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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1042 - April 4, 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.

MYSTERY
How Amer Sports One's electronic equipment was damaged in the last day's stages of leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race is still a mystery. The experts are still not sure, even after examining the boat from stem to stern. All they know is that the damage is extensive and it will cost a lot of money to repair.

There's no sign lightning struck the top of the mast and traveled down the lightning rod inside the mast and out through the keel. The experts say if that was the case they would expect to see black scorches in the wiring and electronic gear. The best guess now is that lightning struck the water near Amer Sports One and caused an electric surge through the boat's systems. That would not necessarily leave any visible signs but would be enough to knock out the instruments and satellite communications gear. Local marine electronics people say yacht's communications gear is frequently damaged in electrical storms. "A boat can be tied up at the marina with all systems switched off and it can still be wiped out."

Amer Sports One crew knows that only too well. The lightning damaged the Satellite B communications system and it was not switched on. The VHF and SSB radios and gyro compass were damaged. The Mini M satellite system was damaged and the on-board computer network will have to be replaced.

Eduardo Valderas is expert on navigation systems and part of the Nautor Challenge shore crew, explains. "The boat's earth was not sufficient to stop the high voltage from wiping out both the navigation computers, the electronic board and all the systems of measuring wind, depth, speed etc. The GPS (Global Positioning System) was wrong by one mile and the crew were not able to download the weather data that all boats rely on for navigation and the satellites for all the communication between land and boat did not work." - www.nautorchallenge.com

AMERICA'S CUP
Victory Challenge is running a competition in Sweden to design a symbol for Orm - the name of their second cup boat which is being built now. Victory Challenge's first America's Cup boat called Orn has a bird as its symbol. Victory challenge are looking for some symbol or character to represent Orm.

The prize for the best idea is a trip for two to Auckland to see Orm compete in the cup regatta. Orm should be ready by early July for transporting from Gothenburg to Auckland. - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz

NEW PERFORMANCE LAMINATES FOR GRAND PRIX RACE BOATS
Bainbridge International has recently combined there renowned 'off shore' (OS) scrim and a grey pigmented adhesive system into a range of inshore racing laminates that provide improved shape retention, greater strength and longer life. The OS DIAX has proved to be very versatile and this development will allow the inshore sailor to benefit from the increased perfomance that is offered by this range of laminates. For more information contact your sailmaker or go to www.sailcloth.com

IT'S A RECORD
The Optimist Class has beaten the current record for the highest number of entries in any one-design regatta with 640 entries at the Easter Meeting at Riva del Garda, Italy. The previous record was 534, which the same club had held since 1992. The sailors at this year's event represent 14 countries, including 136 young sailors from Denmark. The 640 boats end to end would cover almost half the width of the lake but are in fact have five separate starts. www.fragliavelariva.com/regate/3_e/3.html

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 Ron Holland: I was excited to see a mention in Scuttlebutt of the proposed new level racing "maxi" monohull class. This will certainly produce great high performance racing. At a price!

If the goal is to create the best possible big yacht high performance racing, surely there is a case to consider one design yachts? My experience with the prototype SuperMaxi 100 one design, sponsored by Cap Gemini, that has been campaigning in Scandinavian waters the last two seasons, has proven the concept and associated financial advantages of this approach. Admittedly there is an element of excitement when a new custom design hits the starting line for the first time, but the costs associated with this performance uncertainty could be greatly diluted if a coordinated effort was made between interested yachtsmen to create a fleet of strictly limited one-design yachts.

The ultimate extension of a 'no budget' development class is the Volvo 60's, where huge expenditures are committed for design and multi boat programs, to gamble on the possibility of a few hundredths of a knot speed advantage.

If the uncertainties of this design advantage gamble was taken out of the equation, would yacht ownership or the competitive satisfaction be in any way reduced?

* From Grant Wharington: I read with interest your story yesterday about the proposed new Maxi level rating class. This is certainly well overdue. However the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has set an upper limit on the Sydney to Hobart race which has run for two years now at 1.600 TCC based on the IRC rule. This seems to be a very fair way to equally handicap a variety of water ballasted and conventionally ballasted boats. If all the major offshore races in the world adopted this limit, I am sure we would see Maxis again competing in different events outside their own country.

Currently the biggest and most expensive problem is configuring these large boats to speed up or slow down, to fit in to each event's requirements. Why don't we impose 1.600 as a world wide limit for offshore racing for say 5 years, then we can have some certainty about designing and building new boats and we don't need to worry about different clubs imposing different limits to suit their own event?

* From Philip Crebbin: It was great that you gave pride of place in your April Fool edition to the handicap system debate, supporting IRC and IRM for the USA, however much tongue in cheek it was. Reporting something that is eminently sensible and, who knows, perhaps even possible is probably the best way of fooling people, unlike, perhaps, some of the other reports! I hope that it will get more people thinking about and supporting the idea. More people would get to enjoy their handicap racing if it happened, whether in cruiser/racers under IRC or pure racers under IRM (or IRC for combined fleets).

* From Steve Hatch, IJ / IU (Re: Dee Smith comments): If you read the VOR rules it is clear: if you crash you can do a 720 turn and continue racing, unless you cause serious damage. Well that was the case here and the other sailors just have to accept that these are the rules they agreed to sail under, and don't blame the Jury for doing a professional job.

* From David Motherwell: I am concerned for the precedent that the decision of the VOR protest sets. For those of us who sit on Jury's for club and other events we need to remember that a key part of this decision relates to the design and construction of the VOR 60. If my yacht suffered similar damage to SEB, I doubt I would make it off the race course without making use of my life jacket and I think that would qualify as serious. The Rules of Sailing are 'context sensitive', that's the message to remember from this.

* From Ross Bateson: Having seen the pictures posted on the Volvo website it is hard to see how the jury conjured up a decision that this was not 'serious damage'. It is terrifying to think that supposedly the world's finest sailors could have failed to avoid hitting a competitor: this is more something I would expect to see in a youth regatta.

* From Greg Tice: It's funny how every time there's damage to my boat when racing and I'm writing the checks, it's always serious. When it's someone else's checkbook, the damage is always just a "flesh wound" and I want to keep racing. I don't think anybody on either boat pulled out their checkbook.

* From Tony Castro: I hope we will have more Scuttlebutts like the April Fools issue. At first it made me laugh which I enjoyed. Had it been true it would mean the World had finally woken-up to the fact that we live in the 21st century and realized that most of our boats used for racing and current racing rules are sadly inferior to what we should have and the sport of Yacht Racing whilst having more participants is largely losing all the excitement, glamour and splendour. Can't quite subscribe to the use of the Swan 82's in the Volvo race but all other jokes I wish they were true! We can do a lot worse than what was suggested ... just pause and think!

* From Dawn Riley: Please print in Scuttlebutt that I did not buy Playstation. I have a completely full plate with the K-Yachting Team and the America True activities that are going gangbusters. We have 17 high school girls who are currently aboard the Tall Ship True North and will be returning to Miami on April 19th. We also have multiple True Youth events filling up our summer schedule. We will have our regular 1-day events across the country and in San Francisco will have our 1st summer sail camps where we, along with the Mills Corporation will scholarship 150+ community kids through US Sailing's Basic Program. We also have internship programs, and SFSU college classes and High School Sailing teams..... I am too busy to go around the world.

Thanks for clearing this up - and I will keep the 30 resumes that have been sent to us but for other projects :-)

S L O W
(Amer Sports One skipper Grant Dalton was interviewed by James Boyd for the Madforsailing website. Here's an excerpt.)

"This wasn't a good leg for us," Dalton admits. "I think we have a pretty serious speed issue". In other words he feels his Frers-designed VO60 is slow. He says that Amer Sports One not being on the pace came as a complete surprise to him.

"When I left Rio I was quite confident that we were in for a biggy. I felt power reaching we were pretty handy. We'd never power reached alongside anyone before, other than our own boat [Amer Sports Too] and then we were good". He believes there is no point of sail where Amer Sports One is quicker than the Farr boats, but power reaching under headsail and particularly if there is any seaway - he is adamant - they are slower. "The Farr boats are popping a bit quicker on the waves," he adds making a popping noise and an explanatory coming-out-of-a-wave gesture. - James Boyd, Madforsailing website, www.madforsailing.com

QUOTE / UNQUOTE
(Dave Reed did an interview with Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts that's posted on the Sailing World website. Here are two excerpts from Coutts' comments.)

* We typically make 12 to 15 quality tests in a day. The way we do it is first go out and equalize the boats, spending a fair bit of time calibrating the instruments and makings sure we've eliminated some of the variables. Then we roll into some tests and try to rate them as we go along. At the end of the day we analyze the results more thoroughly, and then re-discuss the data the following day, trying to draw some better conclusions. It's quite difficult compared to other scientific testing we do. The environment is so uncontrollable, especially when you're sailing along for 10 minutes and one boat has a quarter of a knot more breeze than the other one and you just can't see it.

* You have to have adequate funding, but you can't afford to have serious weaknesses. You can start out with the objective to try to be perfect in every area, which wouldn't be a bad objective, but that's hard to do. But, if you're very, very good and have no major weaknesses you'll be a strong team. I think that the game is such that there are so many good teams that weakness will be exposed pretty quickly. In 2000, there were exceptional teams, but they didn't have the total package. - Full story: www.sailingworld.com/sw_article.php?articleID=775

SAIL INVENTORY
In an attempt to limit the costs involved with a Volvo Ocean Race team a limit of 38 sails throughout the race was set, keeping within this figure is harder than it sounds. This seems a large number, but selecting the optimal designs to fit the figure is no easy task, especially when considering the length of the race and the conditions endured by the teams.

* Looking across the fleet from on the water (Team Tyco's Grant) Spanhake has had the chance to observe the majority of his rival's sail wardrobes. "Every boat has a weak spot. One will go faster at a higher angle, another sails down five degrees and then pulls ahead. The lead chops around, that happened in this leg a lot." According to Spanhake the biggest gains and loses are made on the reach. Both illbruck and Tyco focused on this point of sail, and looking at the overall standings, have done it to great success. "On a reach boat speed differences can be 2-3 knots. Upwind and downwind they are just 0.2-0.3 of a knot," explained the experienced Kiwi. "As you go down the fleet you see people who are newer at it, or made a decision to be an upwind boat, and that shows." - John Greenland, Volvo Ocean Race website, full story: www.volvooceanrace.org/news/leg_5/n5_020403_spanhake.html

TRYAD T1 FROM OCKAM
Fast,light,flexible,rugged - apt descriptions of the Ockam System since the early 1980s. Now its time for Tryad - faster, lighter, expandable and network exportable, in a new e/Series enclosure that can withstand the toughest marine environment. More function in less space. Want a custom application, code modification, polar file update? We can email the data to be read to compact flash card for easy installation in the T1 CPU+. For more information, email Tom Davis (tom@ockam.com). See www.ockam.com

TROPHEE JULES VERNE
We're coming from the nightmare of the Indian to the dreams of the Pacific!" exclaimed Bruno Peyron in today's chat session. It has to be said that after an Indian of suffering the maxi-catamaran Orange is now benefiting from "dream" conditions to celebrate their entry into the pacific. Prevailing 30 knot westerly, a following sea and the aurora australis two nights running... the boat is bowling along at 22 knots average, nudging around 500 miles per day and is surfing astride the Antarctic convergence zone or at the limit of where we could encounter ice, and the sea temperature is 4íC. On deck, the four man watches continue to take it in turns just like on the first day. The helmsman is relieved every half an hour while one crewmate remains behind him just in case. Another is stationed in the cockpit, sheet in hand ready to dump it in an emergency and the fourth man remains on standby under the cuddy out of the spray and the icy wind "that's coming straight out of the fridge." - www.maxicatamaran-orange.com/site/en/index2.cfm

ROUND ALONE
Race organisers Clipper Ventures released the official entry list for the 6th edition of Around Alone, the longest race for any individual in any sport. With the 31st March deadline for entries just passed, the line-up now boasts an impressive 19 skippers from 11 countries, with eight in Class I, 10 in Class II, and one Venturer (production/ cruiser racer) Class entry. Although there are 166 days still to go, these skippers are firmly in the starting blocks for the gun on 15th September 2002. Late entries are considered until August 1st, and Clipper Ventures are aware of several campaigns, pending on sponsorship, which intend to register.

A third of the fleet are making a comeback in Around Alone, and include some heavyweight names such as Marc Thiercelin, Brad Van Liew and Viktor Yazykov. Although this prestigious event was the springboard for them to international renown the first time round, victory still escaped their grasp. Two skippers, Gildas Iauch (FRA, Class I) & Kojiro Shiraishi, were both shore crew for winning BOC Challenge skippers, Philippe Jeantot and Yukoh Tada respectively.

List of entries: www.aroundalone.com/masterframe.htm

SPOOF
(The Seattle-based magazine, 48 Degrees North, printed an April Fool's story on their website that we enjoyed. Here's an excerpt.)

In a major move to simplify PHRF racing, USARULE has mandated the use of the new TONNAGE RULE. Long having been a rule of thumb on the water that "little boats get out of the way of bigger boats," the formal adoption of this rule into racing will replace all other rules and eliminate many if not all disputes when two boats meet on the race course. "Not only will this eliminate a lot of legalese jargon in the racing rules, but USARULE will save a lot of money by not having to print rules books. Every racer will still be required to purchase a rules book, he just won't receive any." grinned President I. M. Gawdlike over a glass of rare Bolivian Beaujolais. "This will also correct a lot of cash flow problems racers have caused us in the past. We tried the honor system before but it didn't work - racers would buy one book and share it, thereby robbing USARULE of crucial income needed for embroidered jackets. Now each racer will have to buy his own book because there won't be any to share."

This also will allow USARULE to concentrate more on their elite One Design Racing programs without the constant irritation of dealing with endless PHRF protests and appeals. "This allows us to ignore all those aggrivating local yacht clubs and PHRFers, who should be cruising anyway, and to concentrate on the One Design racing, especially on the east coast, which is where the only real sailboat racing is anyhow." says Gawdlike. - 48° North, full story: www.48north.com/apr2002/ne2.htm

CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* May 11-12: ISSA National High School Doublehanded Championship - Mallory Trophy, at Treasure Island, San Francisco. Hosted by Pacific Coast ISA and San Francisco YC. - www.highschoolsailingusa.org

* May 25-26: ISSA National High School Team Racing Championship - Baker Trophy at Grosse Pointe YC. Hosted by our MidWest ISA and GPYC. - www.highschoolsailingusa.org

* September 9-28: Laser World Championship and Laser Master World Championship, Hyannis YC. www.laserinternational.org/wor2002/index.htm

* May, 2003: Tahiti Cup. Start from either San Francisco or Honolulu and finish off Point Venus on Tahiti. - www.charlesbwarren.com/tahiti.html

THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of the police.