America's Cup evaluation trials commence tomorrow

Water-borne lab to establish the best TV and race formats

Wednesday July 21st 2010, Author: Tim Jeffery, Location: Spain

The America’s Cup television evaluation kicks off tomorrow with a small army on hand to carry out a water-borne lab experiment the likes of which the 'Auld Mug' has never seen.

The trials are geared specifically to examine every aspect of Cup racing including the type of boat (monohull or multihull) the format of the racecourse (upwind, downwind or reaching starts) and, importantly, the video output for television.

“We must make sure the television is right for the audience, and the race format is right for television,” commented Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup-winning team BMW Oracle Racing.

With regards to television, more than 30 people including producers, directors, engineers, editors and cameramen are on hand.

They’ll be experimenting with HD and 3D video formats, and have 11 cameras to use. Some will be hand held by on board cameramen while others will be fixed in certain locations on the boats, such as the stern scoop or bowsprit.

Each boat will also be equipped with at least eight microphones to capture sound, including a microphone that records in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

“This is an exciting project. It’s cutting edge stuff,” said producer Cliff Webb, producing the trials under the direction of Denis Harvey. “It gives us a chance to experiment with things that have never been tried before. I don’t think a 3D camera has ever been used in a yacht race.”

The trials begin midday tomorrow with the two RC44 high-performance monohulls taking to the water. BMW Oracle Racing Team skipper James Spithill will guide Boat 17.

The trials continue Friday with the two X40 catamarans. Guest helmsmen Roman Hagara of Austria and Murray Jones of New Zealand will lead those crews. Hagara is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Tornado class and Jones raced multihulls extensively in the lead-up to the 33rd America’s Cup Match.

One of the goals in the trials is to determine where to mount fixed cameras on the yachts that will be used in the 34th America’s Cup. Event organizers want to install the cameras while the yachts are in construction, rather than mount them just before racing.

“We may not re-create the wheel, but if we can find a better camera angle or view that makes the action more compelling, then we’ve uncovered something,” said Harvey, the BMW Oracle Racing television consultant.

The output of the trials will not be a finished program, but rather a matrix of angles, views and sounds used for evaluation, with up to 30 hours material recorded on each of the four days.

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