Last week I wrote here how big wave surf events and live webcasting could be the future. Big waves, live webcast, what could go wrong? Well the Mavericks Invitational , for one. The event was marred on a few levels, with the basic elements of big waves and the webcast both missing for significant parts of the event.
The waves, obviously the key element, were the initial talking point. While clean, it was by no means classic Mavericks. “Deciding whether or not to run was pretty brutal,” said Contest Director Gary Linden afterwards. “Last night I went surfing out there and there were a lot of long lulls. This morning looked similar when we made the call. We tried to be positive, but a couple of surfers this morning didn’t even want to surf, but we just pressed on and got through it.” Linden later cited an accompanying booked music festival and other commercial concerns as other reasons why they pressed go.
Still though with the best big wave riders in town and glassy, if comparably small, Mavs on show, the interest was still huge. In fact more than a million surf punters logged on to see the action. Unfortunately those numbers then crashed the event site.
Jay Johnson, the chief executive officer of Dana Point-based Action Sports Productions who produced the webcast said, “It came down to servers and bandwidth that were not equipped to handle the load. He said he tried to warn contest organizers of potential problems, but they did not anticipate such a crush of viewers and didn’t have enough equipment.”
The result was a lot of frustrated viewers, a lot of them venting bile on the live comment feed on the Redbull site that was also hosting the webcast. One poster summed up the general feeling with this. “From an online standpoint, the coverage of the contest was absolutely terrible. Very shaky web feed (which couldn’t be accessed through the site), no consistent heat result updates on the live feed or on Twitter (ridiculous), and a huge gap between comp’s end and the announcement of the final results. This event should be one of the premier live feed events in the world, and it’s online coverage was an absolute disappointment.”
Now angry online surf comments are everywhere (for example after my original article Graham Gucci wrote, “Sorry, but did i miss the memo that got sent out that said the world gave a fuck what Ben Mondy thinks about anything…?) but they had legitimate grievances here. Now sure it’s not all bad, the winner Peter Mel’s world wide respect adding some credibility, the post production stuff looking pretty cool and organisers have vowed to fix the problems for next time. It showed though that live big-wave webcasts are generating massive interest. Let’s just hope the next one is live, with big waves.