Interviewer: Geoff Holt
GH: I’ve come to Harken’s stand in hall B, they are based in Lymington and have a number of new innovations here at the show. Andy Ash-Vie is the Managing Director, good evening Andy.
AAV: Good evening!
GH: Now I have known about Harken for many years as a sailor. You’re a big name in the sailing world, particularly ropes, blocks and tackle. What are you doing at a commercial show?
AAV: Well it’s very simple, what we’re doing is taking our sailors knowledge and ability to handle loads with rope in harsh environments into, perhaps, the next generation. Offshore is what we do, this is an offshore show and that’s why we’re here.
GH: So let me get this straight, a lot of the commercial activities that happen offshore are moving very, very heavy weights often using wire for example. You’ve obviously learnt a lot from the yachting industry about moving heavy weights on boats, that’s what you’re trying to promote?
AAV: That is fundamentally the argument which is that wire has a lot of advantages but it’s also very heavy, it’s got snags in it and it corrodes. People are really learning that dynema is a much better alternative. You get very high strength, it doesn’t break explosively and so you can take a lot of weight out of the equipment. But the rest of the equipment is still all based on the old steel wire technology. That means if you move over to yacht equipment technology you can gain a lot of weight saving, speed of operation and most of all it’s actually a lot safer, you don’t break your back lifting heavy blocks around.
GH: On the face of it, it makes perfect sense. Now I’m joined with Shelly this evening, Shelly what are you playing with now?
Shelly: Well I’m winding something up, obviously everything is very alien to me here Geoff because there’s lots of winches and ropes and I don’t have many of them on my powerboat. So what am I actually doing here Andy?
AAV: Well what we’re doing there is your lifting a pretty heavy weight, it’s about fifty kilos, and it’s pretty easy for you to do that! What we’ve done here is take a conventional yacht winch and with an adaptable mounting plate you can then put that winch into any application, you can tether it, you can strap it to a tree or bollard, you can tie it off on something. What you’ve now got is a mobile pulling device that you can use instead of a chain hoist.
Shelly: So really and truly this little item here has got nothing to do with the marine world, it’s not just for sailors or marine industry this, as you just said, it could go anywhere on a farm or…
AAV: Farm or architectural building, anywhere where you need to pull a load.
Shelly: Amazing, it’s really good and it’s so easy!
GH: Well just to explain to listeners what we’re actually looking at, particularly as a yachtsman, is a conventional winch that you’d normally have in a cockpit that you put the mainsheet round or the main halyard and winch it in. It’s mounted laterally on a bracket and it enables us to, as you say, be fully flexible and manoeuvrable.
Shelly: It’s very, very easily mounted, it’s lateral and it’s got a ratchet strap round it.
GH: So how has the commercial sector taken to this?
AAV: Innovation does take a little time to seep in but it’s been great. We’re picking up so much business here and quite frankly with the sailing world not in great shape it’s really a lifeline to our future.
GH: So how does health and safety – I mean lifting weights is a huge issue. I know this outside of the sailing world. So in the sailing world and particularly the commercial world there’s going to be lots of regulations?
AAV: Lots of regulation but we go through it all. Everything we do here is certified and tested.
GH: Well behind you is one of the thickest dynema ropes that I’ve seen in a long time. What sort of weight could that rope lift?
AAV: Well the rope is actually only demo. The blocks that are hanging off it, that one there has a break load of ninety five tonnes and it only weighs twenty two and a half kilos. The nearest conventional blocks weigh over 100-150 kilos so there’s a heck of a weight saving!
GH: Well Andy it’s very interesting, particularly for me as a sailor to come round and see some of these applications in the commercial world. I think we’ll leave Shelly to her winching; she’s absolutely besotted by that winch!
Shelly: Well I’ve found some other things over there, there’s lots of things over there that make lovely noises, I’m just going to go and play with them!
GH: Yes apologies for Shelly! Andy thanks for hosting us this afternoon and best of luck! And there’s a link to Harkens website on our programme page for today, go to www.bbc.co.uk/solent.
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