boat crew intercom systems

The Big Blue Blog

Simon Nuding - Communications Specialist

Simon Nuding - Communications Specialist

We have 30 mins to the start of SailGP Race 1 in San Francisco and I am ready, geared up with helmet and lifejacket, waiting on the mothership. The mothership is full of SaillGP technicians-electronics to Hydro, system engineers to riggers and boat builders to communication engineers-all hoping the radio that reports any issues stays quiet. I am wondering how I got be be around the very best that the sailing industry has to offer. I especially wonder how a chase boat driver came to be standing where I am. As I was thinking this, the radio came to life announcing a communications issue with Team JPN. Within 30 secs we are in a chase boat, flat out towards the Japan team race yacht.

My name is Simon Nuding and I am a communications specialist working for Big Blue Maritime and contracted to SailGP looking after the wired and wireless communications network for the whole of the F50 sailing and chase boat fleet . So how did a rib charter operator become a communications engineer? Well, here's the short story.

When I was asked what I would do now I had sold my rib charter business (which had been my working life for the past 12 years), I had said I wanted to work with Ben Ainslie’s Americas Cup team. This dream became a reality in Feb 2015 when I completed my first day in a cold tent in Southampton. This was the start of my last four years working with those at the pinnacle of extreme sailing.

I was employed by Land Rover BAR as a chase boat driver, but anyone who has worked on a Cup team will tell you that is only a job title, your role includes all sorts of other things and my case was no different. I was also a back-up safety swimmer, and became involved in helping with the communications. Because of my experience with communications from my RNLI volunteer role, I was given the so-called “target on the back” integrating a wireless and wired communications system with sailor Matt Cornwell.

The journey of the comms system we used is well documented, but the long and short of it is that the F50’s in the current SailGP fleet use the same equipment as we used at LandRover BAR and not that many people know how to put it together. This is why I am travelling at 40 Knots towards The Japanese SailGP yacht ready to jump on and try and sort out whatever issue they have.

Jumping on-board the F50, we where told that one of the antennas had been “taken out” and a new antenna and cable had to be installed to re-enable reception to the wireless systems. This is not a small job but with the help of the Japanese on-the-water team we got the job done in less than 5 minutes giving the team plenty of time to do a hot lap of the course before the start.

As for me I was back on the mothership with 15 minutes to the start and waiting once again for the radio to announce the next drama!!