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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1031 - March 20, 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.

Though the frustrating black clouds and unpredictable winds of the Tropics are now almost certainly in the past a different kind of torment is setting in. Clear of the Doldrums the boats slide onto the Trade Wind conveyor belt to Barbuda which means only one thing, very few passing lanes for the next 1,000nm.

Of all the boats in the fleet Amer Sports One has certainly been harboring a large amount of tension and frustration. In videos from the boat Dalton can clearly be seen venting some anger having such high expectations on leaving the dock in Rio de Janeiro destroyed in one six hour period. Co-skipper Bouwe Bekking explains, "It was just terrible when the leaders got away. We were right behind them [the three leading boats]. Within half an hour they just disappeared over the horizon."

To make matters worse on board the Nautor boys boat they have been chasing the girls boat for the last couple of days. "There were mixed feelings on board," said Bekking. "It's nice they're doing well. It has been quite nice sailing for them, it hasn't been physically hard, and it shows they can do very well. They have a nice boat and nice sails so it's nice for them - but," emphasized the Dutch co-skipper, "it's not nice for us."

Right now, the boats are enjoying steady trade wind sailing, with the forecast promising a brisk 15-20 knots from the east or northeast. All boats have relinquished mileage to the leader, Illbruck, with the exception of Tyco in 3rd place, who has maintained a 14 mile distance from the lead boat, and is now only 3 miles behind Assa Abloy, in 2nd place.

This ocean marathon is certainly a race of stark contrasts, highlighted by Grant Spanhake aboard Tyco. He muses that if you asked 100 people to volunteer for a job which entailed being deprived of sleep, placed in extreme danger, always wet, and being faced with a real threat of frostbite, there would be few if any takers. Conversely, if the same group was offered a job which involved sailing in the Caribbean on warm, clear starlit nights, there would be no shortage of volunteers. Seems a reasonable assumption!

POSITONS on March 20 @ 0407 GMT:
1. illlbruck, 1860 miles from finish
2. Assa Abloy, 11 miles behind leader
3. Tyco, 14 mbl
4. Team SEB, 114 mbl
5. Amer Sports One, 152 mbl
6. News Corp, 181 mbl
7. Amer Sports Too, 185 mbl
8. djuice, 235 mbl

French skipper Luc Pillot chalked up four wins and only one loss on the opening day of the Steinlager/Line 7 Regatta, to hold the top spot on the leaderboard overnight. Representing Le Defi Areva Challenge for the America's Cup, he won every start of the day, and only let one opponent pass him, after a mistake he readily admitted to. Explaining his loss to Ed Baird he said, "we won the start against Ed Baird, but I did a mistake, and we lost that match, but we are very happy, we won all the starts, so it makes us very confident for the next days."

Auckland laid on a perfect day, with 10 to 12 knots of southwesterly breeze, and sunshine that made the Waitemata Harbour sparkle, the only downside was the strong ebb tide that dictated the tactics in most races.

Holding onto second place, with three wins and one loss is Sweden's Magnus Holmberg, the current leader of the Swedish Match Tour, who sailed a very steady day, only losing to Italy's Paolo Cian. Three skippers share third place, with a three win, two loss scoreline, Gavin Brady of the Prada Challenge, Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen, and Oracle Challenge skipper Peter Holmberg. Probably one of the surprise packages of the first day is Paolo Cian of Italy's Mascalzone Latino Challenge, who also has three wins, but has three losses as well, a newcomer to the Swedish Match Tour, he performed better than expected. - John Roberson,

RESULTS after day one:
1. Luc Pillot - France, Le Defi Areva, 4-1
2. Magnus Holmberg - Sweden, Victory Challenge, 3-1
3= Gavin Brady - Italy, Prada Challenge, 3-2
Jes Gram-Hansen - Denmark, 3-2
Peter Holmberg - U.S.A., Oracle Challenge, 3-2
6. Paolo Cian - Italy, Mascalzone Latino Challenge, 3-3
7= Dean Barker - New Zealand, Team New Zealand, 2-3
Ed Baird - U.S.A. 2-3
Ken Read - U.S.A., Team Dennis Conner, 2-3
Rod Davis - Italy, Prada Challenge, 2-3
Andy Green - Britain, GBR Challenge, 2-3
12. Ian Walker - Britain, GBR Challenge, 1-4.

Dennis Case and Carolyn Hardy are both previous Schock 35 National Champions. Recently, they both took delivery of new J/105s - #514 & 516. Both of these skippers used Ullman Sails to win their Schock 35 Championships . . . and they also ordered Ullman Sails for their new 105s. So what happened in the just concluded San Diego NOOD regatta where the 105s attracted 25 entries? Case and Hardy finished 1-2. Ullman Sails also won the 105 class at Key West Race Week. I suspect it won't be too long before other 105 sailors figure it out.

(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 Fred Roswold, Sydney Australia: If your yacht club's runs races at a loss, maybe you ought to try more volunteers, or something other than blaming "virtual" yacht clubs. People join "virtual" clubs that don't have high budgets and expensive clubhouses because they don't want to pay for services they don't think they will use. Usually, they just want to be able to race or have reciprocal privileges and they want a club that allows the to do so for the least amount of money.

We belong to a great "racing" yacht club, with a very nice but modest clubhouse, which has a slimmed down budget and affordable dues, and which makes a profit on professionally run races. Our racing is world class and affordable (we pride ourselves for "racing at its best"). We have also belonged to a "virtual" yacht club in Seattle for years. It has an excellent racing program that suits its members, run by volunteers, and they don't pay for a waterfront property or a lunchroom for the socialites to entertain business guests. So look at what it costs your yacht club for its races, maybe they are just plain too high priced. One clue would be if you can't have entry fees which cover the cost of the race. Could be that there aren't enough people who want that kind of racing to pay the fare. Try selling what people want.

* From Scott Diamond: Regattas are like any other business; if they are managed well they can make money. If they are managed poorly they can loose money. It is not that simple, but I run many events each year and I always go into the event with the goal of making a small profit.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: And that's the final word - this thread is now officially dead.

* From Jeff Martin: J Joseph Bainton questioned whether the Olympic Regatta is the most important in sailing. He uses the argument that it is more difficult to win a class's worlds. This is only a very small part of a far bigger picture. Olympic sailing in many countries provides considerable finance at all levels of our sport. ISAF could not exist in its current form without direct funding from the Olympics. At national level in many countries both government, commercial and private funding and support is attracted to our sport because of its Olympic profile. This benefits all levels right down to Optimist.

Sailing is an amazing and unique sport for 4 to 84 year olds of all shapes, sizes and ability, using mountain lakes to the southern ocean in a wide variety of equipment under a simple set of rules which are the same throughout the world.

ISAF is a federation of national authorities whose core business is promoting international sailing. Considering they are similar to a federation of all ball sports I think they do a pretty good job.

Henderson is open about his views and encourages open debate with sometimes provocative challenges. He acknowledges that final decisions are with ISAF's member national authorities. In my book it's better to have an active President than one who sits on a fence. I hope that he does have political aspirations within the IOC because it will mean another dedicated supporter of our sport campaigning for us all at the highest level.

* From Count Enrico Alfredo Ferrari: As to the America's cup and how it should be run ... I read the Italian quote today and it was wonderful. Wouldn't it be nice if only citizens of a country could race aboard a represented America's Cup boat! The grass roots flavor of the shoestring challenge has me rooting for Mascalzone 10 almost as much as for One World (Seattle is my backyard). Money is all fine and good and produces some spectacular hardware and technology but the guys/ gals who make it work on the water should be citizens of the country represented. Vincenzo Ornato takes an obvious pride in his fellow citizens and to me that pride is the heart and intent of this contest.

"Flying fish have helped ease the tension during night watches. Magnus Woxen appears to be a bit of a flying fish magnet and was struck twice in the chest last night while steering. These fish come flying out of the dark, totally unsighted, and give you quite a surprise when they slam into your body. Their strong odor is a real give-away when they land in an unusual location such as a rope- tail bag, companionway hatch or imbedded themselves in the sail stack." - Gareth Cooke, SEB

"The Kevlar sweat box is not a pleasant place to be, the heat is unbearable and the smell is hard to describe, when you consider that 12 men still wearing the same boxers, lightweight shorts and top that we left Rio 10 days ago, all living in an area the size of a small front room and sharing one toilet, add to that the temperature at the sauna level and you probably will have some idea of just how rank it is!! Nelly [Neal McDonald] is quick to blame the French in his typical British humour although many feel his shoes are at the root of the problem. A month ago the guys could not wait to get below to escape the rigours of the Southern Ocean, now we are almost always half an hour early on deck!" - Jason Carrington, Assa Abloy

"We are starting our djuice survivor contest tomorrow. Nocka [Anthony Nossiter] gets two large portions of lunch; he can share with one other person, but only one. Obviously the rest of the team will be pissed off, and most likely Nocka will eat both portions alone, but you never save some weight I have also been considering the idea that the internet viewers could vote one person off the boat every day. As we now should have crawled out of the no-wind area, we should have enough crew to reach Miami." - Knut Frostad, djuice

"The boat is completely stacked on starboard tack with nothing that is not bolted down. Everything from our food supplies, emergency medical supplies, personal clothing, and sails are as far outboard as possible. The leeward side of the boat below looks just like an empty shell that has been deserted." - Chris Larson, Assa Abloy

"Today we were able to open up a little lead, which is a direct result of our sail testing sessions we did before the race started. It is nice to see the benefits of our two-boat testing, because it took a lot of work and dedication from our entire team." - John Kostecki, illbruck

There are just a few days left for you to subscribe to at the discounted rate of £14.99 ($21.35 USD, 24.21 Euros). After March 25 it will cost you another £10. The subscription fee covers you for an entire year. For less than the price of a single cappucino or cocktail per month you'll have access to editorials and features by Peter Bentley, James Boyd, Andy Rice, Ed Gorman, Gerald New, Mark Chisnell, John Greenland and many others. Cutting edge sailing news and journalism, 24 x 7 x 365.

BOAT REVIEW£ (While we don't normally review new boats in Scuttlebutt, I enjoyed Mark Jardine's thoughts about the hot new 59er . . . and thought you might also. Here's an excerpt.)

Friday was my first chance to have a go in the new 59er from Ovington Boats. This Frank Bethwaite designed boat is designed for the more mature skiff sailor with no trapezes, but performance that you would associate with a true skiff-style boat. The rig will look very familiar to those used to the 29er and 49er - this is due to it being designed by Frank's son Julian who made both of their rigs. The sail area is 150sq. ft. upwind with a 235sq. ft. asymmetric kite. Our test sail was in around 12 knots of breeze.

The first thing I noticed while sailing the boat was how flat the sails seem. With the new designs such as the 59er the hull itself is relatively thin, requiring less depth in the sails to drive the boat along. The remainder of the width of the boat is made up with the rolled wing-like side decks.

Upwind the boat was easy to sail and keep in a groove. Dave Hall of Ovington Boats said that the fastest upwind performance was gained when not feathering, until it becomes too windy to do this. The responsive rig does most of the work that would usually be required by playing the mainsheet. Loads on the controls are unbelievably light with the off-the-boom mainsheet only requiring fingertip control. The jib is a self-tacker like the 29er and 49er with a single control line lead centrally behind the mast. Through the tacks you really notice the extra space afforded by the high boom. Also the extra height of the rolled side decks make it very easy to stand instantly coming into the boat.

Downwind the boat quickly gets up and goes. By sailing high initially the apparent wind quickly built sending us further off the wind in an instant. Once here the sheet loads again were light and the boat was very stable. Gybing as well was easy but I am sure would provide a challenge in stronger winds.

Early racing in Sydney Harbour showed the 59er to be slightly slower than a B14 in the breeze, but holding it's own in the lighter winds. The increased rocker gives it the extra light wind performance which should be great for inland racers. The class is aimed at crews weighing over 150kg between the helm & crew. Teams under this weight will carry lead to bring them up to the minimum weight. - Mark Jardine, Yachts & Yachting website

Full story:

Team Dennis Conner helmsman Ken Read said he was "blown away" when he first saw Syndicate Row after arriving in Auckland. Read is here for the Steinlager Line 7 Cup, the fourth round of the Swedish match-racing tour which starts off Hobson's Wharf today. "Our humble little abode, down the end, looks very small and is definitely not the fanciest compound around," said Read, who was the Stars and Stripes helmsman in the last challenger series. "But once it is fixed up it will do the job."

Team Dennis Conner are one of only two syndicates who have not trained in Auckland over the summer, the other being the French entry Le Defi Areva. "A lot of it comes down to the budget and logistics. If we had an unlimited budget we would have been sailing for the last two years like Prada, Team New Zealand and everyone else. "Our summer is just starting back home so sailing is pretty good. "We could come down in August or September or leave it till the last minute - we are still working it out." - Julie Ash, NZ herald, full story:

* The maxi-catamaran Orange has passed the Greenwich meridian, and very soon Good Hope should be just a geographical point already forgotten by Peyron's men. The forties have given a second wind to the Giant. She's striding out now, she's been let loose. The speedometer is oscillating between 28 and 23 knots, and the daily runs are on the increase again. "The sea is really manageable and it's now that we must attack" Peyron admitted. "We're really satisfied with our sailing conditions. We're on the edge of a very disturbed system, in a steady wind and on a tidy sea... It's ideal for attacking. We hope to be able to keep up this rhythm for several days, before tackling a more complicated passage with a sea that is surely going to be more difficult. Today the boat is slipping along easily. She's passing admirable through the waves. Orange is really made for these latitudes. -

* Having consulted with Geronimo's entire technical team, the owners of the 110-foot trimaran have decided to change the boat's steering gear. The boat has proved highly satisfactory, but we now want to change the steering gear so that it can meet our requirements fully and match up to Geronimo's full potential. But to do this, we have to change it completely, rather than patch up what is already there. Once this work has been completed, we and our partners, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric, will be in position to set a date for resuming our Grands Records programme. Needless to say, that date will be preceded by a period of thorough testing to validate the changes made. We don't know how long this will take and must give up our attempt to beat our own Trophee Jules Verne record for the moment. -

More than 100 entries with Olympic ambitions from across the country and Canada will compete in the 42nd Olympic Classes Regatta at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club Friday through Sunday. This year competitors from across the country and Canada include Meg Gaillard of Jamestown, R.I.; Darrell Peck, Gresham, Ore. and Peter Wells, Newport Beach, all of whom are rated No. 1 in the current US Sailing Team rankings in the Europe, Finn and Mistral classes, respectively. This is the final event that will count toward the 2002 rankings. There will be competition in seven Olympic and Pan American Games classes, plus Solings. Classes include Finn, Mistral (sailboard), Europe, Laser, 49er, Snipe and Star. - Rich Roberts,

Cheryll Kerr photographed the start of Steve Fossett's Fastnet record breaking attempt on March 15 and has posted the images on her website:

Houston YC, LaPorte, Texas - Despite long waits for breeze and dense fog, 18 races were completed in the Cameron Foundation Vector Midwinters. Two-time Tornado Olympian Charlie Ogletree and New Zealand 40 Olympic hopeful Steve Keen adapted brilliantly to the Vector, prevailing over HYC sailors Jake Scott and Ryan Glaze, and Vector class President Tracy Hayley Smith and her husband Ezra. -

Smile: A curve that can set a lot of things straight.