SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1060 - April 30, 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.
Team New Zealand, the America's Cup holders, have claimed that the Seattle-based OneWorld team, backed by telecommunications billionaire Craig McCaw and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, should not be considered a legitimate challenger for next year's event.
For nine months OneWorld have been wrapped up in a secrets-for-sale row involving their disaffected former employee, Sean Reeves, which resulted in a civil action in Seattle. Reeves claimed OneWorld possessed secrets from TNZ's successful defence of the cup in 2000. This forced OneWorld to admit to the America's Cup disputes body, the arbitration panel, a string of technology transfer violations, all of which the Seattle team claimed were minor and of no bearing to the creation of their boats.
TNZ remained silent until Friday, when the deadline for final submissions to the panel closed. Now they have produced rebuttals, affidavits and evidence which - if true - put OneWorld under acute pressure. OneWorld are alleged to have drawings, data and specification on TNZ's hulls, rigs and laminates.
TNZ claim the Seattle syndicate have not made full and frank disclosures, that Reeves's allegations must be considered and that "condoning or minimizing the seriousness of OneWorld's actions" would destroy a fundamental tenet of the America's Cup, that boats are bona fide products of the challenging country. - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, UK, full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
THE RATINGS GAME
What happens to my boat speed if I go from sailing upwind to reaching? How much faster will my boat go with a longer spinnaker pole or a larger main? Will my new keel make my boat faster or slower and by how much?
US Sailing's launch of SailRater, an online sailboat performance analysis tool will help answer these-and many other-questions for the boat owner, without having to take SailRater calculates changes in predicted speed due to course changes, wind changes, or alterations to a boat's configuration. SailRater also has an application to race handicapping and can help racers make boat configuration decisions.
SailRate Boat allows the user to:
Compare different variations of the boat (or some version of it) on a single course with a single wind speed.
Compare different variations of the boat (or some version of it) under varying course and wind speed conditions.
Compare the boat (or some version of it) to other boats boat on a single course with a single wind speed.
Compare any base boat you enter in "My Data" area to any target boat from the "My Data" area.
Compare base and target boats under varying course and wind speed conditions.
With a comprehensive Help section and tutorial, as well as step-by-step instructions, using SailRater is a breeze. After entering the boat's PHRF certificate information and starting reference conditions, users tell SailRater the changes they'd like to make-for example, what difference would that larger main make? All data is stored on the SailRater secure server in the registered user's private library, available for each visit to SailRater.
The cost for using SailRater is $15 per submission for using SailRater's calculator to compute an answer to your question. Practicing is free.
SailRater is a development of US Sailing's Offshore Office. The system makes VPP (Velocity Prediction Program) technology available to all monohull racers. The SailRater VPP is based on cutting edge data. It uses the latest results from on-going research in sailboat aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.
For more information about SailRater, contact Dan Nowlan, US Sailing, Offshore Director at DanNowlan@ussailing.org or visit: www.sailrater.com
BURSTING FOR EXTRA STRENGTH
Bainbridge International's AIRX 500 - more tear strength, more burst strength with a new ripstop construction. Both Bainbridge's AIRX 500N and 500N-VMG are now available with a new stronger ripstop construction. Tear strength has been increased by 15% while burst strength has been improved by over 20%. AIRX 500N is the ideal firm finish 0.5oz spinnaker fabric, while 500N-VMG has a medium finish for those lighter choppier conditions. For more information contact your sailmaker or go to www.sailcloth.com
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
The sailing instructions for this last trans-ocean leg in the Volvo Ocean Race have added an exclusion zone to keep the yachts out of the ice that is swept south by the Labrador Current. Large icebergs are drifting as far south as 40N, that's as far south as Spain or Italy. It was about this latitude where Titanic hit an iceberg, exactly 90 years ago in an average ice year. The introduction of the 'ice-box' was made after the dangerous incident in the Southern Ocean, where News Corp hit a growler that eventually cost her the rudder on leg four after passing Cape Horn.
The area called Iceberg Alley is located about 250 miles east and southeast of the island of Newfoundland, Canada. Iceberg Alley is usually considered to be that portion of the Labrador Current, that flows southward from Flemish Pass, along the eastern edge of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, to the tail of the Banks.
The introduction of a prohibited area has made following the Gulf Stream even more important as the course avoiding the prohibited area closely follows the axis of the Gulf Stream. The fleet will therefore try to ride the Gulf Stream as far as possible taking advantage of favourable eddies in the stream. This adds to the complexity of the weather as the warm waters of the stream and the cold water to the north can develop violent weather patterns. The transition zone is known as the Cold Wall and it has a reputation for being an area of extremely volatile weather. The east end of the Cold Wall presents the greatest hydrodynamic contrasts in the world, the water changing from the olive or bottle green of the Arctic side to the indigo blue of the Gulf Stream, with temperature changes of 11 degree Celsius or more over short distances.
After the eight yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race left the Chesapeake Bay they fanned out in search for the quickest way into the favourable Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream gives the yachts an extra boost toward Europe. The navigators obviously have different views on how to get into the current as quick as possible.
Winds from the northwest, gusting up to 30 knots are pushing the fleet at exhilarating speeds towards Europe. The exclusion zone just 200 miles to the north allows the yachts to sail on a straight easterly course. Over the past 6 hours they have averaged close on 20 knots, and 24 hour runs are now in excess of 300 miles. With the winds forecast to continue at force 6-7 from the northwest, there should be no slackening of speed for the next 24 hours at least. With these conditions in mind there could be a few crews eyeing the monohull 24-hour distance record.
STANDINGS at 0406 April 30
1. illbruck, 3052 miles from finish
2T. SEB, 14 miles behind leader
2T. News Corp, 14 mbl
4. Assa Abloy, 15 mbl
5. Tyco, 17 mbl
6. Amer Sports One, 23
7. djuice, 24 mbl
8. Amer Sports Too, 54 mbl. - www.volvooceanrace.org
ABSOLUTELY NO WAY
Team New Zealand has laughed off rumors that skipper Dean Barker is to be dumped less than a year out from the syndicate's defence of yachting's America's Cup. Poor results on the lucrative world match-racing circuit, the Swedish Match Tour, and Barker's almost bashful dealings with the media and sponsors have fuelled speculation that he is about to be jettisoned. Respected Frenchman Bertrand Pace, a former world match-racing and Swedish Match champion who boasts America's Cup experience dating back to the French Kiss challenge in 1987, is Team NZ's reserve helmsman and is seen as a ready-made replacement.
However, Team NZ media and communications manager Murray Taylor yesterday dismissed talk of Barker's supposed fall from grace as a "wind-up". "That's a beauty . . . the best one I've ever heard," he said before bursting into laughter. "There's no possibility of Dean being dropped. Absolutely no way. - Kent Gray, The Dominion, as posted on the Stuff NZ website, full story: www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,1183969a1823,FF.html
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 Diane Swintal: The relative merits, and lack thereof, of PHRF versus one design have been hotly debated here - but John Burnham brings an interesting perspective. I find I have to agree with him. I sail on a J105 in Southern California - we're not the best team, but we work really hard and are quite serious - and usually too exhausted at the end of the day to do more than sit at the yacht club bar, count bruises and ponder the winch that will be required to get us out of bed the next morning.
I also race in Thursday night summer series races - I'm never really sure how we did in the standings and I usually don't care. I learn a lot, have a good time and meet new people each time I stop at the yacht club bar - I've used my 'bag 'o boats' much more often at the bar than in the protest room.
So which is better? Neither. Or both. And I'd hate to give up either.
* From Peter G. Kremlick: Reading John Burnham's recent editorial in Sailing World I wondered what was so different between one design sailing and other types (presumably handicap racing). As I looked over his "hell of a lot of work" issues for one designs, I could find nothing that was not also true of other sailboat racing. In all cases you have to know the rules, get a skilled crew, and get a good start to do well. You also better spend some time watching the wind shifts, getting your sails up to snuff, the bottom smooth and keeping the equipment functional.
All too often there are much easier things to do than race a competitive boat (any type) with a crew. It is easier to blame the wind, the course or the competitors than it is to get off the couch, get dirty and sand the bottom. Also fleets fail because there is a real lack of leadership at all levels of the sport.
I am now sailing radio controlled boats and enjoying every minute of it. The fleets are one design, the time and cost to be competitive is reasonable, and most of all the racing is FUN. Where else can you get in 8 races in two hours of fierce competition and leave feeling good about the day.
Every top skipper goes out of his way to help the ones in the back of the fleet improve. And every good pond across the country provides a venue. AMYA actually listens to membership input. Both the top skippers and the AMYA provide true leadership. That is why RC sailing is growing while conventional fleets are losing participation.
* From Bruce Kirby: You have to read right through John Burnham's column in the May Sailing World before you realize he is doing just a bit of leg-pulling when he suggests that one-design racing is "totally overrated." Unfortunately a lot of hurried readers are in the habit of not reading to the end of many articles, and in fact the other day a friend and fine sailor referred to John's column as "that anti one-design article."
It is more a dissertation on sailboat competition that points out there are ways other than strict one-design to enjoy life racing around the buoys. It was gutsy of John to open his column by biting the hand that feeds him, but it certainly focused a lot of attention on the point he was making. And he did admit towards the end that he is personally addicted to and regularly involved in one-design competition.
His jab at boat-for-boat racing is particularly amusing when one is old enough to remember (and fortunate enough to have a memory!) that Sailing World began life in 1962 as One-Design Yachtsman. It is still the bible of those who prefer to know how they finished when they cross the finish line.
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Burnham's column has now been posted on the Sailing World website: www.sailingworld.com
* From Jeremy Elliott: If, as the organisers claim, the Antarctica Cup is intended to compliment the Volvo Ocean Race than why don't they use VO60s with a stipulation that only existing boats can be used to keep costs down?
* From Lou Newlands: Just to correct the assertion of Reynald Neron, Offshore Challenges is in the business of getting sailors on the water, with good sponsors, regardless of the event or discipline. Right now Offshore Challenges have projects that include crewed 60 foot trimarans and 110ft cats, Olympic sailing, fully crewed Open 60s, solo Figaros ... and are equally enthusiastic about the Antarctica Cup idea which introduces some excellent new ideas.
The point made by Mark Turner is merely about the general problem of calendar management and overall presentation of the complex professional sailing world to the external sponsorship market - who at the end of the day are funding the sport at the top end to the tune of many millions.
The assertion that the stance of Offshore Challenges was for commercial reasons is misplaced - Offshore are primarily interested in any new events and growing all aspects of the sport. Sponsorship is never easy to come by, as a sport we need to make the Rights that sponsors get as clean and protected as possible - part of that challenge is managing the calendar and key events.
The difficulties of finding slots for new events is appreciated but we should nonetheless avoid significant clashes as it serves nobody's interests - and more importantly find a mechanism for managing the issue. As Robo has explained, it was a difficult problem for the Ant Cup organisers - what needs addressing is the process.
TROPHEE JULES VERNE
Condescendingly, the high is shifting away towards Mauritania as the maxi-catamaran Orange sweeps through, opening the route to the Azores for skipper Bruno Peyron's boys. The trade winds that are blowing from Madeira and the Canaries strengthened in the night and the Marseilles skipper had to cope with head seas once again. But now Orange is easing her sheets and on a heading that is still a bit too much NW, and is picking up speed. Peyron is climbing fast up the Atlantic and with every mile gained to the north, he is starting to round off his route. Heading due north today and part of tomorrow, with perhaps a slight slowing down on the approach to the centre of the masses of high pressure. Southwest of the Azores by Wednesday or Thursday, Orange will set off again on port tack towards the train of low pressure systems that repeatedly sweep the Breton coast!
There is reason for optimism as the repair to the mast rotation ball is reassuring with it's strength. "But since Ronan (le Goff) has been able to repair the greasing system, the ball no longer rubs directly on the mast foot shell, and the friction that caused the crack have practically disappeared" added Peyron. However they are remaining cautious and each watch is devoted a little of its vigilance to listening to and observing the ball. - www.maxicatamaran-orange.com
COLIN ERNEST RATSEY
Colin Ernest Ratsey, one of the most prominent yachtsmen of his generation, died in Vero Beach, Florida, after a brief illness. He was 75. Mr. Ratsey, who was born in New Rochelle in 1927, was the first American-born member of his family to serve as president of the venerable Ratsey & Lapthorn Sailmakers. The firm, whose sails adorned Lord Nelson's fleet at Trafalgar as well as numerous Americas Cup contenders, was founded in England in 1690. Mr. Ratsey was the sixth generation of his family to work at the company loft.
In addition running to the traditional family business, Mr. Ratsey was an acclaimed competitor. Among his achievements were winning the prestigious Bermuda Race, completing numerous Trans-Atlantic races and serving as a crew member when the 12-meter Columbia successfully defended the Americas Cup in 1958. Mr. Ratsey also served as Commodore of the American Yacht Club and was a member of the New York Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club.
Mr. Ratsey is survived by his children, Scott Ratsey of Vero Beach, Florida, Cynthia Ratsey Young of Rye, New York, Colin David Ratsey and Jane Ratsey Williams of Greenport, New York and 8 grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Joan Ratsey Darling, of Weston, Vermont.
Contact: Cynthia Ratsey Young (914) 967-8385
NEW GEAR FROM GILL
From the waterline up, Gill's new OS1 and OS2 range are designed for maximum comfort and breathability. They features Gill's new performance cut for maximum freedom of movement. 100% waterproof, 100% durable, 100% breathable - your best bet for offshore and ocean sailing. Order online from pyacht.com. www.pyacht.net/online-store/scstore/h-gill.htm
CHARLESTON RACE WEEK
With 20-plus-knot northeast winds buffeting Charleston's South Channel and a full-moon ebb tide working against the wind for most of the three days, the conditions on the two racecourses were tricky for locals and out-of-towners alike. The funny thing is, visiting boats in several classes got the better of their local rivals despite these wily conditions. Tom Coates of San Francisco was nearly unbeatable in the 18-boat J/105 class, posting only two finishes below first during the first six races. Bill Buckles of Toledo, OH, and his crew aboard the well-traveled Tartan Ten Liquor Box explained that the strong tidal currents befuddled them, but that didn't keep them from putting a headlock on first place in PHRF B. - Dan Dickison, SailNet website, full story: www.sailnet.com
Complete results: cora.sailnet.com
ISAF WOMEN'S MATCH RACING WORLDS
Club Nautico de Calpe, Calpe Bay, Spain - Today the wind was blowing offshore and varied between 9 and 16 knots with shifts of up to 30 degrees. Later on in the day the breeze got trickier with wind holes appearing on the course that got the better of a number sailors. Marie Bjorling (SWE) and Liz Baylis (USA) tied on five wins each after day one.
Marie Bjorling, SWE 5/5
Liz Baylis, USA 5/5
Sabrina Gurioli, ITA 3/5
Gwen Joulie, FRA 2/5
Anne Le Helley, FRA 2/5
Claire Leroy, FRA, 2/5
Nina B Petersen, DEN, 1/5
Sandy Grosvenor, USA, 0/5.
Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen, DEN, 3/4
Malin Millbourn, SWE, 3/4
Giulia Conti, ITA, 1/4
Ines Montefusco, ESP, 0/4
Dawn Riley, USA, 2/4
Cordelia Ellis, GBR, 3/4
Christelle Philippe, FRA, 3/4
Mar Castenado, ESP, 1/4 with a win against Montefusco.
Star Spring Championship of the Western Hemisphere, Davis Island YC, Tampa, Florida - Results after five races with one discard (38 boats):
1. Paul Cayard / Phil Trinter, 8
2. Iain Percy / Steve Mitchell, 14
3. Rick Merriman / Bill Bennett, 16
4. Augie Diaz / Christian Finnsgard, 18
5. George Szabo / Austin Sperry, 22
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
Why do scientists call it research when looking for something new?