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Iridium Certus® Global Service Enables Skippers to Remain Connected During Races

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At A Glance:

  1. The Challenge

    Skippers and competitive sailors navigate through treacherous waters, weaving in and out of terrestrial coverage. The IMOCA series of races push skippers to their limits and demand an always-on means of connectivity for safety and navigation. To remain connected, skippers often require multiple communications terminals which, historically, had to be manually switch between cellular and satellite coverage.

  2. The Solution

    The addition of OceanBox by THALOS, a centralized data and communications solution, optimized vessel communications flow and ensured skippers had an always available and reliable connection, regardless of location or access to cellular coverage.

  3. The Impact

    OceanBox enabled skippers and their vessels to automatically switch between terrestrial and Iridium satellite coverage, simplifying the communications process, increasing competitor safety, and enhancing data accuracy by centralizing all outgoing and incoming data in a singular terminal throughout the race.

  1. 27,000+miles sailed during the race
  2. only 7gigabytes of data used by one skipper for the entire race
  3. 80+days spent sailing around the world solo

The Challenge

Spending months at a time in vast oceans demands unique communications solutions for competitive skippers. During an IMOCA race, competitors and their vessels must remain at peak performance, navigating difficult seas while communicating with their teams on land. From high-speed connectivity requirements for accurate tracking and navigation, to tailored third-party application access to share their experiences with family and followers, throughout a race skippers are consistently utilizing communications solutions. Historically, to ensure reliable communications, these high-risk, around-the-world competitions required skippers to install several terminals onboard that needed extensive manual engagement to ensure always-on connectivity and personal safety, if an incident were to arrive. Those traditional means of communications came at a high cost to competing skippers with small amounts of data included, meaning users would have often go over their data caps and incur large fees by the conclusion of the race.

The Solution

Working alongside longstanding Iridium partner Thales, THALOS identified the opportunity to improve the user experience aboard these competitive sailing vessels and deployed their OceanBox solution in partnership with ROM-arrangé. The OceanBox is a single terminal that automatically manages the usage of satellite and terrestrial links, ensuring the vessel always remains connected. The terminal also enables extensive user customization, allows for automatic data exchanges, and provides firewall and data security features for privacy.

When participating in races, Skippers often require access to various social media platforms to host livestreams, share video footage, interact with followers, and share updates with friends and family. With the OceanBox, data files were automatically compressed, allowing racers to send and share more content, as well as speaking directly with others via WhatsApp through Iridium Certus® broadband services. Compressed data files allows for greater control over bandwidth and ensure secure budget management.

The Impact

Utilizing the OceanBox and the Thales VesseLink solutions via Iridium’s truly global network enabled the skippers to share emails, documents, photos, and video files without long upload times or the need to check back for updates. The OceanBox terminal increased skipper efficiency and safety by automatically switching between cellular and satellite gateways as the skippers sailed in and out of terrestrial coverage.

The small size and lightweight OceanBox terminal uniquely satisfied the needs of skippers by integrating into the skippers’ communications center, allowing for resilient, real-time connections without manual interaction. This allows skippers to remain connected and safe, as well as efficiently share more data than is possible with traditional vessel communication methods.

Thanks to this box [OceanBox], the boat is permanently connected which is something very efficient and the WhatsApp usage is very interesting for skippers.

–Pierre-François Dargnies,
Technical Director of Charal Sailing Team

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Thales VesseLINK during IMOCA race
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