The ABN AMRO ONE yacht has successfully employed Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII) onboard networking solutions for the length of the 2005/2006 Volvo Ocean Race. ABN AMRO ONE, which finished first in the race, successfully utilized two Digi Hubport(R)/7 DC USB hubs and two Digi Edgeport(R)/8 USB-to-serial converters onboard to provide reliable navigation support and networking solutions for the race.
The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s longest ocean race, at over 30,000 miles long, calling at nine ports worldwide and taking over seven months to complete. The race is physically and mentally challenging as participants have to live in close quarters for up to a month at a time, with 10 crewmen per boat, no beds, no kitchen, no chairs and only one toilet. Considering space is at such a premium and the conditions onboard are so demanding, equipment on ABN AMRO ONE needed to be compact, reliable and robust.
Navigation in modern times is less about actually determining position than it is about weather prediction and selecting the fastest course. This requires many types of equipment including a global positioning system, communications equipment, and weather monitoring technology. Given the limited amount of space onboard and the fact that ABN AMRO ONE only had a small diesel generator to charge batteries, it was essential that networking equipment be as efficient with space and power as possible.
Stan Honey, navigator of ABN AMRO ONE, needed a networking solution that would be reliable, easy to configure, and be both power and space efficient. Given these user requirements, two Digi Hubport/7 DC hubs and two Edgeport/8 converters were selected to meet ABN AMRO ONE’s networking requirements.
When describing his reasoning for selecting Digi networking solutions for use onboard ABN AMRO ONE, Honey indicated that it was the products’ proven reliability that most appealed to him. He stated, “I have been aware of Digi for some time now and have used their products in the past with success. I have found that Digi networking products consistently perform well and most importantly in an around the world yacht race, they have always been reliable.”
As an out-of-the-box (external) alternative to PCI cards, the Digi Edgeport/8 connects via USB to a PC or server to provide eight serial ports. By simply plugging in two Edgeport/8 units, ABM AMRO ONE gained 16 serial ports in a matter of minutes without opening the PC’s chassis, reconfiguring and rebooting. The ability to use 16 serial ports allowed for greater networking flexibility onboard ABN AMRO ONE. This was essential as the situation and networking requirements at sea can change, and it could have been necessary to alternate or add additional equipment.
While Digi’s Edgeport USB-to-serial converters offer an easy Plug and Play solution for COM port expansion, it was the ability to disable the Plug and Play function that interested Stan Honey. The ability to disengage Plug and Play allowed Stan to customize the equipment to the unique specifications necessary on the yacht and to prevent Windows from misinterpreting GPS NMEA strings as serial mouse data.
ABN AMRO ONE also chose two Hubport/7 DC hubs for application onboard the yacht. The Hubport/7 DC offers an external, user installable solution that plugs into an existing USB port to provide seven additional USB ports for instant peripheral device connectivity. The Hubport/7 DC also comes with a fixed power wire, which is essential onboard a yacht competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, as any navigator would not want the power being pulled during rough periods at sea.
The limited power onboard ABN AMRO ONE was provided by a diesel generator and batteries. Importantly for ABN AMRO ONE, the Hubport/7 DC could run directly off 24 volts DC, thus conserving energy and avoiding the requirement for a DC to DC converter. Energy is at a premium on the long voyages involved in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The Volvo Ocean Race began in Sanxenxo, Spain November 5, 2005, and completed June 17, 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden. ABN AMRO ONE finished the race in first place by a comfortable margin.
About Digi International
Digi International, based in Minneapolis, makes device networking easy by developing products and technologies that are cost effective and easy to use. Digi markets its products through a global network of distributors and resellers, systems integrators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
About TEAM ABN AMRO
Netherlands-based ABN AMRO is a leading international bank with total assets of EUR 899.3bn (as at 30 September 2005). It has over 3,000 branches in more than 60 countries and territories, and has a staff of about 98,000 full-time equivalents worldwide. ABN AMRO is listed on the Euronext and New York stock exchanges.
The qualities needed to succeed in the Volvo Ocean Race fit perfectly with ABN AMRO’s core values: professionalism, teamwork, respect and integrity. As a global bank, the race course allows the bank to visit customers around the world, including some of the countries where ABN AMRO has a major presence, such as Brazil, the United States and the Netherlands.
Delta Lloyd Group has become the official partner of TEAM ABN AMRO in the Volvo Ocean Race. Through this partnership, Delta Lloyd Group will underline its relationship with ABN AMRO. Being a partner of TEAM ABN AMRO is a natural choice for Delta Lloyd Group. For many years the Group has been playing a very active role as a sponsor of sailing. The race offers Delta Lloyd Group the pos¬sibility to increase the visibility of its brand, and to build and strengthen relationships with customers and other stakeholders.
The Volvo Ocean Race (originally the Whitbread Round the World Race), which started in Vigo, Northern Spain on Saturday 12 November 2005 and finished in Gothenburg on 17 June 2006, has taken place every four years since its inception in 1973. The fleet will cover 30,000 miles and all five continents stopping in the following ports: Cape Town, Melbourne, Wellington, Rio, Baltimore/Annapolis, New York, Portsmouth and Rotterdam.
For more information about ABN AMRO’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005/06, go online.