The joys of following the Fastnet Race without getting wet


The staff get the Azzam prepared for the Fastnet race in England. © ADTA

The use of Twitter and other social networking methods used by the skippers and crews such as the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team in the Rolex Fastnet Race shows the rest of the world of sport in how to get to grips with its followers.

Another day in sport and another sports star falls foul of the social networking phenomenon that is Twitter.

This time it is Matt Giteau, the Australian rugby player who cryptically announced that Robbie Deans will leave the 91-capped fly-half out of the 30-man Wallabies squad for next month's Rugby World Cup.

Sport has had a mixed foray with social networking and the use of developing technologies in general, but when used for the good of the sport, it will rarely get a mention.

This may not be anything new for the devoted followers of sailing, but for a complete novice, I was impressed with the way the skippers and crews embraced the use of blogging and tweets to update race followers at the Fasnet Race, won by the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team, this week.

It does seem that the highly technical sports such as sailing and Formula One have struck the right balance and its in-race insight is valuable than compared to football, where the best we get is Joey Barton having a pop at his employers in between pulling quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche.

The Rolex Fastnet Race website is also a brilliant conduit for keeping abreast as to what's going on, particularly the fleet tracker using the GPS of the vessels.

OK, so in the case of Team Sanya, one of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's rivals in Volvo 70 class, losing its signal, it is susceptible to breaking down.

I wouldn't mind seeing it replicated on a rugby or football pitch using something similar. With the England rugby team using it to monitor workloads by players, the data from it would be an interesting side note for armchair fans and pundits with giant iPads alike.

And then there is the camaraderie. Franck Cammas, the skipper of second-placed Groupama 4, was on the button in congratulating the Azzam crew.

As were the countless messages from other crews concerned about the 21 onboard the Rambler 100 which capsized during the Fastnet race. It shows that when Twitter is used the right way, it is very good.

The Volvo Ocean Race, which will port in Abu Dhabi in December, will certainly be fun to keep track of from the safety of your home or office when it starts in Alicante in October.

Published: August 17, 2011 04:00 AM


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