Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil

Added to the usual frantic activity before a Sydney-Hobart race comes some major work with a major deadline for two Maxi teams.

We already knew of Wharro’s dramatic last-minute shipping and rebuilding of a spare mast for Wild Thing/Etihad Stadium, which amazingly seems to be going on schedule to see them make the start, if just barely. ”There were plenty of people who have been saying it couldn’t be done, but I am delighted to say that – yes, it can be done, and more the point –we’ve done it !! “ Grant said this morning. With the chainplates modified and the rig scheduled for stepping in just a few hours, have they done the impossible? And more importantly, with stiff breeze forecast, will the rig stay in the boat?

Line honors favorite Wild Oats XI also ran into a problem – or rather, a fish trap, damaging their keel and requiring more last-minute repairs. The Sydney Hobart site said that "While the damage was not structural it was considered to be serious enough to cause speed-sapping turbulence." WOXI should be back in the water today to prepare for perhaps the most important Maxi start in history.

Multiple Choice

We love when the Hobart comes around – whether you’re in Northern Europe, Northern Michigan, or Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the race offers great online spectating to fans of big boat racing everywhere. The CYCA stays at the cutting edge of content delivery, though this year the neatest feature doesn’t come from them at all.

Instead, this year’s potential game changer in the media department is the old Volvo 60 Merit, which won her division and the PHS overall title during last year’s S2H. She’s carrying new technology from Streaming Video Systems that promises live, streaming video from multiple cameras on the boat for the entire race. Knowing how tough it is to do this stuff, we’re not holding our breath, but even a few hours of continuous live video from a distance race will be a world-first, and we wish them luck. You can watch the Merit feed here starting a couple of hours before the race.

The hot mini-maxi Ran is Twittering and blogging for the race, while the maxi YuuZoo has a full lineup of Youtube, Twitter, Facebook…Web 2.0, meet Tasmania. And finally, the CYCA are on twitter as well.

The start itself will be livecast by Yahoo!7, and with excellent coverage, the 90-minute broadcast will be worth watching. If you’ve never seen thousands of spectator boats chasing a hundred raceboats across the always-crowded harbor, it’s a mix of Grand Prix action and total anarchy, and you’ll love it.

The race’s tracker has led the industry for years, and this one’s no exception. You can integrate it with Google Earth or watch the stand alone player, and it’s easy to understand and offers lots of good info as well as a running handicap tally. Check it out here.

And finally, why not spice up your spectating a bit by throwing down some money on your favorite boat? Yep, the internet has allowed race fans from anywhere in the world to bet on the Hobart, with multiple-pick bets, first-to-finish, first in the 50-footer class, and more combinations at the various Aussie sports books.

Place your bet, and stay on top of things in the marathon thread.