Volvo Penta in the Volvo Ocean Race

Each boat competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is equipped with two engines from Volvo Penta. One engine should, if possible, never be used during the race, the other is decisive for the boats completing the race at all. This is how Volvo Penta's engines contribute to completion of the Volvo Ocean Race as fast as possible – and as safely as possible.

The propulsion engine

Naturally, the objective of the boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is to circumnavigate the world's oceans using their sails to harness the power of the wind – not using engines. However, engines for propulsion are to be installed on the boats, primarily for two reasons:

1. to facilitate safe navigation in harbours and during transportation legs not included in the competition
2. for possible emergency situations, for example if a crew member falls overboard

Prior to the start of each leg of the race, the propulsion engine is secured with a numbered seal. To ensure that race officials are able to determine if and how the engine was used during the leg, any breaking of the seal and use of the propulsion engine must be carried out and documented in accordance with specific rules.


30 knots in extreme cases
The risk of unauthorized usage is, however, small since the competitors are most keen to use the engines as little as possible. This is because they can maintain higher speeds using sail power. At full speed using engine power, a boat can make about nine knots. At their fastest under sail, the boats can, in extreme cases, exceed 30 knots!

The propulsion engines installed in the boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are 59-horsepower Volvo Penta MD22P engines. The engine is installed under the cockpit of the boat with a Volvo Penta S-drive and a two-bladed propeller. The propeller is foldable in order to reduce drag to a minimum when under sail. The entire powertrain weighs approximately 250 kg.


Sailboats in all sizes
The same type of power plant from Volvo Penta is to be found in tens of thousands of sailing boats across the globe today. With engines between 10 and just over 140 horsepower in its sailboat range, Volvo Penta can offer engines suited to sailboats in nearly all size classes.

The MD22P engine will be replaced in the Volvo Penta product range during the autumn of 2001 with the new D2-55 engine, which features enhanced performance and comfort.

The auxiliary engine

The auxiliary engine is the engine placed under most strain during the Volvo Ocean Race. In contrast with the propulsion engine, the auxiliary engine is used regularly, primarily to cover three needs on board:

1. the production of drinking water from seawater
2. the powering of the ballast pumps
3. the generation of electrical power

Purifying seawater
Naturally, crews on Volvo Ocean Race boats need fresh water. It is not possible, however, to bring along an entire supply of fresh water, as this would involve too much weight. Fresh water is therefore produced regularly on board using a freshwater generator or water-maker. In the water-maker, seawater is forced through a special filter under extremely high pressure. The water leaving the filter is absolutely pure and contains no minerals whatsoever, not even those normally present in drinking water. This means that the crew must also eat special mineral supplement tablets.

The water-makers on board the competition boats are either powered directly by Volvo Penta auxiliary engines, or via electric motors.

Powering ballast pumps
Each Volvo Ocean Race boat has two ballast pumps powered by the Volvo Penta auxiliary engine. The ballast pumps pump seawater in and out of the boat or from one side of it to the other, in order to improve the sailing characteristics of the craft. The ballast pumps are able to pump up to 2,500 litres of water into the ballast tanks within the space of 30 seconds. The weight of the water forced into the boat corresponds to that of 30 people sitting on the rail.

Producing electrical power
Each Volvo Ocean Race boat needs electrical power, for example to provide current for the onboard computers and communication equipment, but also for lighting, etc. Current is delivered by a 24-volt battery pack with an energy effect of 400-600 Ah. To ensure that all of the boats compete on equal terms, each boat must have a battery pack weighing at least 280 kg. The batteries are charged by generators that, in turn, are powered by the Volvo Penta auxiliary engine. The auxiliary engine drives generators, which together produce up to 400 amperes at 28 volts, corresponding to 11 kilowatts or 15 horsepower. That is about the same power required to run two small sauna units.

Service and support

Volvo Penta's engines are exposed to very heavy strain during the nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race. To provide full service and support to the racing boats and syndicates during the entire race, Volvo Penta will use its global service organization, with more than 5,000 dealers worldwide.

For more information, please contact:
Mats Edenborg,
AB Volvo Penta
Tel: +46 31 668311