America's Cup challenger seeks weather data advantage
10-02-2010 - The challenger in this year's America's Cup will rely on FleetBroadband to give it a technological edge in its bid to win the oldest active trophy in international sport.
The Golden Gate Yacht Club's team, BMW Oracle, will use FleetBroadband to gather weather data when it takes on cup holder Société Nautique de Genèvei n Valencia, Spain. Poor weather conditions has seen the start of racing postponed from 8 February to 12 February.
The 33rd Americas Cup will see the teams line up their gigantic 27-metre (90ft) multi-hull racing yachts - USA (formerly BOR 90) and Alinghi 5 - for a best-of-three race regatta that will determine who takes the prestigious prize.
The US-based BMW Oracle team is fitting a Satlink FB250 terminal onboard their weather support catamaran. The airtime is being supplied by Inmarsat distribution partner Stratos.
Ricardo Puig, Satlink's international sales director, said: "To get a winning edge in a competition of this magnitude, the support boat has effectively been transformed using a Satlink FB250 into a broadband floating office with simultaneous access to voice and high speed data, along with fax and SMS capabilities.
"The America's Cup is a global showcase for FleetBroadband and its flawless performance in delivering global connectivity."
BMW Oracle team meteorologist Chris Bedford described Valencia as a difficult place for weather forecasting at any time of year.
"However, sailing in winter is even more challenging, since conditions change very rapidly," he said.
"Having access to up-to-the-minute weather information is vital to our prediction ability. With the potential for courses to be up to 30 miles offshore, we'll be well beyond the range of conventional mobile phone systems to access this information back on shore.
"Only a satellite connection can assure us that we'll have access to this data no matter where the race course takes us. With the Satlink FB250 it will be like we're sitting in the office rather than rolling around in 2-metre seas."
Inmarsat's chairman and chief executive officer, Andrew Sukawaty, commented: "Inmarsat is proud to be called upon to supply communications capabilities in the most prestigious day racing event in the yachting calendar.
"It fits comfortably with our global technology demonstrated through the Volvo Ocean Race and demonstrates that when reliability matters in the marine environment, Inmarsat is the natural winner."
The America's Cup was held by the New York Yacht Club from 1857 until 1983, when the trophy was taken by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, ending sport's longest winning streak.
Following the 32nd America's Cup in 2007, this year's event has reverted to the format of the earlier challenges, with just two teams competing.