Monday, July 27, 2009

Tour de France

The Tour de France is the most well known and prestigious race in cycling, and each year it is notable how well Versus does at presenting this event. Combine a knowledgeable and entertaining broadcast team with stunning imagery, and even a five hour stage can hold a viewer’s attention.

Stealing from the TDF playbook, the 2005 Snipe U.S. Nationals incorporated the ‘Yellow Jersey’, which was awarded to the leaders after each day, and required to be worn on the following day. And just recently, the San Diego J/105 fleet honored the Tour as well. Here is the story from bike racer and J/105 owner Joseph Dagostino:

You combine the best aspects of bicycle racing into a format for yacht racing? The SoCal J 105 fleet experienced the sensation when the race committee decided to shake things up in honor of Le Tour de France.

Twelve boats came together on an ultra short course, taking a mere four minutes to complete a leg. Combined with the fact that two laps constituted a race, and with only two minutes between races, you have the makings for close racing and some very tired crew.

As in bike racing, there were not only prizes for winning the race, but intermediate prizes termed “primes” for random accomplishments such as the first to the mark, the fastest timed leg of a race, the fastest start and the ever coveted box of doughnuts to the last finisher of race three (delivered hot and fresh courtesy of the SDYC race committee boat).

In all, eight races were run on the day with the highlight being the last which was run in a “win and out” format. In this race the winner of each leg claimed a prime and retired from the race. The winner of leg one was first, the winner of leg two second and so on until the final sprint for fourth. Rails were scraping, Dacron was stretching and halyards were flying to be the boat to capture the title for the first edition of the Cardiac Cup.

Overall the regatta gave a chance for the fleet to learn about the boat and about themselves, ultimately leading to better crew work and faster racing on the course.

Race photos from Ironstring Photography:

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At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Steve Quant said...

While bicycle racing and boat racing do have some similarities, and the SoCal J/105 idea was admirable, what it largely demonstrates is that the biggest similarity between the two sports is the lack of understanding of each sport by the general public, or even, each other.

The particular event described is based on a pretty much uniquely American version of bike racing known as a "criterium" or "crit." A crit consists of timed duration or pre-determined number of laps around a course typically shorter than one mile in length and usually has "primes" and sometimes "miss and outs." To my knowledge, there has never been nor will there ever be a crit in the Tour de France.


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