The Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup will be held in San Francisco Bay this July through September, when you can bet that every last one of the world’s best racers will push every last limit that they can find. Helping to keep them in bounds—quite literally—will be Helmut’s Marine Service, a San Rafael, California-based Volvo Penta servicing dealer and power center that has been tapped based on its 25 years of excellence.
Helmut’s did a test run a few months ago during some World Series sailboat races on the bay. The company handled pre- and post-race servicing, commissioning and technical support for six powercatamarans, each 46 feet long, that were custom designed to serve as course markers and platforms with 360-degree race views.
Each of the cat’s twin Volvo Penta D6-330 engines and IPS450 pod drives were linked to onboard GPS systems to ensure precise position keeping, even in strong currents and winds.
“The captains were very pleased with the Volvo Penta propulsion and dynamic positioning systems, which enabled them to keep the boats precisely on station without anchor lines,” said Helmut Ahollinger, president of Helmut’s Marine Service. “This is a tremendous improvement over the smaller outboard boats used in the past, which needed constant manual maneuvering to hold a steady position. And, unlike fixed buoys, the marker vessels can easily and quickly be repositioned as needed to alter the race course for changing weather conditions.”
Helmut’s was one of the first power centers for Volvo Penta, taking on the role during a pilot program in 1999. Today, the company provides engines, parts and technical support to dealers in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Guam.
“We pride ourselves on always going the extra mile,” Ahollinger says. “Our guiding principle is always to treat our customer as we would treat our best friend.”