We can talk all we want about raw shots, OBRs, and which sailor is the most interesting on camera, but this hour and a half broadcast is quite likely the best piece of live offshore racing coverage ever produced. Not only does it feature 89 minutes of some of the sexiest, live, big breeze offshore racing you’ve ever seen, but the director, spotters, camera op, and helicopter pilot went from one cool situation to another, giving presenters Conrad Colman and Niall Myant a few minutes to analyze and explain while the helo moved to the next boat up the track.
The live shoot (which happened as the fleet headed out the Gibraltar Straits toward Lisbon) managed to catch gybing sequences, a 3 boatlength cross between Caffari and Witt, and a great perspective to compare AkzoNobel and Mapfre’s gybes. Most exciting of all was a sequence where Charlie and Mark’s leading Vestas 11th Hour Racing, schooning along at 25 knots under full pirate rig (reef + J3 + Fr0), overhauled, passed and crossed a Panamax cargo ship under full steam.
This is the first time we’ve really seen the 2017 VOR’s ‘digital first’ strategy pay, because this kind of live footage will never be able to coexist with broadcast television’s requirements for ironbound schedules and time limits. But it’s this kind of coverage – big breeze aerials with great commentary and analysis for both the saltiest seaman and the lubberiest lubber – that could provide the first real mainstream breakout for live offshore sailing in the wider world.
If they can just insert audio off the racing boats and maybe get the tiniest bit of female or other international diversity into the commentary team, and reproduce and promote this format in places like Cape Horn, they really do have an innovation that should win awards – and more importantly, win a shitload of fans.
Best in 1080p on your flat screen…
On another note, like many of you we missed this webcast when it happened live on Facebook, in part because the VOR folks don’t seem to have figured out how to streamline the content available to the average casual viewer. Fortunately, one anarchist has responded with his own log of every piece of race multimedia coming through the web, and while we have no idea how long “JBC” can keep updating this awesome multi-tab Google doc, we’ll take it while it lasts.