NEWPORT, R.I. — The Volvo Ocean Race has a journalist embedded on the boat of each team to push out content — video, photos and everything else — to the world.
The footage is thrilling, to say the least.
But when the race returns in three years, viewers will see 360-degree video that will give people in their kitchens a glimpse of what everything is like from the sailors’ perspective in what’s considered one of the world’s most grueling sailboat races, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said during the race stopover in Newport.
“There’s a lot of new technology and it will do more for us than any other sport,” Frostad said.
YouTube recently announced a streaming video service that lets viewers look in any direction, not just where the camera is pointing.
“You can point your phone in any direction and see what the sailors are seeing during the race,” Frostad said. “You can see the wave coming up and crashing over you. In no other sport can you do what you will be able to do with this sport. You will see the people around you. You’ll see the ocean, the waves, the sky. Those kinds of things help us more than they help football because it is such a 360-degree experience.”
Footage is already exciting, pushed out from aboard each boat. All of it is available for viewing in an app. The cameras catch plenty of action, such as with the Dongfeng Race Team when the boat’s mast was broken in March or when Team Vestas hit a reef at 20 knots (heads up: language).
Volvo Penta service manager Magnus Gedda is the man who travels to each port to service the boats and power systems at each stop, and he can confirm that the experience is all-encompassing.
The very cameras that provide viewers the full experience from their living room are not only maneuvered by the journalist embedded aboard each ship competing in the Volvo Ocean Race. They can also be maneuvered by a team of engineers and maintenance workers in “The Boatyard,” which is part of the pop-up Race Village — virtually a small city that travels from port to port.
They are checking to make sure nobody does anything less than virtuous aboard the boats to decrease weight just the slightest amount or to conserve power, Gedda said. “They do everything you can imagine to make the boat light,” he told reporters aboard Team Brunel’s boat during a tour on Saturday as a team member looked on to make sure nothing was tampered with.
They also are using the cameras as safety tools. When Team Vestas ran aground, they knew everyone survived because of the live feed, Gedda said.
“When Dongfeng’s mast broke, we needed to bring the boat to harbor,” Gedda said. “We watch the boats 24/7.”
Read more about Gedda’s challenges servicing the race boats and the overall challenges of sponsoring a global race in the most remote parts of the ocean in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only.
Volvo Penta sponsored Trade Only Today to cover the Newport stopover.