SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1079- May 27, 2002
NEW! -- SCUTTLEBUTT EUROPE -- Starting Monday the 3rd of June -- To subscribe to go to http://www.scuttlebutteurope.com.
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.
LOST AT SEA
Jamie Boeckel, 31, of Newport, RI, boat captain of the 66-foot ocean racing sloop Blue Yankee, is missing in Long Island Sound and presumed dead after he was swept overboard last night during the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race. Boeckel was thrown from the bow when the spinnaker pole broke off Fairfield, CT, while the 16-man crew was making a routine sail change to a smaller running spinnaker. It was 8:37 PM and just after dark. At the time, northwesterly winds were gusting over 25 knots following the passage of a cold front.
Brock Callen, another professional sailor on the boat, took off his shoes and jacket and jumped in after Boeckel, who was seen floating face down and was apparently unconscious. At the same time, a second crewmember released the boat's man overboard apparatus, consisting of a flotation ring, dan buoy and strobe light. Callen swam the 20 yards to Boeckel and tried to support the unconscious man in the cold 50-degree waters of Long Island Sound. The man overboard gear was nearby, but out of reach and drifting away in the strong winds. The boat got back to Callen within eight minutes, but Boeckel had already slipped from his rescuer's grasp.
Blue Yankee is owned and skippered by Bob Towse, of Stamford, CT, a former commodore of the Storm Trysail Club. Towse is a highly-experienced and long-time ocean racing campaigner who has enjoyed a string of successes with a series of boats with the same name.
At least five other race boats in the vicinity abandoned racing and were joined by 14 other boats in the search for Boeckel. The fleet of rescue vessels included two US Coast Guard 41-footers, and emergency response small craft from towns bordering the Connecticut shore. Helicopters from the Fairfield Police Department and the Connecticut State Police joined in the search.
The Storm Trysail Club dedicated the prize-giving ceremony for the Block Island Race to Boeckel. "The club's officers share Bob Towse's belief that it is better to celebrate Jamie's life and his contributions to sailing by honoring him at the prizegiving, than to cancel it and let the moment go unmarked," said John Osmond, Commodore of the Storm Trysail Club. "We are all sure that Jamie would have wanted it this way."
Manned by a crew of veteran sailors, George Coumantaros' 80-foot maxi-yacht Boomerang demolished the course record for Block Island Race by nearly three hours. Starting on Friday night, the German Frers-designed Boomerang sailed the 185 nautical miles from Stamford, clockwise around Block Island and back to Stamford Harbor entrance in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds, at an average speed of 11.3 knots. Boomerang peeled two hours, 53 minutes, 19 seconds off the old record set four years ago by Hasso Plattner's Reichel/Pugh maxi Morning Glory, steered by America's Cup winner Russell Coutts.
After the last of the 86 boats competing in the race finished early on Sunday morning, a calculation of the handicaps showed that Boomerang's fast passage time had also earned her first place in class and first in fleet for International Measurement System [IMS] boats. The overall winner of the 46-boat Performance Handicap Racing Fleet [PHRF] was another big boat, Dietrich Weisman's Alden 63 Sceptre'd Isle. She finished two and a half hours after Boomerang and on corrected time was the handicap winner of Class 5 PHRF and PHRF overall. - Keith Taylor, www.stormtrysail.org
LE DEFI AREVA RESPONDS TO GREENPEACE
I cannot leave unanswered the commentary by Bruno Rebelle, Executive Director, Greenpeace France. It is frightening to realize that this commentary is part of the litany of untruths absolutely refuted by all witnesses present (there were many) and the images (thankfully) taken. The following is a list of the untruths:
1. Bruno Rebelle speaks of "aggressive interventions from Areva's heavy and powerful boats". First, these are the DEFI's chase boats and not AREVA's, as it was the sailing team that was attacked. These boats are rather modest compared to those usually used in the Cup for towing International Americas Cup Class (IACC or AC) boats;
2. The images taken clearly show no aggressiveness by the members of the team. In fact, we were preparing the boat to be hoisted out of the water, having decided to cancel Saturday's sail due to the danger presented by a large number of steel oil drums that Greenpeace France had anchored in the harbor, and for the safety of the large number of spectators gathered for FRA 69's first sail;
3. The images, contrary to Bruno Rebelle's allegations, show that during the aggression by Greenpeace France, all of the DEFI's boats (blue ribs) were stopped, and the DEFI team members were absolutely passive with regards to the Greenpeace France rib. The use of the term "melee" is wholly inapropriate. Any confusion or melee would have been caused by the Greenpeace rib speeding towards FRA 69 as she lay in her travel lift berth.
4. After shaking off the maritime authorities rib, the Greenpeace Rib headed directly for FRA 69. At no time whatsoever is the Greenpeace France rib pushed.
5. The images taken just prior to the attack show that at no time did Greenpeace France intend to reach our dock - Greenpeace France's central theme for justifying its actions.
6. The damages is, unfortunately, serious: delamination of the exterior carbon skin and a 21 centimeter area of crushed nomex. The repairs were authorized on Tuesday morning by the America's Cup Technical Director, pursuant to the class rules, and the work will be concluded today. Only a violent shock can cause this type of damage.
Our team is as shocked by the events themselves, as by the campaign of propaganda and misinformation Greenpeace France has undertaken since. A criminal investigation by the French authorities is underway. We hold absolutely no animosity or ill-will towards Greenpeace and other organizations which defend the environment or political causes. However, the debacle in Lorient shows that militant actions against a sailing team serve no ends. Consequently, we have asked Greenpeace to sanction the individuals who undertook these acts of aggression.
At this point, we do not wish to linger on the subject. As far as the sailing team is concerned, the affair is finished. We are now focused on our sailing and technical development and do not wish to revisit this sad event. - Xavier de Lesquen le Defi Areva General Manager, Base du Defi pour l'America's Cup
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VOLVO OCEAN RACE
A rude awakening greeted the fleet after the perfect conditions at the start in La Rochelle. As they headed out into the notorious unruly waters of the Bay of Biscay swelling seas and 40 knots of breeze on the nose provided for a rough ride. Matt Humphries, watch leader on News Corp wrote: "What a battle ... the fleet within a few miles of each other rounding the notorious Ushant, travelling at 20 knots in 30 knots of wind blowing from the west. We have had a tight race since the start and we are soaking wet after a slog to this left hand corner. Very unpleasant conditions have resulted in some of the crew spending time on the white telephone to god."
Crewmembers onboard Assa Abloy recovered well from their incident on the start line yesterday when they managed to snag the underwater holding line on the start buoy around their keel. At the gun, with the wind perpendicular to the course, Assa Abloy got caught in the line of the leeward starting mark with full speed. It took the frustrated sailors at least eight minutes to get going again while dragging the mark. First bowman Jason Carrington took his foul weather gear off and jumped in the cold water to free the rudder of the line.
At that moment the boat was head to wind doing maybe two to three knots. But the line was caught around the keel bulb instead of the rudder. Quickly Richard Mason jumped in. The young New Zealander disappeared underwater and decided to swim to the trailing mark and cut the anchor line off the mark. With all onboard again the boat was accelerating. To make things even more dramatic for the crew of Assa Abloy, they had to execute a 360-degree penalty turn for hitting the mark or any part of it.
The leading 6 boats seem to be drawn together as if by invisible bonds, with just 4 miles between them. The slender lead changes by the hour. Positions at 0414 GMT:
1. Team Tyco, 669 miles to finish
1= Assa Abloy, 669 miles to finish
3.Amer Sports One, 1 mile behind leader
4. News Corp, 2 mbl
5. illbruck, 3 mbl
6. SEB, 4 mbl, djuice, 21 mbl
8. Amer Sports Too, 72 mbl
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 Joe Buck: I've read two analyses at the Volvo Ocean Racing site by Peter Rusch of boat speed, distance sailed and routing. To me, Peter's comments seem to suggest that boats that sail the shortest courses are more "efficiently" routed and are, or should be, the winners and that boats that sail faster, but longer courses are not being sailed properly. For this reason I think Peter's comments may be misleading to some readers.
In simplest terms, routing consists of trading off increases in boat speed against longer distances sailed to obtain the combination that gets the boat to the finish line in the shortest period of time. As a general rule, the winning boat will (almost) never sail the shortest possible course, but instead will sail a longer course at higher speeds and the boat that picks the best combination of speed and distance will be the winner. As a consequence, an analysis of which boats sailed the shortest distance has, by itself, little significance.
Similarly, a comparison of average boat speeds between two boats sailing different routes has little or no meaning because the basic reason for sailing a different route is to achieve a different boatspeed that, over the different distance, provides the winning result. Instead of describing the winning route as being the most "efficient" as Peter has done, perhaps the winning route should be labelled the most "effective".
* From Christian Fevrier: I totally refute the presentation of the facts by Bruno Rebelle in # 1078 which stated, "During this demonstration, considerable confusion was generated by aggressive interventions from Areva's heavy and powerful boats. In the melee, a Greenpeace inflatable which was heading for the landing stage by the yacht, was pushed into contact with the Defi Areva. This was an entirely involuntary and regrettable accident."
A good hundred of media representatives watched the different attempts of the Greenpeace RIB to go directly to the yacht. As I have already stated to Madforsailing, if they wished to disembark on the long pier, their course should have been 50 to 60 degrees to the right. There was plenty of room on the pier, which welcomes normally the two IACC yachts, NZL-32 and FRA-46.
It is a real pity to see the Greenpeace president to use such arguments. He is simply killing all the previous sympathy and support that many sailors had for them for other more noble causes that they defend, with some good reasons.
* From Mike Zuilhof: I, too, was distressed to read of damage to an America's Cup boat, but widespread reporting of the unsubstantiated as fact was also disturbing. Thanks for restoring my faith in journalistic integrity by printing Greenpeace's side of the story. Should anyone misunderstand, Greenpeace is not speculating about government responsibility for bombing Rainbow Warrior. It was officially acknowledged and two French agents, arguably scapegoats, went to prison.
Those who have noted Greenpeace antics over the years might have been skeptical. Further, had they rammed at "full speed", an improbable plan, there'd be five dents in the hull. (Inflatibles don't have seat belts?) Not reported here was that Greenpeace had just dealt Areva a PR disaster by totally pooping their christening party. Defi Areva was surely livid. Did this color their behavior during the collision incident and their accounting of same? To speciously call distasteful acts "terrorism" is thoughtless at best and hatemongering at worst. It trivializes genuine terrorism and dishonors its victims, and allusions to 9/11 are indefensible.
There are some dimensions to this story that are far more interesting than rants against Greenpeace. Defi Areva is well on its way to proving to be a classic bumble. What were the French thinking when they accepted a nuclear industry sponsor embroiled in controversy as a partner for an event to be held in a staunchly and officially no-nukes country? And how often do you find irony like the fact that Rainbow Warrior was sunk in Auckland Harbour?
* From Liv Sherwood Much of the heated Rule 42 debate is missing a critical point. One of the greatest joys of our sport is being able to compete well and happily almost from cradle to grave. In my early years of racing I marvelled at the skills of many older sailors, sometimes mildly disabled. I was humiliated that they out sailed me but grateful for the lessons I learned and for their friendly, generous help.
Abolition of Rule 42 was debated at ISAF many years ago. I opposed it then and now. It seemed a reasonable compromise when classes were allowed to alter Rule 42 - see Rule 86. Classes that want to allow some or even unbridled kinetics in racing may do so. Few have done so presumably because their sailors want to keep the sport as it is. The sport should not exclude a huge number of ardent small boat sailors from any chance of competing successfully because they are not able to rock, pump, scull etc. as some of our eager young athletes would like.
Some, but far from all, illegal kinetics employed today are "cheating". They are part of a learning experience that can be helped by coaches, judges and other competitors. " It is only when competitors perfect, or coaches teach, ways to conceal forbidden kinetics that we are into cheating that needs to be vigorously policed. Please don't destroy our sport.
* From Doug Messer: I disagree with Mason Chrisman's Comment in 'Butt #1077 that the Olympics is about youth and athleticism and sailors do not have to follow any rules about kinetics. Since the RRS date back to the 1800's why not throw them out too. Let the hurdlers in track run around the hurdles, it is faster. Let the swimmers swim overhand crawl for the breaststroke event it is faster. Teach ethical competition, enforce the rules or turn the competition into a circus and watch the clowns.
* From David Redfern (re Scuttlebutt Europe): If you have to change, would it be better for the addicts out here to have the existing Scuttlebutt with Europe tagged on in the same mail? I can see me wading through both every day. It would give both sides of the pond a more balanced view to have both together. Otherwise, leave it alone. Its unique and it works. It's already open to Europeans to contribute, as I have many times. I like it as it is thanks.
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Not to worry- Scuttlebutt will be left alone. There will be absolutely no changes to Scuttlebutt. None! Scuttlebutt always covered major International and European events, and we will continue to do so. The curmudgeon will continue to edit Scuttlebutt just as he has from Day One, and the publication will continue to reflect his interests, taste and personality - just as it has from Day One.
The real problem is space. We work hard to try to provide a comprehensive daily digest of racing news - and do it in something like 3000 words or less. That constraint has made it necessary to ignore at lot European events and activities (like the just concluded Spa Regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands). We hope the new and totally separate publication will fill that void for racers who want more European news.
To subscribe go to www.scuttlebutteurope.com
STARS & STRIPES
Team Dennis Conner christened and launched Stars & Stripes, USA-77 Sunday at a ceremony held at the team's training compound in Long Beach, California. The team has been training in southern California for four months with Stars & Stripes USA-66, which was launched in February, and their trial horse, USA-54. The two new Stars & Stripes boats, which look remarkably similar, will begin their two-boat testing phase this week through the end of July, when the team will relocate to Auckland, New Zealand. - Veronica Brown, full story and photos:
BACK TO (OCKAM) SCHOOL
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American skipper Steve Fossett and his crew of 12 aboard the maxi-catamaran PlayStation knocked off another speed sailing milestone, capturing Florence Arthaud's 11 year old (set in August 1991 on the 60' trimaran Pierre 1er) Trans Mediterranean (458 nm -Marseille-Carthage) sailing record. A previous attempt by Steve and crew (May 4-5) fell 2 hours short.
PlayStation had an average speed of 24.38 kts. The previous record by Florence Arthaud was 22h 9m 56s for average of 20.66 kts. "It was extraordinary sailing - and a hard working trip - with 25 sail changes, Fossett explained. "Everyone did a great job - and our two newest crew members Howie Hamlin and Trevor Baylis - who are current world champions in 18' Skiffs - proved to be hot sailors."
Pending ratification by the WSSRC, Steve (sailing on both Lakota and PlayStation) will now hold 9 of the 10 fastest "outright" world records of sailing - including the 6 fastest - plus the 24 Hour Record. The new Marseille-Carthage mark will become the second fastest in the book - after PlayStation's extraordinary October 2001 4-1/2 day TransAt mark of 25.78 kts.
The TransMed record crew: Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper & Watch Captain; Chris Tibbs (GB) Navigator; Dave Scully (USA) Watch Captain; Trevor Baylis (CAN) Watch Captain; Quentin Dimmer (GB) Crew; Pete Berry (GB) Crew; Brad Cavanagh (USA) Crew; Richard James (AU) Crew; Dave Thompson (GB) Crew; Simon Cotter (IRE) Crew; Claire Bailey (GB) Crew; Howie Hamlin (USA) Crew; Mark Featherstone (GB) Crew. - www.fossettchallenge.com
ROLEX IMS OFFSHORE WORLDS
With a strong breeze over 20 kts from the Northeast, in a cloudy day that turned into sunshine the final (seventh) w/l race on the usual course of 8.5 miles concluded the very fought 4th Rolex IMS World Championship in Capri. The results of the last race have been very different from those of the previous ones, but the leaders of the two Divisions manages to keep the lead. Friday two w/l races were finished under cloudy skies, choppy seas and moderate westerly breeze. The 174 miles long distance race was very slow, and some boats did not finish within the time limit. The first day two w/l races were finished with Westerly thermal breeze. - Nicola Sironi
Final results, Division "A":
1. Brava Q8, Landolfi- Mezzaroma, Farr 49, 35.75
2. Wind, Lorenzo Bressani, GrandSoleil 44, 37.75
3. Giacomelli Sport, Gabriele Benussi, IMX 45, 44
1. Team Revolution, Toninelli Manfredo, First 36.7 MOD, 49.75
2. Don Alvaro, Siciliana Francesco, X-362 Sport, 59
3. Bix, Natalio Cepollaro, X 332 Sport, 62.50. - www.yccs.it
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
The cardiologist's diet: if it tastes good, spit it out.