Monday, August 01, 2011

Just what the America's Cup needs

Since Oracle Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup, their intent to revamp the 34th edition into a commercially sustainable model has led them to make drastic changes. At times ignoring the event’s base of sailing supporters, they contend their move to high speed wing-powered catamarans is the preferred platform to grow the much larger non-sailing audience. Their bottom line is, in effect, to fill the ‘seats in the stadium’.

To this point, it has been a ‘sugar over substance’ approach. They have sought to grow interest by creating an exciting boat, where the narrow line between control and disaster is often crossed. And it has worked, with the occasional crash being hot internet fodder. But can an all-candy diet be sustained? Not likely. At some point we still need to know what we are eating.

Regardless of the sport, we cheer for the people. Our tie to any sport is beyond the helmet, the hockey stick, the race car. We may favor certain sports because of the action, but the depth of our commitment is linked to our familiarity with the player’s experience. The closer we feel to them and what they are doing, the more vested we become as a spectator.

And from the looks of it now, the America’s Cup organizers know this too. They got our visual attention with the boats, and now they’re working on making the more cerebral connection. This past weekend was the launch of their new weekly video magazine program called America's Cup Uncovered. If the future shows can maintain the standard of the first edition, this program should succeed in heightening fan interest during the march toward the 2013 Match.

But heightening fan interest is also reliant on the watchability of the sport. Never a strength of sailing, significant investment has been made in this area too. The first public showing of the broadcast technology will be at the inaugural event of the America’s Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal on August 6-14, 2011, which will showcase the AC45 wing-sailed catamaran in its first-ever competition. Viewing will be online at

The course will be littered with cameras in the air and the water, plus improved graphics will detail the race area with imaginary reference lines to help follow the race. Each boat will have four onboard cameras with crew mic’s integrated into their personal flotation devices. Additional onboard mic’s will pick up the sounds of the boat.

While the similarities between the America’s Cup and the amateur roots of the sport appear to be decreasing, there is still hope that the event may be worth following. Here are some links to help...

America's Cup Uncovered:
America’s Cup World Series:  
Television technology:

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At 4:14 AM, Blogger Noodle said...

Never give up hope; In the meantime, "watch" Buff Staysails tv-show here:


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