Archive for » October 27th, 2012«

Stan Honey combines work with play for new sailing technology

Stan Honey has spent much of the past two decades living a double life — as a computer graphics innovator who made televised sports more easily watchable for the casual fan and as a master yachtsman who navigated large boats to a long list of nautical accomplishments.

Honey (pronounced HO-nee), who was inducted this month into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, has finally been able to combine his two seemingly unrelated passions — given that one is usually accomplished sitting in an office while the other takes place on the open seas — in what he has called a “perfect job.”

For the past couple of years, Honey has been working with the U.S. organizing committee of the 2013 America’s Cup as its technical director, and has helped develop a tracking system, in much the same way he has done for fans watching football, baseball and hockey.

  • Related
  • Maryland skydivers see boost in interest after Baumgartner's record-breaking feat

    Maryland skydivers see boost in interest after Baumgartner’s record-breaking feat

  • Record kill in 2012 black bear hunt

    Record kill in 2012 black bear hunt

  • Annual black bear hunt has its backers and detractors

    Annual black bear hunt has its backers and detractors

  • See more stories »

After a discussion with professional sailor Larry Ellison, whose yacht America 17 won the last America’s Cup in 2010, Honey left Sportvision, a company he founded in 1998, to develop the LiveLine technology that is being used in the events leading up to next year’s America’s Cup.

“It’s particularly rewarding to do a system like this for sailing,” Honey, who won an Emmy in May for LiveLine, said in a recent interview. “It’s also probably the most difficult because the helicopter has the mounting for a camera and it’s bobbing and weaving and pretty far away [about 1,500 feet above the water].

“The principal thing it communicates to sports fans who are not necessarily sailing fans, it shows who’s who, who’s ahead, how far ahead they are, and it kind of shows the objective of the exercise. With those 100-meter lines, any sport fan would say, ‘I get it, it’s a field of play, it’s a grid,’ and they quickly figure it out.”

That has been at the essence of what Honey has done since 1994, when a discussion with David Hill, then the president of Fox Sports, led to Honey and his technology team at News Corp., Fox’s parent company, developing a graphic device that helped track the hockey puck on the network’s NHL telecasts.

Taking two years and $2 million to develop, it was introduced at the 1996 NHL All-Star Game.

“It was hard to see the puck when the puck was moving pretty quickly,” Honey recalled. “Of course the die-hard fans didn’t need to see the puck, but new fans were frustrated they couldn’t see it. David [Hill] asked me to build a program that would help track the hockey puck. It was a trail behind the puck, and if it ricocheted off someone into the goal, fans would be able to see how it got there. Before, at least on TV, they had no idea how it went in.”

The colorful tracker was used for the remaining three years Fox televised NHL games but was abandoned after ESPN acquired the television rights “because it was branded too much to Fox,” Honey said. But it became the catalyst that prompted Honey and two others at News Corp. to leave Rupert Murdoch’s company to start Sportvision in 1998.

Within months, Sportvision introduced the bright-yellow first-down line for NFL telecasts that Honey had started working on while still at News Corp. In fact, Hill’s name is on the patent. Jeb Drake, the executive producer of ESPN’s NFL games, won an Emmy for first using it.

“There’s been a ton of changes to it,” Honey said. “The one major change is that it now works in HD. It’s much cheaper to operate. When it was first introduced, it took a 50-foot truck, a ton of gear and a five-man crew. Now it’s just a small rack of gear that’s in the truck and one or two folks on the crew. The system has the capability to do far more — the line of scrimmage, what down and distance. It’s far more compelling.”

Then there was the “K-Zone,” which Honey and Sportvision introduced around 2000. With the help of a camera zooming in from somewhere near the center-field fence, pitches were tracked to see if they landed within the confines of home plate — or at least the strike zone being called by the umpire on that particular night.

“The most surprising result is that when we first introduced it, it showed how good a job the umpires were doing,” Honey said. “Before that, the umpires were very negative about it because they thought it was going to show their errors. They came around and realized it was helping them, and we all realized that the umpires do a much better job than everyone thinks.”

While spending countless hours developing these computer graphics, something else was pulling at Honey, who sailed competitively at Yale.

It was his love of sailing, which he began around age 8 while growing up outside Los Angeles. It was also the lure of finally following the career path that some of his former college sailing teammates at Yale pursued after graduation. Though he dabbled in professional sailing for years, Honey decided in 2004 to devote himself to the sport full time.

Hired to navigate Frank Cammas’ Groupama 3, the boat set a record of 48 days, 7hours, 45 minutes for circumnavigating the globe, a distance of more than 22,000 miles. It beat the previous record — which had stood for five years — by more than two days. It also reminded Honey why he wanted to sail competitively again.

Honey then navigated yachts to victories in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005 and 2006. He was named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2006 and 2011.

His development of LiveLine came from a conversation he had with Ellison shortly after returning to competitive racing.

“I mentioned someday that it would be interesting to do what we did for football and baseball for sailing,” said Honey, who developed the ETAK computer system used for navigation nearly 30 years ago after getting his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford.

This technology might hold a more meaningful place with Honey than what he did in other sports, which also include work he did with NASCAR telecasts. But his goal is the same: to develop a televised graphics system that fans can relate to “because it’s very visible and makes a difference. It helps tell the story.”

Asked whether there are any computer graphics or other technology being used to help televise sports that he wishes he invented, Honey points to the above-field cameras that home in on huddles, as well as the “Matrix”-like freeze-frame used during the recent Olympic Games to follow an athlete’s performance in track and gymnastics.

Honey, 56, is curious to see whether those innovations have the longevity as some of his graphics that are still being used in some form or another.

“If something is just cool, it has a wow factor when it is first introduced,” Honey said. “For something to have lasting value, it has to tell a story or has to communicate something that is hard to see. We made that mistake at Sportvision a number of times. The systems that are successful are used as a tool to tell a story.”

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts

  • Similar news:

    Sailing: Students hope to finish season of 'almosts' on high

    AN all-Ireland squad made up of sailors drawn from Sligo, Mayo, Belfast, Wicklow, Dublin, Cork and Antrim will compete in the Student Yachting World Championships in La Rochelle this weekend.

    At the end of an international season which has seen some of our best-known sailing stars hit the heights only to miss the podium at the very end, a lot of hope is being invested by the Irish sailing community in the national college team to finish on a high.

    But that’s the way it is at this level of sailing, and in their season-long build up to the big event in the Bay of Biscay, the team of 10 have been getting every sort of encouragement, advice, training and assessment from the best sources available.

    The French started this series back in 1979, and it has been gradually growing in stature ever since. It’s their baby, so it’s their own affair if they persist in calling it a yachting event.

    But everywhere else has long since thought of our sport as sailing, so it’s pure Gallic pig-headedness to persist with the clunky ‘yachting’ tag, particularly for a series which highlights the sailing stars of the future.

    The teams are provided by the winners of each country’s national intercollegiate championship, and way back in 1988 Trinity went on to become the first Irish world champions.

    This year, UCD did the business on the home front back in March by winning the Irish title in Dun Laoghaire, breaking a long stranglehold by CIT.

    The Cork sailors had a great run of it in the Worlds, with second in 2007, first in 2009, when Nicholas ‘Nin’ O’Leary was skipper, fourth in 2009 and a sensational third in 2011 with George Kenefick the skipper.

    That was a remarkable achievement as the draw had given CIT one of three boats that were definitely not up to standard.

    UCD are captained by Cathal Leigh-Doyle from Ballincar in Sligo, while the crew skipper is Aidan McLaverty. Others in the line-up are Barry McCartin (tactician), Ben Fusco, Simon Doran, Theo Murphy, David Fitzgerald, Ellen Cahill, Isabella Morehead and Alyson Rumball.

    In addition to supervised workouts in UCD’s performance gym, they’ve been intensively training afloat under the watchful eye of ‘Nin’ O’Leary, John Downey, Marty O’Leary, Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell and Olympic helm Annalise Murphy — who was a contemporary at UCD of many of the crew in first year but took time out for her sailing challenge.

    Racing is from tomorrow through to November 3. It’s a fleet event with 14 national teams including the US, Canada and Australia, with France’s Euromed team the defenders. The programme includes inshore, offshore and coastal races, and early indications are of lightish north to north-east breezes in the racing area.

    But a lot can happen weather-wise in the last week of October, and we can be sure many Irish sailing fans will be closely watching meteorological movements off La Rochelle for the next seven days.

    The annual Rolex Middle Sea Race out of Malta had been a light wind event which came violently to life on Thursday with a massive thunderstorm.

    It swept mid-size boats across the finish line to topple leading placings built up by line honours winner Esimit Euopa, the 100-footer from Slovenia, and Nik Zennstrom’s 72ft Ran, the 2011 Fastnet winner.

    Barry Hurley’s 35ft Dinah has done well for Ireland in the two-handed division. Crewed by Andrew Boyle, he was lying second in class.

    - WM Nixon

    Irish Independent

    Similar news:

    Boats compete in Italy's historic Barcolana regatta

    (Republic of Italy, 18377-AFP) – Boats compete during the Barcolana regatta, an historical sailing race on October 14, 2012 in Trieste, northern Italy. More than 1700 boats took part in the 44th Barcolana, the largest single start sailing race in the world. Copyright (AFP RELAXNEWS/ AFPTV), 2012.

    Similar news:

    MarineMax Expands with Azimut

    MarineMax Expands with Azimut

    ~ Becomes Exclusive Dealer For The United States ~

    CLEARWATER, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– MarineMax Inc. (NYS: HZO) , the world’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer, today announced that it is has expanded its relationship with Italy-based Azimut Benetti Group. The expansion with Azimut encompasses areas such as the Midwest, including Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, Texas, the northern Gulf Coast, and the West Coast of the United States. With this geographic expansion, MarineMax is now the exclusive Azimut dealer for the entire United States.

    Azimut Benetti Group is the largest mega yacht manufacturer in the world and the world’s leading private group in the luxury boating sector. Azimut manufactures luxury cruising models ranging from 40′ through 100′. A showcase of Italian luxurious design and powerful performance, Azimut yachts are known for their stunning lines, luxurious appointments, and dockside elegance. A leader in production, Azimut Benetti has the most extensive sales network in the boating industry worldwide.

    William H. McGill, Jr., Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of MarineMax commented, “We are pleased to be able to expand our already strong Azimut relationship. Azimut is one of the premier manufacturers in the World with excellent support to dealers and customers. The markets we have expanded into have substantial long-term potential for MarineMax and Azimut. Historically, brand expansions such as this have proven to be very accretive. We look forward to bringing the MarineMax approach to these new markets for our Azimut customers.”

    Paolo Vitelli, President of the Azimut Benetti Group said, “We are proud to expand our business relationship with MarineMax, the world’s largest and most professional organization in yacht distribution. The design, quality, and technology of our yachts are recognized in the States to the point that Azimut Yacht is the number one European brand in North America and, in certain segments, number one overall. This achievement is the result of the combined efforts of Azimut and MarineMax. Professionalism, commitment to customers, and the quality of service are the strength points of MarineMax, which will make this partnership even more successful.”

    ~ more ~

    About MarineMax

    Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, such as Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Meridian, Cabo, Hatteras, Azimut Yachts, Grady-White, Bayliner, Harris FloteBote, Zeelander, Nautique and Malibu, MarineMax sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and provides yacht brokerage and charter services. MarineMax currently has 53 retail locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas and operates MarineMax Vacations in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. MarineMax is a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. For more information, please visit

    Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements including the availability of the Azimut product line in MarineMax’s stores; the Company’s assessment that Azimut is a premier manufacurer; the Company’s assessment that Azimut has long term potential in the new markets. These statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from expectations as of the date of this release. These risks include risks identified MarineMax’s Form 10-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    # # #

    MarineMax, Inc.
    Michael H. McLamb, Chief Financial Officer
    Abbey Heimensen, Public Relations
    ICR, Inc.
    Brad Cohen, 203-682-8211

    KEYWORDS:   United States  Europe  North America  Florida  Italy


    Similar news: