The talent story behind AC34 is deep and wide, but it’s hard to top the merging of Stan Honey’s two remarkable careers. In the racing world, Honey is well known as a professional offshore navigator and, in fact, was named U.S. Sailing’s 2010 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for his critical role in cutting the nonstop circumnavigation record to 48 days aboard the 103-foot French trimaran Groupama 3. (Three more days were lopped off that record in December by the same skipper, Loick Peyron, who also helms the French AC34 Energy Team.)
Blue-water cruisers also venerate Honey for organizing the SailMail Association, which provides free e-mail nearly anywhere on the oceans over SSB (single sideband) and ham radios. But on land, his tech talents had more impact at Sportvision, the company that famously inserted the digital yellow “first and 10” line into televised football. Co-founder Honey and his team went on to overlay tracking on 200-plus mph NASCAR racers, make pro baseball easier to follow with the live pitch and strike zone graphics, and much more. But while he holds 21 patents for TV special effects and eight for navigation, making AC34’s LiveLine graphics work was his biggest challenge yet.
I can’t imagine a person better qualified to be the Cup’s director of technology, especially after seeing Honey in action. It happens that my reporter luck ran counter to his tech luck in San Diego, and so I got to see him under duress, troubleshooting a software glitch on the committee boat one day and dealing with sporadic interference from an unknown source to the LiveLine helicopter video feed the next. The man is unflappable, and the obviously revered hub of the extremely capable team he put together. I have no doubt that several new star racers will emerge as AC34 progresses, but don’t forget the older, mild-mannered guy taking care of business behind the scenes.
Read more about the new technology of the America’s Cup by electronics editor Ben Ellison.