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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1048 - April 12, 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.

LONG BEACH, Calif. - If nothing changes, Peter Holmberg, Ken Read, Dean Barker and Scott Dickson-Scott Dickson?--- will be in the semifinals of the 38th Congressional Cup Saturday.

Trouble is, the status hasn't been quo all week, least of all Thursday. Holmberg was humbled, Read and Barker just hung in there and Dickson was devastating. The local hope sailed back into contention by winning all four of his races, including closing victories against Holmberg, the world's top-ranked match racer, and Barker, who leads New Zealand's America's Cup defense.

Scott Dickson, 31, isn't ranked, doesn't compete on the international Swedish Match Tour, and no billionaire has hired him to sail for the America's Cup But with five matches remaining he is tied with Read for second place at 8-5. They are now within reach of Holmberg (10-3), who was unbeaten in the first round robin but slipped back to the fleet by losing his first three races. He dodged a shutout in a final shootout with Prada's Rod Davis, who led Holmberg into the finish but couldn't shed a penalty he owed.

Thursday's racing was delayed for an hour and a half under a gloomy marine layer, waiting for wind to fill, and then as the sun broke through the clouds the wind built to 12 knots by day's end, ideal conditions for the Catalina 37s.

Dickson's older brother Chris should be proud. He probably told him so. He was standing right behind him all day, calling tactics and watching Scott, 10 years his junior, handle some of the planet's top sailors the way he did in the days when he was ranked No. 1 and won a couple of Congressional Cups.

"Chris is phenomenal," Scott said. "Without him we would get to a certain winning form. I worked real hard to put this crew together. But with Chris you get there at turbo speed. He's a big accelerator in getting the most out of the team."

Having said that, Scott Dickson added, "There are four other guys helping me to produce some of my best match racing." Those would be Ben Beer, Mark Callahan, Peter Heck and Jimmy Slaughter.

The day also was gratifying for Green, a member of Britain's GBR Challenge America's Cup campaign who won three of his four races. "We're launching our boat, 'Wight Lightning,' in Cowes Friday," Green said. "It's the biggest day in British sailing in 16 years [since the country's last America's Cup effort]. That was my biggest worry. There will be a thousand people in Cowes tomorrow, and to have me here at the bottom of the heap would send the wrong signal. Now that we're back in the hunt, everybody will get a boost in confidence." - Rich Roberts

STANDINGS (after 13 of 18 rounds)---1. Holmberg, 10-3; 2. tie between Read and Dickson, 8-5; 4. Barker, 7-6; 5. tie among Davis, Gram-Hansen, Green and Brady, 6-7; 9. Baird, 5-8; 10. Pillot, 3-10. - /

The Princess Royal will today, in Cowes, name the first boat to carry British colours in America's Cup competition for 16 years. The boat is Wight Lightning, built by Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge.

Wight Lightning may have an identity, but it seems that skipper Ian Walker, sailing manager Paul Standbridge or general manager David Barnes are not ready to name those they have in mind as first-pick crew. In two warm-up regattas in Auckland in February and March, Andy Green and Andy Beadsworth alternated as helmsman while Walker augmented Adrian Stead as tactician. "Ian's not given up the helming role by any means," said Standbridge. "By no means has he, or we, ruled him out of helming the boat." This was a hint that the favoured proposition might be Green doing the starts before handing over to Walker.

The selection has been going since the new year with Standbridge polling each squad member for their first and second votes for each position. "Like most things, this was largely self-selecting. Some people are so obviously going to be on the A boat that if we didn't put them there, there'd only be questions," said Standbridge. "Half of the 16 crew are in this category. Of the next quarter, it's almost a toss-of-a-coin choice between two people for a role. And the remaining quarter, we might even rotate some, such as the winch grinders, maybe a trimmer." - Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK, full story:

Team New Zealand is ready to begin constructing their first new boat to defend yachting's America's Cup. Syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg said today North Shore boatbuilders Cookson Boats had been given the first set of lines and specifications for the yacht, one of two that will be built for Team NZ. The first boat would be completed about mid-July and then taken to Team NZ's base at the Viaduct Basin for the fitting of deck hardware and appendages.

The boat would be launched in August or September, Schnackenberg said. While the Louis Vuitton Cup to find the challenger for the America's Cup starts in October, the America's Cup races against Team New Zealand do not begin until February next year.

Schnackenberg said Team New Zealand's designers had given Cookson Boats a set of lines for building a mould for the new yacht's hull. Cookson Boats had given Team NZ a schedule for the next few months outlining when extra specifications would be needed. The mould would be completed in two or three weeks, and Team NZ would apply for a sail number from the Cup's official measurer Ken McAlpine next month. McAlpine registers the lines and checks the specifications of each boat built to ensure syndicates keep to rules which stipulate they can only build two new boats for the Cup. Schnackenberg said work would probably begin on Team NZ's second boat four to six weeks after the first one, although that timing had not been finalised. - NZPA, NZ Herald, full story:

NOTE: BT Openworld will be broadcasting a live stream from the launch of the new GBR Challenge Americas Cup Class yacht GBR 70. You will be able to view this online from 11.25 am (GMT) on Friday 12th April. Please note that you will need the free Windows Media Player to view this live webcast. -

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US Windsurfing is sponsoring a national windsurfing festival tour and race series in 2002. This will feature 13 regattas around the country, with windsurfer racing in several classes. Scores from the individual events will be totaled, to determine the national series winners. In addition to racing, the national tour events will feature freestyle contests, "learn-to-windsurf" and pro clinics, youth programs and novice races. Sponsors will be providing cash and product prizes, along with giveaways, T-shirts and coupons. US Windsurfing is the national governing body for windsurfing in the United States, and promotes recreational windsurfing and racing at all levels.

US Windsurfing executive director Christine Brooks sees the national race series as part of the organization's new push to develop amateur racing. Mike Gebhardt, an Olympic medallist in windsurfing, and a senior member and advisor to US Windsurfing, concurs with this philosophy. "Long-run success in the Olympics has to be based on a thriving amateur race environment, that will bring younger people into the sport, and provide opportunities to improve. Everyone can have a lot of fun at events like these national series events, and a few people may eventually go on to the top level."

The US Windsurfing national race series will be complementary to the Professional Windsurfing Association series, and the Olympic class one-design circuit. Gebhardt will be participating, along with a younger generation of Olympic hopefuls, and a number of pro racers, but there will also be many "weekend warriors." Competition will be strong for the top spots, but the atmosphere at these events will be relaxed and friendly.

Series titles will be offered for the US Windsurfing recognized classes, which include "Open", "Formula" "Techno", "IMCO", and "Longboard Limited", and the new Prodigy class:

  • March 2-3 Midwinters, Merritt Island, FL
  • April 13-14 WET Spring Regatta, Hampton Roads, VA
  • May 4-5 Newport Fun Cup, Newport, RI
  • May 23-27 US Open/US Windsurfing Nationals, Corpus Christi, TX
  • June 1-2 Toledo Championship, Toledo, OH
  • June 22-23 Hoyle Schweitzer Course Race, Kanaha, HI
  • July 22-29 Pan-Am Cup, Puerto Rico
  • August 10-11 Gorge Cup, Hood River, OR
  • August 17-18 San Francisco Classic, St Francis Yacht Club, CA
  • September 7-8 Toucan Open, Lake McConaughy, NE
  • September 21-22 Wind Power Championship, Fond du Lac, WI
  • November 2-3 Fleet 12 Regatta, St Petersburg, FL
  • November 7-10 Islamorada Pro-Am, Islmorada, FL

(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 Mike Zuilhof: We should be very cautious about drawing conclusions from anecdotes about the safety risks of buoyancy devices. This is reminiscent of the debate about seat belts in cars. The argument that they're bad because it's beneficial to be "thrown clear" of a crash persisted long after it became irrefutable that the risk-benefit equation favors seat belts. I'd like to preserve my right to remove my PFD on a warm day, but I can understand how a race committee might be very uncomfortable allowing people to race without PFD's in nasty weather. I'm keeping an open mind.

* From Chris Bolton (Re the trapeze issue): The ball and socket trap harness is not revolutionary; I know someone who has been using a production version of this for years. As far as we can tell, however, it is also years out of production. Might have been a low seller due to lack of standardization; can't use your trap harness on a friend's boat unless they have the special ball. I've also seen a quick-release hook that pops off the harness plate easily. I have had the hiking stick get stuck under my life jacket, and saw a friend trapped for almost too long by the same thing. I'll trust to my knife in that case, and leave the life jacket on. If something bad happens, at least they can find my body.

* From Ken Wallingford: While the untimely death of anyone pursuing our favorite past time is tragic, I was amazed to see Madforsailing report that Julian Bethwaite is working on a "revolutionary" ball & socket trapeze hook. In the late 1970s & early 1980s I worked at a sailboat shop in the Midwest. I remember selling a trapeze set-up where the "dogbone" had a ball attached and the harness plate was made of glass filled resin. The plate was "snag free." I also recall selling trapeze harness hooks where the hook slid out of the plate with the quick pull of a release line.

* From Rex Gary: Concerning the untimely death due to a trapeze hook fouling on the rigging of a capsized catamaran, I recall back in the mid seventies while racing Hobie cats, we used a ball and socket trapeze system whivh would offer less of a chance of becoming tangled in the event of a capsize. They were sold through Murray's Marine I believe and were quite a bit safer than the traditional hook set up.To this day I don't trapeze without a quick release hook on my harness. I believe they too are still available from Murray's or Hobie accessory catalog.

* From Cory E. Friedman: As a former 470 sailor and parent of 420 / 29er sailors, the design of trapeze hooks has always seemed suspect. Now that we know they can kill, it is time ISAF and US Sailing took emergency action.

Generic bars using safer technology should be manufactured immediately and required in all events, especially Junior events, early this season. No one should need a whole new harness to be safe. It's time to act. I would rather spend on an imperfect first generation safe bar, than wait for the perfect bar, while other accidents happen.

Allowing unsafe practices (i.e., unsafe hobbles and hooks) is no different than allowing drug use. It forces everyone to be unsafe in order to be competitive. The penalty should be the same -- a 2 yr. suspension. Event organizers that allow this behavior should be sanctioned as well. Save the free will arguments for the Southern Ocean and the Worrell. Only foam lifejackets allowing easy exit (like cheap zipper ones) should be allowed, but should always be required. Knives are fine for lines and trampolines, but how do you cut yourself free from an entangling wire shroud or trapeze wire?

"This will beef up our navigation and tactical strategy side on our boat. This leg is going to be short and it is going to be very difficult sailing in the Chesapeake. We want to be strong tactically and in the navigation areas as well. We were up in the Chesapeake this week. Chris Bedford our meteorologist, our two navigators and myself. We flew over the Chesapeake and we also got an opportunity to speak with some of the locals up there so it was a quite valuable experience." - John Kostecki, skipper, illbruck Challenge

"We've done a lot of homework, we're doing the scientific side, which everyone does, gathering data and all the rest of it, but what we're also trying to do is get a little bit more practical information. We're trying to get some local guys who have done the sail a lot and just sit down at a table with them and just talk it through; especially Cape Hatteras and the approach into the Chesapeake. Also we have got three of our team up in Baltimore, our navigator, our tactician and our weather expert. They're just trying to familiarise themselves with the area, like we anticipate that it will be a very close race and there's the possibility we'll be going up there in the middle of the night, and we don't want any surprises." - Kevin Shoebridge, skipper Tyco

(Following is an excerpt from a story by John Greenland on the Volvo Ocean Race website.)

Though (Chris) Larson has a background in short course racing as opposed to ocean racing this, he believes, could be an advantage. "I'm used to fighting for every inch. It doesn't matter that it's for 17 days I still get upset with losing a boat length here and there." This desire to push for every inch adds a little intensity to the boat, something some offshore racers can quite easily lose over thousands of miles of racing.

With the Assa Abloy syndicate you get more of a sense of unison and mutual respect than some of the other teams. Larson, who is not alone in the team, appreciates the skill and dedication of Mark Rudiger, navigator, and Neal McDonald, skipper. This, he believes, is one of the team's greatest strengths, rather than the individual talent on board.

While McDonald and Rudiger 'float', remain outside of the watch system, Larson is in a specific watch. "The idea is we have a regular rotation. Out of the three people we make sure two are up at all times," explained Larson. This combination brings the team more into line with John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge , who for Leg 6 will be using two navigators. "This allows someone to monitor down below at the same time as the other person being on deck. We're really the triangle in what were trying to do." - John Greenland, Volvo Ocean Race website, full story:

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TROPHEE JULES VERNE The days are racing by at an average speed of 22 knots and the maxi-catamaran Orange is loping her way to the last cape to leave to port, the mythical Cape Horn. At 0800 this morning, Bruno Peyron and his men were just 1000 miles away from the cape, so dreaded for its unpredictable humour. At the 1200 position report today, the Marseilles Giant had done 562 miles in the last 24 hours and at that rate, the rendezvous looks like being sometime on Saturday morning. The countdown to "delivery from the Southern Ocean" is ticking and today the Atlantic is just a stretch ahead of their bows.

To beat the Ushant-Cape Horn record held by Olivier de Kersauson since 1997 in 46 days 16 hours and 57 minutes, the maxi-catamaran Orange must round the rock "at the end of the earth" before April 18th at 0033 GMT... It's a pretty safe bet that Bruno Peyron and his men will be not have too much difficulty in netting this third record after Ushant-Cape of Good Hope and Ushant-Cape Leeuwin. It will be exactly here, in less than two days time, that we will know the giant's true lead over the current holder of the Jules Verne Trophy. A lead that should not be far off four days. -

11th April 2002. At 11.12 GMT today, Maiden II crossed the start line in Cadiz, heading for San Salvador. The 110-ft maxi-catamaran encountered 25 knots of wind from 310 degrees, gusting up to 35/40 knots. A nasty cross sea of 3 metres slowed progress, yet the mixed crew has managed to average 15 knots since the start. - Mark Bullingham,

April 19-21: International One Metre US National Championship Regatta, Sugarland, Texas. (2003 IOM Worlds qualifier) - -

Leopard of London, the 90-ft racing yacht, which was abandoned in the Atlantic nearly two weeks ago, could be salvaged later today or tomorrow morning. Mike Slade's Leopard of London broke her carbonfibre rudder stock on Tuesday 2 April and started taking on water. The crew of seven including Chris Sherlock (skipper), Andrew Henderson, Brad Nann, Kerry Evans (chef), Rhyd Morgan, Ross Monson and Arthur Haliburton, were rescued by a passing ship, the Kurzme and taken to La Coruna in Spain.

The crew of the salvage tug, standing by in storm-force winds since last Friday, has finally reported a dramatic improvement in the weather conditions and say that they should be able to board the stricken yacht later this afternoon or early on Friday morning. - Sue Pelling, Yachting World, full story:

There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.