Construction Equipment GLOBAL

Small sails set to sail the seven seas

First it was a Volvo Construction Equipment wheel loader that was created in LEGO® – now it’s time to scale down a one-off Volvo Ocean Race yacht, built using 100,000 LEGO® pieces.

Johan Sahlström and Anders Gaasedal built the ship.

Last year, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) teamed up with LEGO® Technic and shrank its biggest wheel loader – the L350F – into a remote controlled model you could hold under your arm. Now, to coincide with the Volvo Ocean Race, a one-off replica of a Volvo Ocean 65 yacht has been built using LEGO pieces – over 100,000 of them.

The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, the ultimate nine month around-the-world sailing competition, began in October last year at the Spanish port of Alicante. Four months on, the teams will soon start Leg 4 of the race – taking them from Sanya in China down to Auckland in New Zealand. 

To mark the Volvo Ocean Race, Johan Sahlström, who works in manufacturing research & advanced engineering at Volvo and Anders Gaasedal, who works at the LEGO® Group, have used 100,000 pieces of the world’s favorite building bricks to make an exact replica of this year’s boat in their spare time, as a one-off private project.

“After the Volvo CE wheel loader project, we started thinking about what could be done next – and since we’re both into sailing it felt right to make a one-of-a-kind Volvo Ocean 65 yacht,” says Sahlström. “Initially I thought about building something nice and neat, about one meter long, but then Anders said: ‘Bigger is better’ – and who can argue with that?”

The intricate design of the one-off replica.Sea trials

The Volvo Ocean 65 took 1,200 hours to build. The 2.2 meter boat, based on Team SCA’s yacht, was completed in time for the start of the race. The boat is 3.5 meters high and weighs 52 kilograms. Alas, although it looks just like the real thing, its ocean going potential is more limited – staying afloat for most likely only three seconds. 

“We drafted the boat first in a tool called LEGO® Digital Designer, which is free and anyone can download,” says Gaasedal. “Johan drew the plans in Gothenburg and sent them to me every day in Denmark. I then began to build the boat, refining the design as needed. It turned out to be a great way of collaborating.”

The scale model is a faithful replica of the SCA yacht. It was made using standard LEGO pieces and colors, and the SCA team was extremely happy that it matches the real design so well. 

“We chose Team SCA because we liked the design and colors on the boat,” says Sahlström. “We made an exact copy of the hull and the frame to create the same stability as the real boat. However, it goes without saying that our material is much heavier and more robust compared with the carbon-fibre and titanium in the real thing.”

The LEGO model was on display at the Volvo Ocean Race museum in Alicante and is now accompanying the race all over the world on the SCA stand.

“It was a great challenge to build the boat’s real features and everything works properly from the canting keel to the halyards in the rig,” says Gaasedal. It was something totally different to work on and demonstrates real team work across country borders.”

“We have become more and more interested in the SCA team and now follow each leg of the race,” adds Sahlström. “In addition, Anders is following the race around the world in person, helping to set-up the boat and keep it in top condition.” 

Picture 1:
Johan Sahlström and Anders Gaasedal built the ship.

Picture 2: The intricate design of the one-off replica.


Tiffany Cheng

Director, External Communications
Volvo Construction Equipment

Brian O'Sullivan

Tel: +44 7733350307