49er Finals – How did we do?

Hi Sailors and Sailing Fans,

The finals of the 2013 SAP 49er Europeans were a vastly different event to how sailing events have concluded over the long history of the sport.  While elements of the ‘medal race’ were apparent, the 49er Finals were much more of a one-day, fan facing, event than is typical for sailing.  This post aims to discuss what did happen, and then solicit feedback from sailors and fans as to how we can improve our finals in future championships.


The Plan

– 4 mini-series of 3 races each:

  • 12:00 Petit final 49erFX
  • 1:00 Petit Final 49er
  • 2:00 Final 49erFX
  • 3:00 Final 49er

The live broadcast was to start right at 12:00 and conclude near 4:00 with the winner for the 49er decided.  The camera angles were

  • Building mounted overhead
  • Sideline
  • On board (1)
  • Drone (1)
  • Studio (1)

We also used 3 commentators, Peter, Andy, Marcus, and 1 on water interviewer, Ben.  Each race was to be picked up about 1 minute before the start and the followed through to the finish.  The commentary team would then discuss each race, the overall picture, and we’d add a brief interview with the race winner… repeat.

The Actual

There was no wind until about 12:45.  When the wind did come in it was expected to be about 90 degrees left of where it did come in.  The direction it came from was very good, however, as it was almost parallel to shore and the spectators could get a reasonable view.  The on water spectators did a good job of keeping to the ‘far’ sideline (from the cameras) so that the cameras had a clear view of the racecourse.

We finally got racing at 2:15 with the Petit Final for 49erFX.  The race committee did a very good job of closing up the gaps between races and they were ‘banging them off’.  The RC scoreboards were used for teams to confirm their addition of points so that teams would know the score each race.  For the most part, the broadcast plan stuck, though sailing teams refused interviews between races so the only time for any interviews was in between heats.

– The actual order of racing got mixed up too, and time only allowed for 2 races of the Petit Final for the 49er:

  • 2:15 Petit final 49erFX2013_49er_Europeans_MickAnderson_8060
  • 3:15 Final 49erFX
  • 4:15 Petit Final 49er (only 2 races)
  • 5:00 Final 49er (The final race finished at 5:40, with the cut off time being 6:00 pm)

All told we were live on air for just under 4 hours, and there were no breaks in the broadcast.  One of our goals so as not to loose online momentum by taking breaks and we accomplished that.  At the peak there were ~6300 people watching online live and and estimated 800-1000 watching live on shore.  Both of these numbers were significantly boosted by local interest generated by nightly features on Danish TV and the fact that many Danish 49er sailors live in Aarhus and were able to attract many family and friends.

Many questions remain, and we are looking for our sailors and fans to contribute to improving future Finals with your suggestions.

  • Was the theatre racing interesting?
  • Should we try to be close to shore or stay farther away (in better wind?)
  • How long should the broadcast be?  Should it just be finals so we are more focused on the main event?
  • How can we get ‘closer’ to the sailors, to understand what they are thinking about without disturbing their racing focus?
  • How can we show the windward mark better?
  • How can we show the leeward mark better?
  • How can we show the start better?
  • Could you keep track of what was happening with the fleets?
  • Were the scoring graphics used well?
  • Was the GPS tracking used well?
  • How did the commentary team do?
  • Any many more!

Please write your suggestions into comments on this post or into our facebook page so we can improve for next time.