SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1054 - April 22, 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.
SWEDEN'S VICTORY CHALLENGE
Sweden's Victory Challenge is not revealing the size of backer Jan Stenbeck's bankroll for its bid for the America ' s Cup except to say "as much as it takes." The telecoms and media baron is financing the challenge personally and through subsidiaries of his Stockholm holding company Modern Times Group, which last year turned over around $US11 billion through his cellphone, television, newspaper and associated interests.
Victory communications director Bert Willborg said no request for anything at the Auckland base had been turned down, regardless of the cost, as the syndicate head competing under the Gamla Stans Yacht Sallskap flag chases his dream of winning the Cup. "Jan has always been a sailor," Mr Willborg said. "He began talking about the America's Cup in the early 1990s as the ultimate challenge in sailing.
"The project started six years ago when he bought two yachts and started a program for young Swedes to learn about keel-boat racing and of the 100 people who went through, seven were chosen as the foundation for the crew of Victory Challenge. "He made his decision to participate midway through the Team New Zealand-Prada finals in 2000 and sent Mats Johansson, a former Olympic Star-class sailor and now our project manager and skipper, to Auckland to buy Team New Zealand's 1995 boat NZL38.
"We brought it back to Sweden, re-named it Cristina for Jan's oldest daughter and starting sailing in July 2000 as we recruited more crew, including Jesper Bank, who has won one bronze and two gold medals in Olympic Soling-class yachts and Magnus Holmberg, a three-time Olympic sailor and last year's world match-racing champion." Mr Stenbeck doesn't skimp when it comes to his own vessels - outside the Victory base is his luxury private motor yacht Black Knight, which he bought after it served as committee boat in Newport when the US lost the Cup to Australia in 1983. He also owns Sophie, a replica of the classic US J-boat Endeavour of the 1930s America's Cups.
* Victory's first new boat SWE 63, named Orn for eagle, was launched in Sweden in October and arrived on the Hauraki Gulf during December. The second, Orm for serpent, will be in Auckland by late July. "Our first boat is as fast as NZL 60 which was the fastest boat in 2000," Mr Willborg said. "We will use that as a platform to develop our second boat and aim to be the fastest in 2003." - Graeme Kennedy. National Business Review
After six months of intensive training 12 hours a day, six days a week, both in Auckland - where the cup will be staged from this October - and in England on the Solent, they have been given three weeks off. Then it is back out to Auckland for part two - the build-up to the cup itself on their new boat, Wight Lightning, which at this precise moment is being bubble-wrapped and lowered on to a barge in Cowes for the short journey to Southampton before being shipped to New Zealand. - Simon Hughes, The Telegraph, UK, full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
ROLEX COMMODORES CUP
The RORC are pleased to announce that Belgium has confirmed its entry in this year's Rolex Commodores' Cup. Belgium last competed in 1998. The confirmed participating yachts include Moana (First 47.7), Cohiba (First 40.7) and Oxygene (IMX 40) owned/skippered by François Goubau, Yves Delacolette and Axel De Cock respectively.
To date, intent to compete at the RCC has been expressed by upwards of 17 possible teams, representing the major sailing nations - USA, Australia, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Ireland and, of course, the home nations of the United Kingdom.
This biennial event takes place in Cowes 11-18th August. Entry details are posted at www.rorc.org
APEN MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD?
Just as a sword cuts a swath through your competitor, Contender Pentex sailcloth cuts a swath through your sailing competition. After a year of development, Contender Sailcloth is pleased to re-introduce our performance APEN PENTEX laminate line featuring our new, higher quality Pentex fiber. APEN film-on-film scrims for the serious racer. Durable APEN-T film-on-taffeta scrims for the racer/cruiser. Rugged ACL-PEN taffeta-on-taffeta scrims for the serious cruiser. 80% higher performing than Polyester, Pentex is an economical upgrade to your sail inventory whether racing, cruising or both. Your competition will get the point. For details visit: www.contendersailcoth.com
Volunteers are sought to help run the Louis Vuitton Cup from Buckland's Beach Yacht Club in New Zealand. CORM-Challenger of Record Management, for Americas Cup XXX1 (NZ) Ltd. has announced that as from the 1st of April 2002, they have set up their official Regatta operations office at the Buckland's Beach Yacht Club, and have announced the appointment of BBYC's Immediate Past Commodore Merv Appleton as the Regatta Operations Manager for the Louis Vuitton Cup.
BBYC is now calling for Volunteers to help run the Louis Vuitton Cup. Those interested in volunteering to assist either on the water or in the administration office should contact the office on 09 533 1620 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. - email@example.com
BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Assa Abloy skipper Neal McDonald has thrown down the gauntlet to Volvo Ocean Race leaders Illbruck, insisting the race is far from over. The British skipper of the Swedish boat said Assa -- in overall second place with 34 points after six of the nine legs -- can still catch the German-backed syndicate in the next legs.
McDonald told the race's official Web site: "Our program has shown we are going to keep pushing to the end and that makes a difference. "We just do what we know best, keep battling and battling and battling."
John Kostecki's Illbruck had threatened to turn the race into a procession after quickly stamping their authority on the eight-strong fleet. - CNN.com/inside sailing website; full story: www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/sailing/04/19/assa.challenge.spt/index.html
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEADER BOARD:
1. illbruck, 41 points
2. Assa Abloy, 34
3. Amer Sports One, 32
4. News Corp, 31
5. Tyco, 27
6. SEB, 21
7. djuice, 21
8. Amer Sports Too, 9. - www.volvooceanrace.org
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(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 Gibbons Burke: Stephen Wells asks "Every junior sailor now wears a PFD 100% of the time. It becomes a natural act putting one on. If we require the kids to wear one why shouldn't the adults do something that smart as well as well?"
Here's why: with kids, the responsibility for the safety for the minor participants rests with the adults supervising the event, who are, in a sense, temporary guardians of the children in their parent's absence. Adult sailors, on the other hand, are responsible for their own lives and should be free to make the decision about whether to wear a PFD themselves. In thinking about this we should err on the side of preserving individual liberty rather than on the side of trying to eliminate all risks for others.
* From: John McBrearty: While we can all agree that the crew is indispensable in yacht racing and should be recognized, I must respectfully disagree with Pete Mohler's comments that "a day of trimming the jib on a windy day or just hiking out against the middle life line is more painful than anything the driver does". On most boats the driver is the owner and I have written some very painful checks but, the most painful part is when my wife finds out that I have written the checks. Any room on that middle life line???
* From Kimball Livingston Senior Editor, West Coast - SAIL: The redoubtable Keith Taylor weighed in with his hard-won perspective on the issue of crew recognition, noting that a long list of crew names turns off newspaper editors, and sailing magazine editors care but can't cope, space-wise. Mr. Taylor also noted that, when a journalist on the case goes down the dock, finds the boat, and asks the skipper for the correct spellings of crew names, often the skipper knows only a nickname for the kid who's been running his bow for half the summer, and a lot of the time he isn't even sure of a last name.
Well, I've been at the sailing journalism game for more than two decades, and I've been sailing for longer than that, usually in positions that maintain my position in the Crew's Union, which gives me the right to say something about these comments. And I say -- yup.
* From David Redfern: Why stop at team list? What about the PR back-up, tank-test people, all the sponsors, sail suppliers, and so on. We know its a team effort. Imagine trying to list all the 'team' on a Formula 1 race. We know there is a team behind the skipper. Is this another form of political correctness creeping in?. Get real!
* From Jesse Falsone: The best form of crew recognition doesn't come from your name in black and white or an inscription on a trophy. Real recognition comes from your own teammates who undertand the commitment and sacrifice you have made to the campaign. As far as recognition goes, the respect and admiration of your teammates is the only thing that really counts.
* From Tony Castro: Could I echo the words of Geoff Stagg and also express the sadness of seeing another great event disappear (temporarily it is hoped). In addition I was pleased to hear that he also advocates a new rule bringing together the best of all the existing rules. I wish the IMS and IRM people would get together, as I suggested several times before and sort the mess once and for all before we are all too old to enjoy the great events again. Better still (?) why don't Designers get together and do it. It is no good just complaining (as I do). Let's do something positive. Let's chose a venue and dedicate a couple of days to get the ball rolling.....any suggestions??
* From Malcolm McKeag: In all the hoo-ha, regenerated by the Princess Royal at the naming of Wight Lightning, about whether we call boats 'she' or 'it', has no one noticed that in French a boat is, and always has been, 'he'? Do I not recall that, when they had one, La belle France even called her beautiful Blue Riband liner Le France.
ANTARCTICA YACHT RACE
PERTH, Australia, April 18 (AFP) - Britain and the United States were among ten countries that had pledged support for a new around- Antarctica yacht race, with prize money of more than six million dollars (3.1 million US), organizer Bob Williams said Thursday. He said France, Germany, Finland, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines had signalled strong backing for the proposed Australia-based event, which would be the world's richest yachting contest.
Williams, a Perth-based life-long yachtsman and sporting promoter, said he hoped to have more discussions with syndicates before releasing names, but had been delighted with the response in the week since he announced details of the race.
The non-stop 45-day race, to be known as the Antarctica Cup, would start and finish in Fremantle, Western Australia's major port, the venue for Alan Bond's failed America ' s Cup defense campaign in 1986-87. Williams' idea is for competitors to sail from Australia to New Zealand, passing through the Cook Strait, and close to Cape Horn in South America and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa before returning to Fremantle via the Southern and Indian Oceans.
The plan was for a maximum of fifteen 25-metre maxi yachts to compete in the inaugural race, Williams said. All would be built in Western Australia. Yachts would be handed over to competitiors two months before the first race, set to start December 4, 2004, in the Antarctic summer.
At least 10 groups were needed for the initial race and would have to pay an entrance fee of nine million dollars (4.6 million US) each. Williams said it would be a race for the adventurous. "It will be a supreme test of courage and seamanship," he said. - Agence France-Presse
TROPHEE JULES VERNE
The maxi-catamaran Orange had very little winds on Saturday, for their 50th day at sea (only 73 miles in the first twelve hours). They reached at last the High north edge only at dusk. On Sunday morning, they were enjoying good reaching winds. Now, they should average rapidly 450 / 500 miles a day.
On Day 50, the record-holding Sport-Elec was located by 41-03 S / 46-26 W. Which means 2855 miles from the same waypoint. So, we can estimate the Orange lead at 1245 miles on that Sunday morning. Four days, if we remember that the De Kersauson average speed was 310 miles between the Falklands and Brest in 1997.
In the next three days, Orange will increase the lead, with the possibility to achieve nearly 500 miles a day. With a minimum 350 miles average speed until the finish, Orange could beat the previous record in 64, 65 days. With only 300 miles, it could be 66 days. In short, Orange has still the possibility to beat the record by five days. - Christian Fevrier, www.maxicatamaran-orange.com
* From Nick Moloney's logbook: "Currently sailing under full main and Yankee reacher, boatspeed between 23-27-knots. Weather warming every hour. It's fantastic to be heading fast in the right direction. Hopefully we will shred some distance in the next 3-4 days." - www.nickmoloney.com
OCKAM SYSTEMS ON CRUISING BOATS?
Wherever exceptional performance is a requirement, you'll find Ockam. While Ockam is acknowledged as the leader in instrumentation for racing boats, you might be surprised to find our instruments on some of the world's finest cruising yachts. Recent projects include a luxurious 200' "tugboat" plying the waters off Antarctica, custom sail and power yachts from three of Maine's premier boatbuilders, a 151' motoryacht and a maxi power cat to rule the waves in New Zealand. Planning a no compromises cruising project and need something special? contact Tom Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org). - www.ockam.com
THE OTHER ITALIAN AC SYNDICATE
On the 4th May, "Mascalzone Latino XII" will be launched in Naples and then she will be taken to the team's Italian headquarters in Portoferraio (Elba Island). Here they will train for a couple of months on the new boat plus their old training boat (ex Bravo Espana). In Early July "Mascalzone Latino XII" will leave Italy by ship destined for Auckland.
Meanwhile their base in Auckland is being built (currently it is mostly just an empty piece of land) and should be ready by mid June. The team will begin returning to Auckland at the beginning of August to continue training with their new boat and their 2000 generation boat, USA-55. - Cupviews.com website, full story: www.americascup.co.nz/index.html
* Continuing the support that One World sailors have given to New Zealand youth sailing, the syndicate has donated two tickets for a day sailing with the One World Team. The tickets are on sale at $5,000 each with the money raised going to the local Murrays Bay Sailing Club.
Last month, several of the OneWorld sailors gave up free time to help prepare 20 sailors for the National Optimist regatta and prior to that have hosted visits from the children giving them a fascinating insight into another realm in sailing. The sailing will be with the team on the Hauraki Gulf on a date set by mutual agreement. - cupnews.com website; full story: www.americascup.co.nz/index.html
* Saturday, April 20, 2002 - They are competing against each other to win the honour of becoming the world`s best match racing sailor - Magnus Holmberg, Victory Challenge, and Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing. Tonight, these two combatants met in more relaxed surroundings when Oracle Racing, good neighbours in the America's Cup village in Auckland, invited Victory Challenge to a party.
Actually, Oracle Racing, backed by Oracle's Larry Ellison, has invited each of the syndicates present here in Auckland to a party during recent months. But with the tough schedule that all of the America's Cup challengers are keeping, it can sometimes be difficult to find an opportunity to suit two teams at the same; Victory Challenge's party had to be put off twice. The Swedish America's Cup challenge was therefore the last in a line of teams arriving at Oracle Racing's Hospitality Center a few doors down on Halsey Street. The Hospitality Center has been built on a pontoon outside the base itself and has a view over Larry Ellison's super yacht Katana, illuminated for the occasion on the other side of the harbour. - Louis Vuitton Website; full story: www.lvcup.com/lvcup/lv/default.asp?m=displayarticle&id=4795
A series of speed trials aimed at topping 50 knots under sail aboard the radical multihull Macquarie Innovations have concluded off the south coast of Australia. The 50-knot barrier remains unbroken. The Aussies, led by the skipper Simon McKeon, were stymied by less-than-ideal conditions and recorded top speeds of around 40 knots. They will try again in November. - Herb McCormick, New York Times, www.nytimes.com
This month Seahorse magazine has pitted previous American Rolex Yachtsman of the year winners against each other in their Sailor of the Month competition. You can vote to help decide whether that honor should got to Steve Fossett or to Star sailors, Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl. - www.seahorse.co.uk/sailor_month/sailormonth.php
PERTH, April 21 AAP - One of the most important figures involved in the Australia II 1983 America's Cup victory has reportedly suffered a stroke. Warren Jones, director of Alan Bond's Cup bid, suffered a stroke last week after becoming ill on a fishing trip in Geraldton, 400km north of Perth.
The Sunday Times reported Mr. Jones was with two friends, one of whom was a doctor, when he fell ill on board a boat. The newspaper said Mr. Bond, who has known the yachting and business identity for more than 40 years, believed Mr. Jones would overcome his health problems with support from family and friends. Mr. Jones is believed to be receiving medical attention in hospital, the newspaper said. - AAP Information Services Pty Ltd.
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Skippers don't like crew cuts.