Virtual Eye – The only way to watch the Louis Vuitton Trophy, Nice. 1

If you’re going to put on a yacht racing regatta in Nice in November with less than 6 months notice to the public, you need a way to let people watch. Monohulls miles offshore sailing in little or no wind and an air temperature of 9-12 degrees celcius means that only the most hard-core race fan is going to be watching the action on the water.

The Louis Vuitton Trophy is giving race fans sitting in the warmth of their offices with an internet connection a way of watching and hearing the action. While the addition of radio commentary to any feed adds incredible depth to the coverage, the Louis Vuitton Trophy is also utilising the 3D animations provided by Virtual Eye.

Unlike the initial regatta in Auckland, where the Virtual Eye coverage was not available outside New Zealand, the rich live coverage in Nice points to the way that sailing can be a compelling media product.

One of the highlights of the recent Volvo Ocean Race was the live on-the-water commentary, by none other than organiser CEO Knut Frostad, for race starts and in port races. The Volvo Ocean Race live coverage also featured 2D tracking feeds, but the Virtual Eye shows what can be done.

David Fuller, CEO of Pilote Media, a digital sports marketing agency says:

It’s great to see sailing innovate with this kind of presentation. I followed the last America’s Cup almost entirely from my desk and sometimes you get a better experience than a camera can give.

The next phase for sailing can be seen when you look at what sports like NASCAR are doing with their ‘RACEVIEW‘ product. This takes it one step further and not only integrates live timing and scoring, telemetry and audio, but also allows the fan to control the camera angles.

What comes after can include a full emersion solution where you feed the telemetry and GPS data into something like Virtual Sailor and create the ability for gamers to race in real-time against the sailors.

Sailing’s niche sport status means that most events will not be covered live by mass-media with some exceptions like the start of the Sydney Hobart Race in Australia. The sport does need to keep looking over the fence at other best practise aroudn the world. There are opportunities to deliver content to mobile devices and change the mix from broadcast to interactivity.

David cites another example where online and emerging technology came together:

The 2009 Indy 500 put a live Twitter feed beside the web video streaming of the event. This allowed fans to send messages of support to drivers and engage with other fans.

The future of sailing media will be one of the topics discussed at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Monaco in December.

  • You can watch the live Louis Vuitton Trophy here – if there is any wind! –
  • You can see what people are saying on Twitter here