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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1047 - April 11, 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.

The death of an Austrian Tornado sailor last week in Palma has raised some issues that the sport needs to address. It often takes a tragedy to prompt changes that, with a little foresight, were obvious before the event, but perhaps now we can consider what sort of changes should be made before such a calamity occurs again.

In this instance, it was the trapeze hook becoming caught in the wrong part of some specialist trapeze gear, used only on the Tornado or other high-performance catamarans. It is the trapeze hook that is often the culprit in these incidents. The death of a German sailor when out in his 49er on Lake Garda a few years ago was also the result of his trapeze hook becoming entangled in the cap shrouds after he capsized.

18-foot skiff sailor and now Aussie 49er Olympic campaigner Carter Jackson says he is paranoid about his hook getting entangled during a capsize or a pitchpole. "As soon as I know we're going down, I put my hands over my hook as I'm jumping, to stop it getting caught on anything".

It just so happens that the designer of the 49er and numerous other skiff classes, Julian Bethwaite, is working on a revolutionary trapeze harness design that could wipe out this potential danger overnight. It works on a ball and keyhole principle. Instead of a trapeze ring at the bottom of the trapeze wire, there is a ball-shaped device which slots into a keyhole on the trapeze harness, in place of the hook that usually occupies the front of the harness. The advantage of this is that the harness now presents a flat, unobtrusive surface, which means that it won't scratch the centreboard after you climb back onto the board after a capsize but, far more importantly, you are also far less likely to snag the harness on anything - eliminating the chief danger of the trapeze hook.

But the harness is just one part of the problem. The buoyancy aid is potentially as life-threatening as it is life saving. Soon after winning a bronze medal in the Europe class in the 1996 Olympic Games, Courtenay Becker-Dey started sailing a 49er with her husband. Becker-Dey was out sailing one day off the coast near Seattle, doing some practice. They were both trapezing upwind when Becker-Dey called for a tack. She pushed the tiller away, unclipped and ran across the boat but found herself getting stuck halfway. The boat capsized and she realised she had threaded the seven-foot tiller extension through the arm hole in her buoyancy aid and she was pinned to the tiller as the boat began to turtle. Fortunately, she got herself free in time but it was, she says, "the closest I have come to death".

She is now firmly against the use of buoyancy aids in skiff-type classes. So too, is Rob Dulson, the chairman of the UK 18-foot skiff fleet, who refuses to compete in events unless he can compete without a buoyancy aid. The need to swim down and away from trouble should you find yourself pinned under a rig or upturned hull is often greater than the need for extra buoyancy support when floating in the water.

49er sailor Paul Brotherton believes the importance of carrying a knife far outweighs the importance of wearing buoyancy. "The chances of both crew being knocked unconscious at the same time are tiny, but if you get your trapeze hook caught in a piece of rigging or something, then how are you going to get free unless you've got a knife?" - Andy Rice

NOTE: The preceding excerpt was reprinted with the generous permission of the Madforsailing website. There's much more to this story:

LONG BEACH, Calif.--They are Moose and Battler and John, Graham and Brad, and in the back of the boat it's Humbug at the helm, and together they comprise the deadliest strike force in match race sailing.

"Teamwork," skipper Peter Holmberg said---he's "Humbug"--after continuing his domination of the 38th Congressional Cup with a 9-0 record at the end of the first round robin Wednesday. "We're just getting more confident with each other. It's a rhythm, like a band that plays together."

Holmberg's combo is pounding the opposition like a steel drum band back home in his U.S. Virgin Islands. They have won the last two events on the Swedish Match Tour to boost their skipper to No. 1 in the world rankings and haven't made a seriously wrong move in two days against a strong field in contrasting conditions---light wind under an overcast sky Wednesday after a brisk breeze Tuesday.

Holmberg's crew is all New Zealanders, and all are key players in software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing America's Cup campaign for San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club. "Moose" is main sail trimmer Mike Sanderson, "Battler" is trimmer Robbie Naismith, and the others are tactician John Cutler---himself a major player in three previous America's Cups, pitman Graham Fleury and bowman Brad Webb. "We all have different jobs," Webb said, "but we back each other up and cross over occasionally to do whatever needs to be done."

The other nine skippers will have one more chance at Holmberg's rockin' group in the second round robin starting Thursday, trying to block Holmberg's bid to win his fourth Congressional Cup in five years. The top four then will advance to Saturday's semifinals and finals.

The wind never reached double digits Thursday while oscillating through 30 to 40 degrees, making strategy---whether to hit the left or right side of the windward-leeward course---more important than boat speed. Thus, there were many lead changes that had severely shuffled the field by the end of the day.

Ken Read, leading the Team Dennis Conner bid, is Holmberg's nearest threat with a 6-3 record, but nobody else has managed to put two decent days together. Team New Zealand's Dean Barker and Prada's Rod Davis got back into contention with 3-1 afternoons, but Denmark's No. 3-ranked Jes Gram-Hansen slid from 4-1 to 5-4 with a 1-3 day, the same agony suffered by Scott Dickson and Prada's Gavin Brady.

Otherwise, there were only 23 protest flags waved and 8 penalties imposed, compared to 42 and 6 the previous day.

STANDINGS (after 9 of 18 rounds):
1. Peter Holmberg, 9-0
2. Ken Read, 6-3
3. tie between Dean Barker and Jes Gram-Hansen, 5-4
5. tie among Scott Dickson, Rod Davis, Ed Baird and Gavin Brady, 4-5
9. Any Green, 3-6
10. Luc Pillot, 1-8
Rich Roberts, /

Maybe the crews aboard the Volvo boats have been behaving themselves while in Miami. In any case, it seems like someone may be living right in order to get this kind of preliminary forecast for the Sunday restart of the Volvo Round the World Race.

East-southeast winds at 10 to 15 knots? Not such a bad way to start a race up to Baltimore. With the race set to go off at 1:00 pm Sunday (Miami time), the forecast winds of 10 to 12 knots may be slightly enhanced by a building sea breeze. Wind directions of 100 to 130 degrees true may be shifted slightly to the left by the sea breeze along the coastline.

All of this is assuming a high pressure system that should form on the 14th. The 96 hour forecasts that are coming out of the National Weather Service's Marine Prediction Center show a large high moving off to the east-southeast while a "new" high will form directly east of the Chesapeake Bay. As the fleet works its way to the north along Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, the wind can be expected to diminish slightly. - Bill Biewenga, VOLVO ocean Race website, full story:

(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 Skip Allan: I would like to notify the WSSC that yesterday we unchained "Wildflower," lit the afterburners, and demolished the record for the classic Wharf to Wharf course, between Santa Cruz and Capitola. Our 27 foot, 26 year old, IOR leaddog was barely in control as we surfed Pacific combers, avoided numerous salmon fishermen, and set a new standard of 49 minutes, 32 seconds, or an average speed of 4.7 knots. The previous course record was held by a lifeguard on a paddleboard, carrying his Golden Lab as crew.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: So you ask, why would we publish a letter like this? It's because Skip Allen was a sailing 'rock star' long before the term had been invented. And in addition to being a world-class sailor, Skip Allen is a world-class human being. These days, Skip and the Curmudgeon only get invited to do offshore races as a navigator, so we will probably never sail together again. However, that does not in any way lessen my respect for what he's accomplished in his lifetime on the water. And I congratulate my friend Skip Allen on this, his latest of a very long list of sailing accomplishments.

* Jon Rogers, Coronado YC Jr. Program: As usual the CISA advanced youth racing clinic was a huge success. Each year it gets bigger and better. Its obvious that when you put 130 of the countries best youth sailors with excellent volunteers and about 20 olympic, world, national and collegiate champions you have a recipe for success. But the most important ingredient that is critical to the success of youth sailing and lacking in nearly all clubs I visit is 100% yacht club support. 100%! I would like to thank and congratulate the members of ABYC for their support of this event which I feel is the best, most organized youth clinic in the world! ABYC should be (and probably is) proud that they have supported this event for 22 years.

US Sailing today announced the complete USA Junior Olympic Sailing schedule, which is comprised of 21 regional events, from Maine to Hawaii and Florida to Washington state. The purpose in developing the Festivals is to broaden the base of youth sailing. The goal is to establish Junior Olympic events in regions around the country and to create lasting excitement about sailing and racing sailboats for our young sailors. While all Festivals will incorporate elements of fun and learning, each will feature different levels of competition.

More than 10,000 youth sailors have participated in USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals since the program's inception in 1997. The 2002 schedule is comprised of 21 USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals. More than 4,000 youth sailors, age 8 to 20, are expected to participate in the events schedule from June through December.

USA Junior Olympic Sailing is a grassroots youth development program that defines a path for youngsters to become involved in sailing and develop their skills though events nationwide, with a goal of making sailing a life-long sport. - Penny Piva Rego,

  • June 21-22: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Midwest, Carlyle Sailing Assoc., Carlyle Lake, IL
  • June 22-23: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - South Atlantic, Carolina YC, Wrightsville Beach, NC
  • June 22-23: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Upper Midwest, Lake Forest, IL
  • June 26-28: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Michigan, Little Traverse YC, Harbor Springs, MI
  • June 29-30: USA Junior Olympic Windsurfing Festival, Calema Windsurfing School, Merritt Island, FL
  • July 6-7: USA Junior Olympic Windsurfing Festival - Nevin Sayre Kids Camp, Falmouth, MA
  • July 11-14: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Southern California, Santa Barbara YC, CA
  • July 18-20: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Hawaii, Hawaii YC & Waikiki YC, Honolulu, HI
  • July 20-27: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Texas Youth Race Week, Texas Corinthian, Lakewood & Houston YCs, TX
  • July 22-23: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Mid-Atlantic, Island Heights YC, NJ
  • July 23-24: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Chesapeake Bay, Hampton YC, VA
  • July 26: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Long Island, Cedar Beach, Southhold, NY
  • July 29-31: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Northeast Youth Championship, Portland YC, ME
  • Aug 9-11: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Rochester, Rochester YC, NY
  • Aug 10-12: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Northern California, San Francisco YC, CA
  • Aug 12-14 USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Mass. Bay Sailing Junior Regatta, Pleon YC, Marblehead, MA
  • Aug 17-21: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Narragansett Bay Jr. Race Week, Sail Newport, Newport, RI
  • Aug 23-25: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Northwest Youth Sailing Championship, Shilshole Bay/Seattle YC, WA
  • Oct 19-20: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - River Romp Regatta, Edison Sailing Center, Fort Myers, FL
  • Dec 6-8: USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival, US Sailing Center of Martin County, Jensen Beach, FL
  • Dec 27-30 USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival - Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, US Sailing Center & Coral Reef YC, Miami, FL

Notes from Nick Maloney's log: "Well I wasn't too far wrong in my last mail ... about 3 hours later our first berg rolled out of the mist 3 miles ahead and right on the bow. It was an indication that visibility is very low and I would hate to think what may have happened if it was dark. We were sailing at about 33kts, bore off sharply ... passed within 1.5miles. Fortunately no growlers seen.

Spent a period sailing slow...well 25kts, and are now back up to 33. Trying to decide right approach for night hours ... still need to be fast as we have some met issues ahead.

Boatspeed tonight will depend on how much we trust the radar, which was off at the time we saw this one due to work being done on B & G system. Ironically the radar came back to life soon after we had spotted it on deck. We were not able to test alarms or clarity. As usual ...very exciting and a great privilege to see one of these chunks of ice. Not sure of size ... maybe 1/2 mile long, 1/4 mile wide, very tall with flat top. Magic stuff! Was like a kid in a candy store with a pocket full of cash." -

NOTE: Day 39 - Orange did 604 miles in the last 24 hours. Orange has traveled now 17,387 miles compared to the record holder Sport Elec's distance of 14,204 miles for the same time interval.

10th April 2002. The Maiden II team is preparing for their first major challenge. If the current weather pattern holds out, then at midday tomorrow, UK time, the 110-ft maxi-catamaran will leave Cadiz for San Salvador - following the legendary route of discovery. Although the transatlantic voyage is currently classified as for training purposes, if circumstances allow then the team will attempt to break the 3884 nautical mile record.

The record is already held by the maxi-catamaran, with Grant Dalton's Club Med recording a time of 10 days 14 hours 53 minutes and 44 seconds in June 2000, with an average speed of 15.23 knots. Since then, Maiden II has had little or no modification and is currently hampered by a broken daggerboard after hitting a submerged voyage on the delivery route from Marseille. The crew has turned the daggerboard upside down so that the broken element is above the water and will carry out repairs in San Salvador.

Maiden II will leave the training base in the Vilamoura Marina at midnight tonight, to arrive in Cadiz mid-morning tomorrow. As Skipper Tracy Edwards is currently involved in sponsor negotiations, the mixed crew will be jointly skippered by Adrienne Cahalan and Helena Darvelid. - Mark Bullingham

They are absolutely everywhere. They're in Norway, Japan, Spain, the UK and Canada. There are two each in Australia and Mexico. Italy has three and there are 10 in the USA. That's 22 in all, and every one of these Ullman sail lofts will give a quote on a new sail to show you just how affordable improved performance can be for your boats:

SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. - Clipper Ventures Plc, race organisers, announce today that the start of Around Alone 2002-03 on 15th September will be diverted from Newport, R.I. to the City of New York. This unprecedented decision was made after Clipper Ventures received a special invitation for Around Alone to join 'Sail For America', the one off event taking place in New York Harbour on the same weekend to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th. The start line will now be a transit between 'Ground Zero' and the Statue of Liberty.

Michael Fortenbaugh, Commodore of the Manhattan Yacht Club and head of the 'Sail For America' organising committee, explained the concept: "The goal is to fill New York Harbor on Saturday 14th September with thousands of sails, a symbol of hope and beauty, to mark the rebirth of the City of New York and the soaring spirit of America. The Around Alone start on Sunday 15th September off 'Ground Zero' will be the final act, and the message that New York is 'setting sail' again will be taken around the world."

The Around Alone fleet will still assemble in Newport, R.I. at the Newport Shipyard from the 24th August, and then experience a huge send off on 12th September, the Preview day of the Newport International Boat Show, for a 160 mile crewed prologue race down to New York, where the boats will arrive the next day. In New York, the race will be hosted at the Intrepid Museum, a de-commissioned aircraft carrier docked on the SW side of Manhattan.

Dr. Robin Wallace, Chairman of the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee, who was, among others, responsible for bringing Around Alone back to Newport, found only positive reasons to support this move: "We have a special relationship with New York, and so this is also a unique opportunity for Rhode Islanders to show their support, and it is hoped that many sailboats will accompany the fleet from Newport to New York in order to join 'Sail For America'." - Mary Ambler,

American Mark Reynolds has joined the crew of SEB in the Volvo Ocean Race for the first sprint leg between Miami and Baltimore. Which starts on Sunday. This leg is the first sprint leg in the race and is only 875 miles up along the east American coast. Close racing and tactics will be crucial in the three days short leg that is worth the same amount of points as the longer earlier legs.

Mark Reynolds, 46 years old from San Diego, has competed in four Olympic Games in the Star boat class. At the 1988 Games in Korea he took the silver medal together with Hal Haenel and they came back four years later in the Barcelona Games and became Olympic Champions. After a sixth place in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics he teamed up with ex-Swede Magnus Liljedahl and came back to Sydney in 2000 to win the gold again. In big boat racing Reynolds was the tactician for Philippe Kahn who won the US Farr 40 Admiral's Cup trials.

Scott Beavis that has sailed the first five legs on SEB has left the team. -

Apparently a lot of Buttheads went to the web to get more information about Royal Perth Yacht Club's new $6.4 million race that starts and finishes in Fremantle - leaving Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn and Good Hope to port. Unfortunately, we published the wrong URL so they got nothing. However, be assured this is no April Fools joke. If you double click on the following URL you'll learn everything you need to know about this new 14,600 nautical mile non stop yacht race for one-design maxi-yachts through the Southern Ocean:

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: I think I'm busy that weekend.

Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.