SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1026 - March 13, 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.
(Following is just a small taste of Andrew Hurst's gutsy editorial in the April issue of Seahorse magazine. Good stuff!)
With some trepidation I will predict that the Arbitration Panel's ruling on the OneWorld dispute will be anything but the bombshell that some of Peter Gilmour's rivals might be hoping for. More a limp slap across the wrist.
All the broader-based evidence from events such as the Volvo Race suggests that as sailing becomes a 'bigger' sport, in the commercial sense, so race juries are striving to ensure that the major battles are settled on the water. They are right to do so. Up to a point.
Still the supreme IACC sailors - Team NZ lead into the box in Auckland last month. But with numerous defections a lot is riding on Tom Schnackenburg's design team for the next Cup.
You only need look at other commercialised sports, and Formula 1 is the obvious example, to see that as a sport gains ground in this direction so rule management must take on a more, shall we say, practical approach. However, the evidence from F1 motor racing also suggests that at some point there must be a firm line drawn beyond which realistic sanctions will be imposed. Formula 1 flirted with this line four years ago, when only fate prevented a subseqently confirmed rule-breaker from becoming 'world champion' - an outcome for which the sport did not seem at all prepared.
Whatever the sport, there is a certain point of 'tolerance' beyond which the damage to credibility becomes irreversible. Even the most enthusiastic and passionate public will ultimately turn away from an obvious fix.
Sailing is nowhere near that point. But the current plethora of America's Cup disputes, which fundamentally revolve around the ownership of intellectual property do threaten widespread ridicule and lasting damage.
As is usually the case when a rule dispute becomes complicated, the current Cup wrangle is down to the fact that present rules (in this case covering the transfer of IACC technology) are completely unworkable. - Andrew Hurst, editor, Seahorse magazine, UK.
Read it all: www.seahorse.co.uk/2002-Apr/editorial.php
John Kostecki's job as the helmsman of the first-ever German entry for the America's Cup just went kaput. The illbruck challenge office in Leverkusen, Germany announced today that time had run out on the challenge's search for a corporate sponsor / partner for the campaign. If he was informed ahead of time, that could explain part of the frustration for Kostecki, who was reported today to be "clearly fuming" over a port-starboard incident in which his boat took damage from SEB in the early stages the current Rio-Miami leg.
Originally, illbruck CEO Michael Illbruck had said he was going to finance an entire cup campaign himself. That was in fatter times for the 50-year-old company, whose products include sealant systems, architectural surfaces, and filtration/insulation systems. More recently, Illbruck announced confidence that he would find a sponsoring partner. The decision to drop out of the America's Cup is a blow to the sailors, of course, after intense preparation and ongoing success in the Volvo. - Sail magazine website, www.sailmag.com
* A new boat for the (illbruck America's) Cup campaign has been under construction in Bremen, Germany. Although illbruck has a base among the America's Cup syndicates at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland, it has only been used to host the team's round-the-world race operations thus far.
The withdrawal of the German bid means there are now nine challengers for the America's Cup, which is also the number of challenger bases available at the Viaduct Basin. The Germans' departure could enable the French challenge, which has so far not announced the location of its Auckland base, to join the other teams at the Basin. - NZ Herald, Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz
* Here's the guts of the illbruck press release: LEVERKUSEN, Germany - illbruck Challenge, Germany's professional sailing team and current leader of the Volvo Ocean Race, is discontinuing all its preparations for America's Cup XXXI effective immediately. It would be the first-ever German participation in the 151-year old America's Cup. Despite intensive efforts to find a corporate sponsor, a commercial partner has not been found to finance the campaign, Michael Illbruck, 42, CEO of the international company illbruck GmbH and Chairman of the illbruck Challenge, announced today. This decision to discontinue plans for the America's Cup, which starts October 1 in Auckland, New Zealand with the Louis Vuitton Challenger Selection Series, in no way impacts the team's current successful participation in the Volvo Ocean Race Round the World 2001-2002, Illbruck said. The illbruck Challenge is the overall race leader with four of the nine legs completed. - Jane Eagleson, illbruck, Challenge, www.illbruck-pinta.com/en/
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
* Ross Field pondered whether his decision to tack north on the fifth stage of the Volvo Ocean Race was the right one. Yesterday NewsCorp's co-skipper got an emphatic answer as his boat dropped from first place to seventh, losing a 27-mile lead in less than 12 hours.
With the wind coming out of the east, NewsCorp now finds itself to leeward of the eight-boat fleet with less room to pick the fastest angle to sail on the leg from Rio de Janeiro to Miami. "Lost good miles to the fleet at the previous sked [position report]. Not good, but still happy with where we are," said Field early Tuesday before the full impact of NewsCorp's losses became apparent. - Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
* The immensely close racing for the lead in leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race changes the style of ocean racing. With almost 3800 miles to go, illbruck and Assa Abloy ended up in a luffing match like in an Olympic triangle race. Stuart Bannatyne, watch leader on board illbruck, suspected a "personal" vendetta. Not unlikely, as the US boys Larson, Howard and Rudiger on ASSA ABLOY must be very keen to keep a good cover on their rival John Kostecki.
Even with luffing matches the leading group of Tyco, Assa Abloy and illbruck managed to slightly get away from the fleet. Amer Sports Too lost the least on the leaders, closing in on Amer Sports One. News Corp, djuice and SEB lost at the back of the fleet.
STANDINGS at 0358 GMT on March 13: 1. Assa Abloy, 3759 miles from finish; Tyco, 0 miles behind leader; illbruck, 0 mbl; Amer Sports One, 8 mbl; Amer Sports Too, 10 mbl; News Corp, 20 mbl; djuice, 21 mbl; Team SEB, 32 mbl. - www.volvooceanrace.org
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CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
June 22 30: waves Week, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. Last year 275 boats participated. Keelboats race June 22-23; 26 and Dinghies race June 29-30. www.royalvan.com/waves
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 John Alofsin: Regarding Rick Hatch's comments about the recent Volvo collision and his opinion that rule 44.1 should apply: It all boils down to what is considered "serious damage" Mr. Hatch feels that the damage described on Scuttlebutt meets the criteria and I must disagree. In my opinion "serious damage" means that a boat is no longer able to safely continue or is substantially hindered in her ability to race.
The definition should have no dollar amount affixed to it. An example of "serious damage" would be a boat that has a hole so large that it can't continue for fear of taking on too much water. Other examples would be a broken spar or steering system. If an offender were required to retire every time fiberglass was crunched then the purpose of alternative penalties would be pretty much a goner. Unfortunately, despite efforts to avoid collisions they do still occur. If the fouled boat is able to brush off the fiberglass (or kevlar) and continue racing then the offender should be able to exonerate themselves with an alternative penalty, an apology, a cold drink when ashore and a check from their insurance company.
* Andrew Morgan (Regarding Rick Hatch's comments on illbruck's collision with SEB): I watched the video clip sent from illbruck, several times, and the damage does not appear to be as serious as they are making it out to be. Yes, they had a few stanchions and the pushpit removed and yes there is some munched yellow peaking through the gel coat, but I would not describe it as a "deep fist size hole cut into the deck edge".
My feeling is that they are trying to gain a significant advantage in the protest room over a situation that will have little effect on their sailing ability. I would guess the loss of the Code Zero, that was "pulled out of the water in bits", will have a much more significant effect on their finish time.
I would not want to argue rules with an expert such as Rick, but before penalizing SEB and giving illbruck redress, think about RRS 14(b) (Avoiding Contact: A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room shall not be penalized under this rule unless there is contact that causes damage). The rules have changed to force boats to avoid contact and if there is contact both yacht could be found at fault. I urge him and everyone else to look at the video and assess the damage themselves.
* From Chris Spalding- (re the rules of SEB hitting Illbruck)- I'm not sure if I understand Rick Hatch's grounds for protest. Rule 62.1(b) that the actions of SEB have made illbruck's finishing position significantly worse through no fault of her own. Last I checked Illbruck was a mile behind the leader, as far as I know they weren't in that position when it happened. Rule 44.1 However, if she caused serious damage she shall retire, if you can still race and be a mile behind the leader than I find it hard to believe it is all that serious.
If you were to assess a penalty to SEB right now it would have to be disqualification They're in 7th place right at the moment so you can't really give them 5th and be fair about it because your giving them a better placing than they have.
SEB made a mistake, and they did circles. Illbruck is still racing competitively so the damage can't be too bad. If you're racing around the world and can't patch a hole the size of a fist in the boat above the water line and rebed a pad eye or stantion either you brought the wrong crew or you didn't pack the right gear
* From William Rothschild: It is with great interest to read Angus Phillips' article on the state of Team New Zealand an their capability to defend the Cup in 2003. As a taxpayer here on Waiheke I am a supporter of the team but wonder where my tax dollars are going. I understand that the team cannot divulge the entire budget but the salaries of the crew and administrators would be interesting as to where my tax money is going.
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
* "Life on board is hot and smelly. Twelve sweaty bodies on a 60-foot boat is not a nice smell. During the day no-one sleeps, you lie on your bunk with the sweat just pouring out of you. You try not to move because that causes more sweating. You look forward to the night time, its cool and down below is just ok. Remember there is no chance to have an ice drink or a cool salad. The drinking water is warm and we are still eating hot food." - Ross Field, News Corp
* "The sailing has been great, reaching, keeping the boat powered up, looking for clouds, there are clouds to avoid and clouds to aim for, those to go under and get a lift from and those to go over, and those definitely not to go through because they are 'suckers' these have no wind. But this is the game we play this leg." - Emma Westmacott, Amer Sports Too
* "Yes it's hot, hot, hot, hot! Burned my feet on the deck going up to check a rainsquall. An iceberg might be a welcome sight right now. Burned the back of my neck not getting enough sun block back there. Burned my temper letting Tyco get to the east of us!" - Mark "Rudi" Rudiger, Assa Abloy
* "Our weight saving program for this leg has meant less food for this leg and it's the snacks that get flicked first. There are very few comforts out here and one less food bar a day is a bigger deal than you would imagine." Steve Hayles, Team Tyco
Although they rarely get wet, measure swells in centimeters not meters and are more likely to navigate round ducks than icebergs, four Wellington model boat builders are netting a cut from the world's most prestigious yachting regatta. And rather than making waves in the often cliquey culture of international yacht racing, the quartet have instead secured support from Team New Zealand to market and sell their radio-controlled replica America's Cup yachts to corporations across the world.
"So far we have produced 12 yachts of which we have sold six for NZ$12,000 each, and our target is to make and sell 100 by the time the America's Cup winds up (in Auckland) in about a year," said company director Mike Guyomar. That would amount to NZ$1.2 million of models.
"We have gone from a hobby on a Sunday afternoon to targeting America's Cup syndicate sponsors and the rich. SAP, an international information technology firm which is one of the five main America's Cup sponsors, has bought four of the yachts to display in their offices in London, Stockholm, New York and Auckland.
Formed 18 months ago, AC15 Yachts - America's Cup yachts built at 1/15th scale - was originally set up as a hobby to produce the models for showing and competition with other enthusiasts.But after showing off their wares at the Genoa Boat Show in September 2000, word got around and the feedback they got was so encouraging they decided to turn their hobby into a business. Then on October 1 last year, "we entered the big leagues by getting licensed by Team New Zealand", says Mr Guyomar. This allows AC15 to produce, market and sell exact replicas of Team New Zealand's main racing boat, known as the "black boat", and its display "white boat" complete with event sponsorship logos. Mr Guyomar said his company was negotiating with other America's Cup syndicates, and other yachts were likely to be coming off the production line soon. - Mathew Loh Ho-Sang, The Evening Post, Stuff NZ website.
Full story: www.stuff.co.nz
VALUABLE DECK REAL ESTATE
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TROPHEE JULES VERNE
LONDON, England -- The maxi catamaran Orange has missed the fastest time for a passage from Ushant to the Equator - but still has a fighting chance of breaking the Jules Verne non-stop round the world record. Frenchman Bruno Peyron and his crew crossed into the Southern Hemisphere on Sunday outside the record milestone time of seven days and four hours set by Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston in 1994 in the catamaran Enza, which went on to set a Jules Verne record of 74 days.
But Orange is well ahead of the time taken by the current Jules Verne record holder Olivier de Kersauson, who took nine days to reach the Equator on his 71-day run in the trimaran Sport Elec. After sailing 3,400 miles at an average speed of 19 knots, Orange on Sunday was more than 1,000 miles ahead of Sport Elec's 1997 record schedule.
The wind for the last four days had continued to blow stubbornly from dead astern forcing Orange's crew to gybe constantly under their big gennaker. "Conditions aren't bad," said Peyron. "They're just not ideal for good speed." To make the most of the 12-knot winds they were experiencing, the crew altered course slightly to the southeast, crossing the Equator at about 26¡ longitude West -- "A good door" to skirt the Saint Helena high dominating the South Atlantic in the days ahead, according to navigator Gilles Chiorri. - CNN / Inside Sailing website, Full story: www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/sailing/
* 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). - www.orange.fr
French photo-journalist and historian Christian Fevrier has been covering the Little America's Cup since the 1980s and has recorded not only the racing, but also the incredible technical developments which make the 25ft long C-Class catamarans that contest the Little AC, the most efficient sailing yachts afloat. The Madforsailing website has just posted an exceptional and unique gallery of his photos of this little known, but most extraordinary yachting event. You'll enjoy this: www.Madforsailing.com
ETCHELLS MIDWINTERS WEST
San Diego Yacht Club - 39 boats entered the Etchells Midwinters West last weekend, and sailed in near perfect 12 - 15 -knot conditions.
1. Odin, Eric Bentzen, 9
2. Sachem, James Buley, 10
3. Brian Camet, 11
4. Lady, Gary Weisman, 18
5. Mary Brigden, 23
6. Its OK, Craig Fletcher, 32
7. Bellweather, Mike Honeysett, 39.
Full results: www.sdyc.org/etchells/Etchells_Midwinters02.htm
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
Experience is knowing what not to do.