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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1016 - February 27, 2002

Scuttlebutt is a digest of yacht racing news of major significance; commentary, opinions, features and dock talk . . . with a North American emphasis. Corrections, contributions, press releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always welcome, but save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.

On Saturday February 24, a Houston man drove a minivan carrying his wife, infant daughter and several family members into Offats Bayou, submerging the vehicle and seriously injuring five people.

College students taking part in a regatta nearby pulled the two women and three children from the minivan. Witnesses told police the van sped down 89th Street, south of Teichman Road, and was gaining speed until it flew into the water around noon. No skid marks, which would have indicated an attempt to brake suddenly, were apparent on the street.

"We were sailing and heard something accelerating," said Jake Scott, a member of the Texas A&M varsity sailing team (and president of SEISA, the Southeast Intercollegiate Sailing Association), on the island Saturday for a regatta at Texas A&M University at Galveston. "I saw the van hit the dirt, launch into the air and then do a nosedive."

Sailing team member Jen Doreck agreed. "It was solid acceleration all the way there," Doreck said. "He just flew into the water." About a minute after the van sank into the water, a man emerged.

Several of the students asked in Spanish whether anyone else was trapped inside. The van's driver, who apparently spoke no English, did not respond for several seconds, before saying two people were still inside, Scott said.

That number later grew to four, then five.

At least a dozen students jumped off their boats to rescue the people still inside the submerged van.

"We were just pulling people out, and the baby was the last one out" Scott said. Rescuers had difficulty freeing the baby, the driver's seven-month-old daughter, from her infant car seat. Scott said the infant was underwater for about five minutes, and officials said the baby was not breathing when Scott brought her to shore. Trauma surgeon Dr. Steven Wolf said Monday afternoon that the youngest victim, Rodriguez's six-month-old daughter, was assumed dead at the hospital. "When she got here she was dead," said Wolf. "When we looked back a couple of minutes later she was breathing." Although Wolf would not rule out the possibility of brain damage to any of the victims he said all five patients were stabilized in the Intensive Care Unit.

One of the students suffered a serious cut to his arm but did not seek medical help until everyone was out of the van.

The driver of the van has reportedly told police that God told him to drive into the bayou. He has been charged with multiple counts of attempted murder.

Continuing story at

Italian America's Cup team Mascalzone Latino, headed by Vincenzo Onorato, has purchased Dennis Conner's IACC yacht Stars and Stripes. The team will use the boat for training in the Hauraki Gulf while waiting for the new boat ITA 72 Mascalzone Latino XII, currently under construction at the Tencara shipyard in Porto Marghera, Italy.

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The first escort vessel, Salsipuedes, arrived at 1325 pst just as the finish boat Daja Vu headed out to Punta Mita. They have the turning buoy set and lit this evening and are on station should any of the leaders hook into some breeze and pull into Punta Mita area early tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, out on the race course - probably no records this year. Pyewacket's 1998 record run from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta in 93:55:36 (hh:mm:ss) will stand as a record for another two years as of 9:55 am tomorrow. Magnitude is leading the AA boats and is predicted to arrive a little after 2:00 pm tomorrow (102 hours). At the 0800 roll call, she was just catching Silver Bullet at the back of the still tightly grouped B fleet.

At the front of B fleet, Stars and Stripe's strategy of staying well offshore is paying off. She is reeling in the back of C fleet as she closes with the Mexican Mainland. At the front of the whole regatta is the battle for first to finish between PH C boats Checkmate and Sensation. If the wind stays light in the right spots, they just might be able to claim that trophy! The A and AA fleets just haven't had the weather to break loose and get those high-teen surfing numbers on the speedo. That's when they start to really gain on the boats ahead.

Performance Cruiser 2 skipper Mike Busch in Novia Del Mar is leading all the sailors on the course at the moment. While Perf Cruise boats don't qualify for "First to Finish' honors due to their ability to use their engines if they so choose, it is still a thrill to lead the pack into the finish.

(The Curmudgeon is navigator aboard the J160 Stark Raving Mad, currently in third place on corrected time in PHRF B)

At 14:30 this afternoon, Geronimo was just 70 miles from the equator in it's quest to break the around the world record for the Jules Verne Trophy.

From skipper Olivier de Kersauson: "Nothing new is happening here - it's like the Gobi desert. The horizon's empty and the clouds don't even move. There's bright moonlight at night and the day brings blue sky and sunshine. The boat's reflection is hardly disturbed by the surface of the sea. Sometimes there are flashes of summer lightning during the night.

In the heavy air of the night, an African turtledove landed on the starboard float then disappeared. In these latitudes, birds often land on boats to die after being ravaged by storms.

You can give them bread, water and rest, but it's no good: they're just so exhausted. Who could withstand being sucked eight or ten thousand metres up through a cloud column to be thrown out again over a thousand kilometers from where you started over an element you've never seen before? It looks like a lake, but it has no shore.

So they just fly, fly, fly.

The same thing happens off the coast of Brittany when we have strong easterlies. It's not unusual to see a Blue Tit or a Robin fifteen or twenty miles offshore.

I once managed to save one by positioning the boat so it could land. It worked and I was really proud of that.

Everything about Geronimo is a bit depressed today, because these winds that hurl the birds from the sky aren't even ruffling the sails of the boat".

The International Sailing Federation has published the updated requirements for liferafts for offshore sailing races to apply through Offshore Special Regulations to new liferafts first purchased in 1/2003 or later.

The new specification is published as Special Regulations Appendix A Part 2 available from ISAF in a document separate from the Special Regulations booklet and also available on the ISAF web site at

From 1/2003 existing leisure liferafts which were purchased by an end user prior to 1/2003 and which comply with Special Regulations Appendix A Part 1 (previously known as Special Regulations Appendix A) will continue to be acceptable under Special Regulations until such liferafts are no longer serviceable.

The new Minimum Specifications have been produced as a result of studies and experience of liferafts in the Sydney-Hobart Race of 1998, and in Fastnet and other events.

SOLAS liferafts designed for commercial shipping continue to be acceptable under Special Regulations with some concessions including, eg, the possibility to stow the raft without the use of a transportable hard grp container.

ISAF is co-operating with ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) on the development of draft standard 9650 for leisure liferafts. The ISO draft follows lines similar to those of Special Regulations Appendix A Part 2. At a future date when the draft becomes an international standard ISO 9650 may be adopted as a future version of Appendix A Part 2. In this event, arrangements for "grandfathering" (continuing to accept equipment made earlier to a previous specification) will be applied in the usual way.

In a statement to be posted on their website by the time you read this, states that starting March 25, they will charge a subscription fee for access to articles beyond their front page:

"Why? Simple economics. We employ top yachting journalists to write original copy to bring you the best coverage of sailing worldwide, period. These journalists like to eat, so we have to pay them. The revenue generated through advertising sales and commissions on merchandise sales through the site don't get anywhere near covering the costs. has always believed in editorial independence and that our knowledgeable audience demands quality content delivered when it happens and the move to subscription will enable us to continue to uphold these values and deliver even better coverage."

Access up until that time remains free of charge. The price of a subscription is 14.99 a year, after March 25 a subscription will go to the normal rate of 24.99 a year. At today's exchange rate 14.99 is $21.37 USD, 24.58 Euros.

I'm pleased to report that I was the first person to pony up the cash, and encourage 'Buttheads to do the same. We rely on MadforSailing for a lot of article excerpts here, will continue to do so in the future, but you won't be able to read them in full after March 25 if you're not subscribed. Real journalism costs real money, MadforSailing has a stable of great writers. Twenty bucks and change is a good deal and money well spent (their journos like to drink, too). To subscribe go to or call +44 (0)1454 642515 -- David McCreary

(Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name and may be edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. This is not a chat room or a bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best shot and don't whine if others disagree.)

* From Bob Fisher: Perhaps the San Francisco fleet of America's Cup boats should drop the initial "I" from its title as this class is no longer administered by the ISAF.

Incidentally, the half model of NZL-20 in Bruce Farr's office still has the twin keel configuration screened, and Bruce is known to look kindly upon this. Might we see an Oracle Racing boat with the "spoon and fork" keel?

Previous ads for Ullman Sails have talked about the Olympic medals their sails have won; the World and Continental Championship triumphs; big regatta wins; and the impressive performance and durability Ullman Sails demonstrated in the Around Alone Race. But the real beneficiaries of the knowledge and know-how at the 24 Ullman lofts are the thousands of PHRF sailors who never get the headlines, but use their Ullman Sails to routinely collect regatta trophies - weekend after weekend. Find out how affordable improved performance can be:

On March 8th at 1530hrs, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) will host a US Sailing IMS Owner's Committee (IMSOC) workshop at the Newport (RI) Hyatt Regency. The workshop kicks off the Cruising Club of America's Safety at Sea Weekend.

The Newport Bermuda Race and the Onion Patch Series are America's premier IMS events. Of the five hundred sailors attending the weekend seminar, many are IMS boat owners and crew meeting the Newport Bermuda Race Safety at Sea seminar requirements. It's a perfect opportunity for these owners discuss the IMS rule and its future.

Dr. Bruce Eissner, US Sailing's Offshore Committee Chairman, will chair the meeting. He will be joined by US Sailing Offshore Director Dan Nowlan and US Sailing Technical Director Jim Teeters. These three have an intimate knowledge of the IMS from historical, operational and technical perspectives.

Discussion will include: IMS in the spectrum of handicapping rules; IMS popularity (worldwide and USA); IMS sub-fleets: 50's, 40's, IMS 600 (the 2003 Admiral's Cup and fleet growth; 2002 IMS Rule changes , technical issues and opportunities; Laser measurement; US Sailing fleet and sailor Services; IMS Governance. Questions and open discussion will be encouraged.

IMS Owners interested in attending the workshop should RSVP with name of owner, yacht name, sail number and e-mail address to Nancy Helme at For more info contact Talbot Wilson at

* Finnish boatbuilder Nautor has delivered hull No.1 of its Swan 45, named La Forza del Destino, from its Finnish base in Pietarsaari. The prototype 45 underwent sea trials in the Solent last month. This German Frers designed model is viewed as a landmark development as it features a luxury interior associated with Nautor's Swan, inside a performance yacht, and marks a return to roots for Nautor as it revisits the mid-size yacht arena. With the launch of the Swan 45, comes the advent of Nautor's first One Design Series. The series will commence in 2003 and will provide an international stage for the Swan 45 to prove its ability on the racecourse as well as on the cruising circuit. This yacht was the first one to be assembled and completed in the Boatbuilding Technology Centre, the new Nautor facility situated in Borgmastargrundet. -- International Boat Industry:

* North American sailboat builders produced 20,067 boats in 2001, down 9 percent or 2,097 boats from the previous year, according to the 2001 North American Sailing Industry Study. Researchers attributed the drop in production to a decline in stock prices and the recession.

Production of boats under 19 feet in length and over 36 feet in length took the biggest hit, with declines of 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, while the 20 to 35 foot category saw an increase of 1 percent.

Sailboat imports were up 9 percent in 2001, with 23 percent consisting of multihulls. The category that saw the largest jump was boats 30 - to 55 feet in length, which grew 31 units and almost 84 percent from year 2000. -- Boating Industry International Online:

This one you have to see to believe.

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote. - Benjamin Franklin