made possible by inmarsat

OBR PROFILES

WHO ARE THEY?

The Volvo Ocean Race sailing crew set out to win yachting’s most coveted title. The Onboard Reporter (OBR) has a very different goal – to tell the story of how the teams do it.

It takes a special set of skills to become an OBR and while they play no part in the sailing, they play a crucial role in the race. It’s thanks to their daily uploads during every leg that the millions of fans worldwide are kept connected to the race. Every day, regardless of the sea state and weather around them, they film and edit high-definition videos, take photos of life on board and write up what’s happening, blow by blow. All this content is then uploaded via FleetBroadband to race HQ then distributed for fans to enjoy – all made possible by Inmarsat.

Onboard Reporter bios

Sam Greenfield (United States)

Sam is one of only two Onboard Reporters from the 2014-15 edition to return to the racetrack, having worked with Dongfeng Race Team last time. He caught attention by becoming the first OBR to successfully fly a drone from a moving Volvo Ocean 65, revolutionising the use of drones across the sailing industry in the process. Since the end of the 2014-15 race, Sam has been based in Bermuda as part of the Team ORACLE USA media crew.

Jen Edney (United States)

Jen is one of the most renowned water adventure photographers in the business and regularly appears in international publications like National Geographic magazine, which recently named her as one of ‘Nine Female Photographers Who Push The Limits’. Despite coming from the landlocked US state of Nebraska, Jen has clocked up over 50,000 offshore miles in preparation for the ultimate sailing media job.

Konrad Frost (Britain)

Having honed his onboard filming and eye for detail in the Clipper Race, Konrad’s step into the Volvo Ocean Race world is a natural progression – and he admits that he has dreamed of stepping onboard since he was little. When he’s not at sea, he is a respected cameraman in the adventure sports industry and he knows the Race inside out having worked as crew on the recent Volvo Ocean Race TV series, as well as the likes of CNN’s Mainsail.

Jeremie Lecaudey (France)

Jeremie is new to sailing, but arrives with a fresh perspective – and bags of extreme sports experience under his belt. He has a background in the kiteboarding industry producing all the video content for the Kiteboarding World Tour, and more recently spent five years working for the International Ski Federation covering Alpine Skiing, Cross Country and Nordic Combined.

Martin Keruzoré (France)

Martin grew up around the ocean and the world of sailing photography, and has almost a decade’s experience as a director, photographer, cameraman and editor. Martin has logged thousands of miles in French races and has been involved in projects including L’Hydroptere’s first speed test, sailing onboard the Multi 50 with Erwan Le Roux and with the IMOCA class before the last Vendée Globe.

Richard Edwards (Britain)

Richard grew up with a natural affinity for the ocean and water sports – and in 2015, he made his passion a profession by joining the Clipper Race as a cameraman and producer. It was this round-the-world experience that inspired him to push for the ultimate media job – a Volvo Ocean Race Onboard Reporter.

James Blake (New Zealand/Britain)

James has carved out an impressive reputation in the nature and documentary world for his shooting ability. He has worked for the likes of BBC TV and the Discovery channel as a filmmaker before deciding to follow in his father, Volvo Ocean Race legend Sir Peter Blake’s, footsteps and jump onto a Volvo Ocean Race boat himself. He’s also a natural born adventurer who completed a trans-Tasman row in 2012 as part of a four-man team, and is planning more exploits after the race’s completion, including a new angle on a transatlantic record.

Tom Martienssen (Britain)

They say that the Volvo Ocean Race Onboard Reporter role is one of the most extreme media roles in the business – but for former soldier turned reporter Tom, it might be a welcome change of pace from his recent vocations. He has completed two tours of Iraq as a medic and an RAF gunner, and has reported for the likes of the BBC and CNN live from Mount Everest. Nevertheless, he still claims that working onboard the Volvo Ocean Race boats is the toughest thing he’s ever done.

Brian Carlin (Ireland)

Having made his name as the Onboard Reporter for Team Vestas Wind in 2014-15, Brian returns to the race as OBR Team Leader. He will be keen to make it the whole way around the world this time after a challenging Volvo Ocean Race debut which saw his team ground on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just days into Leg 3.

Ugo Fonollá (Spain)

The youngest member of the 2017-18 Onboard Reporter squad, Ugo grew up around sailing in Mallorca, close to the Palma sailing scene. Having studied engineering, Ugo then switched his focus to fulfilling his life’s dream – to become an OBR in the Volvo Ocean Race. Six years later, and armed with a camera and some wet weather gear, his wish has come true.

OBR TECHNOLOGY

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

OBR technology

The conditions are punishing, the space to work in is tight. To do their job, the Onboard Reporter (OBR) relies on a robust set of high-tech tools above and below deck.

Partners worked closely with Volvo Ocean Race HQ to design a media package that minimises weight and power but has the strength to withstand salt corrosion and a constant battering from the sea. It also ensures that video capture, editing and transmission is simple and intuitive. Well, as simple as it can be while surfing down a 6-metre wave at 25 knots.

 

The media desk is the OBR’s control centre.

It interfaces with the Inmarsat satellite terminals and onboard HD cameras and microphones, and combines these with a set of software applications, including Livewire’s M-Link technology, to deliver content to race HQ, the boat’s sponsors and fans.

This desk is where the OBR will spend hours a day editing videos, selecting photos and writing blogs to send back to HQ, as well as conducting media interviews. It’s detailed work that requires concentration in some of the most treacherous conditions.

 

The network controller gives the crew the ability to manage their onboard communications.

The network controller unit bridges the onboard network and the two Inmarsat FleetBroadband satellite terminals – a Cobham SATCOM SAILOR 500 and SAILOR 250. The network controller manages the terminals, bringing up connections as required. It also routes and monitors IP data traffic.

The network controllers also allow Volvo Ocean Race HQ to see how much airtime each team is using.

 

There are five fixed cameras onboard the new Volvo Ocean 65. They are built to withstand the harsh environment without compromising on quality.

The latest generation of HD cameras will record the race in unprecedented detail. Suddenly the rich multimedia content beamed daily from the boats becomes a game-changer for global brands investing in sports sponsorship. For TV fans of offshore sailing, it’s the next best thing to being a member of the crew. Race HQ are also able to control the cameras so can get the shots through for live shows while the OBRs are busy filming elsewhere.

Stern camera
Positioned at the stern, underneath the FleetBroadband 250 antenna dome, this camera is a wide angle lens and is roll-compensated. Most crash recordings use this camera’s feed as you can see right from the helm to the bow.

Hatch camera
This camera shows up close what’s happening in the pit and grinding areas. The addition of a microphone means it’s a great spot for interviews and hearing the crew communicate during manoeuvres. This camera can be rotated by the OBR using a controller in the media desk to get the perfect angle.

Mast cameras
Attached to the underside of the lower spreaders, on both port and starboard, these cameras are controlled by the OBR with full pan, tilt and zoom functionality. This makes them extremely versatile in choosing what to show from a high perspective.

There is also a camera positioned on the radar bracket to film the foredeck. Perfect to capture those fire-hosing shots of someone on the bow during a sail change.

Bow camera
A new camera added for this edition, installed to get plenty of fire hosing action!

 

The use of ‘crash recording’ is essential for capturing sudden, dramatic events 

With a leg lasting weeks, the chances of the OBR filming every incident is slim, so the crash recording button ensures that nothing is missed. The stern camera and microphone is constantly filming and if the crash recording is not activated, all content gets wiped over.

A crash event occurs either as a result of a pre-programmed event, such as the boat capsizing, or any of the crew hitting one of the crash record buttons. Once triggered, the delay line has been configured to record the previous four minutes and subsequent four minutes. This video is then emailed over FleetBroadband 500 back to HQ where it gets uploaded to YouTube.