The Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race, so often at the forefront of online innovation, has pushed the boundaries still further for the 2008-09 race with the launch of a ground-breaking web site aimed at taking visitors closer to the heart of the action.
The Whitbread Round the World Race of 1997-98 pioneered the use of the internet for global communications and was considered the benchmark of its time. Its ‘total immersion’ strap line is a guiding philosophy that echoes to this day, as that site changed not only the way the story of ocean racing was told but also set the tone for how future global sports were covered online.
From that proud heritage of cutting-edge communication, comes the re-launched www.volvooceanrace.org.
The site is filled with all of the news and feature stories one would expect from a major sailing event website. But among the biggest advances with the new site is the Race Data Centre. Here, for the first time, the race organisers will share insider information from the fleet’s on-board telemetry.
‘This has never been done before. We are creating an online environment where users can immerse themselves in data and put themselves in the place of the skippers and navigators as they take in all the available information and decide what to do next. Hopefully, it’s a window into the mental side of the race as well.’
The race data will also be used to drive Virtual Spectator, the 2D and 3D animated race tracker, which will enable users to follow the progress of the fleet along with the predicted positions. Virtual Spectator will run inside a web browser, meaning it is available for both Mac and PC users.
Other innovations include a fully interactive 3D tour of a Volvo Open 70 that shows in graphic detail the inner workings of the boat as well as the key design features of these groundbreaking yachts.
Upgraded image and audio galleries including regular podcasts and live on-board interviews round out the package.
Volvo Ocean Race TV (www.volvooceanrace.tv), launched earlier this year, will show video content including news, features, on-board footage and interviews when the boats are at sea. Volvo Ocean Race TV will also show live coverage of all in-port races.
Fans will also be able to follow events on the race’s mobile channel so there’s no excuse for ever leaving the race.
‘It is how we package that material that matters most both for avid followers of the race and those who are new to it. With that in mind, the new site will serve both audiences.’