Icom Supporting Cowes Week, the World’s Biggest Sailing Regatta
The challenges of running the World’s largest sailing regatta are significant. You need expert organisation, experienced personnel and established procedures to make sure everything runs smoothly. Another important ingredient is reliable communications and that is where Icom UK come in, being the official communication supplier to Cowes week for over 15 years. Cowes Week stages up to 40 daily races for around 1,000 boats and is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. Icom radio equipment is primarily used to provide communication between race officers both on and offshore allowing them to co-ordinate race starts, set courses and marshal the competitors. The radios are also used for other tasks such as communicating with other vessels (including commercial shipping and ferries) and arranging for collection of VIP's. The Icom radios are also used to communicate details of courses and starting signals to competitors at the regatta who start each day either from the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) or in the Solent from a committee boat. Phil Hagen, Regatta Director, said, ‘The thing about sailing is that it still revolves around radio. Radio has kept sailing in good stead for years.’ 'We have a wide range of Icom radio equipment that we use during Cowes Week. The radio sets are invaluable pieces of equipment used by the race management team as well as by our beachmasters and launch service co-ordinators. They also act as a backup for castle 1 & 2 calling stations.' ‘Two of the radios in use on the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) platform are Icom base stations. They have a special private channel comprising the normal international shore stations transmit frequency for channel 28 as both transmit and receive. During a start sequence, the RYS platform transmits to the competitors on this frequency and also to a committee boat at the far end of the start line. The courses (and any other information) are then transmitted back to the platform from the committee vessel, again using the simplex channel 28. This means that the competitors receive the course details sent to them twice, on a frequency that they cannot interrupt.’ ‘There is an immense integration of old and new technology. Much of the organisation is divided between flags, radio comms and IPADs. In the last two years the regatta has developed its own IPAD App for the IPAD for race officer management providing race officers with details of each course. There is a button on the App which tells the officers to get on the Icom VHF and read out the course. It’s a further development and next year we would like the App to be rolled out to competitors.’ As you can imagine, managing racing for around 1,000 boats is no mean feat. This is why fixed radios are installed onboard the race committees' fleet of RIBS and are integral in assisting the marshalling. The radios assist the organisers in making sure those boats get to the starting line on time and that none have infringed any rules. Asked about the ongoing Icom UK level of support for the regatta, Phil said, ‘I have never used any other brand of radio. I always believe you go with a trusted brand. We have used Icom radios for many years now and think the proof is that it would not be here now if they weren’t doing a good job. We are very pleased with the brand and the radios and the support that we receive from Icom UK.’ For more details about Cowes Week, visit their website at http://www.cowesweek.co.uk.