SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1090- June 11, 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.
COMMENTARY - Tim Jeffery
(The following is an excerpt from Tim Jeffery's thought-provoking commentary in The Daily Telegraph.)
If the exuberance and atmosphere of Sunday's climax to the Volvo Ocean Race here could be captured, bottled and uncorked in four years' time, the organisers would have a sure-fire winner on their hands. Or would they?
Privately many skippers, sailors and syndicate heads will tell you of their disappointment in Volvo since they acquired the 25-year-old Whitbread four years ago. Many hoped that a world brand like Volvo would turn a fine race into a great event.
Little has changed, however. This has been the most acutely and keenly contested race ever, but has the show been any better? Time and again Volvo have not engaged the public in this event. Yes, the television, radio and internet output was more prolific than ever, but on the ground it has been a different story.
One thinks of the sullen race village in Southampton with no amenities; the huge crowd in Auckland when the women's crew arrived who drifted away because it took an hour to put Lisa McDonald's crew up on the stage. Even in Illbruck-obsessed Kiel, John Kostecki's crew had to turn their backs on the crowd for the presentation. The race has been too inward-looking for too long.
There will be a new chief executive for the next race. Who he or she is we do not know yet, because no appointment has been made. This means the new incumbent will not have seen the edition just finished. Whoever it is, they will need a well-tuned antenna.
They need to know that the dockside is mute. Unlike previous races, there is no real buzz from the sailors about the next race. Their competitive juices are flowing for other events. The competitors are asking for management of technical, rules and jury issues that they can respect. And they want the buzz put back into the race.
Despite the biggest ever organisers' budget, said to be close to $50 million (£35 million), this was the smallest ever fleet. Look closely at the entries, and you will see that the latest race is heavily dependent on the Scandinavian market and companies using it for internal needs. A broader base would be healthier.
Rather uncharitably, the present management have criticised, none too obliquely, Illbruck, who they felt spoiled the race by being better prepared, and Assa Abloy, for consuming what was regarded as unjustifiable man hours to build a lighter, sweeter boat than other teams.
Excellence should be celebrated, not derided. That is, if they want this race to remain the elite round-the-world competition. Unless it does, it will not attract sailors of the calibre of Paul Cayard or Kostecki, and without its stars the race is nothing. - Tim Jeffery, The Daily Telegraph, UK.
Read the full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk
When is a yacht a yacht? Perhaps when it is built. But does "built" mean "fabricated and assembled"? And must it be "put together" - as in joined - rather than in separate bits and pieces? Lawyers for America's Cup challengers are grappling over such legal definitions in another scrap between syndicates vying to challenge Team New Zealand for yachting's biggest prize.
Five of the syndicates are waiting for the Cup's arbitration panel to decide when built means built - although they might have a long wait, as the panel refuses to give any answers on any disputes until they are guaranteed not to be sued.
Exactly what the issue is about remains unclear, although the syndicates are clearly divided on how they interpret the rules. Under decades-old America's Cup regulations, a yacht must be built in the country of origin of the challenging syndicate. That means if a boat is entered by a United States syndicate, it must be built there. But the syndicates cannot agree exactly when a boat has been built - and even whether it has to be shipped here in one piece.
The America's Cup Protocol says a yacht is built when that yacht, including its hull, surface, deck and appendages, are "fabricated and assembled". The California syndicate Oracle Racing has written to the arbitration panel to ask what it all means, without revealing if they think any syndicate has broken nationality rules.
Oracle, the Italian syndicate Prada and Le Defi of France are generally like-minded, saying the rules are simple and clear: a yacht is built when it is whole. Russell Coutts' new syndicate, Team Alinghi of Switzerland, and Seattle's OneWorld Challenge, already in trouble over allegations they have Team New Zealand secrets, disagree. The French sum up the row as only the French can, giving a language lesson to their English-speaking cousins.
They have told the panel in a written submission that the Collins English Dictionary says "to build something means to make it by joining things together". "Given the above, a decent respect for reality would lead us to consider a house built, not when the components are merely gathered together in one's front yard, but only once the components are physically joined together to construct the whole." Quite simply, they say, if all the bits of a yacht are lying around, it cannot be considered a yacht.
Not so, says Alinghi. "Assemble and fabricate" applies only to individual components, which can then be shipped here separately. A hull, they say, could be built and not attached to the deck for shipping. Likewise, a keel or a rudder need not be attached to the hull. - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, full story, www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
Many of you have or are thinking of getting the Camet Sailing shorts, but if you haven't looked at their web site lately, you have missed seeing all the new gear they have for this year. Different models of shorts, with the same important features, the fast drying breathable Supplex and the Cordura seat pocket for the foam pads, etc. the Rash Guards, CoolMax T-Shirts, Bubble tops, and Gear bags all in one site making it easy for you to choose. www.camet.com
* A record fleet of 187 boats will gather at the Newport to Bermuda Race start line. 139 are in the IMS Cruiser/Racer Fleet and 10 in the Racing Fleet. 38 boats will compete under the Americap II rule. While most Americap boats race without spinnakers, the Double-handed class can fly them. - www.bermudarace.com
* There will be a Celebration of Life service for Irving Loube at the St. Francis YC on June 12, at 3:00 pm. All are welcome to come share their stories and memories.
* 64 nations will take part to the third edition of the ISAF World Sailing Games to be held in Marseille France from 29 June - 11 July 2002. More than 600 sailors will be competing in 10 classes to become the 2002 World Champions during the 12 days of this event in the Mediterranean Sea. The men's classes are Laser Standard, 470, Hobie Cat 16 (male and mixed), J 80 and the Bic Techno Formula sailboard. The women will race Laser Radial, 470, Hobie Cat 16, J 22, Bic Techno Formula. - www.sailing-games.com
* One of Australia's best-known yachtsmen and yachting administrators, David Kellett, has been made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Queen's Birthday Honours. Kellett is a former Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and is currently a Vice-President of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body of the sport, and President of the Yachting Association of New South Wales. As an ocean racing competitor, Kellett skippered the maxi yacht Sovereign to the rare line and handicap honours in the 1987 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in which he has personally sailed in 28 times.
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 Jeremy Pierce (edited to our 250-word limit): Scuttlebutt picked up an Australian report that CYCA Sailing Committee was hoping to attract more One Designs like Farr 40's and Sydney 38's for this year Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. I must admit I wondered if the excellent harborside Bluewater grill at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia had used the wrong kind of mushroom at a Sailing Committee luncheon last week.
I sat on the Hobart dock in 1999 talking to some mates amongst the Farr 40 owners and crews. It was a record down wind run, with less than 12 hours of upwind beating for the Farr 40's. But with much head shaking they said never never again. And they haven't. None in 2000 and None in 2001.
The Sydney 38 is a different kettle of fish. The guys who are buying them are the serious offshore sailors, down here, some pretty hardened racers like Lou Abrahams and Bruce Taylor, up in Sydney Van Kretschmar, Holman, someone did a count amongst the Sydney 38 owners in Australia and they got bored and started drinking rum and coke at over 200 Sydney to Hobart races.
It's a tough little boat for a big tough race, but Don, when the Sydney to Hobart year comes round there are rough sea and its little boat race, there are a lot of Australian sailors and I think there will be an increasing number of US sailors who'll bet on the Sydney 38.
* From Charley Cook: Liv Sherwood's death is a great loss to the sailing community. He was a friend, coach, mentor and role model to sailors and race officials on both sides of the US/Canadian border and throughout the World. I had the pleasure of Liv's acquaintance for 25 years. As a competitor, I always felt fairly treated in the protest room when Liv was on the jury. As a race officer, judge and umpire, I owe a great deal to Liv for his tutelage, advice and friendship.
Over the years, Liv has sorted out some of the most complex, contentious disputes in our sport. In every instance, he set the tone with his respectful, calm manner and intellect. Good bye Liv. You certainly left the World a better place.
* From Bob Fisher (edited, as usual, to our 250-word limit): Anyone who met Livius Sherwood will remember him with affection. He was one of the most caring men I have ever had the opportunity to meet and he would move heaven and earth to write a wrong, as six journalists were happy to discover in Kingston during the Olympic Games of 1976.
During the traditional SINS gathering, in the Lakeside Manor Hotel I had a telephone call from one of my colleagues who had left early. It was to tell me that he and five others were incarcerated in the local hoosegow for allegedly stealing a courtesy coach. I laughed and was immediately told that it wasn't funny and this was the only telephone call they were allowed.
I could only think of one man who would be of much use in this situation and telephone the house at which I knew Livius would be attending a party that evening. His wife, Ann, came to the phone and when I explained that six journalists needed help, she replied that Livius might not be in a proper condition to help! I knew what she meant, but appealed to her to motivate Livius in the best way possible.
An hour later, the sheepish six were turned out into the street. The story made local radio headlines, with much speculation, but the awful truth is that the sad six deserved it - for leaving a SINS party before it was over. However, they all owed Livius a debt of thanks. What a man.
FOR THE RECORD
Geronimo, the giant trimaran owned by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric, was involved in a violent collision caused by a smaller yacht in the Moulin Blanc harbour at Brest yesterday. Early in the afternoon, as Geronimo's crew were busy making their final preparations for the new series of sea trials, a 'Figaro' type yacht (just over 9 metres in length) collided with the giant Trimaran at full speed. Geronimo was moored on her normal pontoon at the time of the incident. The point of impact was on the aft section of the starboard float, just behind the beam.
It seems that the crew of the 'Figaro' had lost control of the boat when attempting to enter the harbour under sail. A preliminary examination of the damage will be undertaken today, and although it is still too early to speculate about the extent of the repairs necessary, it seems inevitable that Geronimo will have to be lifted out of the water once again. It is not yet known how long any such shore-based repairs may take. This new setback is a hard blow for the Geronimo team, which was ready to set off to conduct sea trials on the new rudder system fitted as pat of a major eight-week refit
Since returning from her attempt on the round-the-world record, Geronimo has been revised and updated down to the smallest detail. The modifications and improvements made to Geronimo in her time ashore focus on three main areas: the rudder system, which has been the subject of much concern and many questions, the structure of the beams and hulls and the entire rig.
It was problems with the rudder blade that led to Olivier de KersausonŐs decision to abandon his attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, and that have been the subject of lengthy and painstaking consideration, research and simulation. Every hypothesis has been examined, from ventilation to cavitation and the rigidity of the profile. Every specialist and engineer has been consulted, and Geronimo's crew have been made only too aware that hydrodynamics remains a highly empirical science, in which every team has to feel its way forward with the greatest caution. This approach, which consists of taking however long is needed to understand a problem before acting to correct it, whilst reducing unknowns to the absolute minimum, has enabled a number of purely theoretical hypotheses to be eliminated.
Over thirty engineers and technicians have worked on Geronimo over the last eight weeks in an attempt to resolve over a hundred specific instances of wear, stress or unexpected behaviour. The specific problem of the rudder system may have required precious time to resolve, but the entire vessel has benefited from the work done during this enforced period ashore. - www.grandsrecords.com
ON THE PODIUM
There were 23 J/105s at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Ahmanson Series. Tough competition - very tough. But to no one's surprise, Ullman Sails swept the top three positions. Why? Could it be that they were just faster? And it's probably not a coincidence that the top three boats in the 12-boat Schock 35 fleet also used Ullman Sails. Why don't you let Ullman Sails make your weekends more rewarding? www.ullmansails.com
BIG - REAL BIG
New Zealand's Stuart Bannatyne, the watch captain aboard Volvo round-the-world winning yacht illbruck, said the reception on approaching Kiel, Germany this morning was overwhelming. Skippered by American John Kostecki, the German-backed yacht had a six-strong New Zealand presence among the crew. "It was just incredible," Bannatyne said. "Even the Kiwi guys that have won the America's Cup before said this was bigger. It was just unreal." - n.z.p.a. Stuff NZ website, Full story: www.stuff.co.nz
The victorious voyage that had lasted almost nine months was barely over and the winner's toughest rivals had not yet reached dry land when Michael Illbruck was already hatching new plans. "Kiel is great, Kiel is fantastic. Next year we will launch our boat for the America's Cup here and set up base in Kiel," he said in reference to the northern German port city.
The head of the German syndicate whose boat illbruck Challenge on Sunday won the prestigious nine-stage Volvo Ocean Race stood happily on board his green-and-white yacht, which was berthed at the port's Blcher Bridge. Illbruck was surrounded by his triumphant crew, while a stone's throw away tens of thousands of fans crushed together, hoping to soak up some of the sailors' elation at having finished a long but rewarding journey.
On Monday morning, following a night of revelry that cannot have made waking up the next day particularly easy, the house of Illbruck announced part two of its vision for the future. The new message was much more spectacular than the intentions expressed the previous day: "We want to win the America's Cup. Germany has a valid claim on the America's Cup," said the entrepreneur, sounding as though he meant it.
Illbruck has tasted success and he intends to put his pithily expressed plans into action in the near future. In Kiel, Illbruck presented star sailor Peter Erzberger as the latest addition to his team. Because the work on dry land and especially the quest for funding will now require particular effort, the Swiss sailor's main task will be to help him market the project for 2006. Illbruck has calculated a budget of no less than euro 90 million ($85 million) for his next big goal, and the first part of this sum "must be secured by 2003" from sponsors, he said.
"My company won't be financing everything anymore. Someone else has to step in now," he said. Illbruck expects the first-ever victory by a German yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as the unexpectedly high level of public interest in Germany, to generate the kind of support that will enable his syndicate to participate in sailing's most prestigious event, having been prevented from doing so this year by a lack of funds.
Partnerships are essential to this kind of endeavor, and one partner -- though it is not a financial sponsor -- has already been found. "We want to advance side by side," Dierk Thomsen, the president of the German Sailing Federation said. He expects the grassroots members of the federation, in other words Germany's many amateur sailors, to support Illbruck's ambitious project -- in the non-financial sense, of course. The racing team from Leverkusen, which up to now has sailed under the flag of the Düsseldorf Yacht Club, has already earned kudos with German sailing fans.
* Illbruck, who -- in accordance with a tradition cherished among sailors -- will now rename his illbruck Challenge the Pinta Challenge, wants to keep the core of the crew unchanged. "I'm mega-proud of the boys," he said. And anyway, now they have a new goal. "Winning the America's Cup with Illbruck would fulfill my biggest dream," said the Munich entrepreneur. - Hauraki Gulf website, full story: www.hauraki-news.com/LatestNews/Illbruck-LN2.htm
SHEBOYGAN (Wis.)- Terry Kohler aided by tactician Tom Whidden won the third annual Blackaller Intergalactic Sled Matchracing Invitational Championship (BISMIC), hosted by the Sheboygan Yacht Club in the waters of Lake Michigan. The BISMIC format includes a match racing round robin format plus one fleet race in Great Lakes 70s.
1. Evolution, Terry Kohler / Tom Whidden, 9-0
2. Mirage, Girard Wolf / Gary Weisman, 6-3
3. Chance, Mike Brotz / Will Keyworth, 2-7
4. Blondie, Paul Samman / Perry Lewis, 1-8
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
Why is phonics not spelled the way it sounds?