Ocean racing bought to life for US students

27 November 2014: School took an exciting turn for fifth graders at the Friends Academy in Massachusetts, US, when they were invited to take part in a video conference with Team Alvimedica, currently competing in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

Inmarsat’s satellite communications enabled Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright to bring one of the toughest sporting events to life for the 10- and 11-year-olds, as he answered questions put to him over Skype while sailing in the Indian Ocean, 350 nautical miles south/southeast of Madagascar.

The video conference was organised by Charlie’s wife Meris who teaches fifth grade at the school. She has devised a geography curriculum based on the Volvo Ocean Race that has been used in schools throughout Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts.

Emotion involved

“Technology helps make the world a smaller place for the students and this learning sticks with them because there’s emotion involved,” she said.

Questions from the children included how the team copes with homesickness and seasickness to tactics for winning the race and what sailing experience they had. They also sang a special rendition of the song Don’t Stop Believing to Charlie and the crew.

“It’s pretty crazy that technology allows you to do just that. Thanks Inmarsat!” said Charlie, who described how amazing it was to listen to the children sing and hear his wife’s voice, when so far away from anything.

Most connected

As for the children, 10-year-old Reed Turner-Murray summed the experience up perfectly: “It was cool that we were the first school to do this. It’s incredible that we were able to talk to them and see the sun setting where they are while it’s in the middle of the sky where we are.”

Inmarsat is the official satellite communications partner for the Volvo Ocean Race for a fourth consecutive edition. Its satellite technology has made this the most connected sporting event in history, enabling each Onboard Reporter sailing with the seven competing teams to send back daily videos, blogs and access social media to bring the adventure of the race to millions of global fans.

Each Volvo Ocean 65 boat is equipped with Inmarsat’s flagship maritime services – FleetBroadband 500, FleetBroadband 250 and Inmarsat C – to provide tracking capabilities, weather updates and life-saving safety services for the crews.

The teams are due to arrive in Abu Dhabi mid-December, from where the 38,739 nautical mile journey will continue to Sanya, China; Auckland, New Zealand; Itajai, Brazil; Lisbon, Portugal; Lorient, France; Newport, USA; The Hague, the Netherlands, with a scheduled finish date in Gothenburg, Sweden of 27 June 2015.

Volvo Ocean Race: www.inmarsat.com/vor