Category Archives: AC45

America’s Cup: No Excuse to Lose (the television audience)

Some sports have stops, like baseball between innings or football during change of possessions. For television coverage, these are the commercial breaks. But other sports, like soccer, don’t have convenient stops, with the broadcast often continuing uninterrupted until the end of regulation.

No Excuse to Lose is the book Dennis Conner still refers to as “the bible.”
A book from the man who
wrote the book on winning.

The holders of the America’s Cup are working in earnest to turn the event into a broadcast product, and while the technology developed to show the game is impressive, they’ve yet to create a commercial format that does not cut away during the race.

During the America’s Cup World Series event in New York on May 7-8, the U.S. television rights holder NBC enraged viewers. Here is Douglass Sisk offering his analysis….

I join the chorus of groans, vitriol, and stinky Topsiders hurled toward NBCSN’s ill-timed commercial breaks in the live coverage of the AC World Series in New York. Curious about the situation, I dusted off some grad school skills and did some additional data parsing with television ratings information.

If you take a close look at the ratings table, filter for the timeslots starting at 12noon to 3PM (EDT), then filter out the programs with fewer than 75,000 viewers (an arbitrary number) you end up with 26 viewing options. Sorting further by total viewership, the AC World Series coverage was bested not only by live coverage of several “major” sports events, but also by some well-traveled reruns. Hmmph!

But sort by the highest percentage of viewers in the coveted 18-49 year old age bracket, and the AC World Series coverage is nicely mid-pack. Okay, but…

Is notable that many of the commercial minutes were used up not by paid advertising but in promotional spots for other programs on the NBC family of networks, leading me to think that the “make-good” for a missed commercial not run in the exciting final minutes of a race wouldn’t have been onerous.

Make what you will from these stats, but imagine the conversations at some local watering holes, where veteran sailors are trying to get some new folks interested in sailing by showing off the very appealing mix of technology and speed… only to be denied the finish of the final, regatta-deciding race… leaving the new (and experienced) to wonder “What the heck just happened?”

The lack of repeat or even acknowledgement by the commentating crew suggests that the production staff have no idea that commercial breaks are imminent. It looked like NBCSN just picked up the feed and slammed the commercials in based on time-of-day, rather than action in the Live Sporting Event they were broadcasting.

I can understand that traditional fleet racing is difficult to watch on television, but – credit where credit is due – the AC organizers have worked hard to create a race format that can be enjoyed by sailors and non-sailors alike. Regardless of anyone’s opinions on the current state of the America’s Cup, this area has been successful.

But to be, quite frankly, hosed by the hometown sports network may indeed result in a long and empty road devoid of viewers. There is simply no excuse.
– source:

Oracle Team USA’s new America’s Cup boat is so fast ‘It doesn’t quite feel like you’re in control’

Oracle Team USA training in Bermuda. At right is skipper Jimmy Spithill, a two-time winner of the America's Cup, both times with Oracle.
Oracle Team USA training in Bermuda. At right is skipper Jimmy Spithill, a two-time winner of the America’s Cup, both times with Oracle. photo: Oracle Team USA

Oracle Team USA, the defender of the 2017 Americas Cup, the most prestigious sailing race in the world, is making big speed gains in their new boat – setting a new team speed record this week while training in Bermuda.

The team broke 46 knots (or 53 MPH) in their new AC50 yacht, meeting the fastest speeds of the larger AC72 boats from the 2013 cup.

“It doesn’t quite feel like your in control,” Scott Ferguson, a lead naval architect for Oracle Team USA who was on board at the time, said.

That’s understandable. Even for some of the best sailors in the world, skimming above the water at those speeds is a frightening experience.

These yachts use foils – winglike surfaces extending below the boat’s twin hulls – to lift the entire craft of the water and escape its drag. The high speeds mean sailors must wear helmets and impact-resistant clothing.

Foiling has completely changed the America’s Cup, a big element of an effort by software magnate and Oracle Team USA financier Larry Ellison to make the sport spectator and television-friendly.

The racing was indeed a spectacle of epic proportion, but with TV ratings of about one million viewers, it was still far from worth the estimated $100 million price required to field a team, Reuters reported.

Oracle Team USA is Fast

To cut costs for the 2017 cup in Bermuda, the boats will be smaller and regulations will restrict development to the wing, foils, rudder, and the hydraulic systems that move many of these appendages around. This means the teams will have fewer areas with which to eek out an advantage before racing begins next year.

“I expect that the competition will be much closer [in 2017],” Ferguson said.

But due to the already high speeds, what little changes they can make go much further.

“We were always trying to make gains of tenths of a knot,” Ferguson said. “Now, a change can find a knot or a couple of knots.”

A designer of racing yachts for around 25 years, Ferguson worked with Luna Rossa, the Italian challenger for the cup from 2000 to 2007. The University of Michigan-trained naval architect then joined “the home team,” as he put it – he’s been at Oracle Team USA ever since.

Ferguson was part of the shore team at the 2013 cup in San Francisco, when Oracle Team USA made an improbable comeback from an 8-1 deficit to win the first-to-nine event. The team arrived at the event with a slower boat, but managed a series of technical and strategic changes that eventually turned the tide.

At the time, Ferguson was responsible for the wing – the massive, rigid structure that substitutes for a sail. Changes made to the wing’s setup played a large part in the team’s come-from-behind victory, former Washington Post contributor Bruce Knecht wrote in “The Comeback,” his chronicle of the 2013 race.

Now, Ferguson in charge of many more elements of the boat, and the challenge is immense. Especially with the competition right next door.

Emirates New Zealand and SoftBank Japan, two challengers for the cup, are also based in Bermuda. The teams regularly spar out on the water, which can be both a good indicator of Oracle’s relative progress and an ever-present source of pressure on the Oracle crew.

But now they have a new team speed record on their hands – another milestone on the long, exhaustive journey to the 2017 regatta.

The team will compete on May 7-8 in the New York harbor as part of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, an international list of races leading up to the 2017 event.


America’s Cup World series – on the Gold Coast in 2017?

Boat Works Extreme40 Tony Longhurst Steve Ackerie Rodney Longhurst | photo:   Jeni Bone
Boat Works Extreme40 Tony Longhurst Steve Ackerie Rodney Longhurst | photo: Jeni Bone

Three renowned Queensland marine business figures are keen to bring an element of the America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton AC 45 series to Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The three guys are Tony Longhurst, former champion motor racer, twice winner of the Bathurst 1000 and Australian champion water-skier, who is CEO at The Boat Works in Coomera’s marine precinct. He and his brother Rodney Longhurst, the owner and CEO at Riviera Australia, the largest motor yacht builder in the southern hemisphere and they have joined forces with Steve Ackerie the founder of the 50 strong Stefan chain of hair salons and six-time Australian Offshore Powerboat Racing Champion in this venture.

America’s Cup World series – on the Gold Coast in 2017?

We talked this week to Tony Longhurst ‘About two weeks ago we launched our Extreme 40 and we were just running it up and down the Broadwater and we were amazed about how much attention to boat got and the local paper down here, the Gold Coast Bulletin, ran a story on the Extreme 40 and the AC45 and way these series are run and the paper suggested we should be trying to bid for the America’s Cup.

‘Now that is rather premature but Stefan and Riviera and a couple of local businesses in the marine precinct are certainly interested in having a crack at hosting at least a Louis Vuitton AC 45 series here and see what local interest there was.

‘First up we have been onto our local council and we have got great support there.

‘We are talking to the Waterways Authority and then we have got to the right people at (Queensland) state level and there is discussion on what funding is there if we can bring it here.

‘Now we are talking to Ian Murray and understanding how the series works and the AC45s are going to New York and then Chicago, Portsmouth, France and then across to Tokyo so it might actually possible to get around here in February 2017 if we can get the needed local financial support.

‘Initially we were thinking of post 2017, but at the moment there is still one round up for grabs so we can work towards that. If we don’t achieve that then we will definitely have a really strong bid to get online for the next cycle.

‘The action needs to close to spectators. In the Broadwater, it depends on what are you are, as to how close we can get to a shore-side crowd. ‘We have got some areas there that are three metres deep at low water. There is a section that the local authorities are now dredging from the Gold Coast seaway down to the Southport Yacht Club and the (Sundial) bridge there so there is a triangular section that could be dredged out very easily to accommodate the boats.

‘We have got an area along the foreshore where the Southport swimming pool is. It is like a parkland so you can set up there.

‘They are actually dredging right now and I understand that in the next three to six months we are going to be four and a half metres at low water, that would have to be confirmed, up the whole channel running in so it won’t be tricky anymore.

‘Then there is a section to the south western corner there that is a metre, metre and a half at low water so there is not a huge amount to be removed to make that area workable for this event.

‘Of course that would actually make it a lot better for our local boaties as well. ‘But it’s very early days. One step at a time. We certainly haven’t got anything solid yet but you have got to start somewhere and we are don’t want to make fools of ourselves otherwise we lose credibility.

‘We are financially sound to put some seed money up to start to make it happen so we are just trying to get all the ducks in line and kick one off at a time. ‘We are making a little bit of progress which I am really thrilled about. I am absolutely amazed at how much interest there is in this. I have been blown away from that.

‘We can see this event could really work here, so now the hard work has to be done.’

by Rob Kothe—on-the-Gold-Coast-in-2017?/143063