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Project Plan for Whitbread World Sailboat Race

The Whitbread World Sailboat Race is a nine month round the world race. Bjorn Ericksen has been chosen to head his country’s crew. This entails development of a design, construction of the vessel, and formation of a crew to train for competition in the upcoming Whitbread Sailboat Race. This project must be completed within a 45 week time frame and maintain a planned budget of $3.2 million. Management of this current project requires analyzing of Ericksen strategy, the plan to reduce project duration, the project closure approach, and completion of the project. This paper will show the advantages of crash time, maintaining of performance, budget overruns cost and completion of the project. First one must begin with the strategy of the project.

Bjorn Ericksen Project Strategy Analysis

Bjorn Ericksen has been selected to represent his country for the Whitbread World Sailboat Race as the project manager. “Bjorn is pleased and proud to have the opportunity to design, build, test and train the crew for next year’s Whitbread entry for his country.” (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 305) To begin compiling his winning team Bjorn has hand picked to key person for the team. He has chosen as his chief design engineer, Karin Knutsen and as his master helmsman, Trygve Wallvik. Both men will have the responsibility of getting next year’s entry ready for the entries parade in the United Kingdom. The parade takes place on the Thames River which signals the beginning of the race.

Bjorn sees two parallel path running through the project; design and construction and training of the crew. The new crew will need to train on the previous year’s vessel until this year vessel is complete and ready for trails. The goal is to have the crew ready to compete and a winning vessel within the next 45 weeks, with the cost of $3.2 million. The new vessel must be ready within the 45 weeks to leave port to begin the race in the United Kingdom.

The Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race began in England in September 1973. The race itself was conceived by the Royal Naval Sailing Association over a pint of beer some 30 years ago and was sponsored by a London-based brewery company. Each year countries enter sailing vessels in the nine-month Round the World Whitbread Sailboat Race. In years, about 14 countries entered sailboats in the race. Each year’s sailboat entries represent the latest technologies and human skills each country can muster. (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 304) The race has since changed its name to the Volvo Ocean Race and is run every four years.

Karin has slated the first six weeks for the design of the vessel. After the design is finished, projected construction of the hull will take approximately 12 weeks. Accessories such as the mast and sail will arrive in 15 weeks. After the hull, the ballast tank should take two weeks to install. Building of the deck and coating the hull can be completed at the same time. Next all order parts should have arrived and are ready for installation by the crew. When the remaining parts have been installed, testing of the vessel can begin which should take approximately five weeks.

The team leaders show a projection of cost starting at $3,152,000 for the race under normal conditions, this would require approximately 50 weeks to complete the project. The team also has a crash time projection and cost of an alternate plan in case of delays or other unforeseen circumstances. However, based on those projections the project could be finished in 42 weeks with a budget around $4.952 million. Based on the first plan from items from the Activity Chart with items A through K, which is from design to testing, the approximate cost is $2,520,000 and will take 36 weeks to complete. The component is selecting a crew, once the crew is selected and equipment purchased. The crew must develop a sailing program as well as a maintenance program must began, this take approximately 15 weeks. After the initial training, the sea trials will take approximately 8 weeks. At this point from M to S of the Activity Chart the cost is approximately $270,000. The operating expense of both boats is $162,000; $60, 000 for the old boat and $102,000 for the new boat. The direct cost of the sea trials will be $200,000 and the indirect cost is $48,000 for the use of the boat. The schedule from design to the sea trials is 44 weeks, the schedule time of 46 weeks from training the crew to the sea trials. This means that scheduled time must be reduced in order to reach the goal and arrive at the starting point on time to begin the race.

Plan to Reduce Project Duration

The initial cost of the current schedule will cost approximately $3.152 million and will take approximately 50 weeks to finish. The current project estimates are under budget, but the time frame is not acceptable. Bjorn needs to decide which activities need to be crashed, and understand the priorities of the project. The team must define the project’s scope. “Defining the project scope sets the stage for developing a project plan. Project scope is a definition of the end result or mission of your project- a product or service for your client/customer. The primary purpose is to define as clearly as possible the deliverables for the end user and to focus projects plans.” (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 100) The project scope is based on independent critical paths, design and construction. The total time for completion of this project is 46 weeks; however, the race begins in 45 weeks. Bjorn, Karin and Trygve spent the first two weeks planning and estimating the cost of the project. This leaves 43 weeks before the vessel must leave for the United Kingdom. After reviewing the Activity Chart items A-S, the project plan is refined by developing a plan to see which cost estimates should be crashed to meet their current deadline. This critical plan runs activities A, B, C, G, R, S, and L, which will take approximately 50 weeks. This is taken in consideration comparing the maximum crash times, still does not reduce the time of the project enough to meet the time frame needed. It does however, increase the cost significantly. In order to reduce project, Bjorn must reduce the activities of the critical path. The goal is a reduction of seven weeks from 50 weeks to 43 weeks. To do so activities A, B, R, S and L must change, doing so will decrease the project time by eight weeks, activities C and G show no signs of change from either normal or crash times. Limiting activity L could save money, it has a crash cost of $250 per unit. “One of the primary jobs of a project manager is to manage the trade-offs among time, cost, and performance. To do so, project managers must define and understand the nature of the priorities of the project” (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 103) this is done by using a project priority matrix.

In the case of Whitbread Sailboat Race, time is a fixed factor. The delivery of a crew and vessel are pertinent to the race. The race has a fixed start time that cannot be missed, to do so would mean the project has failed. The cost is higher, the crew and vessel are of higher qualities, which is need for the performance needed to win the race. “Reducing quality is always an option, but it is rarely accepted or used. If quality is sacrificed, it may be possible to reduce the time of an activity on the critical path.” (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 287) A two week reduction in the hull design would compromise the performance of the vessel based on the quality used. This reduction could result in a defeat in the race, since the best design was not used and could always increase flaws in the construction of the vessel. To create crash time, the building of the hull should overlap the designs final stages. The overlapping of these activities would provide time for activities outside the critical path. The current team is already on hand to save money and avoid hiring other crew. Authorization of overtime would be the easiest way to maintain the time constraints and eliminates the need for personnel that are unfamiliar with the project to be hired. This would provide additional crash time. The project manager must maintain the critical path and crash times to achieve the success of the project.

Project Closure Approach

To begin the project closure a project audit must be performed. The project audit has three major tasks. 1) Evaluate if the project delivered the expected benefits to all stakeholders. Was the project managed well? Was the customer satisfied? 2) Assess what was done wrong and what contributed to successes. 3) Identify changes to improve the delivery of future projects. (Gray-Larson, 2005, p. 461) The two project audits are in-process project audits or post-project audits. The in-process project audit checks the project progress and performance, and then allows for any change that may be needed. The post-project audit consists of the completed project, making improvements for any future projects. Although these audits cost time and money they should be done quickly, to ensure that resources are not wasted. In-process audit can create friction within the project, so it should be performed carefully to maintain the project team morale. It should provide both positive and constructive feedback, and should be performed by an independent audit group to maintain it’s not bias. After each audit, information has been collected and analyzed to see what needs to be changed and any improvements recommended.

As the project comes to the close. The closing stages will begin. After the vessel has been built, the old vessel must be off-loaded. The crew will begin work on the new vessel. The old vessel must be sailed to the home port. After the construction has been completed the building crew can be downsized. Since several were specialist in their craft, their services are no longer needed.

The implementation phase of the project, each member of the crew is encouraged to keep working journals. The journals will provide a record of the high and low of the project from beginning to the end. The journals may be used for future information and data for future projects. After the vessel is completed the old vessel must be returned. After the trials are complete, and celebration will be planned to accumulate the closure of the project for the crew and staff. The planned celebration is just the beginning before the crew sets sail to the United Kingdom for the Whitbread Sailboat Race.

The new vessel and crew will sail to the Thames River in England. At this point in the project the project has reached completion. The journals have been collected and Bjorn will have to compile a final report with the help of the crew. This report will provide in detail the overall expense of the project. The time table it has taken to complete each step of the project. The report should document best practices and lessons learned by the crew for the duration of the project. These will provide a road map for future project managers to follow. The report should shed light on the time table, and show that the program must be started sooner, because 45 weeks is not enough time to launch the project successfully. Each report will provide pertinent information for future project manager, demonstrating from start to finish the best practice for the Whitbread Sailboat Race. From selecting a project manager, crew, design, to sailing to the end of the race. Project Closure consists of developing a plan, selection of a crew, communication of plan and plan implementation. The following questions should be answered. 1) What tasks are required to close the project? 2) Who will be responsible for these tasks? 3) When will closure begin and end? 4) How will the project be delivered? After these questions have been answered, implementation of the close down plan is the next step. The plan includes five activities, 1) Getting delivery acceptance from the customer. 2) Shutting down resources and releasing to new uses. 3) Reassigning project team members. 4) Closing accounts and seeing all bills are paid. 5) Evaluating the project team, project team members, and the project manager. These evaluations are essential to the successful closure of the project.


Bjorn Ericksen, the project manager has selected the best team possible. With his follow crew members Karin Knutsen and Trygve Wallvik. Bjorn shares his two parallel paths running through the project-design and construction and crew training. This critical path network has developed a time line of 43 weeks; the critical path will take 50 weeks. Bjorn decided to apply crash time to certain activities on the critical path to regain 7 weeks to make the schedule of 43 weeks. If the 7 weeks are not regained the project deadline or beginning of the race will have passed, meaning the project has failed. After the completion of the project the deadline has been met, the project has gone over budget. In some case this would be unacceptable; the cost is not a factor. The successful project used overtime to speed efforts with staffing. After the celebration was complete, Bjorn and his crew prepare for the nine month journey around the world. Bjorn team should be prepared to design build and sail the vessel to a successful victory. After the race has been finished, performance reviewed, they will be prepared to compete and possibly defend in next year’s race.

Gray, C. and Larson, E. (2005). Project management: the managerial process (3rd ed.). New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Gray, C. and Larson, E. (2005). Project management: the managerial process (3rd ed.).
Whitbread World Sailboat Race: Case Study New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Volvo Ocean Race. Retrieved on September 10, 2008 from


Table 1
Optimal Solution Implementation Plan
Action Item Deliverable Timeline Who is Responsible
Kickoff meeting 7 days Bjorn Ericksen
Estimated cost & project schedule 14 days after the initial kick-off Bjorn Ericksen, Karin Knutsen, Trygve Wallvik
Sailboat design Week 3-9 Karin Knutsen
Crew Selection Week 3 Trygve Wallvik
Secure Housing Week 3 Crew
Construction of Hull Week 12 Karin Knutsen
Order Mast Week 8 Karin Knutsen
Order Sail Week 6 Karin Knutsen
Order Accessories Week 15 Karin Knutsen
Routine Sail and Maintenance Week 15 Trygve Wallvik
Order Crew Equipment Week 15 Trygve Wallvik
Deliver Boat and Crew Week 45 Trygve Wallvik
Return Old Boat Week 23 Crew
Project Celebration Week 44 Crew
Project Closure Week 48 Bjorn Ericksen