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Volvo Ocean Race: the raw story

by Volvo Ocean Race on 7 Jun 7 June 2017
Harsh conditions onboard Dongfeng Race Team © Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race

The Volvo Ocean Race will tell more of the raw story of the race than ever in 2017-18, as part of a digital-first strategy that includes a comprehensive slate of live, on-demand, broadcast TV and news output, to be distributed by the race's long-term partner Sunset+Vine.

Live digital coverage will be provided for each Leg Start, Leg Finish and the In-Port Race Series in Host Cities around the world – featuring expert analysis and commentary, and live updates from the cities and Race HQ in Alicante, Spain.

The day-to-day output in a race lasting over eight months will be based around up-to-the-minute content captured from the oceans by the Onboard Reporters, or OBRs – the multimedia journalists embedded with the teams as they race around the world.

That material will be transmitted back to Race HQ via Cobham Satcom hardware onboard and the Inmarsat satellite network in geostationary orbit, and on to fans following the race on smartphones, tablets and other digital devices.

In addition to that OBR content, the sailors themselves will for the first time post social media updates of their own via a new Crew Communicator platform. Previously, sailors had been prevented from accessing the internet to avoid any possibility of receiving assistance from shore.

The content coming from the oceans will form the backbone of the broadcast television output over the course of the 2017-18 edition, which starts 22 October from Alicante.

That will be made up of nine 30-minute shows over the course of the race, plus pre-race and post-race one hour specials, to be transmitted monthly from October 2017.

The pre-race documentary will focus on building characters and setting up the teams and their preparations for the 45,000 nautical mile race around the world, while placing the 2017-18 edition in the context of a race that has been an obsession for many of the world's greatest pro sailors for more than four decades.

The 30-minute shows will concentrate on the action during the ocean legs and the post-race documentary will tell the behind-the-scenes story.

"The comprehensive range of outputs means audiences can pick and choose how closely they want to follow, and how and where they want to receive the content – whether that's via social platforms, traditional TV, live or on-demand," said Leon Sefton, Volvo Ocean Race's Head of TV.

"The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate test of a team in professional sport, and an incredible human drama, played out over eight months in a harsh, unforgiving environment – and we're committed to showing the raw emotion of the race through our television and digital coverage."

The Volvo Ocean Race has retained Sunset+Vine, the UK-based TV sports production company, as exclusive global distribution agency for the television programming in the 2017-18 edition.

Andrew Piller, Commercial Director at Sunset+Vine said: "The Volvo Ocean Race offers the best opportunity in the world to capture the footage and stories from the oceans. It delivers adventure sports programming like few other sports properties out there.

"This new digital-first approach will enable fans to follow through any platform or format that they choose, while the longer-form productions will also provide an immersive narrative to follow the race leg-by-leg on television or digital download."

The 2017-18 edition will see a significant change in the role of the Onboard Reporters. In the past, teams have appointed their own OBRs, but ahead of next edition, the Volvo Ocean Race is assembling a world-class storytelling squad – and will rotate journalists across the fleet.

"The Onboard Reporters are witnesses to the team story, embedded in the action – on the field of play," continued Sefton. "They're independent, highly qualified multimedia reporters from a range of backgrounds, charged with delivering the inside story – the true fly-on-the-wall access we've been looking for."

He added: "Their ability to post unedited and unfiltered to social media will be game-changing for the race."

With three times more miles in the Southern Ocean than in recent editions, the 2017-18 race promises to be one of the most extreme ever.

After leaving Alicante, the teams will stop at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before a big finish in The Hague at the end of June 2018.

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