03 July 2014: Onboard Reporters (OBRs) for the Volvo Ocean Race visited Inmarsat to learn about the satellite communications they will rely on to tell the story of one of the toughest events in world sport.
The pre-eminent yacht race runs every three years and sees teams of professional sailors racing around the world over nine months.
Inmarsat is VOR’s official Satellite Communications Partner for a fourth consecutive edition, providing global broadband data and voice communication services for the competitors and Volvo Ocean Race’s support teams.
The 11 OBRs came to City Road, London HQ, to find out more about the company and the products and services they will put to the test during the 39,000 nautical-mile race.
Claudio Galli, Director of Inmarsat Global Service Operations, explained how the satcoms equipment works and what happens during an emergency.
Twenty OBRs, including reserves, were picked from 2,500 applicants and will be using Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband service to send 200 words, five to ten photos, and two minutes of video every day to the millions of followers.
Rick Deppe, VOR media co-ordinator, who has taken part in the race three times – as a sailor and an OBR – took to the social network waves to find this year’s applicants.
He said: “It can be hard to strike the balance in finding someone who is physically able to withstand the tough conditions and who has the right technical skills and background in producing content.
“We had lots of interesting people who had a real spirit of adventure and have chosen some brilliant people.”
The OBRs have already spent five weeks at the Volvo Ocean Race headquarters in Alicante, Spain, for training and to be matched up with teams.
OBR for female-only Team SCR, Corinna Halloran, from Newport, US, has a degree in non-fiction writing and photo journalism and has already sailed 23,000 nautical miles, including three Atlantic crossings.
“It’s awesome to be part of a team of 12 women sailing around the world, hopefully inspiring some little girls out there to do the same one day,” Corinna said. “The level of technology onboard is second to none and allows me to really bring the story to new groups of fans over the world.”
Francisco Vignale, a multimedia reporter who specialises in marine events, is trying out for the OBR position with the Spanish team and worked with Puma in the last edition as part of their onshore team.
The Argentinian said: “I’m very excited about telling the story to the world – although I am worried about the sea conditions and will miss asado (traditional Argentine BBQ) which isn’t possible to prepare on board!”
Work produced by OBRs in previous editions has been of such a high quality that it regularly receives plaudits from the media – an image taken by Puma’s Amory Ross was selected as one of the prestigious Sports Illustrated online pictures of the year in 2013, for example.
On each leg of the race, each OBR has a chance of winning the Inmarsat Onboard Reporter $1,000 Award, judged by Inmarsat and Volvo on the quality and success of their output.
They will also be competing for a $10,000 prize at the end of the race in Gothenburg, Sweden, awarded by Inmarsat to the OBR who has made the overall best contribution to the race’s coverage.
The 2014-15 race kicks off in Alicante on 4 October and continues to Cape Town, South Africa; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Sanya, China; Auckland, New Zealand; Itajai, Brazil; Lisbon, Portugal; Lorient, France; Newport, USA; The Hague, the Netherlands; due to end in Gothenburg, Sweden on 27 June 2015.
Cutting-edge safety services, vessel tracking capabilities, audio and video communications and social media access during the nine-month competition will all be made possible by Inmarsat.
Inmarsat will supply FleetBroadband 500, FleetBroadband 250 and Inmarsat C safety and tracking services and airtime for the race boats.
Each of the yachts will also carry an IsatPhone 2 satellite phone in their liferaft packs.