Saturday, May 9, 2009
Blob Watching by Woodvale May 8, 2009
08 May 2009 14:23 BST
For the competitors taking part in the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009, the focus over the next few months is crossing the race finish line and reaching Mauritius in the quickest possible time. However, for the many family members and friends watching from home, concern for the safety of their loved ones will occupy every minute of every day until they safely step foot back on dry land.
Although each crew must take a Satellite telephone as part of their mandatory kit, continuous and uninterrupted contact with the teams throughout the duration of the race is in no way guaranteed. The extreme conditions of the Indian Ocean and the shear length of the race takes its toll on all electrical equipment as salt erosion, water damage, power/charging issues and potential loss of equipment overboard are everyday possibilities.
For many watching from afar, the only daily contact they will have with their team is the little coloured dot that gradually makes its way across the map of the Indian Ocean on the Progress Page on this site – a pastime experienced by many who have followed previous Woodvale Ocean Rowing Races and aptly named Blob Watching.
Each boat competing in the Indian Ocean Rowing Race is also fitted with a tracking beacon, which runs off the boats mains power supply and automatically sends position data reports at regular intervals up to a Satellite. This data is then collected by a computer package, deciphered and then forwarded on to the IORR website for everyone to follow.
Technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years but like all electrical equipment, the race tracking is not full proof. The Indian Ocean is covered only by one Satellite; where as the Atlantic Ocean has three. There may be occasions, when the single satellite covering the Indian Ocean is not able to collect the data from the beacon (i.e. if the boat is not in clear view of the satellite). Equally, if the boat is experiencing power/charging problems, electrical equipment running off the boats mains power supply will be temporally unavailable until power has been restored.
Gaps in position reports can be extremely worrying and frustrating for family, friends and anyone watching the race via the website. However, please be patient and try not to worry as in most cases, position data will be restored within a few days.
At the time of writing this news report, Boat No. 7 ‘Bexhill Trust Challenger’ and Boat No. 6 ‘Flying Ferkins’ are not currently sending automatic position reports via their tracking beacons. However, Race HQ has been in regular contact with both crews who are fine and well, and automatic position reports for each team is expected to be restored shortly.