Liz Wardley takes us behind the scenes to show what it takes to prepare a VO65 racing yacht for competing in the world’s toughest offshore global event – the Volvo Ocean Race
The 2017-8 Edition of the Volvo Ocean Race begins next October and the boats have begun the process of a complete service and refit. Liz Wardley, a full-time sailor,* is one of three Boat Captains on the technical team managing the project from the boatyard in Lisbon. Over the next year she will be sending videos and updates of what this work involves – the life backstage in the boatyard, in the hope that more women will be encouraged to learn nautical skills for world class sailing and have the opportunity to apply them in offshore racing.
Liz Wardley is one of two women working full-time on the crew of 30 working in the Volvo Ocean Race boatyard in Lisbon. Liz’ role is Boat Captain – one of three in the boatyard – also involves working in engineering department began in early November 2016. Prior to that Liz was working in corporate sailing for Volvo. In addition to Liz and Amelia, the Comms Director, Abby Ehler is currently Head of Boatyard Special Projects part-time, and will take on a full-time position as Logistics Manager in July 2017.
- Refit on boat number 1 started at the beginning of October;
- Each boat goes through 3 x four week cycles: stripping and servicing, one design paint/servicing, re assembly, final paint and commissioning;
- Seven boats are getting a refit;
- One new boat is being constructed.
The work in the boatyard requires different skills for the different departments:
- boat building;
- sail making;
- deck hardware.
Each person in those departments are specialists in their area. A boat captain is required to know the boat integrally – you don’t have to be a specialist in every field, but you need to know where everything fits in, what effects what, and a general knowledge of everything, Liz admits that she loves grease and wanted to learn more about hydraulics and the mechanics on-board, so she tags along to help Alvaro who is the head of the engineering department.
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Liz Wardley was born in Papua New Guinea on December 6, 1979. She is renowned for her numerous titles gained in the Hobie Cat 16 and for her oceanic racing skills. Liz held a number of key positions as part of Team SCA for the 2014-5 Volvo Ocean Race, initially as boat captain and bow. She was watch captain for two legs and part of the bow team and a helm/trimmer and was the first to use her skills in boat maintenance and repair while racing.
In 1999, Liz came first overall in the IMS Division 2 of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The year before, at the age of 19, she was skipper in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Liz raced in the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-02 on Amer Sports Too and she has competed many times in the French solo sailing race Solitaire du Figaro.