It may mean “More haste, Less speed”, but Festina Lente ensures its AIS is fitted in time for Rolex Fastnet Race

August 2011

Raymarine Ambassador Philip Meakins and his Sigma 38 Festina Lente has just had its new AIS650 installed in time to take part in the Rolex Fastnet Race. This year, the RORC rules has specified that all yachts competing in Categories O,1 and 2 are required to have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitter on board.

Meakins will be competing in the two-handed category of this grueling 608 nautical mile race, racing with crew Chris Choules, also a Sigma 38 sailor. He said, “I am delighted that RORC has enforced the use of AIS in the race, as it adds a further level of safety for both crews racing , and other vessels in this busy shipping area.”

Raymarine’s new AIS650 is a Class B transceiver and enables the wireless exchange of navigation status between vessels, as well as to shore-side traffic monitoring centres. As a transceiver, rather than just a transmitter, the crew on Festina Lente can see at a glance the details of other vessels around them – not only from the 350 other yachts racing, but commercial shipping, ferries and other AIS-equipped vessels in the locality.

“Being able to see which boats are around you significantly enhances our safety,” continues Meakins. “We can see whether the AIS target is another yacht, or a 1,000 meter tanker, which has very different characteristics in terms of speed and turning ability.”

The 650 is the latest AIS available from Raymarine. It has enhanced features which include a built-in Secure Digital (SD) memory card reader, which means, when configured, the SD card reader becomes an AIS data recorder. This can be used to capture all transmitted and received messages for general system monitoring, accident reconstruction or incident investigation. Another feature, which won’t be used by Festina Lente, is the ability to choose a user selected ‘silent mode’ which allows the vessel to temporarily suspend broadcast of signals. This feature is often used by fishermen keen to protect their fishing hot spots from other vessels nearby. Over 350 boats have entered the race , 40 of which are also sailing, like Festina Lente, with just two crew. The length of the race, and the possible treacherous conditions, makes this still one of the world’s iconic races. As a Raymarine Ambassador, Meakin’s boat is fully equipped with Raymarine’s suite of navigation, safety and communication equipment, all of which integrates fully with the new AIS650. 

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