Mico BOLO, General Secretary and FFVoile Transquadra Race Director. He created Transquadra and participated in the race in 1993 and 1996. He also raced in the Solitaire du Figaro many times.
In a few words, what does the Argos beacon represent for you?
For me, the Argos beacon represents several elements. First and foremost is the tracking. As part of an offshore race, the boats leave the port at great speed. Having a tool that can be used to track them and to find out exactly what they are doing very quickly becomes essential. As race organiser, I feel that it is clear that tracking performed using Argos beacons constitutes an essential requirement, but it also can be used to transmit the boat rankings to the general public once the race is underway.
The Argos beacon then brings to mind the notion of safety because of its capacity to trigger assistance requests.
Lastly, the Argos system presents the fundamental advantage of being battery powered. The beacon can be taken off the boat and the navigator in difficulty has the possibility of keeping the beacon with him as he gets on his life raft. Through experience, I know that the Argos beacon battery power is an essential aspect of the system, since it makes it possible for race organisers to find and save any survivors.
When was the last time that the Argos assistance request was of use to you?
It was during the 2006 edition of Transquadra. It was in February and the boats were situated between Madera and the West Indies. It was during this stage that François Petit’s boat, a Figaro Beneteau, sank after its mast was ripped off. The navigator had time to get in his life raft with his Argos beacon and his Iridium telephone. He then alerted the emergency services using his Iridium telephone, but it was thanks to the Argos beacon that we were able to locate the shipwreck and save his life. The path of the drifting raft was quickly identified by the Argos system and steps to save the ill-fated navigator were implemented in an extremely efficient manner. Given that all the Transquadra navigators are equipped with Argos beacons, it was easy to locate the boats situated near to the raft. We diverted the route of one of François Petit’s competitors, Bernard de Ravignan, directed using his own Argos beacon and guided him towards the area where the survivor’s raft had drifted. As a consequence we were able to save a life thanks to the Argos beacon! To end with a nice anecdote, François Petit and Bernard de Ravignan forged a friendship from the wreckage of the accident and survivor and rescuer are now enlisted to compete as a duo for the 2008-2009 edition of the Transquadra!