Nokia Partners with U.K. Sailing Team for Vendée Globe Race Communications

15th Oct 2018

Nokia, together with industrial research and innovation business, Nokia Bell Labs, was announced as technology partner to U.K.-based sailing team Alex Thomson Racing.

The partnership, which continues to 2021, will see Nokia Bell Labs join forces with skipper Alex Thomson and his team, as Thomson looks to become the first British sailor ever to win the Vendée Globe race.

One of the toughest sporting challenges in the world, the Vendée Globe is a 24,000-mile solo, non-stop unassisted race around the world. The challenge sees skippers battle through vast, unpredictable waters and brutal conditions, with winds up to 70 miles per hour (mph) and mountainous waves. When the race reaches the depths of the Southern Ocean and skippers pass Point Nemo, they find themselves closer to the International Space Station than any being on earth, making communications capabilities crucial and emergency rescue virtually impossible.

For sailors, the Vendée Globe represents the ultimate physical and psychological challenge. In the last edition of the race, the British sailor slept no more than one hour at a time during the course of 74 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes, single-handedly fulfilling the roles of skipper, navigator, meteorologist, engineer and medic.

Through the partnership, Nokia will explore onboard and shore-based technologies and systems in a bid to enhance the performance capabilities of the sailing team. In doing so, the project will align with Nokia’s ongoing focus to push technology limits to support mission-critical networks in the 5G era.

Nokia Bell Labs will work alongside Thomson and his IMOCA 60 race boat to develop and test both existing and new technologies. From augmented intelligence and wearable technology to networks and communications capabilities, the partnership will seek to discover and create the technology of tomorrow.

The partnership will see Alex Thomson Racing’s current boat, HUGO BOSS, which the skipper raced to a second place, record-breaking finish in the 2016 – 2017 Vendée Globe, feature the Nokia brand. When the team’s new multimillion pound race boat is unveiled next June, the Nokia brand will continue to sit alongside that of the team’s long standing headline partner, HUGO BOSS.

“Technology, analytics and data are now more crucial to our performance than ever before,” said Stewart Hosford, CEO of Alex Thomson Racing. “Today’s IMOCA boats are some of the most technically advanced machines in the world of sport. This is evidenced by the Volvo Ocean Race’s decision to move into foiling monohulls under the IMOCA class, another exciting step forward for our sport. This is therefore the perfect time for Nokia to enter this space and to explore the wealth of opportunities that exist for research and development.”


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