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Posts Tagged ‘alicante’

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Things are still pretty chaotic at Volvo Ocean Race HQ but the content is certainly flowing in from a fleet that’s all still within sight of each other hundreds of miles down the track. The Leg 1 Start coverage may not have been inspiring but at least it wasn’t embarrassing, and you should watch it here if you haven’t.  And for those looking to really embark on the VOR adventure, click the player above to check out the first episode of Life At The Extreme – the weekly series Volvo is banking on to attract millions of new fans to the race.  We’re not at all sure it’s the right path to follow (especially if the series relies on the British version of Twiki for the voiceover), but it’s a creditable half hour of documentary TV introducing the key players on many of the teams.   Producers continue to struggle to get these pro sailors to show even the remotest enthusiasm or humor when they’re on camera, but that’s a universal problem that time and good interviewers can hopefully solve.

It’s no easy task for a fan stay on top of the disorganized stream of info coming from the fleet, and the most complete index for all of it might just be the Leg 1 thread in Ocean Racing Anarchy. The forum-adverse can hit the VOR Watch Log here and the ‘new article’ link here for an easy content dump, and we encourage everyone to check out past SCOTW’s daily show The Inside Track on this playlist.  For the best place to see the raw boatfeeds, subscribe to Pierre’s Vimeo page.

There’s already been some good carnage; Brunel had to cook up a repair for a snapped spinnaker sheet outrigger, Tony Rey crushed some ribs, and there’s a few more human and non-human breakages, though our favorite story so far comes with a side of sashimi.  From Brunel:

Jens Dolmer is looking restlessly around. The boat is not sailing to his liking. His eyes dart nervously back and forth. Suddenly the Dane pulls a large a serrated knife from his pocket and runs to the aft deck. Behind the boat is a fishing line with a giant tuna at the end, fighting for his life. In the distance a Moroccan fisherman in a tiny rowboat balled his fist! With a quick movement Dolmer cuts through the thick fishing line.

Helmsman and gastronome Laurent Pagès cannot believe his eyes. “Two days,” he calls somewhat disappointed. “For two days we could had eaten delicious tuna.” He shakes his head. However Dolmer looks happy. He does not like fish and the boat runs harder.

Oh yeah – the VOR’s tracker has been universally panned, losing a great deal of functionality from the past two editions while getting a cartoon look.  There’s an alternative over here until they get their shit together, and if you don’t mind using more CPU than a copy of Planetside 2, hit up the Virtual Eye tracker.

 

October 15th, 2014 by admin

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First one-design race around the world? Yeah, we’d say it’s pretty momentous.  Enjoy the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, and good luck to the teams!  For a little pre-start weather forecast for Leg 1, check in with our old friend Genny. And track the fleet here – they are really mixed up!

 

October 11th, 2014 by admin

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Charlie Enright’s Alvimedica Team may be the youngest in the Volvo Ocean Race but they didn’t look it on Saturday; the Turkish-flagged, American-helmed crew looked smart and conservative, letting the other boats mostly take themselves out of racing with a litany of boathandling flubs.  Bad gybes, worse furls, screwy roundings, ugly laylines – most of the teams had one or more of these issues – but not Charlie.  So the boys in orange get the morale boosting In-Port Race victory over Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi team with the Spanish

The coverage itself was a bit embarrassing even for the first go-round, with the sole production bright light being brilliant talker and ex-Olympic Star guy Mark Covell on the microphone.   Unfortunately, the hysterically screaming play-by-play Englishman beside him snuffed that light out most of the time with brilliant observations like “they are really close together!!!” and “this is the team’s third Vendee Race together!!!”  The actual pictures weren’t much better – two helicopters, zero on-board footage, and what looked like iPhone footage from the water making up nearly all the images on the Youtube and broadcast feed.  Even the Virtual Eye (or more likely, a knockoff based on the poor quality and completely inaccurate speeds) was useless.

We get that the VOR needed to cut costs, and we get that the In-Port now counts for almost nothing, and we get that the In-Ports are now pretty much internet only – and we applaud all these decisions.  But we don’t get how the sponsors can look at this level of coverage and not be embarrassed to be involved.  No coverage of any part of the world’s premier ocean race - the Formula 1 of the ocean – should be outspent and outperformed by live coverage of the World Match Race Tour, the Great Cup, or even the 5o5 Worlds.  But this In Port coverage was.

Organizers deserve a little leeway because it’s their first attempt for this one but it ain’t like the VOR staffers haven’t been down this road before, so they don’t get much.  Step it up, guys and girls, or give up on your claims of being the Big Show.

 

October 5th, 2014 by admin

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If Sam Greenfield’s latest Volvo Ocean Race video doesn’t get you stoked for the race, nothing will.  Along with Amory Ross finding really finding his writing voice during last week’s Team Alvimedica Transat, Americans should be proud of having two of the best young storytellers in the sport playing key roles in the biggest ocean racing event we’ve got.  They’re also helping US fans get stoked about their team on the world stage, and we’re digging it.

Alvimedica’s updates are most easily followed via Twitter, and browse the VOR’s channel for some of their latest work here.

 

June 10th, 2014 by admin

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With just six months left to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, CEO Knut Frostad is now facing his biggest challenge, because earlier today, Grant Dalton announced that the ETNZ mob will definitely not be competing in the 2014-15 edition of the race.  This sets up a massive problem for Frostad and those, like us, who believed the move to One-Design was a prudent one, and those, like us, who believed a strictly manufactured boat could possible bring costs down enough to see a fully subscribed field of 8 teams.

It looks like both Knut and SA were wrong on this one, and we’re not sure why:  Were the cost savings on the VOD65 simply not big enough over a VO70?  Is the corporate world simply not interested in this kind of yacht race?  Did the VOR staff simply not bring enough sponsor development and negotiating skills to the table?  We just don’t know.

What we do know is this:  If Pedro Campos and his Spanish VOR team didn’t have leverage before in their bargaining for the best price on a Volvo 65, they sure do have some now!  Expect an announcement from them next week, and expect 6 boats on the line in Alicante.

 

May 2nd, 2014 by admin

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When it comes to reporting on sailing in the Med, no one is better than Pierre Orphanidis.  The quick-witted, multilingual founder of Valencia Sailing (now called Vsail.info) is one of precious few sailing scribes unafraid of telling it like it is, even if that means fewer press junkets or PR writing gigs on his calendar.  For us, this makes Vsail required reading, and a few days ago, he took aim at the Volvo Ocean Race organization after a somewhat awkward “Stakeholder Meeting” held in Alicante.  Below you’ll find Pierre’s piece, and here’s the place to talk about it.

Three days ago, on April 1st, we had the opportunity to assist in the opening session of the conference the Volvo Ocean Race and all its stakeholders are holding in Alicante. It is a a four-day meeting, until Friday, where nearly 200 people from the organization, teams, sponsors and stopover cities, gather to discuss all aspects of the round-the-world race. It is meant to provide a platform for debate and exchange among all participants and a mean for the organization to convey its ideas and philosophy on the race.

Unlike the previous editions, media were allowed to participate in the first hour of the conference and listen to a nearly one-hour long speech by Knut Frostad. Although we didn’t learn anything extraordinary, it is always interesting to listen to the CEO of what is considered to be on of the top three events of the sport, together with the America’s Cup and the Olympics. Whatever Frostad and his team decide to implement, certainly has an impact on the sport overall. Their success or failure will, undoubtedly, have a positive or negative result.

Seven entries confirmed – Sixth team with “Spanish flavor” to be announced soon

Frostad opened his speech by being adamant on the fact that seven boats will be on the starting line next October in Alicante and admitted it would be too late now for an eighth entry as their boat would be ready. Although he didn’t reveal the identity of the two remaining teams to be presented, he hinted that the sixth entry would have a “Spanish flavor”. No information whatsoever was given in regards to the seventh entry.

Storytelling

As one can observe from the conference agenda, and as it was repeated countless of times by Frostad in his opening speech, the fundamental axis of the race’s communication policy and philosophy in this edition is storytelling. Stories will be the cornerstone around which the race will evolve. As Frostad pointed out, gone are the days of frequent race updates and press releases where navigators would go on and on, saying “today we lost 10 miles” or “today we gained 15 miles”. This will be the “human” edition of the race. With all boats being strictly equal, technology now becomes nearly irrelevant and sailors, the “human factor”, will take center stage. Frostad boasted he had the best storytellers in business that would produce very attractive and interesting content. The most important issue for him is to engage the audience with stories that go well beyond the conventional sailing jargon and try to win sailing and non-sailing fans alike.

All that sounds wonderful if it weren’t for the fact it isn’t the first time Frostad made those claims. In fact, the “human stories” are always mentioned in his speeches at the World Yacht Racing Forum. In addition, even if we are six months away from the start, the stories by the onboard reporters have been dismal so far, especially at Team Brunel. Here is an example. The Dutch team, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, achieved a remarkable feat on their delivery from Southampton to Lanzarote, just a week after receiving their brand new boat from Green Marine.

They sailed 540 miles in 24 hours, that is 56 miles, or less than 10%, short of the 596.6nm world record established by the Volvo Open 70 Ericsson 4 in 2008. This is an astonishing figure for a crew going through a selection process on a brand new boat that no sailor has ever sailed before. Wasn’t that story important enough for Feike Essink, the team’s onboard reporter, to write about? Where are the videos or photos taken during that achievement? Where are the videos of the helmsman commenting while the Brunel VO65 is being slammed by winds of 45 knots? What about photos and videos from inside the boat when sailors come back from their watch, wet and exhausted? Or the rookies talking about their maiden experience in what is supposed to be the premier round-the-world race? Aren’t these “engaging stories”?

Instead the “stories” and photos on the Team Brunel website are about what groceries they went buying in Lanzarote, what paella they ate or the arrival of a new recruit at the Lanzarote airport! In an increasingly image-driven world of communication, the only video there is, doesn’t last more than 25 seconds… We wish them good luck if they think this kind of content will engage non-sailors.

Urban connectives

If you scratch your head, trying to figure out who the urban connectives are, don’t worry. As Frostad confessed himself, he didn’t have the slightest clue until recently. However, urban connectives will now become one of the primary targets of the Volvo Ocean Race communication strategy. Apparently, the are people that might have nothing to do with the race or even sailing but they are considered to be very influential and followed by hundreds of thousands of people. According to Frostad, they are mostly critical but when they endorse a view or opinion, their followers will do as well. As a result, if urban connectors get hooked on the Volvo Ocean Race, millions of people around the world will follow suit.

That might very well be a brilliant strategy but it certainly will not be easy and to our humble opinion it won’t be done thanks to the stories being told so far. Maybe it still is too early to make a judgement but it reminds us of the same strategy the 34th America’s Cup was envisioning in 2011 when it was even prohibited using the terms port, starboard or knots but instead the mainstream left, right or km/h. A year later, and after millions of dollars spent, they realized that no matter how much they wanted to deny it, sailing had its own terms and switched back to them. It is a slippery path to follow when one thinks that by alienating your core audience you hope you will attract non-fans. At least, Frostad stressed more than once that he and his organization love sailing and that the Volvo Ocean Race will remain first and foremost a sailing event.

Again, the “human factor” is an excellent idea and the all-women team could be a fantastic tool but still there is hardly anything from there.

“Crop for diversity” and Instagram filters

This is the point that puzzled us. Given the date, April 1st, we thought Frostad was joking as we couldn’t believe the CEO of a major, global sporting event would spend more than 1 second on such a frivolous issue. However, Frostad dwelled on that and even mentioned it as a key communication policy!! What is “Crop for diversity”? It is the, apparently, magic solution that allows us to make ten photos out of one. According to Frostad, the Volvo Ocean Race will attend the needs of its different audiences with the same photo by cropping it in different ways. As one can observe from the photo here below, the photo of Camper’s helmsman in the previous edition of the race has been multiplied by seven.

How anyone can really think this is something to be proud of and present it in a conference that gathers the event’s stakeholder is beyond our understanding. Not to be outdone, Frostad went on, stating that another innovative communication and marketing strategy will now be the application of Instagram-like filters on the photos. While so far, it was unthinkable to retouch a photographer’s work, apparently the application of filters will engage more audience. Depending on what your target is, you apply the corresponding filter and you have an impacting photo. Again, we are bewildered by such statements. If it were so easy to attract fans and non-fans any other sport can also do it, rendering void any advantage it might have… We can’t even believe those slides made it to Frostad’s presentation.

Despite our criticism, we sincerely hope the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as any sailing event, becomes much more popular. Everybody, including ourselves, will benefit from such a success. Let’s hope Knut Frostad didn’t over-promise and then under-deliver a year from now…

 

April 7th, 2014 by admin

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