Periscope goes back to the sea in around-the-world race

May 13, 2015, 2:49 PM

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — A baseball game lasts a few hours, and a golf tournament can run a long weekend. But sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race are at sea for nine months, enough time for entire technologies to come and go.

So when Amory Ross heard about Periscope, a live-streaming app that didn’t exist when he left Spain in October, he was eager to give it a try.

“That’s part of the fun,” Ross, an onboard reporter for Team Alvimedica, said at Fort Adams State Park here for the only United States port in the four-ocean, 38,739 nautical mile race. “Sailing is always looking for new platforms. In a lot of ways, it’s a tough sport to relate to. And a cellphone camera is as good a bridge as you can find.”

In the town where Bob Dylan went electric, tradition and technology are coming together again.

Periscope, which allows users to livestream video, was introduced to many sports fans when it was used to pirate broadcasts of this month’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. But the Volvo Ocean Race is embracing the app, which was launched by Twitter in March.

Each boat already has a reporter embedded with the crew, and to his usual routine of blogging and Tweeting and posting photos and video on the team’s website Ross can now add Periscope.

“I have all these different tools to use at my disposal,” Ross said. “Video, audio, it sheds a whole new component of the sailing that would be hard to show otherwise.”

Named for the device that helped submarines extend their range of vision, Periscope will have the reverse effect for the Volvo Ocean Race. Ross will use an iPhone to livestream Saturday’s in-port race, showing followers what’s happening on the boat during the competition.

Unlike the long stretches of sailing between continents, the in-port race in Narragansett Bay — like a sprint in the middle of the around-the-world marathon — lends itself to live video because there is constant action. Jonno Turner, the Volvo Ocean Race’s digital project manager, said Periscope will also followers to chat with the crew.

“It’s an amazing dynamic,” he said. “You are actually interacting with the sports star during the event.

Alex Trickett, who works in sports partnerships at Twitter, said Periscope will “bring fans closer to the action than ever before, officially live streaming a high-profile race from one of the competing boats. This brings a unique perspective and live content that only they can offer.”

Ross, who also served as an onboard reporter in the last race, in 2011-12, knew that he would have to adjust during the race to being away from his family and friends — along with the usual comforts of living on land. But last time, he started using Instagram midway through the race.

“The race before that, it was probably more like Twitter and hashtags,” Ross said. “This race always has some sort of a tie-in with social media. We’re always producing something.”

If the live-stream of Saturday’s in-port race goes well, Turner said, the use of Periscope could expand before this edition of the race ends in Gothenbug, Sweden, in June.

And who knows what the hot app will be for the next edition, three years from now?

“The technology’s going to come so far between now and then,” Turner said.

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Periscope goes back to the sea in around-the-world race