Thursday, June 28, 2012

As a guy who grew up sailing and now makes his living off people who play with sailboats, I have some important advice for you: stay home this weekend, don't go sailing.

This weekend will be the best weekend ever for sailing… on TV or a computer. Saturday morning at 1:00 p.m. in France, an early but attainable 7:00 a.m. on the U.S. east coast, the knives will come out in the next Volvo In-Port Race. Those of us fortunate enough to watch it in person in Miami saw mutliple lead changes with almost every competitor in first or last at different times in this glorified dinghy race. The following day the race to France bounced the boats from a tropical storm into a raging North Atlantic gale. During Lisbon's In-Port Race, Telefonica got smacked with another penalty, she and Sanya blew up spinnaker gear, and Puma made a gusty gate call for a come-from-behind second place. Leg 8 was a slow uphill to the Azores, but a wild ride back in some of the most extreme conditions of the race, captured in this documentary with lead changes, gear failures, and 70 foot boats blasting at 35 knots down 15 foot waves, in the dark. Three races remain: Saturday's Bretagne In-Port Race (5 points), Sunday's start of the Leg 9 sprint to Ireland (30 points), and the final In-Port Race in Galway Ireland (5 points). With the race this close, so few chances left for points, and a history of boat-on-boat action that rivals college dinghy sailing, Saturday's race is sure to be worth getting out of bed for. Boot up your PC and visit www.volvooceanrace.com for live internet video, then do it again Sunday for the start of Leg 9.

Today at noon the final event of the America's Cup World Series kicks off in Newport, streaming at 2:00 p.m. here on Youtube through Saturday. On Sunday, the finals of the fleet and match racing will be aired live on NBC -- not some back-channel NBC clone, but actual NBC, at 2:30 p.m., for 90 minutes. This will give us all a chance to witness these 45-foot carbon cats with hard sails larger than the wings on passenger planes blasting through Neport Harbor on one hull in a completely different kind of race course. Close starts, lead changes in a blink, and the looming potential for some boat-crashing catastrophe make this some of the most fascinating sailboat racing ever. Better, Stan Honey's LiveLine technology will use computer-generated graphics on-screen to explain who's winning and what's happening, further opening the sport to future sailors. Check out www.americascup.com for more info.

The best sailors in the world, racing some of the coolest boats ever to float, with the best broadcast technology, to entertain us for over four hours this weekend. Maybe just this once, leave the covers on the sails.