Is Sailing the Next Big TV Event?

We’d love to see everyone get as excited about sailing as we do, and we’re looking forward to being able to get a clearer view of what’s happening on the course when we can’t be out on the water watching.

The yacht-club crowd may turn out to cheer at regattas, but sailboat racing hasn’t been a big hit with mainstream television audiences—perhaps because they have trouble following what’s happening on the waves.

Experts in the sport may appreciate a helmsman’s split-second tactical decisions or a crew’s athleticism, yet the drama often goes over the heads of landlubbers who don’t know how points are scored, or even who is ahead.

Now technology may change that. Starting in August, a two-year series of regattas, culminating in the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 at San Francisco, will have a feature intended to demystify the sport for television and Web audiences. Live footage will be superimposed with ingenious graphics — including lines and pointers that show who is ahead or behind in the welter of foam and hulls, and tags that identify yachts as they race to coveted positions.

Televised yachting has long used computer graphics to represent boats, waves and the leader in a race. But to show them, broadcasters have had to cut away from the action. The new system will note with virtual markers the details of hard-to-see moments as they happen — when, for example, a boat strays from course boundaries, or when two yachts jockey for position near a crucial turn.

The technology is part of an ambitious, expensive effort by the America’s Cup Event Authority, the entity formed to handle all commercial aspects of the America’s Cup competition. The event authority has been backed by the billionaire Lawrence J. Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle and owner of Oracle Racing, the team that won the cup in February 2010.

For the complete story and examples of the technology, go to www.nytimes.com.

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