Spirit of Canada boat gets lifts from All
25 March 2008
More than a year in advance, the team of the Spirit of Canada is preparing for the big Vendée Globe ocean race set to sail in November 2008. Among the challenges is the need for several lifts of the Spirit of Canada sailboat, an Open 60 craft designed to be light, fast and strong enough to weather the open seas during the grueling three-month race.
The boat's skipper Derek Hatfield called on All Canada Crane Rental Corp. of Mississauga, Ontario to handle the lifting of the boat in and out of the water over the next year.
All's Aaron Hanna, who supervises the lifting of some 600 boat lifts each year, worked with Hatfield to plan the lifts. He determined the best unit for the job would be a Grove TMS 640 40 ton truck crane with a hook height of 45 feet and rigged with a 20 foot spreader beam to meet the unique dimensions of the vessel.
Built from carbon fibre and Nomex, the boat is extremely lightweight and must be handled with kid gloves. Special nylon slings are attached to the adjustable spreader beam for ease in maneuvering the craft. One of the lifts involves a delicate operation in which the Spirit, with its skipper onboard, is overturned in the Mississauga (Toronto) harbor's Port Credit Yacht Club. The belts will be wrapped around the boat's keel to help hoist it up and flip it over. Skipper Hatfield will then have to upright the boat to comply with race qualifying regulations.
Overturning a boat is definitely not business as usual, according to Hanna. Hatfield said that while the boat is strong enough to handle the open ocean, it “must be handled with care when being lifted in and out of its cradle.”
The Vendée Globe race is considered to be the toughest ocean sailing challenge any solo professional sailor can undertake. It is the longest continual single-handed journey in a sport, more than 85 days at sea in the world's most remote and roughest waters.