Canadian John Craig is the newly appointed Head of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. Craig was for 11 years the PRO at St. Francis Yacht Club and who most recently the PRO of the 34th America’s Cup.
Sail-World talked to him in San Francisco yesterday, as he prepares to head to Southampton about the challenges ahead in steering the major restructure of the ISAF peak Olympic class series.
‘Reorganising the ISAF Sailing Word Cup is going to be a challenge. A lot of work to do in a short time but I am looking forward to the task.
‘ISAF President Carlo Croce is very keen to make the revamped format work- to make the change and he is definitely focussing on it which is great. It will help me get the ball to the end goal.
‘When I worked at the St. Francis Yacht Club I was also in charge of the sponsorship at that club and also in working as a board member of US Sailing. I have been around the sponsorship game for a bit so I know some of our existing partners and know how to make sure we get our fulfilment delivered to the sponsors and get a good long term relationship with them. I have had a good experience with that side of the game.
‘Getting coverage on the mainstream TV will be important.
‘That will make for happy sponsors and will make it work for everybody, the athletes and the MNAs that are going to the events and all the rest of it. We need to turn it around so we can build some heroes and get into the mainstream more effectively.
‘I know the landscape, I have been to Miami probably about four or five years running courses there for the World Cup and during my period of coaching with the Canadian Olympic team, I have been to Melbourne, Hyeres and Palma. I haven’t been to Qingdao.
‘The 34th America’s Cup has shown us a way forward, with on boat vision, audio, that sort of stuff in terms of engaging the main stream audience.
‘Swiss timing, I worked with them in Miami as well and had some good meetings with those guys and talked about what they could do to improve their side of the equation and they are looking to try and do that. Obviously the America’s Cup television coverage standard is at a very high level. In fact they just got nominated for another five Emmys for the work that they done.
‘My goal is to try and see what we can work to to deliver at that level within reasonable budget and that’s one of the biggest part is going to be trying to determine what we can deliver to tell the story but not have the $50,000 tracking devices on the boats.
‘It is actually pretty interesting. Stan Honey and I did a little experiment using non track boats and marks but still delivered the ladder lines and some of the visuals, the circles and those sort of things. Stan has since called it Live Line light. It actually tells the story pretty well and would be something we might deal to incorporate with Swiss Timing to try and tell the story a little bit better.
‘I was fortunate enough to grab all the audio files off of Oracle and ETNZ for the match and the discussions that the guys have, a lot of the stuff didn’t make air, but the discussions the teams were having about tactics and everything is very cool. It tells a great story and if we can get a way to incorporate that that would be huge.
‘Drones would be way less expensive than helicopters ever so maybe down the track that is going to help too. Yes, we looked at it for the Cup and our biggest problem with drones for the cup was that they actually couldn’t keep up theoretically with the boats in 30 knots of breeze.
‘I have seen them used for other events and the images they can generate out of those are pretty cool.
‘Right now the focus is to get over to Southampton and start digging in and identifying what we can achieve.
‘Event dates will be important. We have got to take the existing World Cups and see what we can do with them and ultimately we want it to be events that flow and make sense for training and shipping and also weather, making sure we are going to produce live TV.
‘We need to be able to deliver that as consistently as we can and go to a venue where you can lose a day with too little or two much wind makes it a lot harder to do that.
‘So we need to make sure when we go to venues we are going when we have the best shot at the good breeze and a consistent breeze.
‘Not every venue has a breeze at 14:00 from the same wind angle, for sure. For instance looking at a current venue. Qingdao, breeze wise, maybe it makes sense in October or maybe it makes better sense in September?
‘We need to make sure we are smart where we pick these dates and venues for the athletes and it works as well as it can for all the different interested parties.
‘In SFO we had to do a lot of coordination, it’s an area where I seem to be able to finding out what the objectives are and getting everybody looking at what they can and can’t do and work together to deliver a product.
‘Right now some of the timelines are really tight so it is going to be all consuming for the next two years.’