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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1083- May 31, 2002

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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.

(James Boyd has a story on the VOR website that examines the winning strategy of Assa Abloy's skipper, Neal McDonald. Here are two excerpts.)

The reason they were able to pull this off, Neal McDonald says, was due to a deliberate strategy to conserve the crew's energy for the last stage of the leg. "On the first night we didn't sit it out all night. We said 'it's a long race - we'll go into a normal watch system, sail hard but conserve energy' and I'm sure that paid off. "At the end we put the energy where we needed it. We had everyone up for 15-16 hours on the rail. By that stage we still had the energy to do that. I think if we'd done that on the first night we wouldn't. Before the start we highlighted what we called hotspots of the race and put our energy into those".

McDonald was also pleased by the new sails they had brought on board for this leg. "The one thing which we're over the moon about the new sails we developed for this leg, they are incredibly fast. We're a rocket ship upwind and we haven't had that luxury before. Upwind we were blitzing the others".

* As a result of their success Assa Abloy's shore crew have all had to have their head shaved as a bet (if Assa weren't first, it would have been the crew who'd be shaved). At present most of the shore team have received their scalpings, but so far PR man Simon Keizer and photographer Thierry Martinez have strangely disappeared. Full story:

From not quite zero, Neal McDonald is rapidly becoming the hero of the Volvo Ocean Race, taking Assa Abloy tantalisingly close to the top in an event that he never originally intended to compete in.

McDonald's delight was balanced by John Kostecki's disappointment. Though still ahead on points yet another poor (by their standards) finish in an inshore leg must have sowed the seeds of concern going into the final leg. "We made some tactical blunders," admitted Kostecki who also suggested that illbruck had a problem with sails. Down hearted but clearly not out of the race yet, Kostecki showed perhaps for the first time the pressure he is under as pre-race favorite and current race leader saying, "Everyone is really tired, it's hard, it's tough to be perfect all the time." - Peter Bentley, madforsailing website, full story,

Team New Zealand's first boat for the 31st America's Cup will be known as NZL 81. The boat is being built at Cookson Boats on Auckland's North Shore, and is expected to be launched in August. All the syndicates challenging New Zealand have either launched their new boats or have them under construction. That means the next international sail number, 82, will likely be issued for New Zealand's second boat, which will likely be launched in September.

The Mascalzone Latino campaign from Italy is expected to have just one boat, which was launched on May 4, but the 8 other syndicates have two boats each. Under the rules governing the International America's Cup class (IACC) each syndicate can build no more than two boats.

Sail numbers issued for the 2002-2003 America's Cup:
SWE 63 Victory Challenge
SUI 64 Alingi
USA 65 One World
USA 66 Team Dennis Conner
USA 67 One World
GER 68 Illbruck
FRA 69 le Defi
GBR 70 GBR Challenge
USA 71 Oracle Racing
ITA 72 Mascaalzone
SWE 73 Victory Challenge
ITA 74 Prada
SUI 75 Alingi
USA 76 Oracle Racing
USA 77 Team Dennis Conner
GBR 78 GBR Challenge
FRA 79 le Defi
ITA 80 Prada
NZL 81 Team New Zealand

NZ Herald, full story:

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* An item has been placed on the agenda of the America's Cup Challenger of Record Management (CORM) meeting being held in Rome next week that would stop challengers from sailing with the America's Cup defender -Team New Zealand. The focus is on the Victory Challenge syndicate that has been training in their new boat with TNZ on a more or less regular basis.

* The latest rankings for all Olympic Classes were released today May 30 and are published on the ISAF website: The next issue of the rankings will be released on July 2 following the Kieler Woche Regatta in Germany.

* Clyde Marine Plc, parent company of Lewmar, has acquired winch handle manufacturer Titan Australia Pty Ltd. Lewmar plans to retain the Titan name, and the product development and manufacturing facilities will remain in Australia.

* Ronstan has joined the Sailing World NOOD (National Offshore One-Design) Regattas as a support sponsor of both this national racing circuit and a series of newsletters written for competitors.

(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 Bruce Campbell: Thanks for killing two threads that were diverting our attention from the best parts of sailing. A non-political sport that has many things to be thankful for. For my part, I am thankful for the chance to sail on a new boat. New crewmates who haven't heard all my standard jokes, new people to learn a routine with. Building a sense of teamwork that will pay off in the future. There are lots of good things that sailing provides. Let's enjoy them while we can. And let's be careful while we're doing it.

* From Ray Tostado (edited to our 250-word limit): The description of the MOB events which transpired at the Moore nationals suggests why sailing is a vanishing, or at best a struggling sport. Many sports might seem more dangerous than standing on a ship's pitching deck during a moonless night trimming a giant vague shape, or crawling ankle deep in cold ocean water trying to attach a new sheet lead to a flogging sail. But in none of those more dangerous sports does the possible event of being abandoned occur, or of feeling less that significant in contrast to finishing a race, exist. As a team sport sailing has reached that level of selfishness and ego fulfillment that consideration of another's life, or safety, is no longer a significant part of the experience at sea.

Those traditions are not taught in sailing schools, nor passed on from mentor to novice, except in unique family traditions. I doubt if any university or YC in its juniors/beginners seminars include even a mention of why sailing can be such a fulfilling experience, by respecting it's traditions. Saving a life is a tradition, not an option. That tradition was violated in Santa Cruz. In violation, each race participant who did not make an effort to assist those in the water should be banned from competition for a minimum of one year. Should any person repeat such a blatant lack of respect for human life he, or she, should be banned from the sport for life.

* From Sarah Cherry I have known Jamie almost as long as I have been sailing and I was crushed when I heard of his death. I understand all of the discussion about wearing lifejackets and how small and compact they are now. Unfortunately, when they became required in RORC races under risky conditions, a problem with automatic inflating ones became apparent on our boat as they inflated regularly on the bow when the boat got a huge wave. We all chose to wear manual ones to reduce the risks of being immobilzed behind a huge pillow in the dark on a bow. That was funny and amusing when it happened to a crewmember during Antigua Classics this year but it was not funny on a bowsprit of a classic in 70 knots off the coast of Uruguay. In fact, in that case, an automatic inflating lifejacket became a liability. This issue is not clearcut and although I am 100% for safety at sea, the answers are not easy!

* From Tim Bohan: I am sure we will now enter another debate on weather PFD's should be mandatory. I feel the argument is much like the "No Helmet Law" argument for motorcycles. I fully support your freedom of choice but on my motorcycle, you will wear a helmet, or you don't get on. On my boat, you will wear a PFD, or you don't get on.

The tragic incident aboard Blue Yankee proves that no matter how good you are, or how big your boat is, accidents happen and you may end up in the water, hurt and unable to support yourself. It is up to the individual owners to set the rules of conduct on board, until a time comes when the racing rules make PFD's mandatory.

The sidebar neglected to mention that all the Worrell 1000 Catamaran Racers are required to be wearing their PFDs at all times and Mark Herendeen was wearing his when he went off...and still had trouble getting back to his boat. If he had not been wearing it, he might not have been able to swim hard for 25 minutes and get back on board. .

* From Mark Brefka: I sat on the rail of a J-44 and felt pretty stupid with my inflatable PFD stored below as we blew out our spinnaker in the same gusts that hit Blue Yankee. The evening transition had been so peaceful up to that point -- but we should not have taken it for granted as the breeze increased and the sun set. My new bottom line, sun goes down or foul weather gear goes on and my inflatable gets worn. Period. It is a rule that the Bermudian racers have observed for some time. I hope the pros take a leadership role and do the same. Then the amateurs will surely follow.

CURMUDGEON' COMMENT: On at least three previous occasions we've had long-running threads about PFDs, and from my chair it seems a bit too soon to open that door again. We'll let other media carry the ball this time around, because I have just declared this thread officially dead - again.

Most foul weather gear provides protection from rain and spray at the expense of comfort, as moisture is trapped beneath the heavy, waterproof shell of traditional jackets and bibs. This problem is magnified in warmer climates or during periods of exertion. West Marine's new Equator foul weather gear, with an increased number of micropores in the fabric, is lightweight and highly breathable. Its ability to expel moisture and perspiration makes Equator gear perfect for active sailing such as buoy racing during summer months or for weathering tropical squalls. Visit any West Marine store location, call 1-800-Boating or visit

SPLIT, CROATIA- Sweden's Magnus Holmberg had the hottest day on the water at the Swedish Match Tour's ACI HT Cronet. Holmberg and his Team SeaLife crew registered four wins against one loss on the day and stand one point behind Le Defi Areva's Philippe Presti and two points behind regatta-leader Peter Holmberg helmsman for Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing challenge for the 2003 America's Cup.

After registering eight wins yesterday, Peter Holmberg and his Oracle Racing crew of John Cutler, Brad Webb, Mike Sanderson and Robbie Naismith came back to earth with three wins and two losses on the day. The Oracle Racing team defeated Philippe Presti of Le Defi Areva, Pace and Great Britain's Chris Law while dropping matches to GBR Challenge's Andy Beadsworth and local skipper Tomislav Basic. - Shawn McBride

Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing, 11-3
Philippe Presti, Le Defi Areva, 10-5
Magnus Holmberg, SWE/Team SeaLife, 10-4
Bertrand Pace, Team New Zealand, 9-6
Andy Beadsworth, GBR Challenge, 7-7
Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Marienlyst, 7-8
Tomislav Basic, Croatia, 7-8
Chris Law, Great Britain, 6-9
Paolo Cian, Masclazone Latino, 4-11
Bjorn Hansen, SWE/GOL Sailing Team, 2-12

ANNAPOLIS, MD, Thursday, May 30 -- With 14 flights of the scheduled 18 completed in the opening double round-robin phase of the BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup women's match racing regatta, 16-year-old Italian sailor Giulia Conti has floated to the top of a stellar international field including several of the world's top-ranked women match racing sailors with a nearly perfect run of 13 wins and a single loss to date.

Conti, ranked 12th in the world as of May 22, is by far the youngest sailor on the water for the prestigious 12-year-old regatta, hosted by Eastport Yacht Club and contested on the waters off Annapolis, Md., in J/22s. After winning the Italian Women's Match Race Championship in 2001, Conti first joined the Santa Maria Cup competition last year. Her results the first time she entered this event were disappointing, with an overall finish low in the fleet, but she appears to be making up for lost time with a performance this year that includes several spectacular come-from-behind finishes today where she pulled ahead for the win in after trailing at virtually every mark.

STANDINGS after 14 rounds (World ranking in parenthesis):
1. Giulia Conti (12), ITA, 8.5 points (13 wins-1 loss)
2. Marie Bjorling (1), SWE, 7.5 points (12 wins-2 losses)
3. Liz Baylis (6), USA, 6.5 points (11 wins-3 losses)
4. Marie Faure (13), FRA, 6 points (9 wins-5 losses)
5. Carol Cronin (NR), USA, 5.5 points (8 wins-6 losses)
6. Sabrina Gurioli (9), ITA, 4 points (6 wins-8 losses)
7. Deborah Willits (83), USA, 2.5 points (4 wins-10 losses)
8. Sandy Grosvenor (14), USA, 2.5 points (4 wins-10 losses)
9. Charlie Arms (29), USA, 1.5 points (3 wins-11 losses)
10. Capucine Pin (NR), FRA, 0 points (0 wins-14 losses).

HONOLULU, HAWAII Eighty-degree air and water temperatures greeted the sailors for six races in each division. Races were held in the waters of the Keehi Lagoon on the south shore of Oahu. Today's breeze began with southerly thermal winds before northeast tradewinds filled in around 3:30 PM local time for the final set of races. Wind speeds ranged from 5-15 knots all day.
Standings after three races:
1. Old Dominion, 45
2. Hawai, 54
3. St. Marys, 60
4. Yale, 63
5. Charleston, 81

* June 8-9: Sailing Supply Etchells Pacific Coast Championship, San Diego YC.

* June 21-23: Coronado 15 North Americans, Fort Walton YC, Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

I've never met Jamie Boeckel - the young sailor who was so tragically lost on the Block Island Race last weekend. However, I certainly was impressed by the mail Scuttlebutt received from people who did know Jamie. Then I got an E-mail from reader Tom Keogh who reminded me of a letter Scuttlebutt carried in issue 902 last September 17th:

* From Jamie Boeckel: As an east coast sailor about to participate in the big boat series I would like to applaud the St. Francis YC and the Big Boat series committee on their decision to cancel the regatta in light of recent events. The atrocities committed in New York and Washington are an affront to our nation and although we are all affected to some extent it is comforting to know that people have put aside their own personal problems to remember those of the victims and their loved ones. We are now confronted with the unimaginable task of rebuilding what has been destroyed and helping those who have been hurt. I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that in lieu of sailing this week that the entry fees for cancelled regattas around the country be donated to some form of disaster or victim relief fund to further help those in their most dire hour of need. If we all participate in some small way the returns will be beyond belief.

And now I have a much greater appreciation of why so many people thought so highly of this young man.

In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it look normal.