Stan Honey was not quite sure what to make of the phone call advising him that he had been selected into the National Sailing Hall Of Fame's 2012 class. It was still a prevailing feeling during the induction ceremony at the Southern Yacht Club on Sunday night. 'It's a huge honor. I wasn't convinced they weren't pulling my leg,' Honey said of the phone call. 'I was still ... somewhat stunned (during the ceremony).'
National Sailing Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans on October 14, 2012
Honey said he felt honored to be included on a list of people he had followed for years. But the 57-year-old sailor's achievements stand up on their own.
Honey was named U.S. Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2010 after setting a record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe. He was the navigator for Groupama 3, which won the Jules Verne Trophy for sailing the globe in 48 days and eight hours, one of his proudest achievements, he said.
He and his crew won the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race in 2006 aboard ABN Amro One, and he set a record aboard the Speedboat as a navigator in the Newport Bermuda Race.
But Honey's biggest achievement came on dry land.
Honey is best known for developing the yellow first down line used in almost all televised football games. He co-founded Sportvision in 1998, a company that has developed live-tracking graphics for sports TV broadcasts. Sportsvision developed Nascar race tracking graphics, the baseball 'K-zone' system, which allows viewers to locate the strike zone, and the PITCHf/x system, which tracks the speed and location of baseballs.
Now Honey's vision is to take that concept and incorporate it into the sport he loves.
Honey left Sportvision in 2004 to sail full time. But when he got an offer in 2010 to become head of technology for America's Cup Event Authority, he couldn't refuse.
Honey worked with his old company to develop Liveline, which provides real-time graphics using a complicated combination of helicopter cameras and computers. The graphics are superimposed onto the water, much like football's first-down line, and a GPS tracks the sailboats within two centimeters.
'The sailing system, I find incredible rewarding,' Honey said. 'It's one of the most difficult systems I've ever taken on. To put the graphics in the right place, you need to know exactly where the helicopter is, what angle it's at, you need to have (everything) corrected.'
The system works in football by using color palettes to distinguish between grass and a player's uniform, so that it looks as if the player is walking on top of the line. It's a little more tricky with water, Honey said.
'As the water changes colors, from blue to grey and everything in between, it's very tricky to stay up with it, drawing the graphics on the water and not on the boats,' he said. 'If you draw on the boats too much, it destroys the illusion that the graphics are on the water.'
Honey and his team won a Sports Emmy Award in 2012 for its work on America's Cup broadcasts, giving SportVision a total of 10 Sports Emmys.
Honey said his next goal is to continue to make sailing more of a spectator sport. He hopes to incorporate wind and current conditions into the 2013 broadcast.
'Certainly the goal is to make sailing accessible to a sports fan that isn't yet a sailing fan,' he said. 'The (graphics) makes the sailing race course look like a field of play ... like a football field.'
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