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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1049 - April 15, 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, CA (April 13, 2002) - Peter Holmberg claimed his fourth Congressional Cup championship in five years, defeating Prada Challenge's Gavin Brady 2-1, and, in the process, winning his third consecutive Swedish Match Tour event. The defeat was a tough one for the Italian skipper as it marked Brady's fifth runner-up finish on the Swedish Match Tour in the last 14 months. This year's championship places Holmberg in a tie with Prada's Rod Davis, as the only four-time winners of the event.

"I don't think we had a brilliant day today but the team was strong and that carried us through," said Holmberg. "It took me a while to get used to the boat. We had a good series against Andy Green (in the semifinals). He gave us a tough time and Gavin really made us work for it, too."

When asked what was going so right for his team, Holmberg responded, "It's obviously a number of things, the time we've put in as a team, the guys I have with me. When you get comfortable in your little zone and with the people around you, you just start shining."

Unlike a month ago at the Steinlager Line 7 Cup when Holmberg was awarded the championship on countback after the final was cancelled due to lack of wind, the Oracle skipper was pushed to the limit.

After losing the first match to Brady, Holmberg had to battle back - and he did. Holmberg won the second match in convincing fashion. Adding to the excitement of the third and final match was a 45-degree wind shift midway through, resulting in a course change. Holmberg made the adjustments, and in suddenly light air sailed to the 2002 Congressional Cup championship, with the day's sunset as a backdrop.

In the petit finals Ken Read of Team Stars & Stripes defeated GBR Challenge's Andy Green, 2-0, to claim third place, his best result at a Swedish Match Tour event in four appearances. - Shawn McBride & Rich Roberts

1. Peter Holmberg, 15-3
2. Ken Read, 12-6
3. Gavin Brady, 10-8
4. Andy Green, 9-9
5. Jes Gram-Hansen ($1,700) 9-9
6. Scott Dickson ($1,700) 9-9
7. Rod Davis ($1,500) 8-10
8. Dean Barker ($1,500) 8-10
9. Ed Baird ($1,200) 6-12
10. Luc Pillot ($1,000) 4-14.

PETIT FINALS: Ken Read ($3,000) defeated Andy Green ($2,500) 2-0 CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS: Peter Holmberg ($6,000) defeated Gavin Brady ($4,500), 2-1 - /

Peter Harrison, the founder and backer, called it the start of "something special" as Britain's newest America's Cup challenger was christened in Cowes yesterday. The Princess Royal meanwhile, who named GBR-70, Wight Lightning, believes that the yacht will be a catalyst for furthering British racing success. Wight Lightning will be loaded on to a ship next week and reach Auckland five weeks later, before taking on eight other challengers when the Louis Vuitton trials start on Oct 1.

After the two aborted attempts by Blue Arrow and Spirit in 1992 and 2000, Wight Lightning will be the first British entry to make it to the trials since Graham Walker's White Crusader in 1987. The fact that although more than 70 America's Cup Class yachts have been built since 1992 this is the first one designed and constructed in Britain, shows the catching up that GBR Challenge will have to do. Yet by any reckoning, the achievements of Harrison's team, now 117 strong, in just 12 months are praiseworthy in the extreme. The team have a cohesive, competitive buzz and New Zealand commentators say that GBR have replaced Italy's stylish Prada campaign as the public's favourite.

Kaenon Polarized is pioneering the next generation in polarized lens technology, delivering technical eyewear advantages like nothing else. John Kostecki and the illbruck boys have had the advantage since the Volvo start. Chris Larson and Mark Rudiger on Assa Abloy, skiff legend Chris Nicholson and Star World Champion Freddy Loof on Amer One, and Katie Pettibone on Amer Too wear Kaenon. Now SEB wants a win so they brought Mark Reynolds aboard to Baltimore. They all seek an advantage. They all use Kaenon Polarized. Evolve Optically. Available at and TeamOne Newport.

At the naming ceremony of the first British yacht to take part in an America' s Cup event for 15 years, the Princess Royal delighted an audience by criticizing Lloyd's List for its new policy of referring to ships as "it" rather than "she".

Departing from her prepared script at the ceremony yesterday in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the Princess Royal gestured at the 80ft Wight Lightning and said: "I would like to thank the GBR Challenge team for asking me to perform the naming ceremony of 'her'," with heavy emphasis on "her". "The people at Lloyd's have clearly never either launched or named a boat because it would be completely wrong to call her 'it'," she added to loud applause from the 300-strong crowd.

The Princess, who is President of the Royal Yachting Association, said that some might regard the practice of calling boats "she" as sexist, especially given that boats often get shouted at by their skippers, something she admitted occasionally doing to her horses. "But the naming of boats is extremely important and the fact that they remain 'shes' is equally important," the Princess said.

Earlier, the GBR Challenge skipper, Ian Walker, the Olympic sailing medallist, alluded to the new Lloyd's List policy, saying that he could not imagine referring to the Pounds 3 million racing yacht as an "it". "Somehow 'it' will never do for this historic boat which is being christened today and we cannot wait to get to know her," he added. - Edward Gorman, Sailing Correspondent, The Times of London, News International

(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 Franck Pellerin: I appreciate Mike Zuilhof's analogy between seat belt and PFD users' reactions (Scuttlebutt 1048) but I cannot understand, as he does, why a race committee should want to display race signal Y, and thus interfere with rule 1.2 which clearly states that 1) the boat must carry PFDs and 2) the occupants are "individually responsible" for wearing them. If RC invokes rule 40, it is tantamount to wanting to share that responsibility... Organizing authorities should want to assess this risk.

* From Chris Welsh: Buoyancy Devices? Let me make up my own damn mind about whether to wear them or not. Unlike seatbelts, the physics are very different, and the social cost of being injured by not wearing a seatbelt and making society pay doesn't really exist as a parallel.

I really would like my leisure activities to be as free from "PC" requirements as possible - and the whole buoyancy device debate stinks of someone thinking they need to look out for my interests, rather than doing that for myself. I can think of a number of situations where I would prefer not to have a PFD on - and others, where even when not racing, I have worn one out of personal concern - that's the way it should be.

On the PFD issue, when we interfere too often with Darwinian selection, we can be sure the flock will suffer...

* From Francis Shiman-Hackett Amherst: In response to your Courtney Becker-Day's argument concerning the danger presented by entanglement of PFDs and other gear I have observed many of the best skiff and tornado sailors simply wearing a surfing style rash guard on top of their trapeze harnesses and PFDs. This almost totally eliminates potential for entanglement, and when coupled with Bethwiate's idea for a hook free system seems the safest possible option.

In regard to not wearing a PFD to allow for diving free, while the odds of one crew member remaining conscious in a capsize are high, the difficulty in righting many skiffs and especially catamarans can allow for enough drift between the crew members to make the proposition of sailing without a bouyancy aid frightening. - Tim Jeffery, Sailiy Telegraph, UK, full story:

* From Jim Lyle: I'm a parent of a 420 and 29er crew who at 13 loves to be on the wire. The recent safety thread expresses many of my own concerns and is something I have discussed with my son on many occasions. Knives are an important safety tool. I am concerned that a number of classes specifically prohibit using replacing trap wire with line. A good serrated knife can cut small spectra quickly but wire would be difficult. Is there a safety concern around spectra line? Better yet is reviving the ball and socket system, designed in a way that quickly attaches to existing systems. It does seem ridiculous that a year ago I was making sure there were no exposed hooks or snap shackles on my son's Opti and now I let him tie a hook to himself before he goes sailing. We should make a change quickly.

* From Mike Levesque (edited to our 250-word limit): Don't know if Julian Bethwaite is aware, but there was a product that many Hobie Cat sailors used many years ago called SailSafe, which I believe was distributed by Hobie (manufactured by someone else). This was a ball and socket-system also, with a thick plastic socket that took the place of the hook assembly. I race against some guys who still use them, even though they haven't been made in 10 years or so.

One added benefit is that there is no hook to dig into the fiberglass when you climb back onto the hulls. I'll buy them if they start making them again, and if they add them to the harness spreader bars (the old style were the small buckle type, which did not distribute the weight).

As far as sailing without a PFD, that's just insane on a cat. I have heard stories about catching the tiller in the PFD, but that can be avoided (for the most part) by selecting a PDF that doesn't have external straps or oversized arm holes. I don't see how the inflatable PFDs would avoid catching the tiller, as they are basically a harness in themselves; and the straps would seem to easily catch a tiller.

Always wear a PFD, with a knife, whistle and handheld VHF attached (strobe lights are also good). And after an unplanned night alone on the bottom of a capsized Hobie 16, I always sail with another person on the boat.

* From Chris Bolton: That "revolutionary" ball and socket trap linkage - the SailSafe trap buckle and handle - is no longer made. (Sailing Systems, Inc. - Hugh Greenwald, no longer in business.) A nylon ball on a short plastic-coated steel cable fits in the slot. Also has the advantage of not poking holes or dimples in your hull when lying on the bows or climbing back on board.

* From Rick Wrightson: The Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour is not being sailed in single-handed boats so why does all PR from the Tour never mention any of the crew - other than the skipper? A crew must perform as a "team" in order to be successful. So, why is all the focus on the "skippers"? What about the trimmers, the bowman, the mast man, the tactician?

I'm sure that Swedish Match runs its tobacco business with groups of successful "teams" (marketing, manufacturing, etc.), so why not the event that it has chosen to name and sponsor?

I think that most people would agree that it's the "team" working together that wins a race. You know, stuff like the trimmer making a timely cast-off and trim on a tack. Or the bowman making a timely run to the bow for a headsail change or bow call. Or the tactician making making a good (and timely) tactical call. All of this makes up a "team". It takes "team work" to win a race. No single member of the crew can win a race but unless they work as a "team", one member can lose a race. The "skipper" plays an important roll but he/she is only one part of the team.

The Tour is a great series. The boats are being crewed by some of the world's best sailors. Let's give them all the due recognition that they deserve and not focus on just one member of the crew.

In an extraordinary start in Miami today, six of the eight boats racing in leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race from Miami to Baltimore were OCS (on course side) at the sound of the starting cannon and had to return and re-cross the line. As the fleet charged towards the start line at 1300 local time, all but Amer Sports Too and Assa Abloy were on the wrong side of the course. VHF radio, a gun signal and flag X recalled the boats OCS. A 13-knot southeasterly breeze had kicked up a one-metre swell as the countdown began and the incidents occurred.

Lisa McDonald's team of ladies onboard Amer Sports Too made a perfect start and led the fleet under spinnaker from Assa Abloy, reaching the first turning mark 200 hundred metres ahead. Illbruck, the first boat to realise her error, made a quick correction, returned to the line, re-crossed and passed the first turning mark in third position, immediately chipping away at Assa Abloy in second.

In fourth place was Amer Sports One, also very quick to understand what was going on and return to the line. SEB was in fifth, followed by Djuice, the only boat to carry a 13th crewmember, allowed under the rules to sail for media purposes on this leg. Tyco followed Djuice and News Corp, who appeared to have made the best start, and sailed the furthest, wrapping her spinnaker tightly round the mast whilst turning back towards the line and eventually re-crossed in last position.

The weather forecast for Miami area and 400 nm towards Baltimore:

* Wind: East-southeast force 4 occasional force 5 becoming more south-southeast later.

* Seas: Moderate open waters off Miami, and then moderate or rough in the more exposed Atlantic waters, north of the Bahamas.

* Weather: Scattered showers, locally thundery, most frequent over/near land, but a few expected over open waters.

The Volvo fleet is still tightly packed after the first 10 hours of racing in this 6th leg of the race. Assa Abloy is just in the lead, one mile ahead of Illbruck, with Amer Sports One a further mile astern in 3rd place. The next 3 boats, News Corp, SEB and Amer Sports Too, all share 4th place, 3 miles behind the leader. Tyco and Djuice are in 7th and 8th positions, just 4 and 6 miles respectively off the lead. The general consensus is that the Gulf Stream Drift will be a significant factor in the first 200 miles of this leg to Baltimore. The trick will be to find this current and endeavor to ride it for as long as it remains favorable to the course.

The fleet is expected to finish the 875 nm leg to Baltimore on Wednesday April17th.

PERSPECTIVE: Only in the context of a 33,000-mile, nine-month event could the Volvo Ocean Race's 875-mile sixth stage from Miami to Baltimore be considered a sprint. For the eight crews it will be 72 hours of graft and denial. A straightforward course until Chesapeake Bay, minimal speed differences and a fierce scrap behind runaway race leader Illbruck will see scant rations, little sleep and maximum concentration. - Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK,

RED FLAGS: The race office has been informed of the following intentions to protest: Amer Sports One protesting djuice for a start line incident. djuice was seen to complete a 720-degree penalty turn. Assa Abloy has filed an intention to protest illbruck, for a pre-start incident. Tyco are seeking redress from the Race Committee regarding the restart. - Sail-World website,

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The maxi-catamaran Orange has rounded Cape Horn Saturday, 13th April at 12h 28min French time - four days ahead of Olivier de Kersauson's 1997 time. The climb back up the Atlantic is bringing with it its fair share of tactical options. Although Orange is currently hugging the coast of the Falklands, she is never the less continuing to make the most of a good south-westerly 20-knot flow, pushing her north-east, which is where she wants to go. However, what lies ahead is rather complex and whilst she should still have leading winds with her tomorrow, the Mediterranean giant has opted to head east to avoid running into a low of the coast of Argentina.-

The Yacht Racing website has just posted two photos of Team Dennis Conner's new USA 66. Reportedly, the boat is very narrow with a very long stern overhang. -

If you believe the dock talk at around the Congressional Cup Regatta this past week, you'd come away with the feeling that most of the well-funded America's Cup syndicates will be experimenting with some form of canard or bow rudder.

Thirteen high school, collegiate, and contemporary teams traveled from East and West Coasts to race the third annual Contemporary Team Race Classic Regatta, hosted by the US Team Race Association and the San Diego Yacht Club. The format was three vs three in Flying Junior dinghies with color coordinated team flags. This years' regatta was designated as the USTRA PCC's and also a US Sailing Team Racing Championship qualifier. The La Playa cove between San Diego YC and Southwestern YC provided a perfect venue with ideal conditions for team racing, 5-10 knots.

Final Results:
1. Tresure Island Sailing Club (9 wins & 3 losses); Sellers/ Sellers, Bourdow/ Porter, Adamson/ Patton
2. Team Hardesty (7-5) Hardestry/ Sinks, Torerson/ Sheahan, Cox/ Amen; 3. Habitual Offenders (6-4) Meade/ Fousek, Wells/ Krivkovich, Merrick/ Alsina 4. N.A.D.S. Alumi (6-4) Coleman/ Cronan, O'Bryan/ Suaton, Hallawell/ Hallawell. - Gavin O'Hare,

Dennis Conner sailing with Steve Jarvin & Matt Day won his third New Zealand Etchells championship. The regatta was sailed at the Gulf Harbour Yacht Club, site of the 2002 Etchells Worlds.
Final results (50 boats):
1. Kiwi Menace 2, Dennis Conner, Jarvin & Matt Day (USA) 35
2. Affinity, Tomaso Chieffi Stu Clarke & Jon Ziskind (NZL) 36
3. Little G, David Clark, Paddy Broughton & Andrew Smith (AUS) 39
4. Banana n Pyjamas, John Bertrand, Gary Smith & Matthew Mitchell (AUS) 47
5. Pulse, Sven Hanson, Nik Burfoot & Allan Gwyer (SWE) 55
6. Trouble, Cameron Dunn, Brett Jones & Matt Smith (USA) 68.

Q: What do you call an impotent 80-year-old sailor?
A: A salt with a dead weapon.