contributed by John FX Flynn, row2k
So, here come the Olympics and, because watching "plausibly live" coverage on tape delay, or--worse--really great morning races held over until prime-time coverage starts on the East Coast, is just not right, here are some tips from the Rowing Hackers for catching the rowing action in REAL real-time: this is how we watch the Olympics (and Worlds, U23s & the World Cups, for that matter)--care to join us in the wee hours?
Set your Alarm Clock
The Olympic regatta features morning races of course--exclusively--so that means having an alarm set (or two, remember?) to make sure you are up at 4:30 am on the East Coast to catch things as they happen. You've waited four years for this, and these athletes have trained for even longer, so surely it is all worth a few hours of lost sleep… (This, btw, all happens at 1:30 am on the West Coast, so bonus hacker points if you make the Olympics part of a long night out)
Pick your Races
A whole week of early race calls may not be for you (or your own training/job/home life), so we recommend picking your battles and catching the best race sessions live as the week goes on. Our pick? Saturday, hands down (and after all, why wait?). Day 1 will feature a bevy of heats: the M8+, W4x, LM4-, M2-, W2- and the singles; that's a heap of great racing. After that, Sunday has the heat for the W8+, though the real show for them will be the Thursday final (right!?), and then Tuesday will be hot with quarterfinals of the M1x & W1x, semis for the LM4-.
Ok, so maybe that only saves you one day (and even Monday should be darn good: heats in the M4- and W2x, anyone?), because on Wednesday, they start racing for hardware and you don't want to miss any of this:
- Wednesday: A Finals for M8+, W4x, W2-; Semis in M1x, M2-, M4x
- Thursday: A Finals for W8+, LM4-; Semis in W1x, M4-, LW2x
- Friday: A Finals for M4x, M2-, W2x, M1x
- Saturday: A Finals for M4-, LW2x, W1x
(Ah, go for all 8 days, wth: You can sleep in on Sunday--unless of course you are a Fencing Hacker, too)
Put NBC to Work for You
Your friendly local, exclusive Olympics broadcaster really does seem to be pulling out all the stops for London 2012, with coverage on multiple channels again, a full array of webcasting, and--wait for it--live video streaming in the wee hours of the morning (if your cable package includes MSNBC and CNBC, that is). There's even a free app that brings video & news live to your iPhone/Droid (again, only if your cable subscription includes MSNBC and CNBC) -- and you can expect it all to be available at a more humane hour, on-demand.
Full details on NBC's 'Live Extra' service--and what kind of cable subscription you need to have to take advantage of the service--can be found here and NBC's online listings page for rowing conveniently converts broadcast times to your local time zone (4:25a start on Saturday, folks!) and lets you set an alert to remind you to tune in.
Use the FISA Race Tracker
Real-time GPS tracking of boats at FISA regattas? Maybe the best thing to happen to rowing since the sliding seat. Let's face it, even really great TV angles somehow fail to make rowing as gripping and exciting as watching six flag icons creep across your computer screen, especially if the whole rest of your house is asleep and could care less. Hands down the best way to "be there"--especially if you are also following the multi-linqual race calls and can pretend you are actually understanding the German guy. You can check it out here (though it only goes live during racing).
The Race Tracker is, by the way, the real Rowing Hacker way to watch elite rowing: studying the stroke rates, judging the meters per second, trying to figure out if a "flag-length" is really a boat-length plus--and even with streaming video available on the big stage of the Olympics, we might still have to go with this as the coolest way to get the info we really crave.
Catch up Quick, thanks to row2k
Can't "hack" (ahem) a full week of sleep-deprivation? Luckily you have access to a website that can: row2k will be on the ground--and online--to bring you photos, race reports, and tweets…all of which should be ready by the reasonable hour that you wake up and get online--or get to your desk after the morning commute.
Best bits of the row2k Olympic Coverage? Apart from the photos from the course and the race reports by the guy whose seen an Olympics (or four), you should also check out the Olympic-sized Twitter Bin to hear about the Games (and the races) straight from the Olympians themselves, read the Starting Five interviews to get to know the folks you are cheering on, and get a look at the athlete blogs to hear how the regatta is unfolding in different boats.
Want row2k to come right to you? Follow row2k on Twitter and Facebook and you will get updates instantly, all Games long (might want to mute your phone if you don't plan t get up for the early, live racing shift, though!)
So there you go: short of a hack that gets you across the pond, into an Olympic VIP lane, and onto the venue with a decent view of the medals dock--and we'd live to hear one that does all that!--this will be the best way to get your peepers on the stuff that matters most in the coming weeks of Olympic manic-ness: the hard strokes that will decide the very best.
How will you watch the Games? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
Have a great rowing hack for future inclusion here? Send it to us!