America’s Cup 2017: How technology helped race go mainstream

The 2013 event also marked the competition’s coming of age, the moment it went from a race for sailing enthusiasts to an occasion that momentarily captured the attention of sport fans across the world.

That was due to Team USA’s unprecedented comeback as well as the awe-inspiring spectacle of these boats on the water.

TV technology

But television also played its part — a sometimes unfathomable race suddenly became a whole lot easier to understand thanks to onscreen graphics.

Lines were painted across the water to mark the start, likewise for the racing position between the two boats and the boundary they cannot cross.

Other technological twists included a boat’s “FlyTime” in a race, in effect how much time it spends gliding out of the water in a race. The target obviously being 100%.

As Mark Sheffield, the head of technology for the America’s Cup puts it in the days leading up to the this year’s match, “What it’s done is make something hard to understand that much easier to understand.”

That the America’s Cup has got to this point is down to a conversation on board Syonara, the launching pad for Ellison’s foray into the sailing world, in 1995.
Stan Honey is a well revered navigator who helped win the Volvo Ocean Race and for a time boasted the speed record for sailing around the globe on board Groupama 3.

But Honey has also made an impact inside American homes with his work on graphics for sports broadcasts. Notably the onscreen line put into a hockey puck to better see its movement, to the first down line in the NFL.

Events such as Nascar and the Olympics have benefited from Honey’s pioneering innovations.

‘Getting the band back together’

“I was a navigator for Larry on Syonara back in 1995, and at the time I was head of technology of Newscorp,” he explains having sold his first company Etak to Rupert Murdoch in 1989 for $35 million.

“And Larry said ‘what could you do for sailing?’ I explained it had more to gain than other…

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