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28 October 2005, 11:34 am
STAMM Discusses Wavefinder On The Eve Of The Race
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Transat Jacques Vabre 2005
Le Harve, France

The organizers of the Transat Jacques Vabre have chosen to equip all competitors with the Wavefinder autonomous man overboard location system. With just a few days to go before the start of the race, Cheminées Poujoulat skipper Bernard STAMM (SUI) gives his opinion on the project.
The full Wavefinder kit supplied to crews contains one transmitter for each crewmember (to be slipped into a lifejacket or worn on a belt), an antenna and a display unit to be fitted to the boat. If a crewmember falls into the sea, an alarm sounds on board immediately, and the precise position of the man overboard is displayed on the screen and updated every second thereafter. With its very wide range, the system can enable the location and recovery of a crewmember in all weathers, and even in zero visibility.

'The first time I used Wavefinder was on Orange 2, with Bruno PEYRON. Thankfully, we never had to test it in action!' said STAMM. 'A great deal of effort has been focussed on safety in the last few years, both by boat builders and equipment suppliers. The same is true of racing. Boats are getting faster all the time, but they're also getting safer. These days, you can even lose a keel and make it back to port! But despite all of that, there's no such thing as zero risk, and losing a crewmember overboard is always a possibility… when that happens, you have to recover him or her.'

'On a race like the Transat Jacques Vabre, Wavefinder has two great benefits, in my view. Although major manoeuvres involve both crewmembers, there will always be times when one is working alone on deck while the other rests. If you're going quickly downwind and a crewmember falls overboard, you have to reset the sails and manoeuvre to return upwind… which takes time. With Wavefinder, you can be certain of locating and recovering that person, regardless of reaction time,' continues the Cheminées Poujoulat skipper.

'The second benefit is that the Transat Jacques Vabre fleet is a large one and stays pretty close together. All those boats fitted with the same system within a radius of several nautical miles will be alerted simultaneously and are therefore equally capable of recovering the man overboard… which significantly increases that person's chances of survival,' added STAMM.

Chandellier BEATRICE/RivaCom (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Cheminées Poujoulat in action:© RivaCom
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