PxPixel
How a Few Cal 40s Transformed America’s Cup - Sail Magazine

How a Few Cal 40s Transformed America’s Cup

OK, I’m not above stretching a headline to get your attention. But history should record that on February 11, 2011, the first tests of the new America’s Cup sports graphics system were conducted in South San Francisco Bay, using volunteer Cal 40s and a rented helicopter.They woulda done it on the cityfront, in America’s Cup-racing waters, but the City of San Francisco is not
Author:
Publish date:
AC45-image

OK, I’m not above stretching a headline to get your attention. But history should record that on February 11, 2011, the first tests of the new America’s Cup sports graphics system were conducted in South San Francisco Bay, using volunteer Cal 40s and a rented helicopter.

They woulda done it on the cityfront, in America’s Cup-racing waters, but the City of San Francisco is not helicopter-landing friendly, and you gotta be able to confab, while relaxed.

The maestro of the occasion was Stan Honey, who will be on West 44th Street, New York City, on Friday to receive his award as the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. I reckon the proud spouse will be there too. Sally will want to watch as hubby halfway catches up to her two Yachtswoman of the Year awards.

Honey and his longtime business partner, Ken Milnes, are both retired from the sports graphics company they founded together—Sportvision—which transformed sports on TV. Because of them, Sportvision lays down the electronic first-down line in football, displays the path of the pitch in baseball, and tracks cars for NASCAR. But Misters Honey and Milnes were summoned from retirement (relative retirement; I believe Stan Honey navigated a 48-day round-the-world sailing record last year) by one Larry Ellison. You’ve heard of Larry Ellison; he’s famous for winning the 2010 RC44 season, and he’ll be racing an RC44 next week in San Diego. Ellison asked these two to work their magic on the sport of sailing.

Stan’s been ready for years, waiting for takers.

In an interview conducted on behalf of SAIL Magazine, Stan told me about the work and the Cal 40 test, in detail, before it happened. But he’s been quiet since.

I should say, I think that’s just the nature of the America’s Cup game, not a sign of anything negative. Stan explained, “It’s a test, not a demo. Things will go wrong.”

The demo is scheduled for April in Auckland, when there’s an AC45 catamaran fleet to play with. And no, Stan says, it doesn’t matter that the catamarans will be a tweak faster than Cal 40s. That speed difference is nothing when the demand is to geo-locate a helicopter and two or more boats to a tolerance of two centimeters. And yes, you heard me right. No more Computer-Graphic environments with CG water and CG backgrounds and CG boats sailing toward CG laylines. The vision of America’s Cup 34 is nothing less than a transformation of sailing, and a huge component of that is a transformation of television broadcasting, with laylines “painted” on the water—when relevant—and lines showing who’s ahead or behind, who’s pointing higher, all the elements to help sailors and nonsailors understand the race.

If we’re ever going to hook a larger public, this is a basic requirement.

This is also the system that America’s Cup Race Management CEO Iain Murray was talking about, when he gave an interview to Richard Gladwell of Sail-World (Richard is on-site with Murray in Auckland, New Zealand) and Gladwell went away and wrote, in part:

“The Racing Rules have been simplified and electronic umpiring introduced after trials in San Francisco. Murray says that the accuracy is now down to 20mm and the Umpires for the 34th America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cups will now operate from a booth ashore and communicate to the competitors electronically.

“Murray says the intention is to use only live TV images with lines overlaid over the screen. Quite how this works in reality remains to be seen, as the animation which has become an integral part of television coverage over the last twenty years, allows the viewing of the racing and incidents – including an upwind perspective which is not possible using helicopters [sic] mounted cameras.”

Well, the answer is that, yes, there will be a half-million dollar TV camera mounted on a helicopter, but the geo-locating is so Stan-Honey precise that the tolerance is roughly the length of that line, as it displays on my laptop screen. It does not depend upon the camera-angle view that an audience is seeing. The intent is that PRO John Craig will use the electronic system, rather than eyeballs, for close calls on the start line or the finish line.

And Stan’s “two centimeters” is, ah, rather close to Iain’s “twenty millimeters.”

The revolution is coming.

How long it will take to reach a race committee near you, that’s a different story. But it’s an old story how things start at the top, in the America’s Cup. There might even come a time when somebody needs to remember to say, Thanks, Larry.

NEXT: ABOUT THAT UMPIRING

Related

Josie-helm-2

Chartering the U.S. and Spanish Virgins

Flying into Tortola in the British Virgin Islands one December morning, three months after Hurricane Irma, I felt like a war correspondent dispatched to the battlefront rather than a sailing magazine writer on an assignment to go cruising.As my LIAT plane descended toward Beef ...read more

Crew-North-27M004

Weather Gear for Inshore Sailing

Just because you’re not planning on braving the Southern Ocean this summer doesn’t mean that you won’t have some dicey days out on the water. If you haven’t got the right gear, a little rain or humidity can make things miserable. As with all safety equipment, “it’s always better ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

3DiNordac_webheader

3Di NORDAC: One Year In

One year ago this month, North Sails launched a cruising revolution with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC. The product promised to deliver a better cruising experience for a market that had not seen true product innovation in over 60 years. Today we’re celebrating the team that ...read more

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more