Jul 01 2012

2012 America’s Cup World Series: Newport

When last we visited our heros, Billionaire by the Bay Ralph Ellison of Oracle and his rag tag team of highly compensated ex-patriot New Zealand mercenary dock rats, they had emerged triumphant from their titanic struggle to retrive the Royal Yacht Squadron £100 Cup from the shiftless, coastless, and mysterious Swiss bankers.

These villains had used the wide open rights the Deed of Gift gives the cup holder to set the terms of the next match in ways that make a successful challenge impossible and yes, yes it is much more reprehensible when a foreigner does it, no matter how many times you’ve done it to him.

Sadly this titanic struggle between evil and slightly lesser evil went almost entirely unnoticed by United States audiences despite its lopsidedness, perhaps because it was only available as a live simulcast from Valencia.  Because Billionaires crave celebrity with the searing secret lust of any random reality ‘star’ this situation must be corrected.

And so America’s Cup 2.0, re-imagined for the new century.

Now there are some things that are very good about this, the return of the Louis Vuitton Cup for one, but there are others that invite consideration.

A goal (not the only one) is to make the sport more like Formula One.  As a way to expand their schedule they’ve instituted a second series of more frequent races which is purported to acclimate crews and managers to the capabilities of the new equipment.  Because they use smaller boats support staff and crew are greatly reduced making it somewhat less expensive.

These contests are held in the traditional picturesque watering holes, this week in Newport R.I., and so far have been quite exciting (though hard to find) because of the wide variety of wind conditions and ‘Regatta’ races with all the boats out on course bashing into each other.

As you might imagine the Oracle crews dominate like 2011 Red Bulls.

But this article in The New York Times describes some of the other ways they’re working to make it more telegenic-

America’s Cup Updates As It Trawls for Viewers

By JOSHUA BRUSTEIN, The New York Times

Published: June 27, 2012

The task of changing this belongs to Stan Honey, whom the America’s Cup hired as its director of technology last year. Honey has made a career out of creating augmented reality for sports broadcasts. He is best known for the glowing first-down line in football telecasts, and he has also developed glowing hockey pucks for N.H.L. games, the illuminated strike zone for baseball and various graphics for Nascar races.

Sailing is in more dire need of augmented reality than perhaps any other sport, said Honey, a former professional sailor. Boats tack back and forth, trying to catch pockets of wind that will propel them through a race’s various legs. It can be difficult to determine who is ahead, or what strategy is being employed to remain there.

“If you don’t put the graphics on the water, you end up with people saying, O.K., white triangles on a blue background,” Honey said.

So Honey has developed the LiveLine system, a virtual playing field that lies on top of the telecast. On television, boats fly flags identifying themselves. White lines appear at regular intervals, and blue lines mark the boundaries of the pitch, turning a patch of open water into something resembling a nautical football field. Yellow circles surround the motorboats that mark the end of each leg, identifying the areas where the changes in which a boat has the right of way can come into play.

Honey’s team has ended up changing how the races operate. Race officials now watch the sailing on monitors from a control room on the shore, and any decision that relies on the objective knowledge of a boat’s position is made using the same positional data used to create the graphics.

The new approach has also inspired some new rules. Until recently, the penalty for certain fouls required a team to stop its boat and spin it in a circle. Now, a virtual line appears two boat lengths behind the offender, which must move behind the line to pay off the penalty. For 10 seconds, that line moves at the same speed as the boat. After that, the line slows to three-quarters of the boat’s speed.

The America’s Cup has also begun using computerized data analysis to change the course of the race while the race is in progress, to make sure that the event fits easily into broadcast time slots.

You can see the results starting at 2:30 pm on NBC.


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  1. ek hornbeck
  2. ek hornbeck

    Louis Vuitton




  3. ek hornbeck
  4. ek hornbeck

    Blue lines in hockey.

    Fancy graphics doesn’t overcome inside and outside the box jargon.

  5. ek hornbeck

    It’s been this way all year.

  6. ek hornbeck
  7. ek hornbeck
  8. ek hornbeck
  9. ek hornbeck
  10. ek hornbeck
  11. ek hornbeck
  12. ek hornbeck

    That was quick.

  13. ek hornbeck
  14. ek hornbeck
  15. ek hornbeck
  16. TMC

    Winning the cup in February 2010 brought the defense of the cup back to the US. CEO Russell Coutts and skipper James Spithill, at 29 the youngest skipper ever to win the America’s cup, will lead Oracle in defending the cup in San Francisco Bay in September of 2013.

    Russell Coutts (NZL) is an Olympic Gold medalist and the most successful skipper in the history of the America’s Cup. As a skipper, Coutts is undefeated, 14-0, in races for the America’s Cup. He has won the Cup four times for three different countries (New Zealand (twice), Switzerland and the U.S.).

    Tactician John Kostecki (USA) is an Olympic silver medalist, America’s Cup winner and victor of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race

  17. ek hornbeck

    Doesn’t change a damn thing, Spittal as Captain, Coontz as Tactician.

  18. TMC

    8 crews from 6 countries. This is the map of the course inside Narragansett Bay with spectator viewing from the shores and the AC Village at Fort Adams.


    Click on image to enlarge

  19. ek hornbeck
  20. ek hornbeck
  21. ek hornbeck
  22. TMC

    boats are sailing at twice the wind speed

  23. ek hornbeck
  24. ek hornbeck
  25. TMC
  26. ek hornbeck
  27. ek hornbeck



    The Peleton

  28. ek hornbeck
  29. TMC

    prepping for the next turn

  30. TMC

    to Luna Rosa Swordfish to get to center for the turn

  31. ek hornbeck
  32. TMC
  33. ek hornbeck
  34. TMC

    because they didn’t have enough leeway on the turn

  35. ek hornbeck
  36. ek hornbeck

    2 Luna Rossa


  37. TMC

    Coutts still leads; LR Parana 2nd; LR Swordfish.

    less than 500 meters to the next gate

  38. ek hornbeck
  39. TMC

    Prada close behind

  40. TMC

    Followed by LR Swordfish and LR Paranah.

    Coming up on the turn Gate 5

  41. ek hornbeck
  42. TMC

    Coutts, Piranha, Swordfish  

  43. ek hornbeck
  44. TMC

    Coutts still leading at the top of leg 7 with the two Italian boats still trying to over take him

  45. TMC

    for out of bounds. Piranha takes the lead.  

  46. ek hornbeck

    Pirana leads.

  47. ek hornbeck
  48. TMC

    LR Piranha in the lead; with Coutts and Swordfish in 2nd & 3rd at the top of leg 8. The other Oracle boat is still in 5th

  49. TMC
  50. TMC
  51. ek hornbeck
  52. TMC

    sprinting for the finish

  53. TMC

    Coutts 2nd and LR Swordfish 3rd

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