LISBON – Yesterday's Lisbon In-Port Race was, as we would say in Michigan, a real barn-burner. Seven windward-leeward legs of only .75nm in 12-20 kts. Seven 65' twin-rudder boats designed for offshore racing in the open ocean, to say nothing of the rough and tumble Southern Ocean – not for tight-quarters round-the-buoys racing in a narrow river mouth. Close-aboard racing with current AC winning-crew and double Olympic medalists calling tactics on yesterday's top two boats, Volvo Ocean Race veteran skippers and crew on all but one boat, and a flood of new top young talent – including Olympians, other former AC winners and racers. And, yes, women on every boat all of whom are superb sailors in their own right.
VOR media is live-streaming the In-Port racing, and the starts of each Leg, and it is free. No dodgy, expensive pay-to-view apps; no geo-blocking of the online coverage so that country's broadcaster can show you a videotape of what you already knew happened hours or even days earlier.
While not perfect, overall the coverage is very good. There were some problems again yesterday with the audio feed. However, your Ed. knows first-hand how tough, and expensive, it is to activate this reasonably new live-streaming technology. So far, VOR media are succeeding nicely. Better than many were expecting.
There's still too much breathless hype and hyperbole. The commentary tends at times to be too arcane. The guys and gals are grinding, not pumping, so please stop calling the handles "the pumps." It confuses the hell out of non-sailors whom we badly need to attract to coverage of our sport. (Sailing Illustrated is working hard to do just that, with measurable success.)
There are daily live-TV updates while the Legs are in progress. Veteran yachting scribe Peter Rusch (CAN/FRA) turns out a cogent and compelling summary each morning (Europe time) and when there is breaking news. All seven yachts have an On-Board Reporter ("OBR") sending photos, video and stories back to the VOR Race HQ in Alicante, Spain, where it is pushed out to the world via the excellent website with race-tracker, a so-so Facebook page, and more. If anything, the firehose of content is a bit overwhelming unless, perhaps, you are a real VOR fan-boy. (So stick with SI – we'll continue to bring you the highlights.)
Here are links to three key videos from yesterday – a full 1:20 replay of the In-Port Race, a brief (2.5 min) and very good highlights video (it would be even better if they would stop trying to be so MTV-esque with super-fast cuts and edgy music – is the target audience teenagers?), and 90 seconds of superb onboard video and audio of the scary-looking foredeck accident involving crew Liz Wardley aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic. Liz, literally, got wrapped up in her work – fortunately she did not break her leg or go overboard.
The main Lisbon event, the start of Leg 2 to Cape Town, is tomorrow (Sunday) at 1400 WET/UTC (0600 PST – note the USA goes off Daylight Time tonight so we are once again 8 hours behind UTC, or GMT as many of us Yanks still call it). Watch it live on the VOR Facebook Page here.
Team Brunel, with ETNZ's Pete Burling (NZL, skipper of the AC35 winner) calling tactics, beat VOR-favorite MAPFRE, with Burling's ETNZ and Olympic 49er teammate Blair Tuke (NZL) in a similar role, by eight seconds. Again yesterday, MAPFRE showed they have speed to burn as they were last at Gate 2, and clawed their way back to almost win the short, seven-leg Lisbon In-Port Race.