Technology just keeps making it easier to follow sailing, even when the boats are miles from land. These days, anyone with a GPS enabled phone can send a live track to the internet, but for longer journeys, something more industrial is required.
A record entry of 300 boats will each carry an OC Tracker for the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts from Cowes this Sunday, 9th August. Every yacht will carry an OC Tracker device, supplied jointly by OC Technology, part of the OC Group, and race organisers RORC.
The OC Tracker is an Iridium-based GPS unit that automatically supplies position updates for the entire fleet, which can then be viewed online on a special race viewer.
This is the second Rolex Fastnet Race which will see competitors carrying the OC Trackers.
Charles Darbyshire, Project Manager, Offshore Challenges Sailing Team:
“Two years ago in the last Fastnet, when we first had the whole fleet being tracked, race organisers could mark off retirees because you can see them alongside the dock in Falmouth. Even though not every boat phoned in, you knew they were in a safe place.”
The OC Trackers have been successfully used on professional ocean races such as the inaugural 2007 Barcelona World Race and The Artemis Transat in 2008, and have already demonstrated their benefits in emergency situations.
“In the 2006 Velux 5 Oceans Race, Mike Golding went to the rescue of Alex Thomson on board Hugo Boss in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The OC Tracker system allows us to change the Trackers’ reporting frequency and we ramped it up to every five minutes. The website management system also gives a range and bearing, so Alex was being told how far away Mike was, and Mike was basically being navigated into exactly the right place because we could tell him what direction to steer.”
Now, family, friends and race followers can watch all the action as it unfolds across the Irish Sea by viewing every boat in the fleet’s position on the event website.
Clémentine d’Oiron, Manager, OC Technology:
“This year we have record entry numbers of 310 – 300 yachts racing in the Fastnet and 10 IMOCA 60 yachts in their own class. We also have a new, improved race player and all the OC Trackers will be on the same race viewer.”
Follow the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race online at http://fastnet.rorc.org/2009-fleet-tracking.html