Sydney to Hobart yacht race game on the charts

Organisers of the iconic Australian sporting event consider producing game

The organisers of one of Australia's most iconic sporting events are considering sailing into the world of gaming.

In the lead up to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2009, which starts at 12.30pm on Boxing Day (December 26), Cruising Yacht Club Of Australia (CYCA) chief executive, Mark Woolf, told Computerworld the organising body has investigated developing a role playing game based on the race.

"We've been under a lot of pressure as there are a lot of gamers out there who would love to see a virtual yacht race from a gaming point of view," he said. "We have had a look at a couple of options. But these live overseas, in France and over in Scandinavian countries."

While other sports-based games have proven popular and brought in significant revenue for administrating bodies, however, no decision has been made to pursue the gaming option, Woolf said.

In the meantime, the CYCA has introduced SMS alerts this year for its popular Yacht Tracker on its website.

Launched in 2002, the yacht tracker utilises discus-sized SkyWave DMR200 devices which are deployed on each competitor's vessel to gather tracking and predictive standings data.

"Throughout the race we are able to tell the audience who is likely to be the line honours winner and who is likely to also be the overall winner. This is what makes it unique," Woolf said.

During last year's race, the website garnered roughly 42 million page impressions from 4.5 million unique visitors. Woolf predicts these figures will rise by 25 per cent and noted the CYCA had recently moved from WebCentral to BlueCentral for hosting.

The website runs off one database server and four web servers, all of which are physical machines located in the Fujitsu data centre in the Sydney suburb of Ryde.

"Of course, for us, server capacity is paramount and if you don’t deliver the speed your worldwide audience needs you are going to get hammered. We have expectations year on year but they just keep getting blown out of the water," he said. "With eight maxi boats, this year is going to be a really good test for us."

Three or four yachts will also provide live video feeds from onboard. Yahoo7 will also stream the broadcast partner's program daily.

Gamers may have to wait to test their sailing skills, but yachting and sporting enthusiasts alike can keep updated via the official race website.

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