Communications

SPOT Gen4 tracking for sailing races worldwide

9th June 2021
Alex Lynn

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services has announced that TracTrac, specialist provider of hardware and software solutions for tracking of competitive sailing and adventure sports, is deploying SPOT Gen4 devices to support race events on land and sea.

Established in 2005, TracTrac is a software and services company which has developed an innovative tracking platform specifically designed to provide tracking capability for difficult-to-follow sports. These include race sailing and long distance endurance sports as diverse as road cycling, open water swimming, trail running, orienteering, Nordic skiing as well as multi-discipline events such as triathlon and adventure races.

In competitive sailing, TracTrac has long supported many regattas internationally which predominately take place inshore, namely sailing races which hug the coastline and can typically be tracked using GSM-based systems. Chris Terkelsen, TracTrac Co-founder, has explained however that TracTrac is seeing elevated demand for tracking capability to support races which take place further out to sea and on oceans.

“We’ve been seeing huge growth in more challenging racing events, far beyond the shoreline; we knew that to deliver reliable tracking for these longer races further offshore, we needed our system to include satellite technology,” Terkelsen said.

TracTrac trialled several technologies and solutions, including other satellite-based tracking devices on the market. Following comparative evaluation, TracTrac reached the decision that SPOT was the best choice to satisfy its requirements and those of its customers and race event organisers, operating around the world.

Terkelsen, himself having had a successful career in competitive orienteering, explains that SPOT’s ease-of-use and ubiquitous, reliable satellite-enabled reach, were key influencing factors. SPOT’s economical and competitive pricing was also a very important component in the selection decision.

Terkelsen added: “Other systems were more expensive, and we found them to not deliver commensurate performance benefits. With Globalstar and SPOT we know are getting powerful functionality and real value for our investment.”

Terkelsen also cites ease-of-use as a highly valuable attribute for TracTrac: “SPOT only has a few buttons; it is easy to hand to the boat crews or our partners and right away they can see how to use it.”

SPOT is also a valuable safety device, and SOS is a vital function. Should an event participant face an emergency, a simple press of SPOT’s SOS button instantly sends an alert along with the user’s GPS co-ordinates to the event’s operations and management team who can swiftly dispatch help to precisely where it’s needed. “Open sea can be a hostile environment, and it comes with risks,” said Terkelsen. “SPOT’s SOS button provides great peace of mind for the race organisers as well as participants.”

TracTrac first acquired several SPOT Gen3 devices in 2019. In 2020, TracTrac embraced and procured newly launched SPOT Gen4, more than tripling its total pool of SPOT devices as a result. SPOT Gen4, which Globalstar launched in EMEA in August 2020, offers many new features compared to its precedents including more mapping options, improved water resistance and an enhanced user interface, among others.

TracTrac’s software platform enables fans and spectators to follow competitors on an easy-to-read mapping interface. Thanks to SPOT tracking, the TracTrac display shows the locations of the boats in real-time, allowing viewers to see where they are in relation to each other. The TracTrac interface also reveals a variety of different performance data, showing the manoeuvres the sailors are performing, and other useful data such as wind direction. These features keep in-person and virtual spectators engaged, and afford greater marketing opportunities for sponsors.

Furthermore, an overview of the boats’ locations helps event organisers with logistics management due to the ability to predict arrival times, as well as safety.

TracTrac operates globally and has a network of nine country-specific partners in Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Australia. It supports 200 events annually, year-round. The company is looking forward to a full calendar of race events for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Terkelsen predicts that SPOT devices will be used in more and more TracTrac-supported events. “We’ve seen a significant rise in offshore events, in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, for example, but also there is growing demand and participation in extreme physical endurance races in rugged and remote terrain, all places where mobile can’t reliably reach,” he explained. “For all these, we’ll need SPOT’s satellite-enabled tracking.”

“We are excited to help TracTrac support its customers with reliable Globalstar satellite technology,” said Gary King, Globalstar’s SPOT Regional Sales Manager. “The adrenaline-charged events that TracTrac supports, with real-time tracking as part of its live viewer interface, will certainly provide exhilaration and delight for spectators all over the world.”

Globalstar’s economical SPOT satellite devices also provide security and emergency support to employees for a growing number of businesses, governmental and non-governmental entities across the world. Meanwhile, these organisations can benefit from SPOT’s ability to help manage and optimise resources and monitor valuable assets. Around the globe, over 7,500 rescues have been attributed to SPOT satellite technology to date.

 

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