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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1039 - April 1, 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.

HANDICAP RACING
Following long-term discontent with the vagaries of PHRF, US Sailing have confirmed that they will be looking to the Royal Ocean Racing Clubs' IRC and IRM rules as a basis for all handicap racing in the United States after January 2003.

"IRC and IRM are proven handicap systems in Europe, Africa and Australia and we see no reason why they should not work well in the USA," says Bruce Eissner, Chairman of the US Sailing Offshore Committee.

"I think everyone now recognizes that PHRF is too regional in its application and too subject to the opinions of the local handicapper," added Eissner. IRC and IRM on the other hand are measurement-based system with no subjective judgments. It will certainly take a while for US sailors to get used to the new system, but there is no doubt that the result will be better racing and less arguments about handicaps.

Though IRC and IRM can be made to work with the traditional US Time-on-Distance results calculation system, race committees are to be encouraged to experiment with the European Time-on-Time system. A move away from Time-on-Distance to Time-on-Time would be hugely effective in balancing out the effect of different weather conditions and take IRC much closer to the goals of IMS if implemented effectively." - www.ussailing.org

TROPHEE JULES VERNE
Creaming through the Southern Ocean in quest of the Trophee Jules Verne for fastest non-stop circumnavigation, Bruno Peyron's mega-catamaran Orange has made a serious detour. And the big cat is now minus one crewmember.

Yesterday, Peyron made an unscheduled pit-stop off the Southern Ocean outpost of Kerguelen Island to deposit Australian sailor Nick Maloney, who was dismissed unceremoniously after a pair of related incidents that began last Friday morning. Maloney was at the helm when Orange performed an all-standing jibe in a fierce westerly gale, blowing out three battens and almost pitchpoling the boat. Maloney compounded the problem when, in an attempt to make light of the incident, he told Peyron he was "trying to dodge an ice floe in the shape of a rabbit." Superstitious French sailors do not allow the word "rabbit" to be uttered on a boat at sea.

"At that point," said Peyron, "I had no choice but to nuke Nick."

Orange turned around and pounded upwind for two days into the teeth of the gale, losing time and miles in their bid to topple the record set by Olivier de Kersauson's Sport-Elec in 1997. Peyron also responded to a press release issued by de Kersauson last week accusing Peyron of putting an overly optimistic spin on his position updates. "De Kersauson may attach his lips to my petite derriere," said Peyron.

Maloney, who was the only non-French crewmember aboard Orange, was put ashore on Kerguelen Island late Sunday night. Now he faces another problem. He is the only non-French resident on an island inhabited by 27 French research scientists, all men, several of whom seemed inordinately pleased to have a handsome, strapping Australian sailor suddenly deposited in their midst. The next Kerguelen re-supply vessel is not due for 11 weeks. "Tout alors," said Maloney, who did appear to have made progress with his ongoing French lessons. "I think I am in the deep merde." - Herb McCormick

SPONSORSHIP
Bill Koch, Chairman of Oxbow Energy and former America's Cup winner, has announced that his energy company will become a Platinum level sponsor of New York Yacht Club's entry, "Stars & Stripes" in the coming America's Cup.

"As a past winner of the event I know what it takes to properly prepare for this contest," said Koch. "I also know the benefit that America Cubed sponsors enjoyed through our two efforts in '92 and '95. Since that time, the Cup has taken on an even greater global audience. I now feel the time is right for Oxbow to have a higher profile, and with other energy companies involved in this event, that market sector will likely attract more attention, both within the end user, and state run facilities markets."

During the press conference, Koch also commented on his relationship with both Dennis Connor and New York YC. "Truth be told, were it not for DC's team in '92, we probably would not have won the Cup. Besides, can you really call yourself an America's cup winner if you haven't beaten him?

As for NYYC - after September 11, like so many people, my worldview changed a lot. It's not like racing yachts is ever going to do anything to help create world peace, but in this particular point in history, whatever can be done to help this country regain it's pride, must be done. I'm just spending a bit of money, a lot of people lost their lives or a loved one. Besides, neither Larry Ellison or Craig McCaw and Paul Allen really qualify in my book as being needy in terms of cash. So my resources better spent with the guy who has done so much of the Cup, and with the club that really started the whole thing".

When asked to define what a Platinum Level sponsor is, Koch simply said "It's a bit more than American Express would like me to put on my card this month, but it's not as much as I spent in '92". - YP, www.stars-stripes.com

DAWN RILEY BUYS PLAYSTATION
American Yachtswoman Dawn Riley has announced the purchase of Steve Fossett's maxi-catamaran "PlayStation", and her entry into the Jules Verne contest for next year. Now, there are three very high profile teams - all managed and sailed by women - entered into this contest.

"Having competed in both the America's Cup and Whitbread, this is the next big challenge that I see on the horizon. Circumstances have played themselves out in a manner that allowed this to come together very quickly. Sony was looking for a way to further leverage their relationship within the sport, and when this opportunity was proposed to me, how could I say no?" said Riley.

As of this date, the crew is not settled, but said she hopes to have that subject settled within the next few weeks. "I want to get out on the water and make at least two crossings as fast possible. I'm not going to wait to pick the crew, because I need to start sailing this boat right away - and I'll be taking as many of the current PlayStation crew as want to sail this summer."

Sony Chairman Howard Stringer offered these comments. "With two other boats led by females in this most fascinating event, we felt that the time was right for Sony to extend our relationship within the sport. We fully anticipate that the world media is going to pay attention to this high seas battle like never before - we expect that this will have a higher level of interest than will the America's Cup. Dawn has a brilliant level of accomplishment, and we feel very comfortable that she will enhance the PlayStation brand on a global basis". - www.goforit.com

SEE NO EVIL
TotalBan Sunglasses don't just block out harmful UV rays, or just polarize the rest... they block out ALL light completely. No more eye fatigue, no squinting, just calm and restful darkness. Perfect for napping in the cockpit, especially if you don't want the crew to know. They can't see in, you can't see out. Available at fine chandleries and sleep centers worldwide. www.notgoodfordrivingheavymachinery.com

OWNER/DRIVER RULE
Speaking at a hastily assembled news conference at Oracle Racing's Ventura, Calif. training base on Sunday, Larry Ellison, speaking for a group of IACC syndicate principals, called for the International America's Cup Class to institute an owner/ driver rule in time for the Louis Vuitton Cup this October. "The time has come for those who pay for these boats to be able to enjoy them," said Ellison. "It's also a way to control the arms race that the class has become."

Ellison went on to say that he had plenty of support. "Bill Koch was right about a lot of things back in '92, and one of them was driving the boat. I've communicated with Stenbeck (Swedish Challenge), McCaw (OneWorld), Berterelli (Alinghi), Onorato (Mascalzone Latino), Bertelli (Prada), Harrison (GBR), and a few others that are interested in joining the class if we're able to get this rule implemented. Every one of them was enthusiastic and agreed to sign the petition that I've sent to the International Sailing Federation. We hope that by showing strength in numbers our request will be regarded seriously by the sport's governing body."

Most members of the sailing team and support staff of Oracle Racing were on the platform behind Ellison at the press conference. Conspicuously absent was, Peter Holmberg, recent winner of the Steinlager match race cup in New Zealand. When asked the whereabouts, Ellison said, "We recognize the valuable input that we've received from Peter and are looking to integrate him into a position where his contribution can be utilized at the optimum level."

In the brief question-and-answer session following the announcement, Ellison answered one other question: Did he think that he would be the one that will take the Auld Mug home. "I have spent considerable time on the helm in all conditions and as a result, have a bit of an advantage," said Ellison. "But I feel that if the others are willing to dedicate the time and effort between now and then, we should have a very competitive series come October." - www.lvcup.com

VOLVO OCEAN RACE
During the past few days, word has come from Florida concerning key elements of Volvo's strategy for the next Volvo Ocean Race. Foremost of which is the anticipated choice of a maxi-one design. The current boat of choice is not a custom, one-off design: the next VOR will be sailed on the Swan 82 RS. "We got it wrong this time 'round" reports Helge Alten in an internal memo, "the race was as sterile and colorless as well, as we Swedes. We've decided to go with the Swans, they're built tough, they're very comfortable, and Nautor is leasing us 12 of them for a minimal fee. The Italian owners of the Nautor Group made us a deal we couldn't refuse. They're going to handle the management of the event next time, including the food, wine on board, and parties."

This sounds a bit reminiscent of the ill-fated choice of the Sydney 40 for the 1999 and cancelled 2001 Admiral's Cups, where a lease price of 1 per boat sealed the deal, but Volvo officials, who insisted they not be named, have confirmed the extraordinary lease deal was only part of the equation:

"OK, so maybe we will have to swing the pendulum a bit farther in the other direction, we have to do something to get people to want to sail this race. A big crew, shorter watch sessions, followed by a hot shower, massage, a gourmet meal and 10 hours of sleep in an expansive, dry bunk: that's what the professional sailors really want."

Stopovers next time reportedly include Cape Town, Singapore, Honolulu, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Lisbon and back to Southampton. "We're going to avoid as much of the Southern Ocean as we can. We're going through the Panama Canal, maybe knock around the Caribbean a bit, but enough of the icebergs. And Rio is out, Denge Fever and armed robbery aren't my idea of a fun stopover. And what's with all the transvestites?" - www.volvooceanrace.org

OLYMPICS
In support of his recent announcement for wide sweeping changes to the Olympic fleet, ISAF President Paul Henderson has announced the creation of a Foundation with the goal of raising US$100 million to support Olympic class development.

Speaking from his home in Toronto Henderson said, "Unfortunately, like too many things in the world, the Olympics agenda is driven by money. Other sports can exist without concern for how much money comes from the TV contract. Almost no other sport is as competitor equipment focused as is sailing. Too many countries and too many competitors simply cannot afford Olympic sailing. Yet, ours is a sport that is played by some of the wealthiest people on the planet. Why do we as a sport want to grovel for our position within the Olympics, when if we are smart about it, we can far more easily control our own destiny."

When Henderson was asked what he would do with this $100 million. "An endowment, pure and simple. The interest will be used to support the purchase of all Olympic class boats. The manufacturers in the sport cannot afford to donate the equipment, or even really fund it until it gets sold post-regatta. This money will give us the freedom to pick the best equipment for the Olympic regatta without concern of commercial influence.

To further "leveling of the playing field" in Olympic sailing competition, Henderson has called for competitors to fit into a very narrow weight band. It is believed his new initiative was sparked by the recent change of weight restrictions in the Star class.

Taking the crew weight issue to a logical conclusion, and possibly influenced by the expectation that the next two Olympic venues are likely to produce light wind competition, the president believes that the crew weight in all classes should fit within a 5 kilo band, so that there is a minimum as well as a maximum weight limit. Henderson is reported to have said, "I have started discussions with all the Olympic classes as to what their upper and lower weight limits should be." He added, "for example, my personal feeling is that in the Laser class, a weight band of 75 to 80 kilos would be very suitable

"Obviously it is up to the various classes to decide what suits their particular craft," the president continued, "but I will be monitoring their recommendations to ensure that no nationality of ethnic group is disadvantaged by the weight band they select."

The proposal has received cautious support from the sailboards, the Europe and 470 classes, but most vociferous in their opposition are the Star class, who have been trying to get their class accepted into south east Asian countries, and are therefore opposed to a lower weight limit. - www.sailing.org

AWARDS
The New York Yacht Club has announced this year's recipient of its 'Brenton Reef History Award'. For the first time this valued yachting trophy goes outside the United States to the French historian, journalist and photographer, Christian Fevrier of Paris. The NYYC Commodore said ' For a number of years Christian Fevrier has followed our activities and often corrected our archives, where they showed gaps or errors. We are delighted to recognize his major contributions to the club'. A presentation is scheduled for later this month in the model room of the Manhattan clubhouse.

2006 AMERICA'S CUP
AUCKLAND, NZ, April 1 - The challengers and defenders met at the RNZYS and announced they are supporting the report of a working committee that recommended changing the boats used for the 2006 America's Cup. A draft rule recommended by the working committee would be smaller, faster, and more oriented toward grass roots innovation and participation.

The new rules are simple. With the exception of spars and sails, all components including hulls, outriggers, racks, and hydrofoils must fit within a 45-foot diameter horizontal circle. Spars supporting sails may extend outside the 45-foot circle 15 feet in any direction. Mechanical control linkages affecting control surfaces are permitted, however electronic linkages are prohibited

Sails may be soft or hard and are unrestricted. Draft is limited to 6 feet at anytime while sailing. This permits setting the course for better spectator viewing. The yacht, and all parts must disassemble such that they will fit in a 40-foot container. The minimum crew of 4 and the maximum is 15. Once a crew is selected, that crew shall be used for the entire event except in cases of injury or other emergency.

The course will be 30 miles and contain 20 legs. No leg shall be shorter than 1 mile, nor longer than 2 miles. Orientation shall be a mix of 50% beat, 30 % run 10% beam reach and 10% broad reach. The start and finish shall be at the same location. At least 6 marks, and one end of the starting line, shall be boats, barges, or fixed platforms suitable for TV cameras.

Working committee member Paul Bieker said, "The wind has 10 times power at 25 knots as it has in 8 knots. That means shifting gears quickly will be paramount. No wind speed in the allowed range can be ignored if a boat is going to win. For foilers, light sails will probably serve only to get them up on foils and then go back in the bag."

"This boat will go 30 knots in anything over 15 knots of breeze," said Peter Harken, who also served on the working committee. "That means the time between marks could be as little as two minutes and as much as four and the boats will be sailing in 50 knots of apparent wind. In the higher allowed wind strengths, anything short of iceboat technology will be too complicated. You know, one sail, one sheet. These boats will need a spinnaker pole like a fish needs a bicycle."

Reactions to this new plan have been very positive. "This is great," said Julian Bethwaith. "A large skiff is bound to be the fastest on these short legs. She is the quickest to tack, and the acceleration is spectacular. This will be key."

Multihull designer Gino Morelli had a different take. "This is something we know how to do. Power and consistency will be most important. The skiffs will capsize and the hydrofoil boats won't have time to get up on their foils," he said.

Alan Adler felt that the hot ticket would be a long skinny main hull, very small amas, and then hydrofoils under the amas. "The main hull goes thru the water, the amas fly. That will give the low drag of the hydrofoil boat, but the reliability of a hull in the water like the catamarans," he said.

Journalist Rich Roberts commented, "Watching sailboat racing used to be like watching chrome rust, but this will be far more exciting." Gary Jobson agreed. "This will be both more photogenic and also easier to photograph. Also much like other action sports there will be a thrill a minute. Boats will pitchpole or disintegrate right in front of the camera."

To date 27 teams from 13 countries have expressed interest. www.teamnz.org.nz/

UNWORKABLE
Just a few months after the newly ISAF controlled Offshore Racing Committee instituted the IMS 600 class of small production ocean racers, the concept has been abandoned as impracticable. Nominated for a 'world', championship in the Mediterranean this October and for the Royal Ocean Racing Club Admiral's Cup in July 2003, the RORC director of rating has declared 'The rule is more full of holes that a gruyere cheese'.

The ITC which controls the IMS rule for the world has been struggling since mid-winter to save the concept, primarily by restricting it to older boats, but the owners of these, already with PHRF or IRC ratings were not prepared to start being measured to the expensive and complex IMS. This leaves the Admiral's Cup without a whole class, but it is learned that Geoff Stagg of Farr International is on his way to Europe with a sheaf of selections of recommended one-designs to fill the gap.

Meanwhile the Admiral's Cup has more problems, since the Irish authorities have stated that they cannot guarantee that there will not be serious security risks for a British organized regatta in Dublin. One source said ' Cork Week (where the English always race in force) in the far west is coastal and rural, but it should not be assumed that the same relaxed atmosphere will prevail in the Capital city'. To revert to Cowes is now not possible as a rival fixture for the same week is planned following the public snub to that port by the RORC, who are looking at tentative offers of hospitality from Barcelona or Marseille.

TECHNOLOGY
Word has leaked out of Redmond, WA, that Microsoft is planning to use the sport of sailing as the test bed for a new interactive news and information site. The service was slated to debut this spring but is currently on hold. Up to 5,000 racing and cruising sailors will be selected for the new high-speed service.

Microsoft spokespeople have refused to acknowledge or discuss the project but a confidential source close to Bill Gates said that the sport of sailing had been selected because "it is a perfect test subject - its constituted bodies operate in camera, it has no strong recognizable spokespeople, and sailors don't support sailing magazines or websites. This is a sport that deserves better and we're going to open the Gates!"

It is believed that sailing won out over skiing because its national profile is significantly weaker than that of the snow sport. It was close though. Gates only signed off on sailing after the research team overcame a significant hurdle. Initial polls revealed that most sailors didn't have computers fast enough to handle the planned blitz of information. To overcome that snag, participants selected for the project who are still fiddling with Pentium 1 and Pentium II machines or old Macs, will get 1.8 Ghz Pentium loaners. The special boxes will be shockproof, waterproof and they'll float.

The price of admission will be individual news filings. Using new wireless apps now being perfected by Microsoft, all participants will be expected to log their day's experience, cruising or racing, by the time they hit the dock or mooring.

"Think of it," the informant said. "With instant reporting and the potential for equally instant dissemination, there will be no opportunities for stories to be embroidered at the bar, protestors and protestees will have to tell their story before they can canvass for witnesses, and cruising or racing incidents that once were reported as wild-assed mast-in-the-water broaches will adopt a more even keel, so to speak. The societal implications are huge."

YOUTH SAILING
In order to prevent future calamities in Junior Sailing, US Sailing and the ISSA have coordinated to create a solution that will insure all children's safety at junior events. Taking into account the recklessness of all race committees and coaches nationwide, coupled with their lackadaisical temperaments and downright defiance towards being responsible for young children, the ISSA and US Sailing have come to the conclusion that parents are the only hope in terms of maintaining safety in the wild jungle of junior sailing.

Starting next weekend, parents will be required to accompany their child at each and every HS and junior regatta, and chaperone him or her for the duration of the event, on and off the water. Insofar as making sure everyone is properly dressed, or will be in the case of foul weather, parents are required to bring their children's foulies and show them to the event chairman each morning before racing. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of you child.

On a related note, the ISAF has announced a change of boat for the 2003 Youth Worlds. The event will now be sailed on 18 Foot Skiffs, with a crew of up to 6 kids, maximum crew weight of 600 pounds. ISAF Secretary General Arve Sundheim announced the changes and commented: "Sure, it's a tough boat, but spare the rod, spoil the child! Time in instill some serious discipline and competition in Youth Sailing. And we don't need as many boats to run the event, we can pack up to 6 of the little buggers on one skiff. Now that the class isn't full-blown development, a new skiff only costs about $30,000. If you can't afford that, you're either poor, or a lousy parent, or both. We really only want rich kids in this sport anyway". - www.ussailing.org

THE CURMUDGEON'S COUNSEL
Be particularly cautious today - it's April Fool's day.