The televising of the recent America’s Cup World Series’ achieved a global audience of more than 250 million, far in excess of predictions, while several of the eight completed regattas also took place in front of live audiences of about a million spectators onshore.
Its broadcasts also won an Emmy award for technical innovation, for its LiveLine graphics technology, which overlays race information, such as who’s leading, wind direction, boat speed, etc., on live helicopter shots – the first time such graphics had been done on pictures from a moving platform. Contestants race a 13.7m (45-foot) long catamaran, the AC45, with an 26m tall wing sail that allows the craft to race at twice the wind speed, with races conducted in enclosed areas, such as Venice lagoon and Plymouth Harbour, where spectators can get a good view of the action.
Thanks to support from the billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, there was considerable investment in televising the races, with multiple waterproof onboard cameras fitted by SIS Live, which also designed a waterproof surround sound microphone for the yachts. Each crew member also had a personal radio microphone, and there were three spot FX microphones, giving viewers much more involvement in the racing than ever before. The catamarans are roughly half the scale of the boats that will sail the Louis Vuitton Cup in July and the America’s Cup in September, which will be contested in extreme performance AC72s.
The eight successful regattas in Europe and the USA involved 173 races over 44 days, with 43 days’ racing completed on schedule, nearly 12 million YouTube views and nearly 7 million visitors to the America’s Cup website. “Everywhere we’ve taken the AC World Series the response has been positive,” said Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority. “Whether it’s the champion sailor who’s changing his/her opinion about catamaran racing or the new fan who’s simply taken in by the speed, athleticism and close racing, the ACWS has been successful in delivering positive-growth results.”
“The addition of new, ground-breaking virtual graphics that helped visually explain distances and strategies also significantly enhanced the viewer experience. The coverage of the final Sunday fleet race was fantastic and full of the kind of drama never normally seen so up close in sailing,” affed Comcast SportsNet California Vice President and General Manager Larry Eldridge.
“The summer of racing that lies ahead stands to be very exciting for TV and on-site fans of the America’s Cup and very physical for the sailors,” said Barclay. “The next America’s Cup may come to represent some of the most fantastic racing ever seen on an America’s Cup course.” David Fox www.americascup.com Photos: Gilles Martin-Raget/America’s Cup Event Authority