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The Volvo Ocean Race power system

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The Volvo Ocean Race is the toughest and most competitive of all fully crewed, professional sailing events around the world. The 2017-18 edition promises to be even more intense with the fleet racing over greater distances and making more stopovers. 

Based on its excellent service provision and proven technologies, it is no surprise that Mastervolt has again been selected as official supplier. Our sustainable installations provide all systems with electricity, from the canting keel to the watermaker and media centre.

Volvo Ocean Race systeem

Previous races provided valuable technical information: the alternators rotated some 88.2 million times during the competition, while the advanced Lithium Ion batteries were discharged 275 times. Although the lifespan of these batteries is three times as long as traditional batteries, their use is carefully analysed. The engineers at the Mastervolt R&D Lab in Amsterdam evaluate the performance of each component to further refine the equipment and ensure even greater reliability in their functioning in extreme temperatures and humidity.

Following developments

The Volvo Ocean 65 One Design fleet offers more space to the latest product developments from Mastervolt and CZone®, specifically developed for Digital Switching. Each installation must be identical on every yacht: from the smallest screw to the cable binders. This means that only the performance of the crew will make any difference in the use and control of the electrical system. In addition, the Combination Output Interface (COI) from CZone will replace the existing Output Interface module, making the charging system smarter.

Volvo Ocean Race systeem

Keep it simple!

There is a major emphasis on keeping the Mastervolt system as simple and intuitive as possible. The crews consist of top athletes who want to spend as little time as possible on managing the electrical systems on board.

The CZone digital control and monitoring network simplifies the system as it allows complex wiring to switching and fuse panels to be replaced by robust, modern connections. It also provides the option of automating complex control and monitoring functions. NMEA cables are replaced by the Ancor version for better water resistance, and the new waterproof CZone Touch 5 touchscreen with Wi-Fi provides full control and monitoring. All major components are also monitored remotely and the generated data allows Mastervolt to constantly improve its products.

For the 2017-18 race each yacht will be equipped with an extra water-powered charging system. The output of this device and all other charge point inputs can be monitored in real time via the Power Project monitoring page on the official Volvo website.

Energy consumption

Energy consumption VOR

The total of DC consumers requires around 7.1 kWh. In this case, we chose for two MLI Ultra 24/5000 batteries in parallel, resulting in 10 kWh battery power. Totally discharging the batteries is not advisable so opt for a maximum of 80 % discharge, i.e. at least 8 kWh.

System choice

The Volvo Ocean Race power system is divided into two clear sections:

MasterBus section, including:

CZone section, including:

What the system needs to power and control

  • Port and starboard water ballast pumps; 
  • Sat C (satcom messaging and positioning);
  • All lighting (both internal and external);
  • Fleet broadband 250 and 500;
  • Cockpit and navigation MFDs;
  • LAN network; 
  • B&G multifunctional displays; 
  • Gas alarm; 
  • Radar;
  • Bilge pumps;
  • Two onboard PCs;
  • VHF radio;
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System); 
  • Watermaker;
  • Freshwater pumps;
  • Electric-hydraulic keel pump and PLC controls;
  • Media equipment for the onboard reporters.

Both sections are connected through a CZone MasterBus Bridge Interface and collectively run the majority of the boats’ electrical requirements. The system enables monitoring and control of just about everything though the CZone Touch 5.


  • The participating Volvo Ocean 65 boats are each powered by two MLI Ultra 24/5000 Lithium Ion batteries, giving a total battery power of 10 kWh.
  • The batteries have a primary source of charging via two 24/150 A Mastervolt alternators, regulated by two Alpha Pro charge regulators, which can fully charge the Li-ion batteries in one hour. In addition, all boats are equipped with a water-powered charging system. 
  • Each boat is equipped with a DC distribution 500, that fuses the DC cables and can generate an alarm over the network, when a fuse blows.
  • Battery monitoring is provided via the MasterShunt and the internal shunts fitted within the batteries. These components provide critical system data that is communicated via MasterBus and the CZone Bridge onto the CZone Touch 5, and the displays located at the navigation station and in the cockpit.
  • There is comprehensive system monitoring provided via the CZone network, which will also emit audible and visual alarms when actions are required.
  • The CZone network also powers the navigation, communication and hydraulic systems fitted within the vessel. 
  • When the boats are in port, charging is provided by a Mastervolt ChargeMaster 24/30-3. Regardless of the available mains (90-265 V, 50 or 60 Hz), the ChargeMaster can charge the batteries anywhere in the world.
  • Detailed system diagnosis and troubleshooting are provided remotely by the Mastervolt technical team, via Master Adjust, CZone Configuration Tool and Mastervolt QS.

System drawing

System drawing Volvo Ocean Race