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The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge (2009) Poster

Trivia

The Webtel.mobi Management Team that put together and managed all aspects of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge did this at no cost to Webtel.mobi, and - with the exception of the week of the Challenge - in conjunction with carrying out their normal daily professional company duties. The Webtel.mobi Management Team comprised Stuart Sterzel (Project Leader), Hartwig Baier (Project Manager), Brendan Seery (Project Management), William Gets (Project Management), Garth Eloff (Project Management), Cathy Eloff (Project Management) and Mark Dawson (Project Management).
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In January 2012, the documentary of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge won the Award of Excellence and the Best Editing Award at the 2012 Los Angeles Movie Awards, in the Documentary Short category.
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Stuart Sterzel conceptualized and planned all aspects of the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge over three years in great detail - down to the precise date, day and time of the event initiation. There were over 2000 separate aspects to attend to on the critical path for implementation. He had intended to appoint an international events and marketing agency to implement and manage it, and a film production company to film and broadcast it. However, the lowest cost quote from international events and marketing agencies to implement and manage it was 20 million Pounds Sterling (US$32 million at that time) for the management alone, and the quote for sourcing, coordinating and managing the additional companies required for implementation, and liaising with and obtaining licenses and authorizations from government departments in Morocco and Spain, was quoted an additional 30 million Pounds Sterling US$49 million at that time). On top of this, they quoted a personnel requirement of 100 to 150 persons working on various aspects of management and administration, and up to eighteen months to implement - without any guarantee of success. Other than this, the film production company informed him that it was impossible to do a live television broadcast while crossing the North Atlantic, and that it was also completely impossible to broadcast and mix audio into Internet live streaming under those circumstances. It informed him that they would have to radically alter his plan, appoint multiple producers and directors, and that it would cost an extremely large amount of money. They also informed him that if he went ahead as he wanted to, that they would not be involved, as it would be a total failure (in their words - a "xxxx up"). Stuart therefore informed them that under those circumstances, he would do it himself. He therefore ended communications with the event and marketing agency and the film production company, and implemented and managed the Challenge himself. To assist him, he appointed an event management team of 6 people from within his own company and one contracting company, assembled an international team of 50 specialist companies, and completed the preparation and implementation within 3 months and 10 days from the beginning of implementation to the day of the Challenge - all at a cost of well under US$ 1 million, all-in for every single aspect of the Challenge, the broadcast thereof, and the production of the documentary.
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The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge was able to be broadcast and Internet live-streamed worldwide due to an ingenious system structured by Bart Stobart of Associated Press Corporate Services and Bruno Coudyzer of Alfacam. Microwave transmitters were fitted to the Cineflex camera (operated by Evert Cloetens of Wim Robberechts & Co.) in the camera helicopter, and to all other cameras on the ground and in the other helicopters. These transmitted a signal to sophisticated receiving and transmitting radio equipment in a King Air light aircraft which circled above the Challenge route over the North Atlantic. The King Air transmitted the signal to the Outside Broadcast vehicle of Alfacam on the Spanish Coast where footage and audio was mixed according to the instructions of the Outside Broadcast Director Gerd Kaiser. From there it was transmitted it to the Satellite Broadcast vehicle of Associated Press Corporate Services on the Spanish coast, which transmitted it to satellites over Europe, Asia and North America, and to the BT Tower in London. From there it went to all television stations worldwide for the television broadcast, and to the live streaming team of companies - Akamai Technologies, Groovy Gecko, Sat Stream, Isotoma and the Google App Engine - for international live Internet streaming. The delay between the filming over the North Atlantic to arrival of the mixed audio visual picture on television stations and the worldwide was less than three seconds.
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The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge was timed to take place at a time when most of the world was awake (evening to night in Central Asia / Asian Subcontinent / South East Asia; afternoon in Europe / Middle East / Africa; morning in North America / South America), to enable the maximum number of persons worldwide to be able to see it live.
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On the day of the Challenge, Webtel.mobi became - for the period of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge - the largest TV broadcaster in the world, as its live footage was picked up and re-broadcast by (with syndication) several thousand television stations, channels and networks worldwide.
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The live television broadcast of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge was one of the most successful - if not the most successful - live television broadcast of any event in history. Associated Press's monitoring estimated that up to half the world's population may have viewed it on television on the day of broadcast. Associated Press also publicly stated that the global television broadcast of the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge by AP Corporate Services, on behalf of Webtel.mobi, was the most successful in the service's history. It was carried live for over an hour on all of the world's largest international news networks, on all the major US TV Networks, on all the UK's TV channels, and on the main news and other channels of almost every news or terrestrial television channel in almost every country worldwide.
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The live Internet streaming broadcast of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge - streamed live at the same time as the live television broadcast - was one of the most successful international live streamings history. It was streamed with live commentary in six languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Mandarin), and was viewed in almost every country worldwide.
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Thirty six hours before the Emergency Sea Rescue rehearsal (which was held on the day before the actual Challenge), the Moroccan authorities impounded the specialized wetsuits and equipment of the Rescue Swimmers. This was because they had been delivered in a crate which also had the ground-to-air radios - which were to be used for communication with the helicopters while they were in flight. As there are security restrictions on radios in Morocco, several State Security Agencies had become fairly agitated about the arrival of these ground-to-air radios. Stuart Sterzel and Garth Eloff therefore undertook a 270 mile (440km) round-trip drive from Tangiers to Rabat in Morocco to try to have them released. However, after some time of a heated exchange between Stuart and Garth on the one hand, and agents from multiple state security agencies on the others, Stuart and Garth decided to abandon the wetsuits and leave, as the way the conversation was progressing (and the tempers) it became apparent that if they continued, they would also be "impounded". As such, 24 hours before the Emergency Sea Rescue rehearsal, and 36 hours before the actual Challenge, the Rescue Swimmers found themselves with no wetsuits or other equipment, and nowhere in Tangiers where they could be bought. Garth Eloff therefore took the ferry from Tangiers in Morocco to Tarifa in Spain to look for wetsuits, as it is a premier kite-surfing location in Europe due to the high winds, and there are lots of rental shops with wetsuits. However, none of the rental shops would rent or sell any of their good condition wetsuits and equipment to him, and he had to buy two wetsuits and equipment that were so old and in such bad condition that they were about to be thrown away. These wetsuits were both a size too small for the Rescue Swimmers, were full of holes and worn thin, and offered absolutely no protection against the cold water in the North Atlantic. The flippers were ancient, extremely rigid, very big, and utterly unsuitable for a marine entry into the ocean from a helicopter at height. However, as both Stuart and Garth had previous experience in the South Atlantic - which is much colder than the North Atlantic - they assessed that they would be able to carry out their Rescue Swimming without adequate protection from the cold water for the amount of time required to effect a Sea Rescue, and with a safe margin for excess time-on-target. They also assessed that they could adjust their entry angle into the water from the helicopter to compensate for the large rigid flippers. The Emergency Sea Rescue rehearsal - and the Emergency Sea Rescue - were therefore carried out by the Rescue Swimmers with this museum-era and U/S equipment; which both Stuart and Garth later said was "interesting", but not something that they would rush to do again.
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The helicopter pilots for the Challenge are very familiar with the area, as they provide multiple specialized helicopter services between Southern Spain and Morocco. The helicopter pilots also - as is often the case the world over - have a testy relationship with the Air Traffic Controllers that they have to liaise with in the area when flying. As such, they have given exotic nicknames to the various Air Traffic Controllers that they have to communicate with, which exotic nicknames (and exotic comments) they freely discuss among each other in their (private) helicopter to helicopter radio communications. Unfortunately, the Helicopter Pilots did not attend the briefing at which the live Internet streaming was discussed, and so they did not know that their "private" helicopter to helicopter radio communications would in fact be broadcast live and worldwide, and that every Spanish-speaking person in the world would hear and understand perfectly what they were saying as they were saying it - including the personnel at the Air Traffic Control station that they were working through at the time. As such, during the Emergency Sea Rescue rehearsal, they chatted - extensively - among each other when they came into the control area of the Spanish Air Traffic Control, discussing the various controllers by their exotic nicknames, and making exotic comments about them. It was only later that day, after the rehearsal, when they found out that their exotic comments on the ATC personnel were broadcast live to everyone in Spain and every Spanish-speaking person in the whole of Latin America (and to the Air Traffic Controllers that they were discussing) that they understood why - when they called the ATC to ask if they had watched the rehearsal on the Internet - that the ATC simply shouted, in a loud voice, "YES"", and then slammed the phone down. The pilots' conversation on their radios the next day was very limited.
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After the Emergency Sea Rescue during the Challenge, the helicopters carrying Yves Rossy and the Rescue Swimmers landed at Jerez International Airport in Spain. For unknown reasons, the officials at the airport decided that all persons from the helicopters must go through the standard passport control process in the airport. As such, the arrivals hall saw the surreal picture of a queue of people without any baggage, one in a wet flight-suit with sea water pouring onto the floor from the flight suit as he stood in the queue, two others in wetsuits and flippers - with one of them also pouring sea water onto the floor from his wetsuit, and the helicopter pilots in rumpled flight suits; all standing patiently in line to show their passports (including some soaking-wet passports). The passport control officers acted as though everything was quite normal, and that things like that happened every day. This was truly a Mastercard-like "Priceless Moment".
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The Support Team for Yves Rossy are all volunteers, who took time off from their work to assist and support Yves Rossy voluntarily and at no cost. The Yves Rossy team comprised Yves Rossy, Fouzia Rossy, Jean-Marc Colomb, Roland Brunner, Stephane Marmier, Andre Bernet, Roman Kulossek, Blaise Chappuis, Daniel Koblet, Gerard Sermier, Fanny Eternod and Aline Casal.
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Prior to focusing on his passion for man-powered flight by jet-wing, Yves Rossy was a jet fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force, and then a commercial airline pilot for a major international airline.
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Prior to his business career, Hartwig Baier was a jet fighter pilot on the German Air Force and a Test Pilot.
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The pilot of the Pilatus launch aircraft during the challenge - Jean-Marc Colomb - is an aerial acrobatics champion, who has won numerous competitions and awards.
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Prior to their respective business careers, John Brokaar, Garth Eloff and Stuart Sterzel were all Special Forces Operators.
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In September 2012, the documentary of The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge was awarded the Award of Merit at the 2012 Lucerne International Film Festival.
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In September 2012, The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge was selected as an Official Selection film in The Other Venice Film Festival, in the category Documentary Film.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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