MIAMI University students had an exclusive lecture from media crew members about their work onboard the boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race.The department of communications studies at the University of Miami staged the lecture for students and faculty members.
The audience heard the challenges MCMs face and learned how FleetBroadband helps them send stunning video from the remotest seas often in harsh conditions.
Inmarsat vice-president of external affairs, Chris McLaughlin, and CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race Knut Frostad, began by explaining how important FleetBroadband and other technologies are for the competing boats and the MCMs.
Knut described Fleetbroadband as “truly transformational”.
He looked forward to the arrival of Global Xpress, Inmarsat's 50mbps new network in time for the next race.
MCMs Andres Soriana of Team Sanya, Hamish Hooper of Camper and Yann Riou from Team Groupama – together with MCM manager, Rick Deppe – gave the media students invaluable insights into how they cover events onboard.
Yann Riou said a successful MCM must be editor, producer, journalist, photographer and diplomat to get their stories off each boat.
Hamish Hooper added that building trust with the professional sailors on board was essential to a successful delivery for all sponsors.
However, all MCMs said the Southern Ocean had often been too dangerous to go on deck to film with hand-held cameras and their skippers had instructed them to use the five fixed cameras to record life at the extreme.
Knut explained how things have improved when he recalled the 1996 race (then sponsored by Whitbread). At that time, there was a heated debate on whether competitors should have to carry broadcast equipment.
“The compromise was equipment – or 200kg of lead. The race winner, Chris Dickson's Toshiba, chose lead,” he said.
“On our boat, Intrum Justicia, we took the media kit and renowned yachting photographer, Rick Tomlinson,” Knut recalled.
“We won the media battle with Sony-sponsored kit delivering the first ever media picture from a Whitbread boat as we rounded Cape Horn.
“It was global front-page news with just 9.6 kbps connectivity, via Inmarsat C.
“Today its half a megabit from Inmarsat FleetBroadband and it has changed our sport.”
Each MCM told the challenge of editing daily TV, radio and editorial packages and delivering Live-X TV links in conditions varying from a humid “sweat box” to being inside a “crashing drum” as Southern Ocean waves towered at 35 feet and winds topped 53mph.
The lecture was hosted by the university's Dr Michelle Seelig, Associate Professor, and her team.
Volvo Ocean Race: inmarsat.com/volvo