Thuraya MarineComms keeps Meerkat in touch and ahead of the pack

March 2013. Thuraya MarineComms was proud sponsor of Meerkat, owned by Hans Kuijt, chief executive officer of Thuraya distributor Xtra-Link, during the recent Airbus Regatta in Dubai. The regatta is an annual, three-day event held each spring. Boats compete in several classes and Meerkat sailed under the IRC rules.

An active sailor who takes part in regional and international races and regattas, Hans won the award for best-performing Thuraya IP distributor at the company’s recent partner conference. But his connection with the region’s leading provider of mobile satellite communications is more than professional.

A German-made Dehler 32, Meerkat has taken part in a number of offshore races and is currently in second place overall in the UAE offshore classification. During offshore races the boat takes advantage of an onboard Thuraya voice and data services.

The Thuraya data terminal is regularly used to download weather maps and access emails, the phones for social contact and safety connections.

“In a previous race, the Thuraya helped us to beat our nearest competitor,” explains Hans. “We knew the wind would change about two hours ahead of time, so went offshore while our competitor went inshore as that looked better at the time. The wind changed, we took the advantage and won the race.”

Thuraya equipment is also used during the Dubai to Muscat races , during which every boat has a Thuraya voice solutions and some are also fitted with Thuraya data terminals.

“The phone helps the skippers to stay in touch with their family and office and at the same is a safety tool for them. There are infrequent piracy incidents in the Gulf of Oman area and satphone gives the crew the assurance that they can contact the Navy using its SOS function in case they need to,” he adds.

For Hans the evolution of communications at sea is a personal journey too. A radio officer for seven years at Radio Holland he worked in the era of the Morse key and received weather messages in Morse as recently as the 1980s. “These days I get weather forecast GRIB files over the Thuraya data terminal which is much more convenient! I have to believe in what I sell and if the kit doesn’t work, I won’t win the race. I have a choice and I choose to sail with Thuraya MarineComms kit and often use the Thuraya phone while travelling, particularly to Africa where Xtra-Link does a lot of business,” he adds.

Meerkat is named for a Dutch East Indies vessel, which came to the UAE in 1666 and surveyed the waters around Khor Fakkan, Dibba and Fujairah. Nearly 350 years later Thuraya is helping sailors stay in touch, stay safe and sharpen their competitive edge.

Neville Smith
Mariner Communications
Industry Ambassador at Sailor's Society

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