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Don't drop it!



John Lundon is an expert at picking things up. Big things. As the Auckland Manager of New Zealand Crane Hire, he oversees the lifting of the Volvo Open 70 race yachts out of the water as they come in for the Auckland Stopover.


Each yacht will be fully serviced and re-launched or “splashed” within just 3-4 days. Two cranes stand ready in the Race Village.  The one outside the Viaduct Events Centre will service five of the visiting yachts and the other in Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand base is just for the home team.


The cranes have lifting capacities of 220 tonnes and 450 tonnes respectively, and booms that can extend to an ear-popping 134 metres in height. A Volvo yacht weighs in at a very svelte 14.5 tonnes and the mast measures in at 31.5 metres, so this should be lightweight work for such heavyweight equipment.


Within three hours of arrival, each yacht will be stripped of all her sails and gear, the mast removed and the hull lifted out of the water and placed in her own custom cradle. A single point lifting device is rigged by each shore crew so all the crane operator has to do is attach the hook.


“Lifting the yacht is the easy part” says Lundon. “The hard part is all the preparation and setup and working with each shore crew to understand the procedures for each boat.”


With a long list of things to do, every little bit helps. Lundon says he’s never really had any terrifying moments while lifting the Volvo yachts and masts. A Volvo Open 70 mast is made of lightweight carbon fibre and weighs only about 600 kilograms.


“These are relatively easy to handle” Lundon says, “compared to some of the mega yacht masts we’ve handled that can weigh up to 22 tonnes.”


A Volvo yacht’s mast costs upwards of $1 million, so the shore crew are understandably quite protective of their rigs.


Lundon admits his biggest challenge “is relaying confidence to the shore crew that we know what we’re doing and this is the easy part.”


If you are in the Race Village today you can watch John Lundon and the crane and shore crew working on the fleet of Volvo yachts after the fleet has arrived in Auckland.