SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1069 - May 13, 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.
(Following are excerpts from a posting by Skip Allen on the 'Lectronic Latitude website.)
The recent Moore 24 Nationals at Santa Cruz featured three days of good racing in mostly 15-20 knot winds and three-foot seas. You wouldn't think falling overboard was a serious risk in such conditions, but during Race 3, one of the leading boats did a windward broach while planing under spinnaker - and two cockpit crew and the helmsman were flushed overboard. After spending about five minutes in the 52-degree water, two of the swimmers were recovered by their remaining two crew, who did a great job in dousing their spinnaker and making a return. Their helmsman, however, was in trouble and sinking fast. His race-required lifejacket was not keeping him afloat, and only the top of his head was visible when I pulled him alongside using a Life-Sling polypro rope. Being a single-handed spectator to the racing, I was unable to lift him aboard amidships, but did manage to get him aboard via the stern ladder. Despite coughing up a lot of water, he was recovering well by the time we reached the dock. But it was a near thing, and in another minute he may well have sunk for good. I feel the direct cause was the Musto life vest he was wearing did not provide the minimum flotation to keep him afloat. This popular brand of life vest is worn by many sailors primarily for its comfort is not Coast Guard approved, and only gives nine pounds flotation when new.
* My participation in the recovery was non-heroic, but rather what any professional seaman would have done in the circumstances. Nonetheless, it was discouraging to me that about 12-15 racers passed in proximity to the swimmers, but nobody stopped or came back, except for the boat that had lost the crew over! The two excuses that I heard were 'we were going so fast that by the time we would have doused, we were past them,' and 'we saw other boats in the vicinity, and thought they were taking care of things.' I don't wish to make an issue of this separate part of the day's happenings, other than to point out that the very first racing rule of Part 1, Fundamental Rules, Rule number 1 is "A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger." Which brings up an interesting question. At what point is a person overboard 'in danger?' In the tropics, it may be one thing, and in 52-degree water with wind waves, it may be another.
Interestingly, as I sailed close-hauled on starboard tack to the scene of the three swimmers, a port tack tail-ender, not under spinnaker, came barreling at me, shouting 'get out of the race course!' When I pointed out the swimmers, they stopped shouting at me - but sped right on by. Again, I do not wish to criticize the participants in the Moore Class Nationals, as many are my friends. In the heat of action, sometimes decisions can get blurred. But lives could have been lost in this situation."
Can we all agree that any sailor who has gone overboard in Northern California waters is 'in danger', and that nobody should ever sail by someone - or group - who has gone overboard, at least until they are absolutely, positively certain that a successful rescue is underway? - Skip Allen, full posting: www.latitude38.com
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
Plans are now been finalized for getting Amer Sports Too to the start line at La Rochelle by May 25. The yacht will be unloaded from the ship at Liverpool on May 14, the day the ship arrives from Halifax, Canada. It will be trans-shipped to Southampton in South England then motor to the Camper and Nicholson boatyard at Gosport. It is due at the yard on May 16.
By this time the new mast, which has been in storage at the Camper and Nicholson's yard, will have been prepared for stepping on May 17. The Nautor Challenge Team is assembling in Gosport at the weekend.
Skipper Lisa McDonald says she's confident the work can be done in time and the yacht prepared for the delivery voyage. "The crew is on fire - absolutely determined to get to the start in excellent shape. We expect it will take four days to sail to La Rochelle, giving us an ETA of May 22. The full race crew will be on board for the delivery." - www.nautorchallenge.com
News Corp, which won the last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, had to settle for sixth place in La Rochelle after sailing most of the 3,400-mile seventh stage without the bottom 18 inches of its rudder. The tip vanished on the fourth night at sea in a collision with an unidentified underwater object. Jez Fanstone's crew concealed the problem from their rivals as it hurt their speed by an estimated 10 per cent.
"It's frustrating because it has cost us two sixth places now," said Irish watch-leader Gordon Maguire, referring also to News Corp's rudder loss on leg four. Only Knut Frostad's lacklustre Djuice finished behind News Corp and that was because of the women's retirement following the dismasting of Amer Sports Too. - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, UK, full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
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Strange as it may seem, in modern yacht racing the sailors who push light, fast boats across wide oceans have been known to cut their toothbrushes in half before setting out to sea. A largely symbolic gesture, it underscores the philosophy that creature comforts are superfluous and saving weight is everything.
So it was odd, late last week at Rhode Island's Newport Shipyards, to watch case after case of Heineken beer disappear into the hold of the schooner Windrose as its crew prepared for a trans-Atlantic match race against the three-masted Adix. Then again, Windrose measures 152 feet over all and displaces 150 tons, so it is not as if the vessel could not carry spare cargo. And its racing crew of 26 sailors, who are likely to work up a thirst, is largely Dutch.
In comparison to the frantic scene on Windrose - where men and women scampered about, the foredeck was littered with huge bags of sails waiting to be stored, and there was a prevailing sense that there were many jobs to be addressed - the atmosphere on nearby Adix was almost sleepy. Not a sail or line aboard the 212-foot, 380-ton schooner was out of place. Down below, in the boat's immaculate quarters, a sumptuous lunch was being rustled up. The boat's Australian skipper, Paul Goss, who in less than 24 hours would be leading his 13-person crew into whatever conditions the Atlantic served up, seemed completely unperturbed.
Then again, Goss said he could not remember the number of trans-Atlantic voyages he had completed, though he took a stab at 25. Who would not be unperturbed? "We know the boat well," he said. "We're not going to do anything crazy. The boat sails beautifully. She'll do it for us."
If it all seemed like a throwback to a bygone era, perhaps it was. "It's been a long time since two yachts like this have done a private match across the ocean," said Windrose's captain, the British-born sailor Andy Russell-Smith. "I haven't heard of anything quite like this happening since before the Second World War." - Herb McCormick, New York Times, complete story: www.nytimes.com
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 Michael Levitt: Charlie Barr must be rolling over in his grave. First it was endless politicking. Now it's ambush marketing. In 1905, he skippered Atlantic to a transatlantic race record of 12d-4h-1m. That record for monohulls still stands, says WSSRC, part of ISAF. See: www.sailspeedrecords.com/oceanrace.html WSSRC makes a distinction between "Passage Records" -- where yachts wait for optimum conditions -- and "Ocean Race Records" that have a starting date set well in advance. One isn't better than the other - we are in awe of Steve Fossett - they're just different. Apples and oranges.
A race implies if not a franchise than a tradition. The Fastnet is associated with the RORC. There is nothing to stop an organizer from staging an identical race at a time promising more optimal conditions. Writes WSSRC, "This yacht might have a case to claim a WSSR ratified passage record". However, the WSSR would not recognize this new time as the Fastnet Race Record."
Someone has been arguing for 20 years that another yacht bettered Atlantic's race record. Despite being a WSSRC member, an insider, his arguments haven't been found persuasive.
Now we read about another race across the Atlantic. It is an attempt to break the "schooner Transatlantic sailing record" -- whatever that is. Nevertheless, Atlantic's name and race-record time are invoked. The record they're chasing belongs to Phocea, a passage record of 8d-3h-29m. See www.sailspeedrecords.com/ratified.html
Atlantic's 100-year-old race record will be in play in May 2005 when the NYYC hosts the Transatlantic Challenge.
* From John Roberson: Jim Stevralia's observations about the unfounded claims of the Sailnet story on Volvo Race sponsorship, only partly touches on the lack of thought and accuracy that has gone into the piece. What the people quoted say about sponsors aiming more at internal company "feel good" may be true of this particular race, but historically the Whitbread race has produced some very satisfied consumer product sponsors. Think of Steinlager, Fisher & Paykel, Rothmans, EF, Intrum Justitia ...
The list goes on. To say that sponsors don't return to the Whitbread/Volvo is also inaccurate. Lion New Zealand and Steinlager are the same company, just different brands, similarly with Rothmans and Silk Cut. One must also remember that the Whitbread/Volvo is a four year commitment, and many sponsors only stay in other sports for a three or four year period, the difference being that in other sports they generally get an event every year, where as with this race they only get one shot in four years.
* From Fred Schroth (re sailing familys): There is the Lovell family who each have US Sailing medals. The father son team of Bruce and Eric Faust have reigned as lords of the (Butter) flys with at least four US Champs apiece.. The Parks twins Carol and Mary used to alternate as skipper and won the Sidewinder nationals for at least seven years in a row before winning the inaugural Sailing World women's regatta. The Diaz family has ruled in the Snipe class since the fifties. The name Allen is synonomous with victory in the Lightning class. The unique family has to be the one in the Soling class. Stuart Walker is actually just a trade name for a series of clones. No individual could be that good for that long.
* From Julie Hahnke: Only two years ago, Liz Baylis first showed up at the Sundance Cup, as an unranked match racer. (The Sundance cup is a grade 4 women's match racing event run by the Fort Worth Boat Club, which includes a developmental clinic run by Betsy Allison.) Liz's success shows just how important developmental match race events (grades 3 and 4) are to the growth of our sport and the support of future champions, men and women alike. (Of course good genes don't hurt, either!) Congrats and kudos to Liz, Stacie, Aimee and Karina on winning the Women's World Match Racing title!
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Impressive as these accomplishments are, we should not overlook the fact that JJ Isler's letter focused on those sailing families who have won multiple world - not national - championships.
* From Jim Durden: I find the thread on OD vs PHRF racing has as much diversity in the debate as the racing itself. I found out early on as a boat owner that boat and crew preperation have an equal amount of importance for OD and PHRF. The differences being that you don't get penalized in OD for all that hard work, and you get accolades from your competitors for winning, instead of comments about your rating.
With respect to "noisy" vs "quiet" boats, I have seen average crew and skippers rise to a unheard of level of performance when all the pieces fall neatly into place. I have have also seen the most talented crew and skippers become their own worst enemy when their egos get in the way of teamwork. These characteristics play out in both OD and PHRF.
But, when was the last time your pulse rose looking at your watch after a finish to see if you saved your time on the boat behind?
TEAM DENNIS CONNER
(Peter Montgomery recently interviewed Dennis Conner on TVNZ's Sailnz.tv programme. Here are a couple of excerpts from the transcript.)
Peter Montgomery: What about Team Dennis Conner, Stars and Stripes and the America's Cup? What can you tell us? You've got one boat sailing at long Beach, California.
Dennis Conner: It's a good venue to practice. We heard from the guys and Paul Cayard last time that Long Beach was excellent and it hasn't disappointed us. It's got some nice aesthetic conditions; good conditions for working on your boat speed. Not far from our home in San Diego. It's so far been everything that we could have hoped for.
The new boat is good. How good is yet to be determined. Until we get out there on that starting line in October no one will ever know but so far our relationship with the New York Yacht Club is going well. I've enjoyed getting back into the fold there. The people have been nice to us and I appreciate all their help and support. So that part of it is going well.
I think we've strengthened our sailing team. Kenny has been focusing on his match racing skills. We see him moving up the ladder from fourth or fifth here in the Steinlager and now he's second in the Congressional Cup. So he's got a little more confidence, which is a boost for the team. Adding Vince Brun and several other guys that are top caliber guys in the back of the boat has been good. Other than that nothing's really changed from Team Dennis Conner.
PM: Tom Whidden back, Peter Isler back. Billy Trenkle back.
DC: Yeah, they're all there. Hard to get rid of your friends even if they're getting old.
PM: And when we talk about the New York Yacht Club and how well you're getting on - now, you've got Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco helping. We see Bill Koch has just publicly announced that he's going to help you as well. Computer Associates; the Citizen people. You're going well Dennis. I'm going to say to you, you're coming out with this underdog business but you're going to be more formidable than you've been since Fremantle.
DC: Well, time will tell. At this point talk is cheap but we've got a tremendous amount of wealthy people involved here. With the number two richest guy in the world, number 4 richest guy in the world and four billionaires there. The financial aspects of the Cup have never been stronger. People love to talk about the rich guys and I'm interested too. I don't underestimate what they bring to the table and I think we will have a very very competitive Louis Vuitton. I'm just hoping we can be onto our pace and make it into the semi-finals and go from there, Peter.
More of this interview has been posted on the 2003AC website by Cheryl - www.2003ac.com
HERE'S TO THE WINNERS
Another superb winter season at KWRW and the SORC, with Ockam equipped boats dominating the results. Kudos to the KWRW teams on "Rima" winner of Class 1A1, "Chessie Racing" (1A2), "Rio" (1B), "Tango" (1E), and "Wild Thing" (1D35). At SORC, "Idler" won the IMS class, "Chessie Racing" took PHRF1, and "USA 320" was top Mumm30. Not every Ockam equipped boat was racing - prominent motoryachts with Ockam systems aboard seen keeping tabs on the fleets included "Affinity", "Magpie", and "North Star". Please visit our website to learn more about the uniquely capable Ockam system. www.ockam.com
Leg 8 - 86.3 statute miles, Isle of Palms, SC - Myrtle Beach, SC - Alexanders took the victory for the long night leg, but Tybee was close behind. This established Tybee again as the leader overall with Alexanders only 5 minutes behind. But don't count Castrol out - they are only one minute behind Alexanders. And the other close behind guy is Tommy Bahama.
So, it would seem it is back to a match race between Tybee and Alexanders, right? Maybe not! I remember back a number of year ago when Clive Mayo and I (Rick White) were always battling it out. This was a regatta in Key West. Clive and I covered each other so much - total blanketing., always knowing where the other guy was, etc. Well, my son, Dave White, took advantage of our playing around and won the regatta, much to both or our surprises.
Can this happen again? Of course! Tybee and Alexanders have been training together fore a long tine and really know each others moves. Should they keep blanketing each other, they might just lose the lead and lose the race - Castrol is just on their heels! - Catamaran Sailor website, www.catsailor.com/worrell02/worrell02.html
1 Tybee Island
2. Alexander's on the Bay, 5 minutes 23 seconds behind leader
3 Castrol, 00: 06:11 bl
4. Tommy Bahama, 00:10:38
Portoferraio, Elba Island, Tuscany Italy - USA skipper Ed Baird has won in the first edition of Toscana Elba Cup Trofeo Locman, match race event for America's Cup Teams. Baird (Team Musto) defeated the French skipper Phillipe Presti (Le Defi Areva) with 3 races to none in the finals. Following the success of this first edition, organizers decided to extend the event for 2003 year: all skippers have confirmed their presence, and organizers hope to involve also many syndicates from the next LVC-AC races in Auckland. www.elbacup.org
1. Ed Baird (USA/Musto)
2. Phillipe Presti (Le Defi Areva)
3. Chris Law (Australian Sydney 95)
4. Andy Beadsworth (GBR Challenge)
5. Paolo Cian (Mascalzone Latino)
TORONADO EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
With 134 sailors from 20 countries, it was the French pairing of Olivier Backes and Laurent Voiron who claimed the European Championship title in Vilamoura, Portugal today. With the results open in today's final two races, with any one of three crews in contention for the championship title, it was the French pairing who came through with a 4th and 2nd, after a series of 9 races and one discard. However, the 67-boat regatta was won by Argentineans Santiago Lange & Carlos Espinola.
1 Santiago Lange & Carlos (Argentina) 31
2. Olivier Backes & Laurent Voiron (France) 34
3. Mitch Booth & Herbert Dercksen (Netherlands) 53
4. Darren Bundock & John Forbes (Australia) 61
5. Sven Karsenbarg & Mischa Heemskerk (Netherlands) 80
6. Lars Guck & Jonathan Farrar (USA) 80
17. John Lovell & Charlie Ogletree(USA) 146
23. Robbie Daniel & Eric Jacobsen (USA) 176
31. Oskar Johanssen & John Curtis (Canada) 232
THE CURMUDGEON'S QUOTATIONS
"No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there is too much fraternizing with the enemy." - Henry Kissinger