BENEFITS: How this America’s Cup will help the sport

Published on March 28th, 2013

Nobody knows what the America’s Cup will look like after the 34th edition, but it is clear this Match hardly stan1resembles the other 33 versions, or anything else in the sport. So when the smoke has cleared and the winner is determined, what impact will this America’s Cup have on sailing?

Stan Honey (USA), a two-time Emmy Winner for Technical Innovations in Sports TV Broadcast, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for 2010, and Director of Technology for the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), provides his list of benefits…

The trickle-down from this America’s Cup will be significant but in different ways than previous Cups. Some examples include:

* This America’s Cup has introduced 2cm tracking that allows automatic OCS, overlap, and zone entry determination for umpiring. Some thought that this would be too expensive for practical use but a major GPS manufacturer has offered hundreds of 2cm RTK GPS receiver boards for free to the sport of sailing enabling this technology to be affordable for major championships. The trackers could be the size and weight of a paperback book and so be practical for all boats including dinghies.

* LiveLine graphics on TV make sailing easier to understand for sports fans who are not sailing fans yet. The trickle down after the America’s Cup could be that some of these new fans are interested enough to learn to sail.

* While the teams are now quite proprietary, there is now vastly more data available than ever before about the performance of the boats. In previous Cups, all the data was secret, and remains secret even today. This America’s Cup all 2cm, 5Hz, 0.1 degree heading/pitch/roll data is publically available in real time and in archive files. A number of free mobile apps have been developed to use this data. Similarly all of the umpiring review data is publically posted allowing folks who are interested in the rules to see exactly what the umpires saw.

* The America’s Cup worked out an arrangement with the FCC to allow commentary to be transmitted over a marine VHF channel. This is great for spectators and also improves the PRO’s ability to communicate to a large percentage of the spectator fleet if necessary for a course change. This approach is being adopted by other events such as the Congressional Cup.

* The America’s Cup pioneered an approach working with Vesper Inc, the FCC, and the USCG allowing AIS special marks to be transmitted showing the location of the course area. The USCG is considering using this approach to communicate changing area notices for security areas around warships or oil spills.

* Garmin has supported America’s Cup Race Management with special versions of chartplotters that allow Principal Race Officer John Craig and his staff to communicate the current location and desired location for mark boats. Garmin is developing a version that will be practical for use by all events from local yacht club run events up to major events.

* The America’s Cup has, with ISAF’s agreement, developed a special version of the Racing Rules of Sailing omitting rules 13 (tacking) and 17 (restriction on luffing), among other changes. These changes have triggered discussions in the rules community about similar simplifications.

* The America’s Cup has adopted a high level of safety training for the sailing teams, including medical training and procedures to address entrapment problems. This focus on training may trickle down to major events that similarly use high-performance boats.

34th America’s Cup -Schedule
Louis Vuitton Cup – Challenger Series: July 7-August 31 (if needed)
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup: September 1-4
34th Match: September 7-23 (if needed)

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