New Look World Match Racing Tour Starts Online Push.

The new look World Match Racing Tour started this week with the first event taking place in Marseille. Match Cup France is the first of the tour events to benefit from the renewed investment in the series which includes beefed up television resources and other ways to communicate the action to fans.

In 2009, the Marseille International Match Race was staged at the Yacht Club Point Rouge. It was an understated event with little infrastructure for spectators or media. The event did attract the attention of the local newspapers and visits from school groups, but otherwise there was no real reaching out to fans.

In 2010, Match Race France will offer a big screen television for spectators to keep track of the action live.

For those who can’t make it to Marseille, the WMRT has enlisted the services of writer Mark Chisnell to provide a live blogging service using the popular ‘Coveritlive’ platform. Coveritlive has some nice features that allows the person typing to concentrate on updates and allows a ‘producer’ to moderate comments and insert other information into the stream. There is Twitter integration built in and media including photos, audio and video can also be added.

When last we used it, Coveritlive was free, and can be ‘plugged-in’ to almost any website without too much technical ability. Something to think about for other events around the world.

Thursday saw the introduction of a new live tracker service. The service is in it’s infancy, but has some good potential. The user experience needs a little bit of thinking. To get the coverage to work you need to download a proprietory player that includes a bunch of Microsoft C++ libraries. From there, you need to click a little link on the webpage that you download the player from. The player was set up with the boat’s sponsors as the only identification, which is great for the sponsors, but doesn’t help a fan who can’t see who is in which boat.

Trackers are going to be big in all sports, but sailing in particular lends itself to being followed in this manner. There are several companies that are building competing solutions. TCReplay is provided by French company KaliBee. KaliBee CEO, Emmanuel de Bressy said

With virtual 3D graphics, we really are into the race, we can change camera, change angles to make sense, focus on the one on one competition which is the spice of Match Racing. As we are in a numerical world, we can display and quantify gaps, calculate times, look at the figures lie speed or course, run intermediary ranking lists… The aim is to explain the game for the non specialists.

Like every sport driven by rules, the game must be explained. Look at rugby, for example, the rules are many, not always easy to understand but the public enjoy it.  At KaliBee we are offering the tools to understand and broadcast our sport on a race village and on the internet to the spectator !”

Sailing fans are not easy to please though. Last year there was no coverage of this event except for some Twitter updates by Mirsky Racing Team and the end of day press releases. This year, despite the live blog and the tracking, online fans are asking why the event is not streamed?

There is video though. Daily highlight videos are being produced quickly and uploaded to SailTV and YouTube.

Rebuilding the World Match Racing Tour, growing awareness and creating a world recognised sailing entertainment product will take time. Events will need to run at the same time in the same place year after year to attract spectators on the ground. Some, like Match Cup Sweden and the Monsoon Cup, are already there. Others, like Match Cup France will need a bit more work and a lot more time.