABN AMRO, where he was intensively involved from the day we built the boats to the moment we won the race.”
That opinion is shared by Green Marine Managing Director Marcel Müller: “It’s fantastic to have Nick on board,” said Müller. “He comes in with a vast amount of experience in both sailing and fixing the boats. He is trusted by all the teams and sailors and for our consortium of boatyards. It’s another important milestone defining the Service Centre. Having a strong partner in there like Nick will add to the success of this boat.”
The switch to the new one-design is aimed at making it simpler and cheaper for teams to enter the next Volvo Ocean Race and the shared services concept is a key part of that.
“All the teams will still have a shore crew but there will be no need for the teams to have an excess of shore crew,” Bice continues. “Doing this also reduces the cost of an overall team budget. You don't need 15 or 20 shore crew on your books for the length of the race, which when you add up all the logistics, the flights and all the wages, is a big chunk of the budget.
“From a sailing point of view, some of the best racing I've ever done has been on one-design boats. That makes it very exciting. It basically
means everything is left to what we do out on the water.”
As to what this will mean for a team's shore team. “Teams can definitely just get away with the bare bones and not compromise their condition in the race," says Bice. “The people I will have working for me are representing all the companies that have products on the boat and they will be servicing their own particular products. All the servicing will be done almost on a new car model in the sense that a purchaser gets not only a new car but also gets a proven servicer to maintain that product stays in warranty.
“The saving is one of the biggest advantages but in saying that a lot of time has been spent on developing this service so it does not compromise the performance of the boats in any way. All the parts on the boat are serviced by the product provider, which maintains in turn that their product stays within some certain type of warranty by not being tampered with by any outsiders.”