Mathias LOUARN, Deputy Director of Vendée Globe 2004-2005, 2008-2009 and of Solitaire du Figaro since 2003.
In a few words, what does the Argos beacon represent for you?
First and foremost, the Argos beacon is the only link during races such as Vendée Globe or the Solitaire du Figaro that provides information concerning where the competitors fleets are, to establish their actual route, their speed and their heading. We can use this data to deduce whether everything is OK or not. It is a real race management tool that improves safety and today makes it possible to monitor the boats in real-time.
When was the last time that the Argos assistance request was of use to you?
During my time in this profession, I personally have been lucky enough that no skipper has needed to trigger the Argos assistance request!
But the Argos location and assistance beacon remains a real safety tool! As I said earlier, not only can it be used to establish the position of the boats every 30 minutes, but it can also be used to obtain the competitors’ routes (highly important monitoring parameter if the race is to progress smoothly). In terms of rescue operations, the COSPAS/SARSAT beacon is designed for rescue requests. But we always ask the skipper to confirm his distress signal using an Argos assistance request; if both are triggered at the same time, we know something is seriously amiss and we have to act quickly.
The Argos beacon has undergone massive developments recently, and it meets our current requirements as race organizers. The fact that today the beacon provides information on the positions, heading and speed in real-time is a real bonus for us, both in terms of safety and media coverage. The Argos beacon’s strength also lies in the fact that it is also the only standalone, battery powered system, which is shock proof and can float. CLS is the only company capable of providing such equipment. Even if the engine has cut out, the mast is down, etc., the beacon is entirely stand-alone (battery powered) and independent from the boat’s power circuits. That is some bonus!