Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Good is VS America's Cup Coverage?

Commenters on yesterday's post raised some questions about the quality of the Louis Vuitton/ America's Cup coverage on the VS cable channel. I cannot comment on their previous coverage of the infamous Acts (mainly recorded highlights I believe) but based on my vast experience watching a couple of hours live coverage of the first semi-finals yesterday here are my impressions...

To answer one specific question, yes there were quite a lot of computer generated birds-eye views of the racecourse as well as the live video feed. This was especially useful for seeing the true distance to windward between the boats when separated somewhat on the racecourse, and how the different shifts on each side of the course affected the relative positions of the boats. They also had some computer generated underwater views that left me totally cold. I'm not into keel porn.

There was full coverage of the starts of both the semifinals yesterday. Then they alternated between live coverage of each race. Yes there were some commercial breaks too, but I felt that all the key incidents of both races were aired.

One thing I missed that I know we had in at least one previous Cup was live audio from the boats so we could hear the conversation between tactician, helmsman and the crew. I hope they get permission to carry this before the event is over.

But yes eliboat you would probably still want to throw something at the TV for inaccurate commentary. One classic example was when the wind shifted dramatically at the end of the final leg and the run turned into a beat. One commentator carried on speaking about the "gybes" the boats were executing though one could clearly see that they were actually tacks!

10 comments:

Eliboat said...

Believe it or not, my dvr did manage to record yesterday's match in its entirety, and I watched it last night. The coverage was decent, although I did find myself yelling at the TV. Particularly odd to me was the underwater shot on the computer generated view. What is the point of this? The commentators seemed really impressed with this, and incorrectly tried to make the case that this was an actual live reflection of what was going on underneath the boats. Utter nonsense. They showed this shot a few times for what seemed like an eternity. Another thing that bothered me was the use of the computer view during the start maneuvers. This is the one part of the race that really does not benefit from this, and it is far more interesting to see a live shot. Only during the actual race does it make sense, as we can gleam some real data on the boat performance. This leads me to another gripe. Only once during the coverage did they show boat speeds. Why not show this fascinating information all the time? Tillerman, you are right in noting that the commentary was often wrong. Tucker Thomson seemed to be irritating the British Andy with some of his inane comments that he felt the need to express. Every once and a while he would have some actual insight, but most of the time he would state obvious facts like "these are boats in Valencia and we are racing" He noted at one point that Prada had tacked onto starboard, when they actually had tacked onto port. Easy mistake to make during the heat of commentating, but given all the other crap spuming from his mouth, I got a good laugh. All in all, the coverage was pretty good I thought, sans the commentary which needs a touch up, as does the use of the computer track. I also agree that the lack of cockpit mikes is disappointing, but I wouldn't want that if I were Larry Ellison either.

Tillerman said...

Totally agree. And I noticed that in today's commentary they were getting starboard and port tacks confused again. Who are these guys? I hope I never meet them on a racecourse if they don't know the difference between port and starboard tacks!

Litoralis said...

It is common for American sports commentators of "non-American" sports to be completely clueless. Sometimes I think it is a deliberate attempt to help out similarly clueless viewers, but the number of times that the commentators make blatant mistakes leads me to believe they are just stupid. Ski racing has a similar problem as sailing; there always seems to be a clueless American commentator saying things like: "Bode lost a lot of speed when he clipped that gate there."

M Squared said...

What? No on board mics? I think one of the greatest sounds in sailing is winch whining!

I haven't seen any recent coverage yet. Getting enough news online but it sounds as though it's at least worth the effort to record.

Tillerman said...

Sailing is un-American?

JSW225 said...

There are on board Mics. However, on race one, one of the boats didn't work, and the only other time I could remember that they tried to listen in to BMW/Oracle, nothing was happening.

Anonymous said...

Tucker Thompson may not be quite as well known as Gary Jobson, but he did do an admirable job reporting on the last Volvo Around the World Race (on Maryland Public TV). I find the performance of the Versus Valencia team quite acceptable, considering they are not suppposed to be talking just to 'expert' Laserites.

JSW225 said...

Tucker Tompson is pretty good. You can find more of him here: www.t2p.tv . It's a good sailing video website. But however, a couple of times he wasn't answering the question asked by the main commentators. My only fault with the entire coverage.

Lawrence said...

Darn...my VCR did not record Saturday morning's race...does anyone know if it will replay during the week or during a "highlights" recap on Versus at some point?

JP said...

Its a shame there's no on board mics as that was a highlight of the previous Cup.

One possible reason - the rather fruity language of sailors.

I haven't seen this Cup as its on a pay channel in the UK but enjoyed the last one. I remember the day the NZ mast failed and the crew were understandably blunt with the f-word flying freely.

Maybe some network executive decided that was not family friendly (ie bland) enough.

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