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America's Cup on TV
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ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:50 AM

Post #1 of 12 (22874 views)
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From Gregory Scott, Kingston, ONT:
With all due respect to the wonderful minds that are contributing to the idea of bringing America’s Cup racing to the TV masses, I have one simple comment: NASCAR has 30 some odd cars on the track - an F1 race has 24 on the starting line. In my humble opinion, all the tweaking of the rules and courses and integration of technology cannot overcome the two boat factor.

If sailing is ever going to find a mass audience on TV it will be in skiffs with moderate sized fleets. Unless the participants are willing to take AC boats into close quarters and mark roundings, the audience isn't there. And even if they do, there is more action at a dinghy - J Boat - Melges or 40 foot IRC race than there ever will be at an AC mark rounding. TP52's have way more of a chance of finding an audience than the AC on an ongoing basis.

And as a side bar - if they do it in cats or tris again, I simply won't watch. It no longer relates to anyone.


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:51 AM

Post #2 of 12 (22873 views)
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From Alexander Kovell (re, Scuttlebutt 3144):
If I may be so bold as to prostrate myself at Gary Hoyt's feet humbly and contribute my two cents to his article. While those things looked for by Oracle and Gary mention are important, they are also esoteric for the armchair sailor. We want good TV ratings? We need three simple things; a story, some skin and carnage.

Sex sells. For TV coverage, we need to not forget the AC bikini girls. They got em in Nascar, Basketball, Football, every other ad on the market, et cetera. Eye candy other then shiny race machines obviously works . . . Heck, you want female viewership? Pay Taylor Lautner to interview the sailors. You want males, 17-70? Get Angelina Jolie to go on a sunset cruise by Jimmy Spithill. Post the videos on Youtube. Heck, if you video tape Angelina pushing Jimmy of the boat as a joke, you'd have two million views in week.

We need it to be fun, we work all day and come home tired, monotonoy is death to keeping a TV viewers attention. Put some of AC racers in Open Bics in 20 knots (you say, "hey, they're way to big for those." I say, "exactly") and race in an un-regatta them against the kids. Make light of the fact that the kids raced circles around them and show the fail clips. If you want to engage parents, an easy tactic is by appealing to the kids (though if anyone makes a Coutts or Ellison bobblehead I may reconsider this one).


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:52 AM

Post #3 of 12 (22872 views)
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From Tom Donlan: (re, Scuttlebutt 3145):
The AC highlights videos are pretty cool. This indicates once again that the key to having exciting sailboat-race video is to edit it. Most of a sailboat race is boring to watch in any wind speed. The action is when boats meet, at the start, occasionally upwind and downwind, and at mark-roundings.

They shouldn't emphasize live coverage, but instead have a well-equipped studio with lots of experienced video editors merging streams from many cameras, so as to put on a great half-hour show each evening. If they go as close to real time as possible, then they should watch a lot of golf on TV to see how they present a combination of live and tape coverage of something that would be even more boring to watch in real time.


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:53 AM

Post #4 of 12 (22871 views)
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* From Bill Reilly:
Excuse me if I'm being naive, but why is it so important to make the America's Cup more TV friendly? As far as I can see it's all about greed and making money, at the expense of ruining the sailing.

Who cares about making sailing more appealing to non-sailors? Let non-sailors watch auto racing. BOR should be more concerned about making the AC a better regatta for the competitors, NOT the TV viewers. They have their priorities all wrong. It's starting to sound like Alinghi again...


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:53 AM

Post #5 of 12 (22870 views)
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* From Scott Truesdale:
Re racing for spectators (America's Cup for TV): The BEST yacht racing spectating I've experienced has been at the Congressional Cup Match Race in Long Beach, California. The starting line is 100 meters or less off the public pier and the odd shape of the pier allows the starters to use the pier tactically as a obstruction. There are many pre-starts where you can actually reach out and touch the spreaders of the competitors.

You can hear what the tactician is saying to the helmsman. You can talk to the helmsman yourself if you were to be so bold. You can see the entire course from the pier and having three matches occurring simultaneously means there is always something interesting to see. It's addictive, action-packed, and the beer and food is right there. The boats used are low-tech but it absolutely does not matter; the crews and skippers and the venue make the race. Granted "the scene" isn't up to Valencia or Newport or Auckland standards; we'll have to work on that...


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:54 AM

Post #6 of 12 (22869 views)
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* From Dean Dietrich, Tiburon, CA:
Bill Reilly's comment that the AC should be designed for sailors, not a landlubber TV audience is understandable. But Bill, consider this: the AC is the only sailing event in the U.S. that can potentially attract a large non-sailing audience. Who cares?

Well, it is well documented that sailing is attracting fewer and fewer youngsters and that doesn't bode well for the sport. The elitism implied by the comment that "let non-sailors watch auto racing" is singularly unattractive. As for the comment: " it's all about greed and making money, at the expense of ruining the sailing", I agree that Alinghi's conduct was reprehensible though I don't think either Ellison or Bertarelli made money on the last AC. But Ellison seems committed to a level playing field and broadening the appeal of this event. Let's give him a chance to make this happen.


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 11:55 AM

Post #7 of 12 (22868 views)
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From Andrew Troup, New Zealand:
I'd like to offer a small thought experiment, based on the trend line of something which is already ratings driven: commercial TV. By this reasoning, a ratings-driven America's Cup can eventually be expected to combine the nuance of, say, Pro Wrestling or NASCAR with the gritty authenticity of so-called "Reality" TV. The details are more conjectural.

If the viewers start to fidget, maybe special effects will help. Alternatively Hooters waitresses running amok with assault rifles, and/or car chases featuring state troopers from 49 states, could be skillfully intercut to rebuild interest. Or perhaps a helmsman who trails at top mark can be demoted by the viewing audience to sewerman, and preferably reduced to tears, for the next leg.

Commentators will be, like, OMG, "chosen", based on their celebrity recognition factor to 12yo girls. LOL. For they are our future (and more particularly, our future shoppers). Apologies if my take on TV is dated. I sold mine, in disgust, half a decade ago. If, in the meantime, the standards have improved, please disregard my gloomy prediction as to the direction in which the current preoccupation with mass appeal, as measured by "advertiser value", might take us. (PS, a big thank you for the consistently high standard of Scuttlebutt, one of the longest-running "good things" on the www).


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 12:24 PM

Post #8 of 12 (22866 views)
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From: Mario Sampaio:

It is very easy to get things on track re AC. All it takes is a little vision and the will to implement the decisions taken, without compromise.

Before sentencing that without TV, sailing will have no future, it is necessary to work with the existing parameters and make them work…. And that is easy!

Lack of creativity to resolve ‘issues’ is no argument for making pathetic judgements.

As far as the Olympics, sailing should consider dropping out of the Olympics, full stop. Alternatively the new proposed Olympic format can become a small department of sailing, whomever wants to go to the Olympics will have to practice for that specific format, which will NOT be the same as all other sailing events which will continue to be governed by the sailings rules and regulations as is.

Evidence has proven that the Olympics destroy the competition in any class, it will also destroy our sport forever if they go ahead with the latest decisions and ‘solutions’ they have been coming up with, in order to make sailing tv able, and commercially viable. We have to opt: either we continue to sail or we will change our sport beyond recognition. I want to keep our sport as is!

First point: The AC will only survive if the teams adopt their nationalities again. If this condition is not met, the public’s perception will be that the richest wins, as happened in Valencia this year.

Second point: We have not exhausted filming techniques, we have not tried out other ways of filming regattas, from zeppelins above, from ‘inside’ mark roundings, and from on board cameras.

Third point: We have made stupid decisions as to sailing venues, based on commercial and other ‘greedy’ criteria instead of technically sound decisions: there are many many venues in the world where the wind is constant in strength and direction. Why not choose one or more from this long list, where racing can take place on the scheduled time without risks of postponements?

Fourth point:The public really couldn´t care less about technical issues (your sails are not made in your country… but we are using sails invented by citizens from your country…). The public in general doesn´t have time or interest to understand all the complicated issues inside sailing, including the rules and the jargon. The public want to see a fair regatta where the best national team wins. Boats must be one design or box ruled to control costs and to minimize the differences between large and small budgets, this way many more countries will be able to compete for results. We do not want to see New Zealanders in every boat, neither do we want to continue seeing mercenaries change nationality to make more bucks and win the cup for Switzerland or the USA (we want to see Russell race for his country, we know Cayard has Italian blood but is from San Francisco and is an American citizen, etc.

So decisions should be made to guarantee that we will see fair honest honorable regatta sailing again. But if greed continues to prevail, the sailing community will be divided, sailors will want to continue sailing and the greedy ones will keep hiring pros, do the commercial format and make a lot of money, but they will not be sailing, they will rather be acting like circus animals - they look like tigers and act like kittens!


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 9:38 PM

Post #9 of 12 (22858 views)
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From Greg Lovekamp:
As the debate continues over how to cover the America’s Cup, some have suggested no coverage; look what that’s done for interest in and salaries of professional Lacrosse. Formula 1’s style has been suggested for improving the format for AC, but it’s hard to recall the last time Formula 1 was in prime time. It’s probably better racing, but Americans want NASCAR. Why?...the personalities: Americans want to cheer for and against somebody. NASCAR has heroes and villains, and it has viewers.

Decades ago, ABC’s Wide World of Sports prided itself on showing the “human side of sports”. We always learned just enough about each athlete to decide who to cheer on, and who to be disappointed for when he lost. That is what Americans want to see, and we tuned in every week for years.

Remember the Twelve Meters? The boats weren’t great, but they were comparable to one another, so the racing was close. The defender series lasted for months. America’s Cup was a major spectacle. Browse through historical footage on YouTube to see what coverage has lasted: you’ll discover the confrontations (Dennis Connor accusing the first fiberglass boat of cheating), sorrows (DC’s tears after losing the Cup) and victories (Ted Turner drinking himself under the table). Some of the actual sailing is out there, too, but only the close races. Those are only important because the viewers cared WHO won.

The downside of such “human coverage” is that TV invades the privacy further than what some people desire; unfortunately, celebrity brings scrutiny. If you can’t stand it, it’s time to go home and not play in these leagues.

The coverage in New Zealand wasn’t too bad in 2000; the three races edited to fit into an hour worked well. Add a little more human interest, and it would probably be a winner. Live coverage isn’t terribly important for the general public because the results aren’t headlines anyway, but regularity and humanity are critical.


ms
*****

Aug 2, 2010, 9:45 PM

Post #10 of 12 (22857 views)
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From Leslie Valmadre:

John Dennis has stated it simply and clearly in his succinct comment in Scuttlebutt 3147. I also believe that sailing and yachts primarily interest only sailors and all sailors really want to see is fair and competitive sailing in all classes where endeavour in boat and personal preparation and on the water determines the winners. The obscene budgets that are now being spent on the America's Cup boats do nothing to enhance the competitiveness of the boats if all the challengers and defenders spend equivalent amounts.

Many of the new innovations that have come out of the America's Cup campaigns have come from the smaller budgets allocated by owners back when the only billionaire was Uncle Sam. Now to justify the extreme costs of many of the sailing campaigns entered upon by aspiring olympic sailors and AC campaigns we are being forced to look at changing the sport we have known and enjoyed for the dubious pleasure of encouraging the anticipated millions of non sailing TV watchers to see what sailing is all about or more correctly how very wealthy companies sponsor leisure pastimes to promote their products to the world.

If TV never showed another minute of sailing, sailors around the world would still sail, race, build boats and participate in the intellectual and athletic endeavour that is the sport of sailing. The only disadvantage in this scenario would be the currently disinterested TV viewers who, other than encouraging sponsors to part with their money, do nothing to enhance our sport.


ms
*****

Aug 4, 2010, 8:57 AM

Post #11 of 12 (22813 views)
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From Manfred Schreiber, North Germany:

Interesting, today I read in ´butt 3127 about the complex boat choice process for the 34th AM Cup and I also read in the latest edition of http://www.abrushwithsail.com in an interview with Karol Jablonski, runner up with his Team Synergy at the last LV Trophy what at least as sailor from one team said.

ABwS: You appear to greatly enjoy the rapid ‘cut and thrust’ of match racing the big AC boats. Is Match Racing your favourite form of sailboat racing?

KJ: I love to go match racing in the AC boats. In my opinion, at the moment, they are the greatest, most complex and most challenging racing machines.

Makes me think if there aren´t any others out there who have the same opinion. Who had been asked to give their opinion which seems to have lead to racing machines with canting keels or Multis. Why canting keels in Match Racing? This being only one of a few questions running through my mind. The AC boats gave great coverage in all the last events. What had been learned in Auckland should not be dismissed.

Part of the good coverage had been the commentary and I think that Peter Montgomery and the cool studio reporter at One sport started it all with their excellent guests (Peter Lester, etc) and commentating with fundamental knowledge. Maybe the people involved at present haven´t seen this due to other commitments, like being on the AC boats themselves.


Simon Grosser
*

Aug 4, 2010, 8:50 PM

Post #12 of 12 (22809 views)
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Don't change the event/sport just to make it more entertaining for TV, change the way it's broadcast !

One of the highest rating sports on TV is Golf.
Can you imagine how boring a golf broadcast would be if the cameras just followed one group of players around 18 holes, 4 days in a row ?

For sailors, the interest level is high enough already, and significantly changing the way we race will only cheapen the sport, especially in an event like the Americas Cup.

In the elimination stages, races should be run simultaneously, with stagered starts, possibly even on the same course so there are regular "interactions" between boats, even if they are in a different race (well, maybe)

But from a broadcast point of view, the action can jump between matches, just like golf, highlighting the gripping bits and leaving the "boring" bits to those on board or the purists amongst the spectators

If TV can make golf interesting for spectators then it can do the same for sailing

The Americas Cup is the Americas Cup. There is nothing else like it
It's MEANT to be special. It's MEANT to be difficult. And it was NEVER meant to be a mass appeal event.
At present,there seems to be too much focus on ensuring a small group of professionals can make a good living out of it, rather than preserving what's good about our sport, and finding better ways to present it to the general public.

It's NOT about the boat. It's about communication


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