SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1020 - March 5, 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.
Auckland, New Zealand - March 4, 2002 -OneWorld Challenge, the Seattle-based challenger for the 2003 America's Cup, Christened and launched its' first International America's Cup Class (IACC) boat, USA 65, today. The hull and appendages were cloaked from view.
USA 65 was designed by Laurie Davidson, Bruce Nelson, Phil Kaiko and their 29-member design team including representatives from Ford and SAIC. USA 65 was built by the OneWorld boat building team led by America's Cup veteran, Peter Sowman, at Janicki Marine in Sedro Wooly, Washington, USA. - Jennifer McHugh, www.oneworldchallenge.com
(On Sunday, Washington Post columnist Angus Phillips took a look at Team New Zealand. The following excerpt highlights some of his findings.)
The upshot is a new skipper, 27-year-old Dean Barker, an easygoing, self-effacing breath of fresh air compared to Coutts, and a crew of mostly young, eager first-timers. "We're a family again," said (TNZ syndicate chief Ross) Blackman. "Everybody is more relaxed."
Blackman has wisely declined to get enmeshed in a legal battle festering over his team's lost secrets. A former Team New Zealand lawyer, Sean Reeves, defected to OneWorld after 2000 and later was fired by the U.S. team. He now claims he illegally brought drawings and specifications from the winning Kiwi boat over to OneWorld. Reeves was subsequently accused of trying to resell those secrets and some from OneWorld to other syndicates. It's an ugly mess that has detractors chuckling that the America's Cup is right back where it belongs -- in court.
Blackman is standing off, maintaining, "If we get into that fight boots and all, spend our time and money presenting evidence to the arbitration panel and to the courts, it won't help us build a fast boat and a good crew. That's our goal. All else is a diversion. We can get angry thinking about it but that doesn't help us. So we'll watch with interest and our lawyers will take action if it turns out we've been robbed. But that comes later."
The immediate goal, Blackman said, is to revive the spirit that lifted Team New Zealand in 1995 from just another contender to undisputed champion of yachting's crowning event. For that, he intends to draw on the legacy of Peter Blake, the murdered Kiwi icon who led the 1995 triumph.
"Peter's greatest contribution was his philosophy: 'Deeds not words,' " said Blackman. "To him, winning was not enough. He wanted to win in a way that the team and the entire country could be proud of. That's what he considered a success. To us, 1995 was a success. In 2000, it was just a win."
With their sights set on not that kind of success, with many of their technological secrets lost, and with a half-dozen top challengers spending hundreds of millions of dollars to unseat them, the Kiwis have a big mountain to climb. Then again, who ever thought they could do it in 1995? - Angus Phillips, Washington Post
Full story: www.washingtonpost.com
THE GOOD STUFF.
What do the following have in common: Team One Newport, Layline, Annapolis Performance Sailing, Sailing Supply, Sailing ProShop, Dinghy Shop, Fisheries Supply, etc. Shame on you. You should have known, these quality retailers all carry the Camet products in their inventories. And there sooo many more outlets- in the US, Europe and South America too. When you look for sailing shorts, hiking pants, rash guards,bubble tops, bags etc,or other quality sailing products from Camet, start with a list of retailers listed here. www.camet.com
Peter Harrison's British America's Cup team, hitherto a self-proclaimed one-boat effort, may well be building two boats at the GBR Challenge's base in Cowes. There are strong suggestions that the British team are playing a canny long-term game by starting work on a second hull, which will not be used in the Louis Vuitton challenger trials commencing on Oct 1. Instead they will progress as far as building the plug and commencing lamination of the first hull so that a sail number will be issued.
Rules embodied in the Cup's protocol allow teams only two new boats per event as a cost-control measure. By doing this, GBR Challenge could effectively have the use of three new boats should Harrison proceed with a follow-up campaign in 2003. A second boat would partly explain GBR Challenge's expenditure having climbed to £22 million. - Tim Jeffery, The Daily Telegraph, UK
Full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(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 Lin McCarthy: In your recent (Scuttlebutt #1019) mention of Bob Fisher's report in the Guardian on the probable competition for the Jules Verne trophy between Ellen MacArthur and Tracy Edwards (single-handed, on catamarans, around the three Capes, through the Southern Ocean), I was struck by the likely similarity of their personalities to those of the nine racers highlighted by Peter Nichols in his book A Voyage for Madmen. Nichols describes the 1968 Golden Globe race, the first of this kind. He refers early on to J.R.L. Anderson's Ulysses Factor and defines it as "...a powerful drive made up of imagination, self-discipline, selfishness, endurance, fear, courage, and perhaps most of all, social instability..."
If Tracy and Ellen do go at it, it will be fun to see if and how these character traits play out in each of them. If either or both successfully complete the course, just like Homer's Ulysses, they will no doubt be seen as Nichols says "...the lone hero figure in society, the rare character who by his or her exploits stimulates powerful mass excitement."
* From Ralph Taylor (In response to John Burnham's comments on professional sailing: Professional anything involves drudgery and discomfort): Most professional athletes undergo a high drudgery content. They may get the big bucks, but training camps are for doing "repetitions." My old Dad taught me there were two kinds of work, muscle-work and brain-work, and that muscle-work usually involved low pay, frequent discomfort, and high risk of injury. Sailing involves a degree of brain-work, but wrestling a 60-foot boat around the Southern Ocean or an IACC boat around the Hauraki Gulf seems to call for lots of muscle. In favor of brain-work, the discomfort is more emotional than physical.
* From Jon Alvord: John Burnham said, "Being a pro sailor isn't as glamorous as it seems." I think he is a bit lost, being a PRO is what a large majority of us want. The ability, financial means, family understanding to be able to leave everything and go sailing, whether it be in the Southern Ocean or the AC. What determines PRO status? We believe anyone that makes there living designing, selling, building boats, sails, and hardward, publications who spend any amount of time on the water with paying clients. While we are not PRO sailors, my crew has made our day and determined that there needs to be an award for the first N0N-PRO to finish races. Which for us would actually mean we get something once in a while.
* From Jim Nash, twice past Regatta Chair, Kaneohe Y C: While I grieve for all the lost souls of yacht racing, I do not stand with the widows now suing the organizers of the '98 Sydney-Hobart. To enter or continue is the "sole responsibility of the Skipper"...
While Team Dennis Conner was practicing on USA-66 and USA-54 about 5 miles off of Long Beach, USA-66 broke the carbon fiber mast on in moderate breeze and normal sea state. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no damage to the boat. We brought the mast back to our sailing compound and it is currently being fixed. Our technical team has learned a great deal from this incident and the information they have gathered will be very valuable to us going forward.
Our newest mast, which was already under construction at Southern Spars, will be delivered shortly and USA-66 will be sailing again soon. Meanwhile, we are continuing with our aggressive six-day-a-week training schedule including sail development on USA-54, match race training on Congressional Cup one-design boats, and a strict physical training regimen. - Dennis Conner, Stars & Stripes website, www.stars-stripes.com
ON THE HAURAKI GULF
* The third day of the CORM Race Committee Trials saw a building breeze give the teams on the water physical conditions. Under bright sunshine and a 20-25 knot South Westerly wind six challengers raced two flights to give six exciting pre-starts for the assembled media to watch.
Two Prada boats and one boat each from OneWorld, Alinghi, GBR Challenge and Oracle raced in gusting winds and flat water with little other than spinnakers and running rigging being damaged. Racing was fierce with several umpire calls being made and several penalty turns being awarded against infringing boats.
Although the event is not an official regatta, with several boats not finishing the course, there is a significant group of media photographers on the water taking full advantage of the perfect light and perfect wind. - Louis Vuitton Cup website, www.lvcup.com
* Respect is what Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge America's Cup team crave and right now Ian Walker and the crew are earning it handsomely. Only one hand is needed to count the Britons with past cup experience yet over the past two days of informal challenger competition in Auckland, the GBR crew have taken wins off such mighty opposition as Italy's Prada team and the Larry Ellison-backed Oracle Racing. nd they have done so with style, defending a narrow lead over Prada's highly regarded Young America boat in light conditions and trouncing Oracle's former AmericaOne boat in rousing 20-23 knot winds. - Tim Jeffery, The Daily Telegraph, UK
Full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
* The official line from CORM is that the new race committee needs a practice run, which was very obvious after today's racing. But will this series be long enough to sort out the problems, and if they do, will they remember everything they've learnt come the start of the Louis Vuitton challenger series on 1 October?
If you talk, or try to talk, to any of the teams about this regatta, they will either tell you that it is completely informal, and that the results are irrelevant, or their mobile phones are turned off. However, on the water they are not acting as if the results are irrelevant. One also has to ask, if it is so informal, why did those taking part not want the Swedes to join in their game? - John Roberson, madforsailing website, www.madforsailing.com/SAIL/
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
The fifth leg out of nine legs in the Volvo Ocean Race starts on Saturday the 9th of March in Rio de Janeiro. It starts at 16:30 GMT (13.30 local time) and the fleet is estimated to arrive in Miami on March 27th.
With five days remaining to the start of leg five in the Volvo Ocean Race, the Swedish SEB with her new mast was lowered back into the water today. It has been some hectic weeks in Rio for Team SEB, repairing the boat after losing the rig and getting ready for the Rio restart. Saturday last week, the new mast arrived in Rio from Gothenburg, Sweden and the boat arrived by freighter from Chile the day after. Since then, the boat builders, shore team and crew have worked hard repairing the damages, which occurred on the boat and hull when losing the rig overboard. The new mast have now been stepped and tuned. Next in the schedule are a couple of days of fine-tuning the rig and the new sails out on the water. www.teamseb.com
* There will be two crew changes on Assa Abloy for the coming leg from Rio de Janeiro to Miami. The team will see the return of Chris Larson from Annapolis USA, who will take over from Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez de Castro who has other obligations with his Olympic Campaign in the Star boat. Guillermo Altadill from Spain will be replaced by American Mike Howard. 'Big Mike', as Mike Howard (51) is affectionately called in the circuit, is still a member of the Oracle Racing Team for the 2003 America's Cup and will return after this break to the Volvo Ocean Race. - www.assaabloyracingteam.com
* Jon Gundersen, a 27-year old from Auckland, New Zealand will be the new crewmember on SEB. Gundersen, mostly called Gundy, sailed the first three legs on board the Australian News Corp. The reason for Gundy's departure from the Fanstone's team has never been given and it appears it will stay that way. He is replacing the French sailor Pascal Bidegorry, who was hired for leg four. Speculation on the dock is this will not be the only SEB crew change announced before the teams depart Rio de Janeiro- www.teamseb.com
TROPHEE JULES VERNE
* 475 miles on the clock since yesterday midday at 19.82 knots: needless to say the maxi-catamaran Orange is continuing to record a more than honourable average especially as the weather conditions are far from optimum. The boat was positioned at 1400 (GMT) on the same latitude as Casablanca (Morocco) or 60 miles north-east of Madeira. The menu for today and tomorrow is complex: make progress to the south and don't wander out of the narrow corridor of wind even if the average speed must fall a little. - www.orange.fr
* It's over for Geronimo - On Friday morning, off the north coast of Brazil, the 110-foot trimaran Geronimo was making excellent headway on it quest for the Trophˇe Jules Verne sailing in a 25 to 30 knot wind in small seas. Geronimo was travelling at over 28 knots when the helm locked solid with a horrendous noise like a pneumatic drill, accompanied by violent vibrations. The crew slowed her and changed her trim, but nothing seemed to work: the rudder blade was shaking itself violently for several seconds at a time, without warning and at random intervals. The problem was becoming more frequent, prevented the crew from maintaining racing speed and threatened to break the entire steering gear, which in turn could have capsized the most powerful trimaran ever built.
"Given time, these violent vibrations could have destroyed the steering gear entirely. They are getting worse and more frequent all the time. We've no way of making repairs at sea and continuing to race in conditions like these is just too dangerous. Sadly, the answer is simple. We've no alternative but to return home to inspect the damage and avoid making it any worse", said Olivier de Kersauson to his control centre soon after the problem first revealed itself. With heavy hearts, they have turned and headed for home. - www.grandsrecords.com
Coral Reef YC (99 Star boats) After two races:
1 Foss Miller & Greg Newhall USA
2 Rod Hagebols & Paul Erickson USA
3 Alfonso Domingos & Bernardo Santos POR
4 Jeremy Davidson & Louis Holmes USA
5 Andy Lovell & Prieur Leary USA
6 Jock Kohlhas & Richard Peters USA
7 John MacCausland & Sean Delaney USA
8 Ian Barker & Edmund Peel GBR
9 Jose Van Der Ploeg & Diego Fructuoso ESP
10 Paul Cayard & Phil Trinter USA
In Marina del Rey California there's an active Martin 242 one-design fleet. About a year and a half ago, one of the skippers in that fleet switched to Ullman Sails, and suddenly winning got a whole lot easier. Obviously, this did not go unnoticed by the others. Now let's fast-forward to today. When you look at the MdR Martin 242s today, it's hard to ignore that it's just about wall-to-wall Ullman Sails. Coincidence? Not likely. Find out for yourself how affordable improved performance can be: www.ullmansails.com
Judging from the email in my in-basket when I returned, I suspect there is no one left in sailing who has not seen the hilarious 'Tugboat' sequence of pictures that has been posted on the web for a while now. But just in case you missed it, here's the URL: www.graddon.net/towboat/towboat.htm
ST. MAARTEN HEINEKEN REGATTA
St. Maarten YC - The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta attracted 230 boats in 17 classes from 31 countries. Wind conditions for the three day, four race event started out moderate (14-18 knots) on Friday, and ended up heavy (18-24, with 30 knot gusts) on Sunday. Sea conditions were moderate in the lee of Dutch St. Maarten and rough off Grand Case, French St. Martin.
The increase in wind strength created a few minor problems on the course. Two St. Maarten Melges 24s, Island Water World and Slam, were dismasted and there was a collision involving a Dutch boat named Water World which resulted in the bowman being catapulted overboard. (Luckily, no injuries). Donnybrook had a tough time off Tintamarre island on Saturday. She shredded two chutes in the gusty tradewinds conditions until the third kite finally held.
Roy Disney's Reichel-Pugh 75 Pyewacket took four bullets in the Big Boat class. She also won the first leg of the Caribbean Big Boat Series trophy and the Best Elapsed Time award in the spinnaker division of the Around the Island race.
Complete results & photos: www.heinekenregatta.com
British yachting columnist Tim Jeffery reported the German Illbruck team is expected to confirm that they have found £3 million of backing for their Volvo Ocean Race team to switch seamlessly into an America's Cup campaign. - Daily Telegraph, sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
PUERTO VALLARTA RACE
San Diego YC - San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, Final Results, PHRF AA: 1. Magnitude, 2. Merlin's Reata, 3. Ocean Planet; Class A: 1. Victoria, 2. J-Bird III, 3. Yassou; Class B: 1. Stark Raving Mad, 2. Innocent Merriment, 3. Lina; Class C: 1. Checkmate, 2. Between the Sheets, 3. Sensation. www.sdyc.org/raceinfo/PV02Results2_29.htm
The curmudgeon has returned from the SDYC's 1000-mile Puerto Vallarta Race. It could not have gone better. For those of us on Jim Madden's J/160, it all came together in the final 10 miles, when for the first time during the race, we got out in front, and held that lead to the finish line. We beat Myron Lyon's well-sailed sister ship by just 51 seconds. First in Class B - First in Fleet. Great crew, wonderful people, VERY well prepared boat, and definitely one of the best owners I've sailed with during the 55 long-distance races I've done down Mexico's Baja Peninsula. There is no way for me to top this one.
Lord knows how much I appreciate the great work David McCreary did (again) while I was gone. David - you make it way too easy for me to do these disappearing acts!
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
When you have nothing to say, it takes longer to say it.