Plus the boats were relatively close to the coast, making communications better than normal.
Then came the innovation of the on-board Livestream interviews with crew which gave an insight as to what was happening on board, and being able to see the conditions, as they happened. Flicking to on-deck cameras put the viewer right into the cockpit, which is an amazing use of technology, and doesn't seem that intrusive.
To add more steel to the occasion the boats would have to make a gybe in 40plus knots and big seas, to turn for the finish line. When they would do it , and whether they would survive, being short-crewed, were the two big questions.
So the scene was set for an interesting day (or night if you were in Europe).
Then the action started when Brad Marsh had to go to the top of Groupama's mast, not once but three times, to free the main halyard lock so the mainsail could be reefed. The sail dropped to the deck eventually.
Then came the gybe – which came almost right on the time and place recommended by Predictwind's routing function. (The finish was just as accurate – to within three or four minutes, and made several hours from the actual finish.)
Neal McDonald and crew looking out on the rail, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Diego Fructuoso /Team Telefónica/Volvo Ocean Race
Then came the rudder issues with Telefonica.
We have been working hard on the systems we use on Sail-World to track what is happening in the Volvo Ocean Race. A year spent in night-school learning basic navigation is put to good use. Then we have been working with Predictwind to be able to use their systems to provide as accurate information as we can get to forecast race outcomes, and looking ahead to see what is in store for the race boats. We are pretty sure that we have better weather feeds at our desk, than do the navigators on the boats. Certainly we have access to four weather feeds, compared to the two feeds supplied on board.
Then there is the 3D Tracking which has only really come online since the leg into Miami, which enables us to generate images of the action as it happens – so we can report in realtime, and later insert any images from onboard and video when they come to hand later.
Of course there are the other information sources of team websites, tweets from off the boats, and the various information sources available on the Volvo Ocean Race website itself.
For the last couple of days of the racing, we started a technique of just doing rolling coverage for the day, in the one story. This enables us to update quickly, keep the coverage all in one place, and readers can catch up from where they left off, rather than having to sift through a myriad of separate stories to try and put the jigsaw together.
Of course, preparing for this just doesn't happen overnight – we have been working on it since the last race. Checking that what we think we are seeing, and need to see is accurate. One of the things you do need to develop is an intuition as to what might happen – and knowing when to wait – and knowing when something has definitely happened.
Just because you are seeing something on a computer screen doesn't mean that it is right – and there is as much art in reporting on these races, as a science.
From here make sure you stay tuned to www.sail-world.com for the latest Volvo Ocean Race news, updated on a 24x7 basis by our editorial team around the world.
We never sleep.
PredictWind gets it right again - the optimum time to gybe will be at 2100hrs - trouble is that the breeze is predicted to be 42kts (average) possibly 50kts. PredictWind.com
Richard Gladwell Editor@Large
If you wish to see Sail-World's complete Volvo OR coverage, go to www.sail-world.com - and click on the Volvo Ocean Race button in the top header bar, you'll see all stories for all regions from this exciting race - all updated as the race unfolds.
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