Vendée Globe: iXblue onboard with challenger Alex Thomson

The Alex Thomson Racing Team have chosen to place their trust in iXblue’s technology to equip Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 racing boat HUGO BOSS in the Vendée Globe. Technical partner, iXblue has supplied the Hydrins inertial navigation system, a high performance heading and attitude sensor.

The Vendée Globe is a solo, non-stop, unassisted round the world race which sees Thomson and the IMOCA skippers sailing in some of the most remote conditions on the planet. Thomson, who rounded the infamous milestone of Cape Horn, has broken three race records in this edition. The Alex Thomson Racing Team have expressed their satisfaction with the performance and accuracy of the iXblue Hydrins navigation system.

iXblue, a global leader in navigation, positioning, and imaging solutions, has supplied a Hydrins high performance inertial navigation system to equip one of the new-generation IMOCA class ocean racers. Designed by the race-winning partnership of VPLP and Guillaume Verdier, the composite-built HUGO BOSS boat is one of the world’s fastest modern racing monohulls. It has been specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions encountered racing round the world singlehanded.

The Vendée Globe is unique in the demands it puts on equipment. It is the only single-handed round the world race, without stops and without assistance. This ultimate offshore sailing event, known as the “Everest of the Seas”, is the longest sporting competition in the world and is considered to be the most difficult. Out of the 138 sailors who have started the Vendée Globe since its first edition in 1989, only 71 have succeeded in crossing the finish line. This figure alone underlines the extreme difficulty of the event. Where better for iXblue to demonstrate their technology and its unsurpassed reliability?

Installed as part of the boat’s navigation system, the Hydrins is there to monitor the position, orientations and motions of the HUGO BOSS monohull. Alex Thomson and his team were looking for a piece of equipment to the highest specifications to deliver accurate real-time position, heading, attitude and speed data. Their key criteria were performance, light weight and – above all – reliability. The iXblue inertial navigation solution was deemed the perfect fit for the challenge.

Alex Thomson is now using the Hydrins system onboard and is benefiting from its high accuracy. He said: “As a team we are always looking to develop and make small gains where we can. After continuous development on our compass and autopilot systems, we chose the iXblue Hydrins which provides us with great technology allowing us to compete at our best in the Vendée Globe. This is a great bit of kit and has made a big improvement to our navigational and pilot systems. Since the race start on November 6th, I have been through some very harsh weather conditions and in some of the most remote and isolated places on our planet. In these environments, you simply cannot have technical failure, and the reliability of the Hydrins navigation system is, quite simply, vital.”

At the heart of the Hydrins navigation system is the iXblue’s Fiber-Optic Gyroscope, an ultimate performance, solid-state rotation sensing device with unsurpassed reliability, very low measurement noise and no life time limit. Based on this unique technology, iXblue systems address the most demanding applications, delivering high performance in the most challenging of environments.

David Cunningham, iXblue Sales Manager, points out: “With 30 years of experience under its belt, the iXblue Group provides its exceptional navigation solutions to support a wide range of challenging endeavours. The Vendée Globe is one of the most demanding and we are happy to assist Alex Thomson in his challenge for victory.”

Selected to support some of the most impressive sporting challenges, iXblue is also set to play a major role as a technical supplier in the 2017 America’s Cup: its technology, from optical fiber to inertial navigation systems, has been chosen by 4 challengers out of 6.