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Volvo Race Goes Hi-Def

Get ready to dodge icebergs and ride out gales in high-definition.

Organizers of the Volvo Ocean Race, in which a fleet of 70-foot sailboats race around the world, have announced that television coverage of the 2008-09 edition will be produced in high-definition using specialized onboard camera systems.

The 2005-06 race already featured extensive online coverage from the competing yachts, as well as weekly television programs carried by a number of international broadcasters, including OLN (now Versus) in the U.S. Organizers say the race reached a cumulative global TV audience of 1.8 billion.

The Volvo 70-class yachts, which can reach speeds of over 40 mph while surfing huge ocean waves, carried several extra-rugged onboard cameras, advanced compression gear and satellite uplink equipment to beam video and audio back to race headquarters.

For the next edition, which starts in October 2008 and features a U.S. stopover in Boston in May 2009, Volvo is upping the ante by moving to HDTV in partnership with video systems provider LiveWire Digital.

“As more and more broadcasters around the world push for more high definition product, this decision will ensure that the weekly programs covering the race will be much sought after,” said Harold Anderson, executive producer of the Volvo Ocean Race, in a statement. “We are already getting plenty of interest as a result.”