While the world’s economy collapsed, taking a great deal of Grand Prix yacht racing with it, a funny thing happened: An pricy little rocket prospered.
We’re talking of course about the Melges 32, which has again drawn a 20+ strong fleet for their Gold Cup this weekend, the first of a four-part winter series that starts here in the trade winds and topaz waters of Ft. Lauderdale and ends with the class’s first-ever trip to Charleston Race Week. And On-The-Water Anarchy will, once again, be on hand to bring the entire regatta to your computer screens.
While our live, streaming video coverage of every minute of the Melges 24 Worlds was a first in the sport, we took a lot of crap for excessively long periods of boredom between mark roundings. And the criticism was spot-on. Streaming video simply doesn’t work for big fleet racing on open courses – the distances are too great and, unless you get permission to run up and down the middle of the course amongst the racers, a 90 minute race only has about 10 minutes of interesting video action. And even a dozen interviews each morning can’t fill up the dead spots.
So we proved we could overcome the technological difficulties only to find out that we couldn’t overcome the lack of content. But we’re quick learners, and for Gold Cup we’re back to a formula that worked so well for our M32 Worlds coverage in Porto Cervo this summer: Short videos of every start, mark rounding, and finish posted to YouTube with just a few minutes delay. Real time text commentary in the OTW Anarchy forum. Dozens of interviews with the most interesting people at the event – and there are some great characters at this one. Our live "Cocktail Hour" talk show, with the top names in sailing in attendance. And great photos and slideshows from the lovely Meredith Block.
But Wait, There’s More…
Many of you also pointed out that real-time tracking info would make your spectating a lot more meaningful. It’s something that we’ve been working on since we brought the first real-time tracking to you from a buoy race back at the Canada’s Cup, but the technology simply hasn’t been available for mass market use. But that’s changed now, with the guys at well-known race replayer Kattack bringing their real-time solution to market just a few weeks ago. We’ll be featuring the embedded Kattack live player on our OTW Anarchy live screen, along with links to the daily forum threads and everything else you need to know about the event. This will definitely be a first.
We also have responded to another criticism – that of our sometimes bawdy nature and occasional overexhuberance from one or more exhibitionist female crew members. While we know that many of you love when we get all "Girls Gone Wild" during OTWA, we’re toning it down for this one in appreciation of host Lauderdale Yacht Club’s awesome "Take a Junior Sailing Day." For the third straight year, part of the NOR requires each competitor to host a junior sailor aboard for all of Saturday’s racing. It’s a great way to get kids the ride of a lifetime, and we want those kids to be able to check out all the event’s action without being showered with F-Bombs or jiggling bits. And with our new attitude, we’ve even lured Melges Performance Sailboats President Andy Burdick and Melges Europe President Federico Michetti to the OTW coverage boat as guest commentators for two of the three days of action. Pigs are flying somewhere.
A Cast Of Characters
Most of you OTWA fans know dozens of the players that will be racing at Gold Cup. Many are sailing’s new breed of rock star, and you’ve met them in much more accessible places than the America’s Cup, the VOR, or the Medcup. They are one-design, ultra-high-performance specialists, and their names include young studs like Bora Gulari, Steve Hunt, Matt Noble, Bear Peet, Jonny Goldsberry, and Jeremy Wilmot as well as not-so-young studs like Dave Ullman, Jud Smith, Wally Cross, and Terry Hutchinson. They’ve all made their appearances on OTWA in the past, and we’re stoked to get to follow and party with them down in Lauderdale. If you have any questions for any of these guys (see crew lists here) – and dozens of other top racers – pass them along. There’s new blood too, with movement into the class from the dump-truck Swan 42s with Celeritas and Arethusa, and additional defection from the Farr 40 class with Ramrod and Heartbreaker. Will there be any US one-design big-boat class left in another year?
We’re immensely grateful to another stellar lineup of sponsors for our coverage of Gold Cup, who will be offering big discounts and great prizes for those that tune in to OTWA. Please check them out.
A huge welcome to the lovely and talented Sharon Green, whose Ultimate Sailing joins On-The-Water Anarchy to show off their great line of calendars, awesome eco-friendly recycled shopping bags covered with great sailing shots, and a complete lineup of gift ideas for the racer in your life. We alsp want to welcome back previous sponsors Kattack, the always-reliable Latis Yachting Solutions, and the excellent Charleston Race Week, which will host the 32s as one of 2010 points events for the first time. And of course our biggest supporter is Point Loma Outfitting, who makes sure we look at least as good on the water as the top Italian teams – no mean feat.
We’ll be giving away three pairs of shiney new Kaenon sunglasses, some Ultimate Sailing calendars, and more – so check out the Gold Cup Preview on Thursday’s front page for more info and the links to all the action. Here’s a thread in the mean time, you can check out last year’s Gold Cup coverage here, and the 32 Worlds coverage here. Gold Times!