Inmarsat helps Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 set new standards

The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 will be the most digitally connected around-the-world race in history, featuring the first purpose-built, one-design racing boat geared for 24/7 satellite communications to an audience of tens of millions.  Inmarsat, the global leader in the sector, has again been selected as the Race’s official Satellite Communications Partner, providing global broadband data and voice communication services for the competitors and Volvo Ocean Race’s support teams.

Working with the Volvo Ocean Race for a fourth consecutive edition, Inmarsat’s award-winning global satellite network will be responsible for delivering cutting-edge safety services, vessel tracking capabilities, audio and video communications and social media access during the nine-month competition.

Each yacht will have a trained Onboard Reporter (OBR), who will be responsible for delivering multiple hours of broadcast and digital content daily during the course of the race.  More than 2,000 applications are currently being considered by Volvo Ocean Race for the OBR roles.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race which celebrates its 40th anniversary in September, said: “Inmarsat performed flawlessly over the last three editions and we are sure they will do so again with a boat which has been purpose-built with communications very much in mind.

“We look forward to Inmarsat making this the most watched and most connected yacht race in the world aimed at a new online audience of people who simply love the kind of life-at-the-extreme excitement we serve up day in day out.”

For the 2014-15 edition, Inmarsat will supply the network and satellite services for the FleetBroadband 500 (FB500), FleetBroadband 250 (FB 250) and Inmarsat C safety services and tracking devices on board the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 race yachts.

FB500, Inmarsat’s flagship maritime service, delivers an always-on connection of up to 432kbps for applications such as email, internet access, real-time electronic charts and weather reporting. FB500 also features streaming IP with guaranteed connection rates of up to 256kbps available on demand, for live applications such as high definition video streaming.

“The Volvo Ocean Race is the fastest, toughest and most technically advanced around-the-world yacht race. This is why the race organisers needed to ensure that the event was supported by the most advanced and reliable satellite communications available. They therefore selected Inmarsat again as an Official Race Partner for the 2014-15 edition, which is the fourth time in a row we have supported this world famous competition,” said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat.

“The Volvo Ocean Race is not just one of the world’s most exciting adventures but the perfect test bed to showcase the capabilities of Inmarsat’s global network to power voice and data connectivity from the most remote and inhospitable locations on Earth.”

In addition to Inmarsat C safety services and tracking devices, each of the race yachts will carry an IsatPhone Pro satellite phone in their liferaft packs.

Commenting on the safety services being provided by Inmarsat, Pearce added: “We are trusted by the world’s mariners to deliver the life-saving Global Maritime Distress and Safety Service (GMDSS) and have done so for over 30 years. We will be helping to keep the Volvo Ocean Race teams safe as they compete over eight months and travel the equivalent of twice around the world.”

On shore, Volvo Ocean Race’s support teams will be equipped with Inmarsat’s BGAN land terminals, enabling them to set-up a full broadband communications suite at every port the race visits. Using BGAN, the support teams will be able to stay connected to the race crews wherever they are on an ocean.

Inmarsat’s history with Volvo Ocean Race

The event, which began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973, moved from its home in England to the Valencia region in 2010 and is preparing for its 12th edition in 2014-15 and the 13th in 2017-18.

Inmarsat has been an official provider to the Volvo Ocean Race since the 2005-06 race, when the competing yachts were equipped with Inmarsat’s Fleet 77 and Fleet 33 terminals, offering a 64kb environment, alongside an Inmarsat C terminal for tracking and safety services.

For the 2008–09 edition, Inmarsat supplied its new Fleet Broadband 500 service, backed up by Fleet 33 and Inmarsat C safety and tracking. Most recently, the 2011-12 edition saw Inmarsat provide FleetBroadband 500 backed up with FleetBroadband 150 and Inmarsat C trackers.