Riedel takes centre stage at SailGP

The international sailing competition SailGP is the Formula 1 of the seas, employing high-performance F50 foiling catamarans that, in special wind conditions, can reach speeds of 50 and even 60 knots, which means more than 100 km/h!

We were invited by Riedel Communications to the Taranto date where, lucky us, the conditions were almost perfect and the show was incredible!
We had the chance to go into the sea with a support raft and see the race live, which is pure adrenaline! This is a sport that we hope will be a great main stream success as soon as possible, considering, moreover, that the whole thing is absolutely ‘green’, which doesn’t clash.

Obviously, such an event, involving several teams, jury, support boats, broadcast directors and requiring timely coordination, must be flawlessly managed in terms of communications and signal distribution.

Who else but Riedel could be involved in the event?
The company from Wuppertal (Germany) has been working for years in the world of Formula 1, the Ski World Cup and virtually all major sporting – and other – events, putting unique knowledge and technology into the field.
We interviewed some key people at the port of Taranto, let’s hear what they told us.

LSJ.com: Jeffrey can you describe Riedel’s commitment to the SailGP dates? We take the Taranto date as a reference, but I imagine it’s a similar setup for all the stages…

Jeffrey Strössner: Exactly, we usually have two separate sites where we install our equipment. One is the technical site, which is basically this area where we are now and which is more dedicated to the whole intercom and communications world, and the other is what we call the broadcast site, which is usually closer to the race course and deals with broadcasting the signals for the Broadcast etc..
Today, however, as you can see there is an exceptional condition, as we basically have the two sites next to each other.
The first is the broadcast container and the rear container is the technical side container.
Usually they are two separate sites that can be a five-minute walk or even a 15-minute drive from each other and that depends on the race course. Today the route is all visible but for example, in Cadiz, we had the technical side in the harbour while the races took place much further out to sea; in that case the transmission container, where all the infrastructure for receiving the video is located, was in a different location! I leave it to Jonas Badura, our on-site project manager, to explain the details.

Jeffrey Strössner

LSJ.com: Jonas, can you give us a little more technical detail about what goes on in this room?

Jonas Badura: Welcome to what is probably the smallest television complex in the world!
This is our player operations centre and this is where we receive all the video signals, all the communications, all the data, all the radio communications and broadcast them worldwide. Basically, what happens here is a show with about 35 wireless cameras. We don’t even have a single wired camera here on site and keep in mind that we are using about 350-400 radios. On top of that, we have our data mesh connectivity, which connects all the boats, helicopters and assets to each other to transfer multiple data. Of course, we also have our intercom system that connects both locations: the broadcast side and the technical side where we are now.

We are also linking the CLGP offices in London, Hammersmith for Timeline Television where the show is produced and we manage to do all this with just five people here on site in this container.

LSJ.com: Can you give us a brief summary of the products you are using? Was everything supplied by Riedel?

Jonas Badura: of course! We have about seven Artist systems interconnected globally. We use our Intelligent panels, so the 23 series and the 12 series. We use MicroN technology a lot, employing the normal MicroN, the MicroN UHD and the Compact Pro frames. We use Bolero of course, but not just the ‘normal’ Beltpack-style ones you already know, because for this job the degree of customisation was very high and, needless to say, the first prerequisite was that it was all water-resistant material. We even have a fully waterproof version developed specifically for underwater use with specialised customised headsets that fit the sailors’ helmets, because it’s not uncommon for a crew to go in the water! We use many of our remote X Simply Life solutions for Coach Replay. We have about seven servers active here working non-stop for so many hours a day…

LSJ.com: Speaking on a technical level, what is the biggest problem to be faced in a type of work like this?

Jeffrey Strössner: In the first instance certainly the extreme conditions that boat-mounted equipment has to endure. There is not only water, but also saltiness and strong wind that affect the products and transmission, and for this reason continuous maintenance is required.
Wind in particular greatly disturbs transmissions and the intelligibility of audio and for this reason the audio signal is appropriately filtered and optimised in order to make speech intelligible.

LSJ.com: The last question relates to the management of spares, since you will be obliged to guarantee data transmission at all times, no matter what happens…

Jeffrey Strössner: Exactly, and for this there are several levels of spare, starting with redundancy in the power supply and transmission channels, but also and above all we have spare parts for beltpacks and headsets and, as if that were not enough, the possibility of intervening and repairing on the spot the material that is returned to us broken, always bearing in mind that 80% of the products are tailor-made just for SailGP!

Giuseppe AngilelloSales Manager Riedel Communications Italy

LSJ.com: Would you like to add something in conclusion?

Giuseppe Angilello: Racing events, whether on land, sea, or air, provide Riedel Communications with fertile ground for innovation and next-generation technology. SailGP is a true example, where we made an RF infrastructure “waterproof” and usable for all the actors during the race, with a bidirectional networking to control the onboard cameras from remote, Bolero wireless audio-communications waterproof packages for the athletes, special microphones and data for referees, judging, time-keeping make Riedel a strategic partner to cover in order to create future-oriented formats.

Aldo Chiappini

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