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Velux 5 Oceans skippers keep watch on costs

Velux Racing Yacht

New maritime technologies are helping race organisers and competitors in the Velux 5 Oceans round-the-world-yacht race manage the costs of beaming news of the competition around the globe via Fleet Broadband.

Inmarsat service provider Livewire Connections is providing a host of state-of-the-art technologies to support the race, which organisers have dubbed "the ultimate solo challenge".

The five competitors all safely completed the race’s first "sprint" from La Rochelle in France, despite a series of dramas - including two tonnes of water flooding into Belgian skipper’s Christophe Bullens’ yacht, Five Oceans of Smiles, after his generator inlet broke.

Spending alerts

Final preparations are now being made for the start on 12 December of the second leg of the race from Cape Town, South Africa, to Wellington in New Zealand.

Tom Cecil, project manager for Livewire Connections, said:

"We are supporting competitors and race organisers with a raft of technologies led by the Access Controller FB-10, which controls and manages the communications.The call and time of each data call is monitored and regular spending alerts notify the skipper of live airtime costs. The system automatically drops the call if the spending increases above pre-set budgets."

Easy configuration

Velux 5 Oceans 2010-2011 Race Route

This feature has already proved useful for the winner of the first leg of the race - American Brad Van Liew, aboard his yacht Le Pingouin.

The pre-set spending limits prevented background software updates from being automatically downloaded while he was browsing the internet on the second day of leg 1, so saving him substantial airtime costs.

The Access Controller FB-10 also has a built-in dynamic firewall, which allows vessels to comply with race restrictions on weather and other information sources, although the configuration can easily be remotely changed by organisers at the race headquarters when required."

TV cameras

Livewire Connections working with Marine Camera Solutions has also supplied custom-built marine cameras, which are fixed to each racing yacht to capture video.

This is then encoded - to either web or broadcast quality - using Livewire Digital M-Link Voyager software and transmitted over a standard IP connection.

Tom said: "We developed the system with single-handed sailing in mind to minimise the workload for skippers."

Weather information

It enables race blogs, weather information, live video conferencing, and store and forward videos – as well as stills – to be sent back to the race website using Thrane & Thrane SAILOR Fleet Broadband 250 terminals onboard each boat.

Livewire has additionally supplied each yacht with Inmarsat C services that offers the SafetyNET distress and alert system, FleetNET EGC and polling services – providing race organisers with an additional communication link.

Marine Camera Solutions:

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