Making racing offshore safer with the Dongfeng Race Team

By | August 24, 2018

The incredible images from the recent Volvo Ocean Race of crews experiencing a constant deluge of water, show just how extreme the new race course has been for the Volvo crews and their equipment.

Exposure Lights had their trimming lights on all the Volvo boats. As an official partner with the Dongfeng Race Team, this particularly wet race proved an ideal opportunity for detailed product refinement of their new MOB Carbon searchlight before it was launched on the market.

The design of the new Volvo 65’s with a low coach roof and open cockpit offers little protection for the crews.  During the pre-race training and the early stages of the race it quickly became apparent just how wet the Volvo 65s would be.

The MOB light was originally programmed to automatically switch onto strobe mode after five seconds full immersion in water. The Dongfeng crew reported it was occasionally igniting in the cockpit. Clearly the intense spray and waves were submersing the crew for more than five seconds before dispersing. This gives many of us a sense of what the crews had to endure day and night. Yet for them, their concern was losing their night vision.

The crew also fed back that at high speeds there was considerable pounding below decks from wave impact. There was potential for the magnetic USB charging leads to simply bounce off the external connectors, and the light not being recharged.

Although few of us will sail in such extreme, semi-submersed conditions, Exposure’s technical team set to work to adapt the product that is now on the market for all sailors.  The charging solution was solved with the addition of an extra charge pin. The team developed a new, more refined water detecting protocol to control the lights safety feature of automatic connection when continually submersed in water, to replace the original motion detection technology. The connection pins were also separated and recessed to further reduce accidental connection, from the constant fire hose effect of waves through the cockpit.

At the same time, the battery status indicator was adapted, to send a quick signal once a minute as a reminder if a charge is required, and to indicate the torch position on deck. This made it quick and easy for the crews to check the read out and find the torch at night without disturbing their night vision.

Speaking after their race victory, Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team’s skipper comments: “When we sail at night we are looking for the best lights, that are reliable. We use always the same trim torch, the MOB light. With the MOB system if someone falls into the water we can throw it in the water knowing it will act as a MOB light. But it is also a very powerful trimming light. What is good, it’s lightweight so we can carry it in our pockets and not feel it.  It is the perfect one for me.”

The Exposure RAW Pro Headtorch also proved a popular item of equipment with the Dongfeng Race Team. Caudrelier continues: “The RAW Pro is the main torch everybody uses onboard. The headtorch is amazing. It is light and can be USB charged. It is green so you don’t need to carry batteries which is good. It is very strong, very powerful and you can choose between red and white, and a strong or a low light. I have been looking for this for years. It is exactly what you need for sailing.”