America’s Cup Updates As It Trawls for Viewers

Originally published in the NY Times by June 27, 2012

Two years ago the officials who run the America’s Cup made an important decision: they were going to change professional sailing into a sport that was actually fun to watch.

Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times

A new catamaran being used in America’s Cup World Series in Naples, Italy, in April. New data and graphics will provide television viewers a better sense of the race’s progression during the America’s Cup. Stan Honey, center, has led the innovations in technology for telecasts of America’s Cup races.

This was a big shift for a sport that has traditionally been indifferent to the idea of an audience. But new revenue was needed to help sailing teams struggling to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to build and sail the boats for the Cup, so the organization decided to chase the broadcast television deals and sponsorships that are the lifeblood of many other sports.

The basic strategy was to add increasing speed and danger to sailing, by using winged catamarans, boats that move much faster, but also capsize easily, and holding races close to shore, where wind patterns are less predictable.

The America’s Cup will get its first chance to test its product with a United States audience this weekend, when a part of the World Series race in Newport, R.I., will be broadcast on NBC. This is the first time a professional sailing race will be shown live on a major American network in 20 years.

Assuming that faster, more dangerous races can generate interest, there is still one major challenge: even sailors acknowledge that their sport can be almost incomprehensible to the naked eye.

Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times

The task of changing this belongs to Stan Honey, whom the America’s Cup hired as its director of technology last spring. Honey has made a career out of creating augmented reality for sports broadcasts. He is best known for the glowing first-down line in football telecasts, and he has also developed glowing hockey pucks for N.H.L. games, the illuminated strike zone for baseball and various graphics for Nascar races.

Read More

John Dillow- An interview

Written by Ashley Sozzi

There just is something about sailing.  Many of us have experienced it.  Someone asks you what it is that draws you back time and time again to the water, and it’s that something you can never seem to grasp in it’s entirety. It’s the pull to step on a sailboat for the first time and have the power to glide across the ocean’s surface.  It’s that same pull that grows into the desire to become a skipper, and master the skills needed to be free as a fish (only much dryer).  It’s the adventure, the challenge, the company of loved ones, and the confidence to know you can handle it when your engine sputters out and you have to sail into your slip in the crowded Berkeley Marina.  Everyone starts his or her journey of falling in love with sailing somewhere, and for John Dillow it was a small amount of time before his 32 years at OCSC began.  So, my friends and fellow sailors, please meet the beloved John Dillow, sailor, math teacher, father, husband, and OCSC instructor since May of 1980.

When and how did you discover your love for sailing?
My wife introduced me to sailing on Lake Tahoe in 1972 in a 13 ft dinghy. After braving huge seas (probably 8 inches) and gale force winds (probably 10 kts), we finally made it back to shore in spite of a rudder that kept falling off. That was pretty exciting, so the next weekend we bought a Hobie 16 and wetsuits. I started reading every book I could find about sailing – learn-to-sail, cruising, and racing. I became enthusiastic about sailing (my wife deemed it obsessed).

What lead you to doing all the blue water sailing you have done?
I love sailing the Bay, but reading about great ocean passages made the Golden Gate seems like a mystical portal to a wondrous world of adventure.

Can you detail for us one of your favorite sailing memories?
I file away favorite memories for each sail I take, so it’s difficult to pick out just one. They keep popping up. Here’s one more *favorite memory*. Being surrounded by 5 whales on the trip to Hawaii in 2010. We were about 400 miles off the California coast. They paced us for about an hour, swimming under and around the boat, and actually turning on their sides to make eye contact. Just before they left, one of the whales slid up along the side the boat (38 foot whale – 40 foot boat = slightly intimidating), blew and covered us all with whale slime. See picture below

Read More

“Rockin” in the free Bay

As printed in: Latitude 38 – Sightings
June, 2009

In San Francisco Bay, there are rocks and then there are Rocks.
Alcatraz has long been known as The Rock, even though it’s an island.
Likewise, racers often refer to the Farallon Islands as the Rock Pile, or Southeast Farallon as the Rock. We’ve also heard Red Rock called ‘the Rock’ even though – again – it’s really an island.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can address the interesting query from a reader about where the ‘hazard to navigation’ rocks are in San Francisco Bay, and which ones sailors should be particularly concerned about. Oddly, this is the first time we’ve ever gotten this question and it took a bit of head scratching to come up with a list, since not all of the ‘hittable’ rocks are noted on charts, and not all notable rocks are hittable. Anyway, here’s what we came up with.

The Berkeley Reef – While the entire area from Cesar Chavez Park to Brooks Island is hazardous and off-limits there is a particularly nasty rock located Northwest of the Berkeley Marina, about a third of the way to Brooks Island. Normally just below the surface, it’s exposed only during extreme minus tides. The rock itself sits just East of the green piling marker (FL G 2.5s 13ft 3M “1”). At night, this light can be quite dim and is very easy to miss among all the background city lights. Warning: a strong westerly combined with current and tide can put you into the reef right out of the marina!

The Berkeley Pier – It presently extends 2.5 miles with a very dim and nearly indistinguishable red marker that blends into the cityscape at night. Currently, only the first 3000ft of the pier are maintained.
Beyond that is a 50ft gap for the passage of small boats then broken pilings between the ruins and beneath the surface that could impale your boat.

Read More