Issue 102 - September 1997
The Atlantic Challenge
Crews in the Atlantic Rowing Race will be equipped with the latest in tracking technology. Each boat will be fitted with an Argos Tracking Beacon which will process the location of the boats up to eight times a day and transmit their locations back to race headquarters in Cornwall. The transmitter in Toulouse will be manned 24 hours a day throughout the duration of the race.
In case of an emergency, each beacon is fitted with a distress button which can be used to signal either of two Challenge yachts which will be following the flotilla of 24-foot dories. These yachts will be equipped to deal with emergencies, and a fleet doctor will be present to provide immediate medical assistance.
The MAR YR transmitter is designed to track sailboats competing in ocean races. It operates automatically, transmitting via the Argos satellite-based location system. It can send an alarm signal and measures atmospheric pressure and water temperature. The MAR YR is powered by lithium batteries. It is watertight and can transmit from the water or from the boat or life-raft. The beacons will also provide the data for the results and the media.
The identical boats designed for the race by Peter 'Spud' Roswell and Phil Morrison of Exmouth will be inspected by a qualified marine surveyor before the start of the race and will not be permitted to leave unless it is carrying the compulsory minimum amount of race and safety equipment. Each crew must carry an extensive medical kit which has been compiled with the assistance of the fleet doctor.
The route and timing of the race have been planned with the safety of the competitors in mind, taking advantage of the predominantly South Westerly flowing currents from the Canaries to South America as well as exploiting the surface current created by the favourable prevailing winds. The race window will also avoid the hurricane season in the Caribbean.
All competitors have been given training guidelines from Dr Carl Clinton, a sports physician who is competing himself in boat no 14. Tests have been carried out in simulated conditions allowing teams to identify, amongst other things, the correct amount of daily water intake required and the levels of energy consumption.
Each competitor must provide the organisers with a confidential medical questionnaire before being permitted to start.
© Copyright Regatta Magazine, 1997.
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