SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1033 - March 21, 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
Illbruck is currently seventy nautical miles south of Barbuda sailing in a 20-knot breeze. With steady trade winds the eight Volvo Ocean 60s are all reaching with full masthead spinnakers and they are racing at a remarkably similar pace. The global weather models, forecast reasonably steady winds through the weekend giving few passing opportunities for the fleet behind as they converge on Barbuda, which is a passing mark on the way to the Providence Channel in the Bahamas, prior to turning west for the finish line at Miami.
It is not going to remain all plain sailing however and illbruck's Spanish navigator Juan Vila will be following the development and movement of a high-pressure system over the central part of the USA. It looks like it will slowly slide southeast and affect the fleet in the middle of next week as will a weak front that extends south from an active low pressure system that will sweep east across Nova Scotia.
POSITONS on March 22 @ 0400 GMT: 1. illlbruck, 1229 miles from finish; 2. Assa Abloy, 17 miles behind leader; 3. Tyco, 20 mbl; Team SEB, 116 mbl; 5. Amer Sports One, 157 mbl; 6. News Corp, 166 mbl; 7. Amer Sports Too, 194 mbl; 8. djuice, 222 mbl. - www.volvooceanrace.com
SWEDISH MATCH TOUR
While Auckland's Waitemata Harbour was barely ruffled by a breeze on the third day of the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup, the twelve crews restlessly paced the dockside, desperate to work off some pent-up energy, and to find out who would be progressing to the quarter finals. Neither the patience of the Peter Carr, the principal race officer for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, nor the impatience of the crews were rewarded, when racing for the day was abandoned at 4:00 pm.
For Dean Barker and his Team New Zealand crew it felt like a day with a Damoclean Sword hanging over their heads, as they waited for their fate to be determined in the remaining three flights of the round robin section of this regatta. Barker is philosophical about his poor form in this regatta, he readily admits that he is struggling to adapt from the 80 foot America's Cup Class boats, to the 36 foot MRX boats that this event is sailed in.
"It's quite a big difference," he said comparing the different boats, "we spend a lot of time trying to adapt and switch between the two, we're probably more guilty than a lot of the other teams of actually doing too much in big boats, and not enough in the small boats.
He added, "for us the focus is America's Cup, we're just thinking purely about that and how we can be as ready as we can in February next year." For the boys who carry the hopes of the nation on their shoulders, the emphasis in their training is about to change, "right now we're thinking about design, we're putting a lot more of our efforts into designing the fastest boat you can. "Once it's in concrete you look at your racing programme, and how you can actually start racing the boats better," he said about the next phase of their programme. - John Roberson
RESULTS after day two:
1. Luc Pillot - France, Le Defi Areva, 7 wins 2 loss
2= Magnus Holmberg - Sweden, Victory Challenge, 6-3
Jes Gram-Hansen - Denmark, 6-3
4. Gavin Brady - Italy, Prada Challenge, 6-4
5= Paolo Cian - Italy, Mascalzone Latino Challenge, 5-4
Ed Baird - U.S.A. 5-4
7= Rod Davis - Italy, Prada Challenge, 4-5
Peter Holmberg - U.S.A., Oracle Challenge, 4-5
Ken Read - U.S.A., Team Dennis Conner, 4-5
10= Dean Barker - New Zealand, Team New Zealand, 3-6
Ian Walker - Britain, GBR Challenge, 3-6
12. Andy Green - Britain, GBR Challenge, 2-8
Complete results: www.steinlagerline7cup.co.nz
WHEN ONLY THE BEST WILL DO
Bruce Schwab and Ocean Planet prepare for the Around Alone race After completing the Puerta Vallarta race, Ocean Planet has arrived in Panama en route to the Atlantic Ocean. Next stop after transiting the canal is Antigua for Antigua Sailing Week. Ocean Planet is completely rigged with line provided by Samson Rope Technologies, a proud sponsor of Ocean Planet. To see the entire lineup of Samson products, including the all new double braided Vectran and PBO, check them out at www.samsonrope.com
* It seems former Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts was the man to watch in the unofficial Challenger of Record Management regatta. OneWorld, GBR, Alinghi, Prada and Oracle all took part in the regatta, which was a trial run for race staff. Officially there was no winner, but unofficially there was - Coutts. At the helm of the reconstructed Be Happy, the old Swiss boat, Coutts showed he is still a hotshot on the Hauraki Gulf by guiding his Alinghi team to success in tricky conditions.
"It was good to get out there and race against some of the other teams," Coutts said. "But it confirmed that a lot of the challengers are a lot more prepared than last time. I really do think this will be the most exciting America's Cup yet."
Seven months out from the Louis Vuitton Cup, Coutts is happy with Alinghi's progress. "It is going pretty well. The weather has meant we are fairly pushed for time in our own programme because we are a bit behind in terms of sailing, but I think we will be okay." - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
* "Yesterday, for the first time we went sailing with more than 18 knots of wind (that was our limit up until now). For safety reasons we've decided to take only one boat out. The beginning of the session started with 18 knots and ended up with 25. It doesn't seem to be a lot of wind when you are used to sail in the Fremantle Doctor in Perth (Western Australia) however with these powerful machines (25 tons) ... it is like going to war!! The power is already huge when the wind is blowing 15 and when it increases to 22 or 25, then the story changes dramatically." - Sebastien Destremau, French America's Cup Team - Defi Areva, writing for the madforsailing website. Full story: www.madforsailing.com
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 Scott Murray: I agree whole heatedly with Peter Bowker's submission regarding the current trend of establishing purported course records for the Fasnet, Newport to Bermuda, Transatlantic race etc. The validity of a record set by sitting at the dock waiting for the right conditions has no relevance to the race record per se, when you have to play the card dealt to you. I have been lucky enough over the years to have sailed on record breakers in both the Bermuda and Fastnet races, (no longer the current record holders) and remember the feeling of accomplishment from being part of team racing the track under the conditions provided by the wind gods, not by the meteorologists!
* From Jeremy Gordon Walker: I couldn't agree more with Peter Bowker's comments today re Steve Fossett's Fastnet Course record. Selecting your own start time and date in order to capture a course record is highly convenient. I'm sure Peter and many of the rest of us would have been delighted to start the 1981 'Slownet' a week later, or indeed the 1979 race a week earlier.
This issue is like golfers competing on eclectic golf scores. This is where you select the lowest score you have ever recorded for each individual hole on a course, and add those up to create a perfect round. Any reasonable golfer who has played 100 rounds at St Andrews would tot up an eclectic score that would easily beat Tiger Woods, if Tiger had been constrained to do all his holes on the one day.
So let's have two records for each race course: an eclectic record for when you select your own start time, and a constrained record for when you're made to start with the others at a time declared in advance by the CCA, RORC or CYCA. And no confusion between the two.
* From Ted Jones: Bravo Peter Bowker for telling it as it is. Racing records are set in races. Pete should know, he's set a few himself but is too modest to say so. He was aboard the record setter every time the Miami-Montego Bay Race record was broken and was navigator when Windward Passage set the present record in 1971 -- unbelievably 31 years ago. I was extremely lucky to be there, too.
* From Peter Cullum: Peter Bowker raises an interesting point regarding record setting outside the confines of a pre-scheduled race, but I hope the practice continues. Boats are so rarely within sight of each other offshore, that all the record setters are really doing by racing phantom boats, is fooling with the fifth dimension. I agree, however, that to take disproportionate pride in beating unknowing bygone spirits would be a little twisted. One of the rewards of heaven is we get to race all the Charlie Barrs of the past in tricked-out super high-tech toys, we can only now imagine, to see who sits next to the ultimate barmaid in the sky.
* From Frank Sticovich: I am looking forward to the day when Frank Bethwaite launches the 69er.
ON THE HAURAKI GULF
(The following observations were posted by Cheryl on the 2003AC website in the 'spy network sightings' forum section.)
* Yesterday I managed to see One World Challenge's new generation, USA-65 without its deck to ground skirt, as it was being towed out into the Hauraki Gulf. My initial impression was that its knuckle bow was more pronounced than that on NZL-60 but not as pronounced as on Alinghi SUI-64. The hull lines seemed softer - less sharp and angular- than those on the Alinghi boats and the Black Magics. The hull also seemed narrower than One World's other boat, USA-51 (former America True). USA-65's stern appeared to rise quite sharply out of the water. The length of its overhang looked similar to that on NZL-60 but was not as extreme as that on SUI-64 or the modified SUI-59 (former BeHappy). The boat is attractively painted with a royal blue bow and a lighter slate blue body. The syndicate name "One World" is painted in orange along the middle of hull. The OW "spouting whale" symbol is painted on either side of the bow.
* Team New Zealand: Each evening Team NZ go through an extraordinary performance to put one of the Black Magics (most likely NZL-57) back into its shed after returning from a day on the Gulf. All other ACC boats in the Viaduct Basin are housed in their sheds with the bow protruding from the front of the shed. The boats are backed into the dock where the travel lift simply picks them up and trundles them directly into the shed. The skirts are put on while the boats are in the water.
In contrast, NZL-57 is parked with its stern protruding from the front of the shed. It is still, however, backed into the dock where its deck to ground skirt is fitted around the hull. The hull is then lifted out of the water. At this stage the lifting movement stops to allow one or two TNZ crew members, in a very small dinghy, to paddle or push their way under NZL-57's skirts at the bow end. They enter through a slit in the skirt. They remain under the skirt, completely hidden from view, for about 10 minutes. The skirt at the bow end has voluminous folds so that the outline of the bow is obscured. Another crew member stands on the adjacent pontoon with a long thin rod extended into the opening in the skirt.
When the dinghy and the two crew members emerge from under the skirts, the travel lift resumes the lifting process until NZL-57 is on the base forecourt. The travel lift then rotates NZL-57 180 degrees to get the bow pointed towards the shed and the stern towards the dock. At this point NZL-57 is trundled into the shed. In the process of turning when side-on, parallel to the water, NZL-57 occupies almost the full width of the base forecourt. It is an interesting and very dextrous manoeuvre to observe. One can only speculate about its purpose. - Cheryl, www.2003ac.com
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Others have speculated that NZL 57 is sporting a bow rudder, which should intensify the spy activities on the Hauraki Gulf. Let the games begin!
THE RIGHT STUFF
Sailing is an equipment sport. Period! And when you make it all the way to the Olympics, you simply must have the very best equipment - the right stuff. No wonder the United States Silver Medalist in both the Women's 470 (JJ Isler and Pease Glaser), and the Men's 470 (Paul Foerster and Bob Merrick) used Ullman Sails exclusively. Additionally, Ullman Sails were used by the Silver and Bronze Medalist in the Tornado Class. Isn't it time to moved your sailing performance up to the next level? - www.ullmansails.com
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
"On board SEB we have an interesting mix of Europeans and antipodeans - which makes for a unique brand of humor, even when the sailing gets a little tedious spirits remain high around here. This evening the Scandinavian influence was dominating and there was a disturbing amount of nudity on deck: come to mention it, under the cover of darkness I am not all together sure that all the guys on deck even have shorts on. Certainly not the kind of thing you would see on a boat full of just Kiwis and Australians, but then again I doubt a fully Swedish team would be discussing cricket and rugby scores either." - Jon Gunderson, SEB
"It has not been a good day for nipper (aka Guy Salter) who had a flying fish ordeal of a different kind. The normal problem with these winged wonders from the deep is, that prior to take off it seems that they don't do very good pre-flight checks and often find a V.O.60 or more specifically a crewmember on a V.O.60 in their flight path. Having landed on the deck or incapacitated a member of the crew we normally throw them over the side for humanitarian reasons (plus they make a major mess of the decks). Nipper's problem was that one went completely unnoticed in a sail bag, which was right at the back of the boat to help trim the stern down in the fast reaching conditions, after landing. When the call came to peel [change] to that sail today, he ended up covered in the stinking remains after having to handle the sail for some time. It was getting dark and the breeze was up so it was not the ideal time for a salt water shower but there was no way we were letting him down below before several gallons of water had been used to get rid of the smell." - Steve Hayles, Team Tyco
"Forget about sailing. As you all know, we are DFL, (dead f........ last), and frankly - it sucks. We have been hurt big time in the doldrums, and try at the best of our dragon-spirit to gain back. So sail reporting is at present rather meek. So be it." - Stig Westergaard, djuice dragons
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* March 30: Safety at Sea Seminar, Fort Mason in San Francisco. Qualifies the participant for either the Gateway to Hawaii Race (which leaves from San Diego) or the Pacific Cup Yacht Club Race to Hawaii (which leaves from San Francisco).
* August 2-4: 30th Buzzards Bay Regatta, Sippican Harbor, Beverly YC. Nine classes will compete on 5 circles. J/22, J/24, J/105, Laser and Laser Radial, Shields, 420s, Vanguard 15 and PHRF Race, Cruising and Multi-Hull classes are all invited. Race Organizers are expecting 350 boats, and all classes will have limits. www.buzzardsbayregatta.com
OUT OF CONTROL
The Evening Standard (London) March 20, 2002 - Story by Patrick Sawer. The words will send a chill down the spine of any sailor. "Ultimately they are commodities," said the man from Lloyd's List, at a stroke bringing to an end hundreds of years of seafaring tradition. Henceforth ships will no longer be referred to as "she" in the shipping industry's own newspaper but will be known simply as "it", Lloyd's List announced today.
Founded in 1734 and claiming to be the world's oldest daily, the paper knows something about tradition. It is therefore well aware that its decision is not going to go down well with anyone with the sea in their veins. Its editor, Julian Bray, anticipates "a full mail bag" from many of his 10,000 readers around the world. But he is unbending. "We see it as a reflection modern business of shipping."
The move is, however, already being regarded as a betrayal of the longstanding naval tradition of ascribing female names and characteristics to vessels of any size. The general editor of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, Pieter van der Merwe, said: "Culture is a question of continuing tradition and one should preserve those inexplicable quirks. "It's not just a sentimental thing, you lose a level of understanding unless you understand the language of the time you're talking about."
It is understood there was some debate at Lloyd's List about the style change, but ultimately it was regarded as a "technical" issue. This will be of little comfort to anyone with an affection for all things maritime.
There is no definitive explanation of how the habit of treating ships as feminine began. Some argue it stems from when ships were dedicated to a goddess whose figure was carved on the bow. Others suggest it boils down to the fact ships, like women, can be difficult to handle and the people doing the handling were men. The US Naval Historical Center website says it is customary to classify things as feminine "which are dear to us".
Britain's first Olympic medal on snow took 78 years to win and 26 days to lose. Alain Baxter, the previously unsung Scottish slalom skier, has nine days to return the bronze he won in Salt Lake City after the International Olympic Committee stripped him of the prize yesterday for testing positive to a banned stimulant.
Holding up two Vicks inhalers - one British, one American - at an especially mournful press conference, Baxter stuck to his claim that his failure to examine the full contents of a nasal decongestant bought in a Utah pharmacy was responsible for the presence of methamphetamine in his post-race sample. The choice of a bar called Shoeless Joe's on London's Embankment was emblematic of his loss, as British sport grapples with another embarrassing and high-profile drugs farago.
Baxter will have to part with his gong, his folk-hero status in the Scottish highlands and the cost of a Jiffy bag, plus stamps. He has until March 31 to return a medal he won in clear contravention of the doping rules. - Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph, UK, Full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
A remembrance gathering for Carl Schumacher will be held on Sunday, March 24 between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. at the Saint Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco on the Marina Green. A parade of boats, particularly Schumacher boats, will follow the event and proceed from the club to the Blackaller buoy and then to their respective home ports. The family also wishes that if anyone intends to make a donation, that it be made to the Carl Schumacher Fund, Encinal Sailing Foundation, 1251 Pacific Marina, Alameda CA 94501. The Foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization.
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.