Volvo Ocean Race partner and official satellite communications provider Inmarsat will play a larger role in bringing the race to fans’ desktops and mobile devices. The 2014-’15 race will be Inmarsat’s fourth edition. Its satellite services underpin the work of the Onboard Reporters aboard the boats purpose-built with digital communications in mind.
Inmarsat’s satellite array is a key enabler for all aspects of the race—including position reporting, transmitting live video footage and photos of on-board action to the world’s media, updating social media, providing safety communications, and boosting crew morale by enabling them to call and e-mail loved ones during the eight-month circumnavigation.
Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband service takes media coverage of the race into a whole new era. Faster transmission speeds will deliver higher quality live broadcasts from the raceboats in the middle of the ocean. Each VO65 is equipped with five camera points: one each on the port and starboard spreader, one on the mast under the radar mount looking forward, one on the aft data mast looking forward and another under the coach roof looking aft into the cockpit. The aft-most camera will be a fisheye lens this year, giving a new perspective on waves washing down the deck.
Senior producer Rick Deppe says he plans to take advantage of the huge amount of data streaming off the boats with a daily live studio show, as well as live finish shows.
“The goal of the communications team is to tell the story of the race in a more personalized way, because there are great stories among the sailors out there,” says Deppe. “That’s where Inmarsat comes in. With their platform we’re able to have live video streams off the boats and we’ll be using that video in ways we haven’t done before.”
With America’s Cup veteran Leon Sefton onboard as Executive Producer, Deppe says the daily shows will make use of a live link with the skippers, who’ll each be required to give 5 minutes of chat time. Live broadcasts are also planned when the crews are approaching the leg finishes.
“We’ve made a commitment to do daily live shows from headquarters in Alicante with the centerpiece being the live connections with the boats,” says Deppe. “We’re also prepared to do live arrivals as an extension of that.
“We’ll go live 15 to 20 minutes from a boat finishing,” Deppe continues. “We’ll have a host in studio, live tracking, a cameraman in an inflatable, and the live connection with the crew. So there are potentially four nice angles. It’s a massive commitment, but should be cool, especially for sailing fans.”
In recognition of the role broadcast media plays in bringing the excitement of the race to millions of spectators and delivering millions of dollars in valuable media coverage for race sponsors, Inmarsat will present its Onboard Reporter Award of $1,320 on each leg of the race, plus $13,200 prize for the best overall contribution to race coverage.