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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1046 - April 10, 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.

Royal Perth Yacht Club burst back onto the international sailing scene today with the launch of a spectacular and innovative new ocean race, starting and finishing in Fremantle. With a total prize purse of US $6.4 million, the race will pass the three notorious Capes, Leeuwin, Horn and Good Hope, to port, and take about 45 days, from a start in December 2004. This will be a non-stop blast around the infamous Southern Ocean, sailed in identical 25 metre boats, with the winner taking US $2.5 million, and a "skins" type format making it possible for one boat to collect up to US $4.65 million

The organizers of the "Antarctica Cup" race will supply the boats, which are to be designed by Ron Holland, and built in Western Australia, with the entry fee for the event including the purchase price of the boat. America's Cup winning sailor, and lifetime Fremantle resident, John Longley said about this new project, which is scheduled to happen every two years, "it is not often that a great idea corresponds with a great need. I am sure that everyone interested in long distance, blue water ocean racing will be captivated by the potential of this great race."

Although this is a non-stop ocean race, there will be eleven legs, each one starting and finishing with the fleet passing through a gate, either created with electronic waypoints, or a physical gate like Cook Strait, between North and South Islands, New Zealand. Each leg will have prize money of US $100,000 for the fastest boat, which will not necessarily be the leading boat, and there will also be points scored, so there will be a points winner as well as a first across the finishing line winner. The gates which divide the race into legs, are also an important safety feature, because they will prevent the fleet from straying too far south into dangerous iceberg territory.

This race will be open to yacht clubs around the world, which will represent their countries, boats will have to be skippered and crewed by nationals of the country they represent, making this very much a "nations cup" of blue water ocean racing.

The driving force behind this daring new concept is Fremantle identity Bob Williams, the former owner of the champion Australian basketball team, the Perth Wildcats, he was also one of Western Australia's most successful ocean racers in the eighties, with a pocket maxi called Freight Train. He has gathered around him a team of international sailor, including John Longley, and Sir James Hardy, who will be patron of the race, to develop the concept.

Talking about the boats he is designing for this unique race, Ron Holland said, "my aim has been to create a new design for this great race, that presents an exciting high performance platform, yet acknowledges the desirability of greater safety margins than would have been possible to achieve outside the one design concept."

The course will take the boats south from Fremantle to Cape Leeuwin, where they will turn left, and head across the Great Australian Bight, passing Cape Horn - which is almost exactly half way, then on to the Cape of Good Hope, before finishing back in Fremantle.

In recognition of the history of exploration in the southern hemisphere, each of the legs is named after a famous ship of boat connected with this part of the planet, including Endeavour and Cutty Sark, while the gates that separate the legs will be named after sailors or explorers like Scott and Tabarly. - John Roberson,

LONG BEACH, California - Who is going to stop Peter Holmberg from winning his fourth Congressional Cup in five years?

Nobody had the answer on a breezy opening day of racing Tuesday when the world's No. 1-ranked match racer ran the table against fellow America's Cup campaigners Ken Read and Rod Davis, former world champion Ed Baird, local favorite Scott Dickson and Britain's Andy Green to stand alone at 5-0. Holmberg, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, looked even more like a solid choice to lead Oracle Racing's challenge starting later this year.

With 13 flights remaining in the double round robin format before Saturday's semifinals and finals, Denmark's No. 3-ranked Jes Gram-Hansen is next at 4-1, followed by Read, Dickson and Gavin Brady at 3-2, Baird and New Zealand's Dean Barker at 2-3 and Davis, Green and France's Luc Pillot at 1-4.

The sturdy Catalina 37s came alive as the wind grew from 8 to 14 knots before fading in the final round. The Congressional Cup, hosted by the Long Beach Yacht Club for the 38th year, is the fifth stop on the current Swedish Match Tour.

Barker not only won the event in 2000 but is Team New Zealand's America's Cup defender, while Davis and Brady are four- and two-time winners, respectively, indicating that the powerhouse lineup has no respect for past success.

Chief umpire John Doerr of Britain thought that might explain the flurry of protest flags that flew throughout the afternoon. "I think it reflects the fact that there are a lot of skippers here that are very good," Doerr said. "They realize that if you get behind it's going to be very hard to recover."

Gram-Hansen, 29, also was a late entry. Although he was runner-up in the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup in New Zealand last month, he may have been taken lightly here because of his inexperience in sailing boats with steering wheels instead of tillers---a feature that makes the Catalina 37s unique on the circuit. This is only the second time he has stood up to drive, but his boat handling Tuesday was superb. Sailing with two other Danes and three Americans, including local legend Steve Flam as tactician, he lost only to Brady while beating Davis, Green, Baird and Pillot. - Rich Roberts, /

On Friday, April 19th, Ullman Sails is hosting a J/105 racing clinic in Newport Beach, CA - the day before the Newport Harbor YC's Ahmanson Series. In the morning, there will be a chalk talk at the Ullman Sails Newport Beach loft, followed by lunch and an on the water clinic. Come to whatever portion your schedule allows. If your boat won't be there, you'll be assigned to a boat that's shy of crew. Karen Hall is taking care of RSVP's: (619) 222-6560,

Volvo Ocean Race Headquarters in England receives the positions of the boats every 10-minutes. Adding up the distance sailed between each of these reports gives a fairly accurate representation of the actual distance sailed over the ground for the each leg - a number that is far more accurate than one arrived at through the six-hourly position reports that are released during the race. Also, given the distance sailed and the elapsed time for the leg, average speed calculations for each boat are easily obtained.

Not unsurprisingly (if one is familiar with the points table) these distance and speed numbers confirm illbruck is usually the fastest boat, and Amer Sports Too generally the slowest. However, delving into the numbers reveals a bit more than the obvious.

Assa Abloy has long been regarded by many of the skippers as one of the quickest boats in the fleet, and poor finish positions on the first two legs had many people shaking their heads. Well the numbers bear out the dock talk. The short answer is that Assa Abloy is a quick boat, but after five legs it's sailed 1149 miles further than third placed Amer Sports One, the most efficiently (if sailing the shortest distance is a measure of efficiency) sailed boat in the fleet. That's an average of 230 miles, or nearly a full day of extra sailing, that Assa Abloy has done compared to Amer Sports One on each leg.

In fact, Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One, posting two consecutive poor results into Rio and now Miami, may have masked a speed problem by sailing far shorter distances on the first two legs. Amer Sports One covered just 7822 miles on the first leg, compared to a leg average of 8262 miles - a 440 mile saving. In comparison, SEB sailed a staggering 8740 miles from Southampton into Cape Town, over 900 miles further than Dalton. - Peter Rusch, Volvo Ocean Race website.

There's much more to this fascinating analysis:

(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 Rosenberg: Mr. Henderson's reference to General John Ashcroft's statement concerning the need to use both WD 40 and Duct Tape to run the government should have also included the fact that sailors, who should be credited with finding many great solutions which then transcend into other industries, are now ahead of the curve again and that the government should take notice. We all know that WD 40 and Duct Tape consist of technology that is decades old, both are destructive to the environment, and both must be constantly re-applied to avoid failure.

Welcome to the year 2002 - these days most sailors rely on Team McLube Sailkote to keep things from sticking, and Click Bond Fasteners to be sure they stick forever.

Please note that this is not intended as a jab, simply as a fun gesture toward helping Mr. Henderson keep current. Oh, and please feel free to clue in your friend Mr. Ashcroft if you like.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: While I know this letter is shamelessly commercial, we let it slip in because it's also pretty accurate.

640 miles on the log over the past 24 hours! The maxi-catamaran Orange is tearing along on the edge of the Antarctic convergence zone. On board, one watch follows another just like on the first day, but now with the pleasure of seeing the dials go mad. The elements are just right and Orange doesn't need any encouragement to jam the speedo up against 30 knots for hours at a time. It's all fallen into gear in the most desolate expanse in the world, despite this nasty tropical low rearing up like the Sword of Damocles in front of the hooded sailors. The secret lies in the speed: remaining in the current flow of the ridge of high pressure, and beat the low with speed. "Our big truck is really hauling," explained crewmember Jean-Baptiste Epron.

Finally! A "0" weight solution to halyard identification even after covers are stripped! Samson Rope Technologies introduces its exclusive ColorMatch 24 system. All high tech Samson lines have colored cores that match the tracer colors. With multiple halyards forward, there is no need for colored halyard balls or other identifying hardware after the covers are stripped. The entire core is still color coded with the cover tracer. For more information check

Steve Fossett and his 125' maxi-catamaran PlayStation have just set another world record (pending ratification by the WSSRC - World Sailing Speed Record Council) on the Plymouth (UK) to La Rochelle (France) ocean passage. This is Steve and PlayStation's 7th world sailing record set in the last 12 months.

Sailing from Plymouth Monday afternoon with a useful (but cold) northeast wind, Steve and his crew of nine set a time of 16 hours 41 minutes 40 secs on the 355 nautical mile course - an average speed of 21.26 kts - the 3rd fastest of the official world records of the WSSRC. The previous record holder of this passage was the 40' racing tri-maran Challenge (the ex-Mollymawk) - co-skippered by Ross Hobson and Pete Berry in July of 2001. But Pete hasn't lost his record completely - as he is now sailing aboard PlayStation as one of Steve Fossett's two Watch Captains - alongside American Dave Scully.

Further record attempts planned for this Spring's programme include the Trans-Mediterranean record from Marseilles to Carthage and the Route of Discovery E-W Trans-Atlantic record from Cadiz to the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas.

PlayStation Crew: Skipper: Steve Fossett (USA), Navigator: Chris Tibbs (GB), Watch Captain: Dave Scully (USA), Watch Captain: Pete Berry (GB), Brad Cavanagh (USA), Quentin Dimmer (GB), Simon Cotter (Ire), Mark Featherstone (GB), Rich Janus (GB), Dave Thompson (GB)

After a little rest and relaxation for the race crews in Miami, and a busy time in the boatyard for the shore crews, the fleet racing in the Volvo Ocean Race will be ready and raring to go out again this Sunday and do battle in leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts at 1300 local time.

On Sunday, the fleet should start its voyage from Miami with light tradewinds, augmented by the daily sea breeze. The strength of the wind will depend upon the position of the Azores, or as it more often call on the east side of the Atlantic, the Bermuda High, which moves around the North Atlantic with the seasons.

Travelling north, the weather will become more variable as transient depressions and fronts displace the high pressure. Routeing charts, a compliation of wind data over many years, show that the wind can come from any direction depending upon the life cycle of any depressions that may be around or forming.

The Gulf Stream, which is a fast flowing current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico , flowing through the Straights of Florida and up the eastern coast of the United State, will have a big influence. This river of warm water follows the edge of the continental shelf before turning to the east near Cape Hatteras and heading across the Atlantic.

This band of water not only has a big influence on the course the yachts choose to gain full benefit from the current, but also on the weather itself, as it transports warm, moist air north. Heat and moisture drive weather systems and, with the continental landmass of America providing dry, cold air from the northwest that can then mix with the warm, moist air from the south, depressions can quickly form. Cape Hatteras has a reputation as being an area where storms are spawned and the warm waters Gulf Stream and cold waters form a front. It is particularly bad for producing violent storms with little warning.

On hitting the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, a front can intensify into a more vigorous system with the surface air becoming unstable and large scale, convective activity quickly developing. This can quickly regenerate the front, creating line squalls and thunderstorms. With strong wind opposing the two to four knots of the Gulf Stream, dangerous seas can develop, something that the crews will be aware of, particularly as so many of the teams have been training in this area.

The final run into the Chesapeake Bay is likely to be made in lighter, more variable winds as the influence of the Gulf Stream is moderated by the land mass to the west.

STANDINGS: Race Points
1. illbruck. 36
2, Assa Abloy, 28
3. Amer Sports One, 25
4. Tyco, 24
5. News Corporation, 23
6. djuice, 19; 7. SEB, 17
8. Amer Sports Too, 8

GBR CHALLENGE: Eighty feet of hope, pride and national sporting identity will be unveiled in Cowes on Friday. It is the result of 12 months of flat-out work, is the centrepiece of a budget that has grown to £22m, and it puts Britain back at the top table of a game in which, with some justice, it can claim to be a world force.

"It is a huge day for us," says the skipper and double Olympic medallist Ian Walker. "We have been amazed at just how excited the sailing community is here at home. And we are excited ourselves. It is Britain's first new America's Cup boat since 1986 and it will be ours. You always feel a strong affinity with your own new boat."

In a development of the silver and blue livery, the new boat, minus keel and bulb because the ceremony is indoors and minus the mast which is in New Zealand, will, says Jo Richards, a leading member of the design team, look much like any other new generation boat. But there will be subtleties for the educated to ponder on. The boat, says Walker, is like the team; respectful of the knowledge of others but with a fair sprinkling of new ideas.

The goals have been speed, speed and speed and, despite the limited time available, the latest tank tests are said to have been very encouraging. - Hauraki News website,

US Sailing has named Brian Hill, 26, of Lake Forest, the Most Outstanding Director of a Year-Round Sailing Program. Hill became director of Lake Forest's sailing program three years ago and has helped the program grow to include more than 300 participants and a fleet of 40 boats.

The City of Lake Forest's Sailing Program is a comprehensive, year-round program that specializes in the training of youth and adults in sailing. They run on-the-water classes and racing programs eight months a year and other classes and programs 12 months a year. Additionally, US Sailing named Lake Forest the host city of the 2002 Midwest Junior Olympic Sailing Festival in June.

April 11-13: J/24 National Championship, Charleston YC.

Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.