A bit of biography – I was the radio reporter for three Volvo Ocean Races starting in 2001-2. I fell completely in love with the event, and the extraordinary people who sail around the planet in the toughest race on earth.
But all good things come to an end, or so I thought, and in 2009 I hung up my sailing microphone and went back to my day job as a sports radio reporter in the UK. Then, five years later, I received a call from Inmarsat asking if would like to help out as a commentator on their hospitality boats during the in-port events, part of their continuing partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race. After thinking about the offer for, oh, half a second or so, I said: “Yes…yes please!” And since then it has been my privilege to help out wherever needed, talking sailors and non-sailors alike through the leg starts and in-port races that make up the live spectator experience in the Volvo Ocean Race.
What has changed so dramatically since I first started on the race has been the rest of the spectator experience – with all the live coverage coming from the boats wherever they are on the planet: a contact between the competitors and fans made possible by Inmarsat. Now people get a true view of what these amazing athletes go through in this race.
But back to commentating from a spectator boat to a crowd of people who may not know much about sailing. My job is to inform them about what they can see out in the water – obviously. But more than that, it is trying to get across some of the passion I feel the race deserves. I want people to be checking the Inmarsat Volvo Ocean Race website on a daily basis after they have been out on the water!
So I tell the story of the race, from its beginnings in a pub in the UK in the early 1970s to introducing the extraordinary men and women who make up the crews in 2018 – the skippers who put these campaigns together, the old lags who keep coming back to the race and the newbies looking to establish themselves among offshore sailing’s elite.
Turning the tide
As well as making sure I know all the results in the race so far, I try to express what those competing feel for this event, whether it is explaining how to sail in the Southern Ocean (how would you feel about avoiding icebergs at night with no headlights and no brakes?) or how the race is working with its partners to turn the tide on the plastic that is clogging up our oceans.
So, to put it simply, it is about communication. Which means working for Inmarsat, the world’s communication partner in so many ways, makes such perfect sense. I am very proud of the tiny part I play in telling the story of this race on behalf of Inmarsat, and as long as they keep asking me to help, I will always answer: “Yes…yes please!”
About the author
Guy Swindells is Editorial Director of sports event broadcaster World Sports Communications. He has worked extensively as a radio and TV journalist, working for the BBC, IRN, Capital Radio, talkSPORT, Sky TV News and London News Tonight amongst others. He has covered Olympic Games, Rugby World Cups and 6 Nations, England cricket both home and away, Ryder Cups and Open Championships, has been a regular commentator at Radio Wimbledon, reports extensively on Premier League football and has been the voice of the Volvo Ocean Race. He also hosts events, and worked on the America’s Cup World Series throughout Europe.