America’s Cup to woo TV with more speed, mayhem 

Organizers know the 34th America’s Cup will put the eyes of the yacht racing world on San Francisco, and because of the Bay Area’s topography, the public will have unprecedented views of the international event, which is typically raced farther out at sea. But what about the people in TV land who know little of the arcane sport? Well, it turns out San Francisco organizers are working on that.

Each America’s Cup involves racing teams agreeing on specs for the boats, and now larger carbon-fiber sails on the redesigned double-hulled AC72 will give racers in San Francisco speeds up to 32 knots, the fastest in the sport’s 160-year history.

Speaking before the Northern California Visitor Industry Outlook and Marketing Conference on Tuesday, Craig Thompson, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, made the next race sound more akin to NASCAR.

“It’s dangerous, and television is going to love it,” Thompson said. “These guys are getting catapulted into the air, big time.”

Thompson also said digital-graphic overlays on the television broadcast will give viewers a better sense of who is winning, since boats zigzag with the wind toward a mark, which sometimes prevents a clear idea of who is leading the pack. Onboard cameras will also give television viewers a sense of being on the boat with the 11 racers, Thompson said.

Organizers with sports marketing backgrounds said they are attempting to highlight the event’s oft-overlooked technical and athletic aspects, which have racers grappling with lines while the barreling vessels are tipped up on one hull, or “doing the wild thing” as it’s known in the biz.

“They’re pushing the boat, pushing the apparatus so hard, they’re constantly on the edge of tipping over,” said Stephanie Martin, chief communications officer for the Event Authority. “People haven’t been able to see it up close, so they don’t really know what it is.”

Specs for the AC72 racing yacht

Hull length: 72 feet
Overall length: 85 feet
Beam: 46 feet
Crew: 11 people
Projected top speed: 32 knots
Onboard cameramen: Two maximum
Remote TV cameras: Seven
Microphones: 18

Source: America’s Cup Event Authority

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