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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1025 - March 12, 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.

VOLVO OCEAN RACE
News Corp's lead melted away at an incredible speed over the last few skeds, leaving the early leader to fight for last place. After the lack of wind they experienced yesterday, the breeze came back on and they shouldn't lose too many miles from now on. The advantage of less current inshore seems to have vanished as well. Generally the conditions are similar in the whole area due to a flat pressure distribution.

Illbruck made a remarkable comeback, waiting just one mile astern of Assa Abloy or the chance to make an assault on the Swedish yacht's lead. Tyco, Amer Sports One and djuice are within two miles of each other and the track the yachts are using right now is just 2.5 miles wide.

POSITIONS on March 12 @ 0349 GMT: 1. Assa Abloy, 4018 miles from finish; 2. illbruck, 1 mile behind leader; 3. Tyco, 2 mbl; 4. Amer Sports One, 3 mbl; 5. djuice, 4 mbl; Amer Sports Too, 9 mbl; News Corp, 9 mbl; Team SEB, 17 mbl. - www.volvooceanrace.com

DAMAGE CONTROL
Is there a boatbuilder on board? For illbruck that was the six million dollar question. Luckily Tony Kolb, sailmaker and boatbuilder will have been able to come to the rescue. Unluckily for him, both skills were required as not long after their collision with SEB, the Code Zero was pulled out of the water in bits, also requiring substantial attention.

illbruck has sent in a video clip that shows details of the damage done to their boat during the collision with SEB. One metre forward of the transom is a deep fist size hole cut into the deck edge by SEB's bow, exposing the yellow Kevlar fibre of which the V.O.60's are built. Also, SEB's bow got entangled in illbruck's lifelines and ripped off the two stanchions that form the pushpit. The force has loosened the base of the forward stanchion that doubles as a padeye for the fastening of the spinnaker sheet block. The pushpit was completely destroyed before SEB's bow cleared illbruck.

So the first job for Tony Kolb was to co-ordinate the urgent repairs to the deck gear still needed to sail the boat and to assess the hull damage and make them watertight in order to prevent further damage. Once a hole has been made, further delamination may have already occurred in the area, following the impact and it is essential for the crew of illbruck that this damage is controlled until the boat reaches Miami at the end of this leg. Repairs can be carried out to the hole and scratches in the hull while the boat is racing, but they will be remedial, not structural and could be liable to further failure. In order to complete the job efficiently, it would require full boatyard back up with electrical power tools and a heat curing facility.

"Our big concern is what lasting damage our collision with SEB has caused," said Mark Christensen. "There is some good cracking around the back of the boat and our spinnaker sheeting padeye was pushed aft and broke one bolt off. We can't replace it and we can't check the other bolts because the padeye moved so far. We'll just have to wait until we set a spinnaker and find out. We also have no port pushpit, which isn't too bad apart from when you need to use the outside toilet, not much to hold on to." - www.volvooceanrace.com

INVITATION
The New York Yacht Club announces two open events and invites racing sailors to participate. The 148th Annual Regatta, June 8-9, will feature racing for IMS, AMERICAP II, 12 Metre and NYYC-CR yachts. It's also part of the Onion Patch Series, which includes the Newport-Bermuda Race.In July is the NYYC's Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex. Racing for IMS, AMERICAP II, PHRF and 12 Metres is July 12-16. One-design racing for Farr 40, 1D35, J/44, Mumm 30, J/35, J/120, J/105, Melges 24 and J/80 is July 18-21. Prizes include Rolex timepieces. See nyyc.org or contact sailingoffice@nyyc.org. (401) 845-9633.

ORACLE RACING
(Julie Ash of the New Zealand Herald spent a day with Oracle Racing. Here's a brief excerpt of the story she filed.)

A typical day for the Oracle team starts at 6am with a fitness session. We are not just talking about a 30-minute run or an easy circuit: this session is 90 minutes of pure hell. The team have four or five fitness sessions a week, which are designed to improve flexibility, power, speed, endurance and strength.

Bill Taylor heads a group of fitness and medical experts who look after the team, and strength and conditioning coach Stu Harrison, a former Royal Marine commando, designs training programmes to cater for the sailors' different roles. "We have three groups," Harrison says. "The grinders are the big power-and-strength guys; the cross-training guys like the bowman, pit grind and secondary grinders; and the aerobic guys such as the afterguard and the trimmer."

Shoulder and back injuries are common. "It is very physical on the boat, it is long hours and it is not just going sailing - they have to load these boats and unload them with wet heavy sails." About once a month the team do an eco-trek which involves activities such as mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and climbing.

Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/

LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
leweck@earthlink.net
(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 Eugenie Russell: I have a question re: virtual yacht club. I have a client who would like to race, but has not yet decided which yacht club he wants to join. Is Scuttlebutt a possibility for that?

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Absolutely - The Scuttlebutt Sailing Club is a bonafide member of US Sailing. SSC Membership cards may be downloaded at www.sailingsource.com/scuttlebutt/

* From Ralph Taylor (edited to our 250-word limit): Dan Fogarty, in his comments about cruising/ racing, obviously isn't familiar with the reasons for the beginnings and growth of this aspect of the sport. These folks opted out of what they saw as the never-ending arms race in more traditional racing. In Southern California, they handicapped skippers, penalized high-tech sails, rewarded living amenities, and did a lot of things to take away incentives to dominate the fleet. Win today and your handicap gets worse for next week; finish at the back and it gets better.

They went out for the fun of sailing from one place to another without working too hard and they gave prizes (which no one took too seriously) for the performance. Some of my friends raced with several hundred pounds of chain in the bow anchor locker, with 20-year old sails. The movement grew because it touched a need for a less competitive atmosphere.

The idea of using power for a limited number of hours came from two things: (1) Let's not work too hard but still get in at a decent hour. There's no wind at night anyway; we can avoid standing still, listening to the sails slat, by powering down the rhumbline. (2) We have to run the engine to recharge the batteries for the microwave and blender, so let's engage the prop.

Somehow, the idea of these owners souping up their engines and props in this environment sounds ludicrous. Should "souping up" prove successful, it would kill the idea.

* From Craig Fletcher: The bottom line is a race is a race and a cruise a cruise. Please no more letters about the great challenge of knowing when to turn on the engine when the air becomes light. This requires the same eye hand coordination of using the TV changer and gulping a beer. We are racing sailboats, not Barka Loungers.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: OK - this thread is now officially dead!

* From Rick Hatch, CYA and US Sailing Senior Judge (re illbruck's collision with SEB): Another case of rule 10 and rule 14? More than just that. First, have a look at the last sentence of rule 44.1: "However, if she caused serious damage she shall RETIRE (my emphasis added)." Well, it seems to me that being holed in the port quarter would have to constitute serious damage (I hope there's enough 100 mph tape aboard illbruck). But, VOR Sailing Instruction 6.1 amends rule 44.1 as follows (relevant part): "However, if she caused serious damage or gained a significant advantage in the Race by her breach she is not required to retire but will be protested by the Race Committee and may be penalised by the International Jury."

The RC should seriously consider protesting SEB under rule 44, and the Jury should seriously consider applying one of the penalties specified in VOR SI # 1.7.2(c)(ii): "5 place penalty or disqualification."

Second, if illbruck can claim under rule 62.1(b) that the actions of SEB have made illbruck's finishing position SIGNIFICANTLY worse through no fault of her own, then illbruck should also request Redress. Filing for Redress will bring the matter before the International Jury, and in that case, the RC would have a hard time explaining itself if it were to choose not to protest SEB under rule 44 as amended by SI 6.1.

Be mindful of the time limit under the rules (incl. SI's) for filing a Request For Redress.

* From Paul Notary (Re the Australian 18-foot skiffs): After 80 odd years of racing our skiffs went out to 30` wingspan, had masts up to 48` tall and in 1985-87, only 5 or 6 crew combo`s that could sail them. When Australia`s largest company said these boats are too expensive and stopped their sponsorship, we restricted sails, wings, designs and construction. The result was the fleet was rebuilt - however the cost has been that a compromise has been made in relation to old style hull design, poor power to weight ratio with the 14' wings being adopted.

The skiffs are a lot easier to sail with 17' or 18' span when crews are learning, the current width was a compromise to help get the class established overseas, as years ago there weren't any feeder classes. Its time to develop real 18`s again for the spectators.

* From Christian Fevrier In Scuttlebutt # 1018 (Guest) Editor's note: Sir Robin was co-skipper of Enza (with the late Sir Peter Blake). He is the first person to have sailed single-handed around the world without stopping. Having built the WSSRC website with Sir Peter Johnson, I have no excuse for missing this one. Mea Culpa. -----

It is true that Robin reached his starting area first ahead of all the few competitors who had left England at different times in the quest of the 1968 Golden Globe Trophy. But I would point that he was not the FIRST person to round the earth non-stop.

The French sailor Bernard Moitessier, who had been leading the Robin's Suhaili all the time and with an important margin, was the first to "tie the knot", as the old salts used to say, meaning he was the first to cut again his outward track.

As everybody knows, Bernard decided to not reach the finishing line and take the cash prize. Refusing the honors, he wanted " to save his soul". In the mid Atlantic, he decided to continue eastward, rounding the Good Hope Cape for the second time to stop finally in French Polynesia.

But a race is a race and Robin won it fair and square. He was the 28th solo sailor to round the earth and the ninth to do it rounding the Cape Horn.

TEAM PRADA
Team Prada has just completed its training session in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. Since last October Francesco de Angelis, with his crew and the rest of the team, has been working in Auckland carrying out a long series of tests, technical evaluations, local weather conditions analysis and match race practice. The team has been training with three America's Cup Class yachts, Luna Rossa ITA 45 and the two Young America USA 53 and USA 58, fitting into the busy big boat schedule many sessions with two small match racing one-design yachts, Tom 28, designed and built in Italy.

During the first phase of this southern hemisphere period, the team focused on the assessment of a number of technical and experimental modifications of the yachts, while the objective of phase two has been specific crew training and practice. Throughout the period, the Prada crew has worked in close contact with the design team based in Milan, Italy accomplishing many tasks and assisting the designers in their long and critical research & development path on hulls, appendages, rigs and sails.

The crew's activity has been really strenuous, based on 6 to 7 days working weeks and 12 hour-long days beginning at 6.30am with a physical workout and ending at 6.30pm, once again in the team's gym. Besides sailing, the crew has had to withstand a tough and intense physical training programme, coordinated by strength and conditioning coach Vernon Neville, aimed at increasing power and endurance. Tests carried out at the beginning and end of the period have shown a remarkable gain of performance for all the athletes involved, who were divided into groups according to their position on board.

The activity in New Zealand waters for team Prada is now over and by the end of next week the boats and equipment will be ready to be shipped back to Italy via cargo.In the meantime work is in progress in the Prada boatyard in Grosseto, Italy, where the first of the two new America's Cup Class yachts of the team - Luna Rossa ITA 74 - is currently being built. The construction of the second boat, on which the designers are still working, will commence later in the year, in time for the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup (the challenger selection series), October 2002. Team Prada will be sailing again in Italy approximately from mid May. - Alessandra Ghezzi, Team Prada. www.pradalunarossa.com

TROPHEE JULES VERNE
The maxi-catamaran Orange notched 433 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 18.06 knots. She is currently slipping along at more than 20 knots with a single reef in the main and staysail and is 400 miles to the east of Recife (Brazil). "We're close reaching at the moment in a good 25 knot south-easterly" said Benoit Briand during the radio bulletin. "It's very wet and its quite hot, but it's impossible to leave anything open. On deck, everyone has his own idea on how to dress. There are those in full oilies and bare feet, and others in shorts with an oily jacket. There's a bit of everything!"

If the Orange wanted to skirt the high to the east, she would have to beat in light airs, whilst if she skirts to the west, she will still have light air, but she will be able to reach. "The situation is not as bad as we thought yesterday" at 1300 today. "We know that maxi-catamarans are absolutely no good beating in light airs," declared Gilles Chiorri. So beating for several days in light winds is not a good idea. It would be better to skirt round to the west and multiply gybes, even in light airs, knowing that we should be picking up the succession of major lows below 30° South".

Chasing weight is omnipresent on this type of boat. And when you have to save some weight, the personal effects of each member of crew are of course reduced to their simplest expression. For instance, on the maxi-catamaran Orange, each member of crew was allowed 25 kilos of personal effects, including their sailing clothes. www.orange.fr

QUOTES FROM THE VOR BOATS
"We thought Rio was hot, but it seems even hotter down here in the middle of the ocean. We are missing a couple of items right now and the suggestion is as follows for mandatory items for the boats in the next race: ice-cream machine, fridge and an aircon. We are trying to ventilate the boat as much as possible, but like last night with heavy rain showers and some waves coming over this was not possible, resulting in sauna temperatures downstairs. The funny thing is that each crewmember reckons that he is lying in the warmest bunk of all. The top-bunks do have one advantage - you don't get sweat dripped on you from somebody else." Bouwe Bekking, Amer Sports One

LESSON LEARNED
Once again this weekend at the Etchells Midwinters in San Diego, you quickly find out what's hot and what's not. It was obvious that the curmudgeon's glowing descriptions of the Camet Sailing shorts and Pants have not fallen on deaf ears. Camet shorts were everywhere. And although everyone loves the advantages of the drying Supplex, and the reinforced Cordura seat patch, what's pushed them over the top that they look so bitchin'. See for yourself : www.camet.com

RACING RULES OF SAILING
US Sailing has a website that posts their prescriptions to the Racing Rules of Sailing - some eight pages of them. It appears that some of these prescriptions have been changed since the 2001 - 2004 rulebook was published so you may want to check it out: www.ussailing.org/rules/Prescriptions.pdf

MEXORC
Vallarta, Mexico. Final results: Class A: 1. Sorcery, 10; Magnitude, 13, Pendragon, 16; Class B: J Bird 3, 11; Victoria 5, 17; Alta Vita, 18; Class C: Stars & Stripes, 7; China Cloud, 16; Sensation, 22; Class D: Tatei, 2. Seata; 3. Dread Nought. - www.mexorc.com.mx

SWEDISH MATCH TOUR
The Swedish Match Tour's Steinlager Line 7 Cup, March 19-24, in Auckland, NZ, has announced its eight invitees. Included are the top five skippers on the Swedish Match Tour Championship Leaderboard. Managed by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the Steinlager Line 7 Cup is the fourth event of Swedish Match Tour 2001/2.

Invited skippers include: Magnus Holmberg, Peter Holmberg, Dean Barker, Jes Gram-Hansen, Rod Davis, Ken Read, Luc Pillot. The remaining skippers who will be competing at the Steinlager Line 7 Cup will be determined from a feeder series that will be held March 14-17, in Auckland. - Shawn McBride, www.swedishmatchtour.com.

ONE DESIGN
The International Snipe Class has built its 30,000th boat. The Snipe was designed in 1931 and published in Rudder Magazine by the designer of the Snipe, Bill Crosby. There are currently 861 Snipe fleets in 26 countries. - Sailing World magazine website, www.sailingworld.com/sw_article.php?articleID=712 Snipe website: www.snipe.org

DOCK TALK
In November, Dutchman Roy Heiner was axed as skipper of Volvo Ocean Race challengers Assa Abloy, the Swedish syndicate in the Volvo Ocean Race. This week, the Dutch skipper was seen aboard Oracle's Boat while the Team was out trailing in the Hauraki Gulf. As Paul Cayard and Chris Dickson were demoted from their positions, a new candidate? - Hauraki News, www.hauraki-news.com/LatestNews/OracleRacing-LN4.htm

THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
Have you ever wondered why just one letter makes all the difference between here and there?