TV revolution in offshore racing


For the next Volvo Ocean Race Inmarsat will be offering 50MB/sec data speeds
The media show component of round the world and oceanic racing is to undergo a revolution in the not-so-distant future. Already the Volvo Ocean Race media crewmen are beaming high definition video back from on board, regardless of where their boats are in the world and in what conditions. Other events such as the Barcelona World Race have pioneered the use of video conferencing, with skippers able to be interviewed live from the high seas. At present the Volvo Open 70s carry a plethora of satellite equipment. This includes the belt and braces Inmarsat C, the backbone of the satcoms gear on race boats since it was introduced in 1991. Since 1 February 1999 this data-based gear is also part of the International Maritime Organisation specification for GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System). On race boats it is used principally for automatic position reporting (when the C terminal is hooked up to a GPS) and for alerting the rescue authorities in the event of a distress situation. In the past Inmarsat C has been used for sending and receiving telexes and as recently as the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race when, as the boats leaving Qingdao, it was used by the then Ericsson 4 navigator Jules Salter as a means of downloading a weatherfax, necessary during a 10 day outage of the regular satcom services, due to Inmarsat shuffling their satellites around. “He succeeded, but I don’t think any of the other crews knew how to tap into that technology,” recalls Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat’s Vice President of External Affairs, and himself a regular in Ian Southworth’s J/24 crew. “So it was quite a smart move by the eventual race winners.” In addition to Inmarsat C, the boats are equipped with a FleetBroadband 500 unit supplied by Danish manufacturer Sailor/Thrane & Thrane. This is the

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