sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Why the 49er class is pushing hard to get finals format changed +Video
Why the 49er class is pushing hard to get finals format changed +Video

'Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) - 49er class Gold medalists, ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca, 2014'    © Jesus Renedo / Sofia Mapfre    Click Here to view large photo

The 49er class has a tradition of pushing sailing forward, aligning to the Olympic ideals and the Olympic business model. The overall Olympic success is a complex tonic, but the core product is live sports. Live coverage of sailing is difficult and expensive. Traditionally it has also been slow paced and difficult to understand for non-sailors, the vast majority of Olympic customers. That places sailing at direct odds with the (only) people who write checks in support of the sport, a dangerous position to be in. The 49er class aims to counter all of these challenges and make Olympic sailing, at least part of it, align with the Olympic business model.

Identification
The 49er class introduced big national flags onto our mainsails in 2010, vastly improving the ability of sailing fans to identify the teams they are cheering for. In 2013 we complimented this move with larger and simpler sail numbers to further help fans identify the teams. It’s very hard to invest emotional energy watching sport when you can’t tell who is who. The rest of sailing has replicated the country flag stickers, and may take further steps in the future.

Formats
Intense short course racing is in the DNA of the skiff looking back to our roots in the Sydney harbour 18 foot skiffs. While most Olympic classes prefer large fleet races, the 49er has been running 25 boat gold fleets and 30 minute races for almost our entire history. Shorter intense races have a better chance to entice the public to watch, even though it remains very difficult. They are also fun for sailors and have proven to be a great training ground for Olympic sailors to base pro sailing careers from.

Finals
In 2008, sailing introduced the ‘medal race’ concept to the Olympics. Fleet sizes and race duration were reduced, reinforcing the lead taken by 49er, to 10 boats and 30 minutes. This is a positive move in many respects, as the media is able to focus on a smaller pool of contenders than in large fleet, long course racing.

The challenge is to ensure a sound marriage between the finals ‘medal racing’ and the Olympic ideals of live sport. As it turns out, medal racing is still very difficult and expensive to cover live, as the course sizes are large. Further, by reducing the fleet size to only 10 boats, there is little action, and cameras end up having to focus on a single boat in a frame. Any sailing photographer will attest to the fact that a single boat in a frame makes for a boring picture, and the effect is only enhanced in video. The 49er class has been developing and proposing an alternative format to better align Olympic sailing with the Olympic business model and we’ve been calling it theatre style racing.

An example of fantastic medal race coverage came at the Perth2011 worlds. If you count the cameras there is a helicopter, two long lens from shore, and a gyro-stabilized high speed motorboat, along with the studio cameras. The end result is great, compelling, multi-boat frames for about the first three minutes of the 30 minute race. From half way up the first beat, they start having to resort more often to single boat shots, and by the second beat it’s almost nothing but glory shots of a single boat sailing around. The expense of such a professional set up is no trivial, and is far greater than Olympic sailing can typically justify outside the games itself. This team does a great job, but it’s not long before the commentary team has to start chatting about other business, and very little of the coverage actually focuses on the racing. That’s because very little is happening and it’s also very difficult for the commentators to follow how teams are making progress on each other.



Making Finals Work
What separates theatre style from regular medal races is the focus can be on communicating how a team wins, not just what team wins. This is the basis for sports business. When a sports fan watches highlights of a football match, they don’t just show random images of people playing football, they show the goals, the lead up to the goals, and the critical moments… the same is true in all sports. Take a look at the videos produced at the most recent World Cup Event below. The coverage is of a start, a mark rounding, and a narrator saying what happened. At no point does anyone ever discuss sport at all… while we may feel it is novel even to have any coverage at all, it is necessary to be able to cover the actual sport, the moments that define the races, to ever be really successful. This is not meant to be critical of the teams producing these videos. On a small budget it is almost impossible to show the story unfolding.



A great example of the difference happened in Palma. In race 2 of the 49erFX, Grael/Kunze is six points up on Nielsen/Olsen with two races to go.

She comes off the line well, has a chance to tack and cross, is blocked by the Swedes and knocked back in the pack. She then gets a great lane to the windward mark, but as she’s on port has to duck the line of boats, dropping her to ninth place at the windward mark, essentially tied with Nielsen who is up in third. Then on the downwind, the finds a passing lane on the outside, comes in to the leeward mark with speed and passes six boats, including Nielsen to move up to third place and secure the regatta victory. The full day finals coverage is below, for those who want to watch great fleet racing. The smaller geometry of theatre racing and shorter race target times allow a single video team to capture compelling visual images and the story of the race on a manageable budget.



The Process
When looking at where the class is now, with theatre style racing, three races, single points, two laps, 10 minutes, 10 boats, no drops, 600m by 325m maximum geometry, it’s important to look back at how we got here. The 49er class and sailors have spent much time defending this version of progress to ISAF and the rest of the Olympic community.

In 2009/10, the format topic emerged in the 49er class at the executive committee level. The original goal was to be so aligned with the Olympic business model that NBC would want to broadcast the final race of the 49er (and now 49erFX) in Rio. For those of you who follow the Olympics, you’ll know that the NBC broadcast rights account for about 50% of Olympic revenues. We set out this goal and went through what else we thought was necessary to secure Olympic sailing’s future. Crowning a worthy champion, the winner of the last race winning the regatta, ensuring fair sailing were all listed in some of the early publications.

After waiting for the 2012 Olympic cycle to conclude, we set out to test many options knowing that a theoretical discussion only would result in painful arguing but no facts. There were a number of casual tests, outside of formal regattas, but the first formal test was at the 2012 Europeans. We had a full day of three race ’rounds’, and the winner after each round moved forward to the next round. Then in the final, with the top teams, the first four would make it to the grand final for a single race, winner takes all, race. This was to be the NBC Race.



After the regatta, we solicited feedback from the sailors who participated, the broadcasters, and continued the discussion. Top sailors gave feedback that they enjoyed the day, but felt that a single final race, winner takes all was unfair. It broke from the long tradition of the sport of having the winner of a series take home the crown. We listened to all the feedback and there were two other aspects of the winner takes all final that pushed it off our agenda.

1. The observation that watching a boat in the lead of a sail boat race is often the least interesting part of the race. It’s the battles, most often in the middle of the pack, that are the most interesting to watch.

2. To ensure fairness, a paramount goal, we needed to shorten the field so much that we had a four boat ‘grand final.’ The thinking was that if we are going to have a winner takes all final, all the finalists must be worthy of a win. While four boats is still fleet racing, having only four boats simplified sailing too much, and made for a boring race.

What we learned from this first test is that even if we were successful and got our NBC race, we would ultimately fail, as the product was too boring to elicit the sort of excitement sports needs to generate fans. This is similar to the current medal race, even executed perfectly it will not result in success for sailing commercially.

After another year of testing and incremental improvements, the 49er class proposed a comprehensive proposal to the wider sailing community through the ISAF meeting process. A three race series, with points added to the weeks totals, would be our TV product. Maybe if we can entertain sports fans on our final day they will learn to love sailing enough to pay attention during the week prior of longer races. There were compromises along the way like increasing our fleet size of eight to ten fall in line with the rest of sailing. We increased the size of the course to 10 minutes and made it 50% wider so teams would have more options and choices while they race. And finally, we decreased the scoring weight of the final day, to appease those who are nervous about change.

The final product is one that does stand up to the boring test. It is visually compelling, intense, a great test of sailing skill, and packaged into a TV and fan friendly complete day. One hiccup is that it is likely that in many of the winners will already be mathematically secured before the final race, but on the bright side, the multi-race format allows for multiple climaxes, where the winner might be decided in race 1 or 2, and then the fight for silver or bronze can become the focus for the remaining race(s).

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - Bronze - Dylan Fletcher & Alain Sign in 49er -  © Ocean Images   Click Here to view large photo

In a world of increasing education and complexity, it’s time for a sport with as much depth as sailing to emerge. There is purity in many of the Olympic sports, but they are also often so one dimensional that they can drift to boring. If we can package our sport to be exciting and ensure a worthy champion, we may not guarantee ending up on NBC in Rio, but on every TV we do appear, those watching will remember our sport and look out for us in the years to follow.

As the concept solidifies it is important to remember this is only beginning. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to film, capture, and communicate the sport well. This is becoming increasingly easy with the speed technology is moving and as prices for video broadcasting decrease. Other sports are taking advantage of the same technology, however, and that is why it’s vital for the final product, the live sailing broadcasts and highlights, be exciting. In the first two world cups of 2014, the 49er class has had live, or almost-live broadcasts of a raw video stream. It is only a small step forward to bring all the concepts together and clean them up so they resemble a broadcast that a sports fan can get into. If we do capture the attention of sports fans in Rio, it does us little good if we can’t follow up in the four years to Tokyo.

At times the 49er class has had significant partnerships at events bringing vast resources to broadcast the racing. We must find a series of events, compelling to a partner, where the investments in infrastructure and marketing can pay off. With current race series fragmented into world cups, ISAF worlds, and class events, it is not simple at the moment to bring a consistent product to our fans, but with smart partnerships and compromises it is possible. The lead up events to Rio will be compelling. It’s the first journey for the 49erFX sailors, and they will grow and improve so much we will all be astounded. On the 49er side, there are the famous pro’s, with their distractions and multiple goals out ahead of the Olympic pro’s. By Rio, they will have only one thing on their minds, and it’s unclear who will be victorious. These are both great stories for sailing fans and sports fans alike, and it’s time we tell them.

49er website


by Ben Remocker


  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=121230

11:36 PM Thu 17 Apr 2014GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

Andrea Francolini was on the water with the US supermaxi, RIO 100 during offshore training session before the Boxing Day Rolex Sydney to Hobart race, and provided this gallery of images. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - A bashing, crashing and punishing first night at sea could well decide the outcome in the race for line honours in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart race. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - The 117 yachts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart will face an early test this year, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasting a sharp 20 to 25 knot southerly change on Boxing Day afternoon not long after the start. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - There’s no doubt the returned soldiers aboard Spirit of Mateship and Southern Excellence II are the kind of blokes you want around if things went horribly wrong – and for that matter, you want them for the good stuff too – because they are top blokes. ... [more]  

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series: This event, which kick starts the Caribbean race season, is proving to be a huge attraction for overseas entries with over 20 already signed and more than 50 boats expected overall. One of the biggest draws is the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race (21 January), a 60 nautical mile ocean race round the island. There are currently 14 established records in this race. ... [more]  

Barcelona World Race: The challenges of racing as a duo, not just seeking to perform at the highest level over a period of 90 to 100 days but actually co-habiting in a small, confined space whilst also experiencing extremes of discomfort – wet, damp, tired, hot, cold, emotional and physical. Here Ken Way gives an insight into how he helps the relationship between the two skippers work. ... [more]  

Comanche’s owner, Jim Clark concedes that a Rolex Sydney Hobart isn’t the ideal first race for such a big, complex machine, but: 'I am married to an Australian, and I’ve seen the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart a number of times. ... [more]  

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Organizers of the St. Thomas International Regatta are proud to announce that Cruzan Rum and Presidente beer, distributed by Glazer’s Premier Distributors, LLC, will provide major sponsorship in support for the 2015 regatta. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Warwick Sherman never really wanted to do the Rolex Sydney Hobart, he’d done plenty of ocean racing, but bashing his way across Bass Strait to get to Tasmania just didn't grab him. Perversely, all that changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. ... [more]  

The second stage of the Soto 40 South American Tour is coming up next and will be held in Algarrobo, Chile from 24 - 31 January. More than eight yachts are expected to take part in the Chille Sailing Week, a competition noted for its level of competition and close racing, where success is characterized by consistency, precision and teamwork. ... [more]  

The Flying Dutchman, regarded as one of the finest and fastest one-design dinghy classes ever designed, will return to Sydney Harbour en masse when the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron conducts the Australian and World championships, starting next week. ... [more]  

The International Moth Class isn't exactly a new sailing class, yet the learning curve would have to be one of the steepest out there. Moths have been on foils for almost 10 years, yet besides talking to fellow moth sailors, there isn't a lot of information out there to help you master the skills and techniques needed to fly ... [more]  

America's Cup: Full CAS report finds both ISAF and de Ridder at fault *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
The Decision of the Court for Arbitration of Sport over the suspension of Dutch sailor Dirk de Ridder has been circulated. The report, which was earlier reported in summary form as to the decision, confirms a 18month suspension on de Ridder, one of the Netherlands' top sailors ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Australia’s premier ocean race has always had an international flavour; Captain Illingworth, who started the whole Sydney Hobart thing was, after all, an Englishman. ... [more]  

An initiative by the SuperYacht Racing Association (SYRA) led to collaboration with the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) and ultimately the creation of a new superyacht handicapping rule - the ORC SuperYacht Rule (ORCsy). ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Ocean sailors are daft; why else would you think it a good idea to take a modern ocean racing yacht around the world on her own bottom to compete in lots and lots of races, some thousands of miles long? ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - The island is off the NSW south coast, 155 nautical miles south of Sydney’s South Head and about 6 nm south-east of Narooma. Its lighthouse, built of granite quarried on the island, began operating in 1881. The island is a protected nature reserve. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Hundreds of Australian sailors spend their lives trying to win the Tattersall’s Cup; year after year they declare in Hobart that this was their last Rolex Sydney Hobart - definitely - for sure. But 12 months later you spot them again at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, tinkering with their pride and joy and nervously eying off Boxing Day ... [more]  

America's Cup: Lawsuit against Oracle Racing lodged in San Francisco *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
In further legal fallout from the 34th America's Cup one of the New Zealand sailors named in an action bought by the International Sailing Federation has in turn lodged a lawsuit in a California Court against his former racing team, Oracle Racing Inc over boat fixing in America's Cup World Series ... [more]  

Antigua Sailing Week 2015 by Antigua Sailing Week
If you haven't been to Antigua Sailing Week for some years Antigua Sailing Week have a quick overview for you of what has changed and what makes it worth the journey along with information on bareboat and race charters, multihulls and challenges for 2015. ... [more]  

RORC Transatlantic Race: The three-man team on Sérénade was the final yacht to complete the inaugural race. Having spent over 18 days at sea, the crew were understandably tired but Denis Villotte, Alain Houchard and Pit Porta were smiling from ear to ear in Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. A large welcoming party had gathered to greet them. ... [more]  

2017 J/80 World Championships: The Royal Southern Yacht Club (RSrnYC) has an active J/80 fleet and attracts many more of the class to its summer series of regattas run annually from May through to September, in addition to match racing J/80s in the annual Grade 2 Match Cup. ... [more]  

Spectacular fire on Sydney Harbour captured on video *Feature by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz
Sydney sailing sports photographer, Beth Morley was on Sydney Harbour, capturing images of the Friday night racing, when a luxury launch caught fire nearby. I was out photographing the Ransa Sailing yacht race this evening when I saw smoke coming from the back of a large cruise boat around the back of Sow and Pigs (reef) area towards Middle Head. ... [more]  

Clipper Round the World: The award is in recognition of the way he directed his crew during a dramatic man overboard rescue in the harsh northern Pacific Ocean last March. The Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship is an internationally renowned trophy awarded annually for an act of seamanship which significantly contributes to the safety of a yacht, or one or more individuals at sea. ... [more]  

OK Dinghy Worlds: Some sailors will even be in transit over the festive period, so thoughts of overindulgence will be a long way from their minds as they focus on the challenge ahead – overcoming the strong Australian team and preparing for the conditions on Port Phillip Bay. However, if the event is true to form - there will be overindulgence in competitive and fun racing. ... [more]  

The Decision of the Court for Arbitration of Sport over the suspension of Dutch sailor Dirk de Ridder has been circulated. The report, which was earlier reported in summary form as to the decision, confirms a 18month suspension on de Ridder, one of the Netherlands' top sailors ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - With the early weather outlook for next week’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race indicating it will be a sometimes torrid all-round test over the 628 nautical miles, the highly experienced crew of race record holder Wild Oats XI is feeling comfortable but not over-confident. ... [more]  

Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club, Huki Outrigger, and Hoven Vision present the 19th Annual Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge to be held in Mission Bay, San Diego, Ca. on January 24th, 2015. ... [more]  

Photographer Andrea Francolini was on the water to provided this gallery of images of Comanche. ... [more]  

Images from Mauritius as the Team Vestas Wind recovery crew prepare to depart for the Cargados Carajos Shoals, over 200nm away. The team have acquired some salvage equipment and will live aboard a chartered boat and attempt to float the boat over the reef and into the lagoon. ... [more]  

The skipper of Mapfre, Iker Martinez will leave the Campos managed Volvo Ocean Race entry for the third Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The team cites a conflict between Martinez's Olympic commitments in the Nacra 17 and the Volvo Ocean Race, as the reason for the departure which the team says was a planned move. ... [more]  

Team Vestas Wind skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) has flown back to a remote Indian Ocean reef to help oversee a complicated operation to retrieve his stranded boat after it was grounded there during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race nearly three weeks ago. ... [more]  

The America's Cup Competitor Forum, comprising the six teams registered for the 2017 America’s Cup, has appointed Iain Murray as Regatta Director. The appointment was tipped a month ago in Sail-World.com. Under the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup, the appointment has to be approved by the majority of the competitors. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Clipper Race to enter 12-strong fleet
Adventures of a Sailor Girl: News and interviews from December 16 show
Pogo 40, Bingo completes RORC Transatlantic Race 2014
Volvo Ocean Race: Chris Nicholson Interview - Part 3 - On the Atoll *Feature
Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race - Safety Requirements published
Int'l 14 World Championships - Defending champion expects tight racing
WWA Wake Park World Series - Daniel Grant and Aaron Gunn make history
US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards
Sailing World Cup Melbourne: Highlights video from Port Philip
Bart’s Bash raises huge total for international sailing charity
Optim'X (FRA) completes RORC Transatlantic Race 2014
Perpetual Loyal unveils 1120 square metre A2 for Rolex Sydney Hobart
ISAF SWC Melbourne – Girls’ Day Out *Feature
Website for the 2015 Finn Gold Cup in Takapuna is launched
Great signed Limited Edition sailing books by Bob Fisher for Christmas
Clipper Race - Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to mentor young South African
IFDS Worlds 2014 New Video Memories - Halifax is just a click away!
McDougall + McConaghy Moth Worlds 2015 - Must see, seriously fun event
Volvo Ocean Race: Chris Nicholson Interview - Part 2 - On the Rocks *Feature
Successful St. Maarten Regatta Beach Clean-Up at Kim Sha Beach
US Sailing releases Rio 2016 Olympic Trials System   
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Oldies return   
Volvo Ocean Race sets up independent inquiry into Vestas Wind disaster   
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Brunel: sweet victory   
RORC Transatlantic Race - Apollo 7 touch down   
2014 OK Dinghy Worlds Preview one - Last but not least   
Melges 24 Christmas Sprint Series - Christmas comes early for Red Mist   
Extreme Sailing Series 2014 Act 8 - Superb podium finish for Realteam   
Volvo Ocean Race: Chris Nicholson on the Team Vestas Wind disaster - 1 *Feature   
USA 4 Windsurfing campaign   
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - One last modification to Wild Oats XI   
Sydney-Hobart: Wacky Races 2 - Frosty, Hoonigan and Wilbo *Feature   
RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 - Big adventure comes to an end   
ISAF World Sailing Rankings – 15 December 2014   
Comanche; Supermaxi Showdown VIDEO   
Miami Star Winter Series - Commodores Cup Final day   
2014/15 Audi Melges 20 Miami Winter Series - Jason Michas wins   
2014 RORC Transatlantic Race - Yacana crosses finish line   
2014 Extreme Sailing Series - Act 8 - Swiss team Alinghi wins   
Extreme Sailing Series: Images from Act 8 + Series' Highlights video   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT