It's as true in sailing as it is in public relations: no gust, no glory. Hence, if a spinnaker falls on New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf during the Louis Vuitton Cup and nobody gets wind of it, has it really happened?
In terms of print and TV coverage in the U.S., a near dead calm has surrounded the Vuitton Cup—the 11-yacht challenger series that will select a boat to race in February's America's Cup against defending champion Team New Zealand—since it began on Oct. 18. However, with the last of the Vuitton Cup's three round robins beginning this week, cybersailors can tack between two see-worthy sites.
The official site of the America's Cup, produced by Quokka Sports, should appeal to landlubbers and old salts alike. For novices, a 223-item glossary provides a working knowledge of yachting's lexicon, with photos or diagrams included where pertinent. Click on "Cup History" and learn about the 31 previous quests for the Auld Mug, dating back to 1851.
Two of the more popular destinations, each under the "Race Coverage" section, are "Features" and "RaceViewer." The former provides daily Vuitton Cup highlights, in words, photos and audio reports, such as those of mastman Simone de Mari of Italy's Prada falling overboard in the first race of the first round robin (despite the mishap, Prada is the series' leader) and Toshiki Shibata of Japan's Asura getting hit in the face by a wayward spinnaker pole, fracturing his jaw and nose. "The RaceViewer," says Bill Hahn, who races J-24s out of Darien, Conn., "captures each of the races in live time, providing minute-by-minute commentary and mark-rounding, so you know how a boat is faring on each leg."
Like americascup.org, this site provides enough maritime information to get Captain Stubing to Puerta Vallarta and back. Each race is previewed and reviewed, and links are available to the home pages of all 11 syndicates. Of the two sites, americascup.org has the simpler home page, and novices will find it easier to track the event's developments there. The Vuitton site, on the other hand, is richer visually, with more extensive photo galleries, a sophisticated "Virtual Spectator" and a "Media Hub" that provides an archive with videos (through a link to fastv.com) of all the races and press conferences. While its home page looks busy and chaotic, not unlike New York Harbor on the Fourth of July, experienced yachtsmen may find the detail offered by louisvuitton-cup.com more compelling than that of americascup.org.