Alex Thomson at the annual IMERC conference

I've had the pleasure and the honour to meet briefly Alex Thomson the Skipper of HUGO BOSS the fastest man in the UK to sail single handedly non-stop around the world in the totally unsane Vendée Globe race. Stuart Hosford (5West) manager of the winning HUGO BOSS 60 racing boat, did a very nice introductory speech at the Annual IMERC 2014 conference. While speaking about Marine ICT with Minister for Marine Simon Coveney, a man in an elegant casual blue and grey sportswear turned up. Alex Thomson in the flesh, caught me of guard, as I was expecting a Hugo Boss Amaro James Bond style designer suit, ship shape, you know what I mean...Well since it would appear Alex finds the Amaro, Shape6 more suitable to climb a mast... I sundenly felt like throwing away my Christian Dior tie!

 

A firm handshake and the look of a man who has sailed in extreme conditions, a true natural decision maker. More than just a sailor, and very much alike our friend Bruno Sroka, the soul of a modern times adventurer... Alex seemed truly impressed with Bruno's daring crossing to Ireland of last summer. I have often noticed the outmost respect for other people's efforts, while talking to true achievers. The IMERC Conference takes place once a year, for the people in SEA-Tech, Sound and Sea, Skytec, Murray Associates, to name only a few, it is a little bit like OUR day. It's the day, the IMERC entrepreneurs, in the National Maritime College of Ireland get to showcase their expertise, talk as a one group together, the first maritime cluster in Ireland! What better embassadors this evening than a world class skipper and a minister for marine. Dr Cummins, Dr Wall and S.Lt Scanlon did a great job pulling together a first class evening.

 

MastWalk

Minister for Marine Simon Coveney spoke about SEA-Tech and SeaFi and all the IMERC cluster in terms which made us feel somehow special. He used very simple words to talk about us, the people who work at building a country resolutly turned toward the oceans and renewable energy. People committed to create employement, people who believe we have a lot more to export than what we are currently exporting. People who believe there is more to be derived from the oceans than fish, oil and gas. People who see excelence as a way of life, people with a vision... In IMERC we collaborate, we share and contribute, it's like a lifestyle, a small community at the heart of the Maritime College of Ireland.

 

On the photo below, the photographers had to pause for a moment as SeaFi was being explained to Alex Thomson by the minister himself, I have to say it left me speachless for a moment...so the smile on my face is trully natural...

 

It seems like a century ago I tried to write an article on Wikipedia about Marine ICT. Ultimatly it was removed and this blog took over. As Skipper Alex Thomson kept entertaining us all evening, I could not stop making notes at how important ICT is on a boat like HUGO BOSS. Trimming a sail, balancing a quil with the effect of 80 members of crew leaning together over the starboard rail, controlling dozens of sensors, is more than a man / crew can do. Convinced ICT would become critical for naval operations of all kinds, we founded SEA-Tech (formerly Fix-I.T.) in 2007... 

 

Simon Coveney Arnaud DisantAlex ThomsonAs a matter of fact, the IMOCA 60 Farr design built in the UK and owned by 5West is concentrate of technology. Mostly built with carbon fiber with enough sails to cover a few tennis courts and almost three kilometers of ropes of all kinds, it's fully sustainable for a 90 days race, and beyond, the skipper goes on diet. The most expansive diet in the world as Alex explained.

 

During the race, Alex will spend a lot of time using a number of systems to help him navigate the quickest route around the world. So when Alex said he spends hours on his computer, yes another sea-geek, I can only imagine the pain sailing in difficult conditions and watching a small rugged monitor...

 

We all left the room out of breath as if we had just spend a moment with Alex at 40knots downwave in the south hemisphere...

 

 

 

Right to Left: Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine - Skip. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) - Dr Val Cummins (Dir. Irish Maritime Energy Research Cluster) - Stuart Hosford (Manager Hugo Boss Alex Thomson racing team) - Arnaud Disant (Founder SEA-Tech & SeaFi inventor)