Connected Cowes project receives £825,000 boost

By Chris Cornford Jan 20, 2021

Cowes Week Limited (CWL) has been selected by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to take part in national trials demonstrating the capabilities of 5G technology, one of nine projects announced this week.
The company and partners, Leeds-based infrastructure provider aql and education charity The 1851 Trust, will use £827,000 of government funding to explore how 5G can improve people’s lives and rebuild businesses and communities after the pandemic. The results will be showcased during Cowes Week 2021 (from July 31 to August 7) as part of the £1.6 million Connected Cowes project.

5G is fifth generation technology for cellular networks and the planned successor to 4G, currently used by many mobile phones. 5G will deliver much faster speeds and it is anticipated will be used to provide internet services to a much wider range of devices including desktop and laptop computers.
Laurence Mead, Regatta Director at Cowes Week, said: “We are thrilled to be able to take sailing into a new age. It’s such a diverse and inclusive sport and we can’t wait to be able to bring it out of the water and onto the internet via 5G. This funding is going to enable us to showcase world-beating, non-stadium sports coverage. Our event takes place over 20 square miles of water and will test 5G to the limit.”

Covering sailing from a spectator’s viewpoint has always been difficult but the Connected Cowes 5G Project will see high definition 360° cameras fitted to 50 boats, each beaming back real-time, high definition pictures to Cowes TV, to be shown on big screens around the town, as well as being available on the internet.
A virtual reality lounge on the Parade in Cowes will enable spectators to don headsets and be transported to one of the boats, seeing exactly what’s going on right across the Solent. Turn your head and the camera will show you what the crew are looking at right that second!
The new Cowes Week Spectator App will bring the technology directly to spectators wherever they are in the world, enhancing Cowes Week’s global reach and reputation as a leading sailing regatta.

Long-term sponsors of Cowes Week, aql, are providing the technical infrastructure for the project and following Cowes Week the 1851 Trust will put together a 5G learning package to complement the trust’s existing work.
An event like Cowes Week relies on sponsorship, but in the past sponsor return has sometimes been difficult to quantify, without the ability to put the sport on television. Using the Connected Cowes 5G Project as a test bed, however, CWL aims to bring exciting and engaging television coverage to Cowes Week, to sailing worldwide and to other non-stadium sports through a new sports media delivery company.