European Space Agency

NetCaster brings live yacht racing action to Fastnet fans

The new interactive NetCaster solution for iPhones and iPads, developed by Livewire Digital, enabled competitors in this year´s Rolex Fastnet offshore yacht race to transmit live video, images and interviews from the heart of the racing action direct to fans onshore.

Using this innovative application, crews were able to engage the public in their epic battle to the finish line.

Developed in partnership with the European Space Agency through the ARTES programme, the NetCaster solution is a new application for streaming video, images and data via smartphones and tablets.

The Rolex Fastnet sailing race, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), starts from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and competitors race along the south west coast of England, past Land’s End and out into the Celtic Sea.  The boats must then head around the Fastnet Rock off the coast of Ireland and the Scilly Islands before returning to the finish line in Plymouth. 

The iconic 88 year old event is considered one of the world's classic offshore races, which tests both the inshore and offshore skills of competitors.  The race was won by a French father and son team in just 3 days, 18 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds, with the final boat crossing the line six days after the race began. 

Eight boats competing in the race used NetCaster to provide the RORC with an on-going flow of video, audio and social media content via Inmarsat's global mobile satellite fleet.  Live video was transmitted to the Race Office, and disseminated on the internet.

Commenting on the media footage, RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen said: “A faultless performance from Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband and Livewire’s ‘box of tricks’ has given us the ability to share insights into life onboard during this challenging race, as well as the varying emotions of the crews as they pass milestones such as the iconic Fastnet Rock off the southern tip of Ireland.  They are important tools to enhance the way we communicate the story of the race, minute-by-minute, as it unfolds."

NetCaster features low latency robust audio in combination with H264AVC encoded motion video, live sequences of still images, store and forward video, conversational textual ‘chat’ and geo-tagging information.

Will Ayliffe, sailing on board Artemis, an Open 60 yacht skippered by British sailor Brian Thompson, explained “We used NetCaster to conduct an interview with the race organiser’s media centre as we rounded the Fastnet rock.  It worked perfectly, I was transmitting imagery of the action whilst talking on the iPhone - it could not have been better. Being able to have that kind of communication over satellite was really, really, impressive. It was highly intuitive and I was able to master its functionality really quickly.  The fact that it’s available on an iPhone or iPad means that it’s as portable as you are.”

During the race, NetCaster was complemented by the use of Livewire Digital’s M-Link solutions for the broadcast industry.  Tristan Wood, MD of Livewire Digital, said "We are delighted to have been able to deliver live interactive and professional broadcast media for the Fastnet yacht race, and glad to see the results used by so many parties."

Livewire Digital is a leading provider of live and store & forward broadcast video solutions for OSX and Windows platforms.  Specialising in technology for remote media delivery and extreme sports, Livewire Digital piloted the NetCaster technology during the Rolex Fastnet Race with a new design inspired by  previous experience building applications for maritime events including the Volvo Ocean Race. 

Livewire Digital will be showcasing the NetCaster app at the 2013 International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam from 13th to 17th September.  They can be found at Stand 3. A18, Hall 3.

This video shows NetCaster in action:


Event Date

13 September 2013
Published 13 September 2013
Last updated at 13 September 2013 - 17:10