Volvo Ocean Race Inmarsat Deal Shows Commitment to Media Quality.


Inmarsat will provide HD tecchnology to Volvo Ocean Race

It doesn’t matter what kind of sailing event you are running, or what platforms you are trying to distribute media on or communicate to fans with, capturing the action and getting it off the boat is something that all yacht racing promoters have to deal with.

It’s pretty easy if you are the America’s Cup – you could almost use 3G to get media off boats sailing around San Francisco Bay, but the Volvo Ocean Race has a racecourse that is, as the strapline says. extreme – and that means being on the edge of the communicable world.

There are technologies however that do enable high speed, HD quality communication from almost any point on the earth. The Volvo Ocean Race has once again teamed up with Inmarsat to provide essential voice and data connectivity for the next edition of the ocean racing event. Inmarsat FleetBroadband will be used to deliver broadcast quality high-definition television (HDTV) and rich multimedia content from the competing boats to the world’s media. Inmarsat has increased its involvement in the next edition of the race and is now a Race Partner.

Knut Frostad, CEO Volvo Ocean Race said:

“I am very pleased to announce this continued and enhanced partnership with Inmarsat. FleetBroadband has proved it can deliver a flawless performance in tough conditions and that is absolutely essential for us. We need to be able to get reliable and high quality material off the boats and deliver it to the world with immediacy. You could say that the DNA of the Volvo Ocean Race is really based around moving images. And to be able to transmit these images from the boats is core to our communication and story building around the race. In many ways you could say that the Inmarsat’s FleetBroadBand has revolutionised the sport of offshore sailing.

And by enabling us to be so connected to the boats, we can monitor them 24 hours a day from our Control Room in Alicante. This is crucial for our safety procedures and the onboard safety equipment is a vital tool for the crew in emergency situations.”

Each Volvo Open 70 will be equipped with a SAILOR FleetBroadband 500, providing voice and high-speed data communications. Also onboard is a compact SAILOR FleetBroadband 150 for crew voice calling and IP data, plus two SAILOR Mini-C systems for constant positioning data and global safety communications. For the first time and after extensive evaluation, Inmarsat’s new global satellite phone, the ISATPHONE Pro, will be included in the safety kit of all the race yachts.

Andrew Sukawaty, Chairman and CEO, Inmarsat said:

“FleetBroadband gave a flawless performance during the last Volvo Ocean Race in 2008 – 09 and will continue to take media coverage of the race into a whole new era. Faster transmission speeds deliver better quality broadcasts bringing all the action onboard into people’s homes around the world. It is undeniably the world’s premier global race and one of the most demanding team sporting events in the world and we are delighted with the global endorsement of ISATPHONE Pro, with its inclusion in the yachts’ safety equipment.”

You could just mount cameras to different parts of the boats and have ‘TV execs’ pick the best bits, but the Volvo Ocean Race realises that offshore sailing is as much about the human element than the boat, perhaps more so. The interactions of team members at the extremes, the highs and lows can be captured by someone embedded in the action, not just watching from a studio. Therefore the race will once again include Media Crew Members and an (MCM) Award for the best material.

This award will also be sponsored by Inmarsat. In addition, on each leg, an MCM will win a €1000 cash prize for outstanding excellence in communicating across all media from their boat, as judged by a specialist panel. When the race concludes in Galway, Ireland, in July 2012, a €10,000 prize will be awarded to the MCM judged to have made the best overall contribution to race coverage.

Knut Frostad firmly believes the MCM is as much a key player as the helmsman, tactician and the crew.

“No story, no sponsorship, no race. It’s as simple as that.”

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