the sound of one hand clapping
We have to admit it: As silly as this spectacle is, we watched every minute of ETNZ hammering around the course at speeds over 40 knots in the second no-compete Louis Vuitton race. They nailed foiling gybe after foiling gybe in picture-perfect conditions, and it all looked quite pretty. It even got interesting for a few minutes, here and there, thanks to some good commentary from Andy Green and guest Murray Jones – interesting almost in spite of everything ACEA has done to hamstring the TV production. You might remember professional announcers, multiple audio channels, onboard video and audio earlier in the cycle – all those things that keep yacht racing – even at 40 knots – interesting enough to watch for an hour.
The organizers may have given up on all that; rather than doing a spectacular job and trying to repair the harm Ruddergate has done to the event, they continue down the road they began when the production team and coverage plan were slashed to pieces more than a year ago. The best coverage of AC racing hasn’t even come from the AC, but from World Series events like Plymouth. Coverage now – in the opening round of the Louis Vuitton Cup – is a shadow of what ACTV teams produced in Plymouth over a year ago. Have they given up entirely?
Or is this just the “B” team – are commentators and camera crews are the economy version, and we’re seeing just a fraction of the audio and onboard we’ll see in a few weeks? It’s hard to say just yet (thanks to the usual non-transparent ACTV plans), but we hope they’re just saving money for the moment; otherwise how would anyone explain the presence of silly Annapolis videographer Tugger Thompson announcing in a TV booth? At least he seems to have reined in the fake baritone voice he’s used in his videos for a decade.
But never mind the announcing package: What we really don’t understand though is this: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ONBOARD VIDEO AND AUDIO? You know – that shit that keeps sailboat racing at least partially interesting when it turns into a horizon job, or, ya know – when there is just one competitor to watch? We seem to remember an entire audio/video package worth a small fortune that each team’s required to carry during racing. We certainly remember panning onboards and dramatic team audio from the entire ACWS – it was what made an innovative, quality production into something we couldn’t take our eyes from. And we’d like it back, please.
With just a hair over 50,000 views of the first non-race and sparse TV pickups around the world, even the B-team coverage still has to be some of the most expensive per-viewer sports coverage in history. We know it is going to get better (right??), but it seems unnecessary to start at the very bottom.
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July 10th, 2013