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AC World Series: Jazz on an Autumn Day

Sep 24, 2012

Americas Cup

The America’s Cup World Series gets back in action in San Francisco on October 2 with at least one televised event as NBC teases us with coverage of the “Super Sunday Fleet Race” on October 7, starting at 1:30 PDT.

As blisteringly fast and exciting as the 44.1-foot AC45 catamarans in the AC World Series and the 86-foot America’s Cup AC72s will be, the television technology will be equally as breathtaking — thanks to Stan Honey.

Deep into a career of adding technological touches to televised sports — the superimposed first down line in football, major league baseball’s instant replay strike zone, and the thankfully short-lived blue streaking hockey puck for the NHL — Honey brings his gift for broadcast gizmos and his impeccable sense for yacht racing to America’s Cup coverage. (Among many other successes under sail, Honey has captured first place honors as navigator in 11 out of 22 Transpacific races, setting course records three times.)

No more long, jerky, telephoto shots and cartoon animations of boats in action. This time around, we’ll see computer generated masthead pennants identifying boats on our TV screens. We’ll see lay lines and ahead-behind lines right on the water, superimposed there precisely with a torrent of GPS data streaming in from helicopters, surface vessels, and mainland sources. We’ll see circles around turning marks defining where rounding rules or right of way suddenly come into play.

What’s more, for the first time ever, the America’s Cup will take place close to shore, allowing spectators “on the beach” to see it in person. There’s even a smartphone app, “America’s Cup,” that lets water’s edge viewers zero in on the action and get real time information about individual competitors.

Yacht racing for screening room spectators has come light years since directors Bert Stern and Aram Avakian blended elegant performance footage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with dashing images of the very first 12-meter America’s Cup contest between the U.S. yacht Columbia and the British challenger Sceptre.

Where that movie, Jazz On A Summer’s Day, gave us such artists as Thelonius Monk, Anita O’Day, Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, and a young Jerry Mulligan (to name only a few), coming up on October 7th, we get to experience the jazz of Stan Honey.

When it comes to bringing America’s Cup action into your living room, man, this cat wails!

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