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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1098 - June 21, 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 two excerpts from a statement released by the crew of Seamaster following the judgment handed down by a Brazilian court convicting the killers of Sir Peter Blake.)

We are pleased that the criminals have been brought to justice, and have been given appropriate sentences. This should help close this tragic episode, but will not bring back our friend and shipmate, Peter. We also appreciate the expediency with which this case has been dealt by the Brazilian authorities.

We'd like to take this opportunity to address some of the hurtful, insulting and, in some cases, fabricated articles that have been printed in newspapers and magazines around the world regarding the circumstances surrounding Sir Peter Blake's death. We chose to remain silent until the legal proceedings were completed, and the sentencing carried out in Brazil. We hope that this, the final chapter, will bring an end to the tragic episode of the loss of Sir Peter Blake, and also the outrageous and scandalous articles that have appeared since, written purely for sensationalist media reasons.

The article written by Peter Nichols that appeared initially in the Sunday Times in London, and reprinted by New Zealand's Sunday Star Times, June 16, was for us the last straw. This article, in particular, was typical of the hurtful and irresponsible journalism that has appeared in the last six months. Peter would be appalled to think a tree would be cut down to print this kind of malicious nonsense. We're distressed that the reports of drug taking and prostitution that appeared in the above-mentioned publications may have tarnished the reputations of Sir Peter and the crew aboard. We would like to clearly state that all of these assertions are untrue.

For those who knew him personally, there will be no doubt that associating Sir Peter Blake with drugs and prostitutes is so far removed from his personal ethics, morals, and character as to make the idea ludicrous, and unworthy of print.

For those of you who knew Peter through his achievements and contributions, we wish to assure you that he is the hero, the man of dignity, integrity and human decency who truly deserves our continued admiration. Not only have these articles caused hurt and grief to the Blake families, but also to the crewmembers, his many friends and admirers.

We, the crew, still to this day fully support and respect the actions taken by Peter that night, which could very well have saved our lives at the cost of his own. In addition we have no reservations concerning the actions of any of the Seamaster crew on that night. We trust that this statement will finally put this tragic incident into true perspective and to rest. - Robin Allen, Geoff Bullock, Charlie Dymock, Rodger Moore, Don Robertson, Leon Sefton, Rob Warring

Auckland, New Zealand, June 21, 2002. A poll of America's Cup fans from around the world has picked the teams they feel are most likely to be in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will go on to challenge Team New Zealand in the 2003 America's Cup in February next year. ran the poll with some of their viewers from all nationalities, so results of this poll are seen to closely reflect the judgment of sailors and Cup followers globally:

1. Prada Challenge (Italy) 43.5%
2. Team Dennis Conner (USA) 30.9%
3. Alinghi Challenge (Switzerland) 29.9%
4. Oracle Racing (USA) 23.2%
5. OneWorld (USA) 22.7%
6. Le Defi Areva (France) 10.9%
7. Victory Challenge (Sweden) 10.4%
8. GBR Challenge (Great Britain) 9.9%
9. Mascalzone Latino (Italy) 7.7%

"It's no secret that Prada and Alinghi have been favourites with big budgets and a long and extensive training programme", said Doug Hanna editor. "Prada was the fastest in 1999/2000 and has continued on with what amounts to a five year campaign for the 2003 America's Cup. While Alinghi are new to the America's Cup they recruited Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth who were key members of Team New Zealand's winning 2000 campaign."

"But what may surprise some is the high rating attributed to America's Cup veteran Dennis Conner. Conner's campaign has one of the lowest budgets and their build-up training is being conducted away from Auckland at Long Bay, California", said Hanna. "He's been criticized by some of the other challengers, including Coutts, who believe that training in the Auckland Hauraki Gulf's fickle wind conditions is essential to a successful programme. Conner knows about that but insists that Long Bay conditions are similar and believes the team has the advantage of being able to train on the water for many more days than is possible in Auckland's temperamental weather conditions."

The poll was run on the website from 10-19 June 2002 and permitted America's Cup fans to indicate several teams they felt were most likely to make the finals. The results indicate the percentage of the 405 respondents who voted for each team. -

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* The Reichel-Pugh yacht design office was the key link in triple victories in the 635-mile Newport to Bermuda Race. Roy Disney's Reichel-Pugh-designed maxi sled Pyewacket shattered the Bermuda Race record, while Bob Towse's 66-foot IMS racer Blue Yankee won the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy and Skip Sheldon's 66-foot Reichel-Pugh cruiser/racer Zaraffa won the St David's Lighthouse Trophy.

* One year after its launch, Jimmy Cornell's has scored one million hits by cruising sailors. The site features information on 190 maritime nations of the world with details of clearance formalities, visa, health and cruising permit requirements as well as docking information for marinas and ports. Also listed on noonsite are companies providing marine services and repair facilities in all major ports visited by cruising boats.

(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 Kim Klaka Western Australia: Following the shipping containers thread.... a yacht sank off the remote northern coast of Australia earlier this week, after colliding with a partially submerged container. They yacht (a catamaran) sank and the crew were rescued by helicopter. (source: "The West Australian" neswpaper, 20 June 2002). An insignificant risk? Not to those guys it wasn't!

* From Ken Ruppel: With the high level of competitiveness in the 49er World Championships, I can understand how the Norwegian team of Christopher Sundby and Bovim Frode let the jury decide their fate when they failed to carry their 5 kg corrector weights. However, after realizing they did indeed gain an unfair advantage due to "human error", I question their integrity because they would have accepted the 20% penalty rather than voluntarily retiring or withdrawing from those races.

* From Cory E. Friedman: Kudos for the 49er Class for insisting on a revolutionary concept -- enforcement of brightline rules. Competitors want fair, non-arbitrary, functional rules that are clear and enforced, so that the water really is level. No one's regatta is ruined by disqualification for breaking the rules. It is their own fault. It is time that organizers and governing bodies got the message those squishy rules that are poorly and unevenly enforced is the problem, not sailors who are forced to cheat to compete.

The next step should be to ditch the post '97 rules, which got rid of all the brightline rules and introduced pervasive subjectivity that only a negligence sea lawyer could love. Go back to deciding who is right and who gets DSQed, instead who did not play nicely and give enough room or try hard enough to be nice and avoid contact. Every time there is contact, the relative positions of the boats should be determinative and the result crystal clear, just as every time a competitor's boat does not measure, the result should be crystal clear -- as it now is in the 49er class.

* From Stephanie McLennan: I would have to agree with Craig Fletcher. I think if you are going to have safety equipment on board for Man over Board that it be in the ready possession at all the times. We have already lost a great Sailor this summer here on the East Coast. I would hate to see another family have to go threw the grieving process because the boat was not equipped properly. Happy to hear to hear that all got picked up so quickly. All boats should practice Man over Board before racing so all the people on the boat know what to do.

* From Kris Anderson: In regards to the discussion of possibly lessening the number of stopovers during the Volvo Ocean Race to limit the participants costs in having to ship the entire program to each stop. Perhaps the solution would be to allow only four of the scheduled stops set up as full service stops with the others being of limited duration and with only emergency services available. This would give the crews a break from the rigors of the course and to allow the population of each stop to get to know the venue.

* From Chris Ericksen (Re Mike Dawson's comments about US Sailing telling "Area directors to use a boat that is similar to the finals boat as possible" when holding regional sail-offs for the various US Sailing ladder events): Unless and until some great God of sailing decides that there'll be only one three-person keelboat in the world, or only one doublehanded dinghy or whatever, all of us will be faced with the problem of holding sail-offs in boats that are in some cases radically different than those in which the finals will be held. It is a fact of life. And, as someone who has followed these ladder events for a number of years, I marvel at the lengths to which regional volunteer chairpersons go to get boats as close to the "Whatever-It-Is 25" that'll be used this year for their regional sail-off. It is a problem that will only be solved if there are truly national classes--and the American spirit of individualism and regional choice will never allow that to happen.

* From Ralph Taylor: Mike Dawson wants "Area Directors" to conform choices of boats for US Sailing Championship Area semis (especially the juniors) to the boats to be used in the Finals. It's an ideal which overlooks a key factor -- the availability of boats at the Area and Regional levels. In how many areas are there enough Colgate 26s to pull off a regatta? Most areas will be lucky if they get enough owners to loan J-24s or J-22s. Some areas feature primarily dinghy sailing and Lightnings may be their "big boat."

If areas have only the choice of 26-foot heavy keelboats or no regatta, there will be few teams at the Finals. And, most of those who come will never have seen a Colgate 26.

We're struggling out here in the hinterlands to support these events. For example, our regional sailing association will probably be unable to field any competitors for any area semis in any of the US Sailing Championships. If we had one team or sailor interested, we would pass them on and pay a substantial part of the entry fee. So, it isn't like there is widespread awareness, desire to compete, and willingness to help among our membership. Other regions seem to be in the same fix.

* From Peter Huston: You know, if the same standard as was applied to the 49'er Worlds had been applied to the first leg of the Volvo, where illbuck was found to have modified a piece of equipment - and presuming the traditional standard penalty had been applied, then Assa Abloy would be the overall winner of the Volvo Ocean Race. I wonder - will the record books put in any sort of notation about this...?

An exclusive $1.5 million club with a top membership fee of $400,000 is being built at the Viaduct Harbour for corporate America ' s Cup watchers. Resource consents and building approvals have been granted to allow work to begin on The Base Club, a 1600sq m elevated steel structure over the Western Viaduct Replacement Wharf near the Cup's "syndicate row," to be open for the start of racing on October 1.

Developed by international Hamburg-based corporate entertainment specialist Travel & More, the club is modelled on the famed Paddock five-star product and services at Formula One car-racing events. Travel & More New Zealand general manager Bob Billingham said pricing varied widely to accommodate companies' different needs and started at the top $400,000 for a corporate suite for the entire Louis Vuitton series and Cup races, giving boxholders the equivalent of 1100 guest-days.

The Base Club will offer seven of the 45sq m corporate boxes and 10 tables each for 10 guests in a dining and viewing area priced at $6000 a day including all food, drinks and a spectator boat ride to the course - "It's the deal of the century," Mr Billingham said. The club is also offering $64,000 packages for a table for one day in each of the eight series - seven in the Louis Vuitton and the America ' s Cup - and $12,000 for the Louis Vuitton finals or $19,000 for the Cup racing. - Graeme Kennedy, National Business Review

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* A severe storm hit Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf yesterday afternoon and overnight unleashing winds up to160kph (100mph) with torrential rain. Metservice spokesperson Bob McDavitt explained that a "weather bomb" was created when a sudden drop in pressure left a vacuum which became a deep low. It was called a bomb because it developed so suddenly.- Cup Views website, full story:

* The weather has been worse than ordinary for the last 4 weeks, with the exception of the last 2 Sundays which have been OK, last Sunday was actually lovely and sunny with nice 12-18 knot breeze. Today we have a weather "bomb" just North of the North Island, and this is producing strong winds, forecast to get stringer this afternoon and evening. Forecasts were for a "Storm" warning, worse than "Gale" force. A few minutes ago the wind was blowing 69 Knots at Tiri Tiri (the Northern limit of the LVC/AC sailing area. Also big ugly Easterly swell. - Posted by Justin on the 2003AC website,

* Auckland is less the City of Sails, than the Windy City at present as New Zealand endures the depths of winter. For the America's Cup teams on Syndicate Alley, there have only been three or four proper sailing days over the last couple of weeks as the Hauraki Gulf is dashed by gales and 15-20 knot winds in the lulls and torrential downpours.

Maybe it was luck, maybe it was design, but both Alinghi and Team New Zealand seem to have predicted the inclement weather and around two weeks ago both shut up shop and went 'on holiday'. Europe seems to be the destination of choice with both teams taking part in a number of events in those waters over the summer months.

GBR Challenge are slightly out of sync with the other campaigns. The full squad is now in town and work is continuing on the new boat Wight Lightning which arrived last week. Peter Harrison's squad have been testing cathedral rigs and it is rumoured that back in Cowes they have increased the pace of the build of their second boat GBR78 - originally due for launch next spring - as they are considering getting it out to Auckland. - madforsailing website. There's much more to this story:

GBR Challenge skipper Ian Walker will be on tenterhooks for the next couple of weeks as the team gets ready to launch their new America's Cup boat on Auckland Harbour. Wight Lightning" was shipped from Cowes and is now having the keel and other gear put on while the team continue training in their older generation America's Cup boats. But despite a gruelling programme in harsh weather conditions, Walker knows the real crunch will come when they put GBR 70 in the water and begin sea trials and speed tests.

"We are confident we can sail to a high standard but we need a fast boat just like a Formula One driver needs a fast car," Walker said. "It doesn't just come, it's something you have to work at with continual fine-tuning just like an F1 car in testing", explained the British skipper. "But I've got a feeling we'll know pretty quickly whether the boat is inherently fast or not". "If the new boat doesn't jump out of the water and show a significant turn of pace in the first few days against our old boats we know we're in for a very tough six months - or more to the point a very short event."

GBR Challenge are playing catch-up to most of the big teams in the nine-strong Louis Vuitton Cup field. "Prada are probably trialing their 16th mast over a six-year period while we've just put in our first," said Walker. "So we are still catching up in our mast and sail development programmes, but we're on the timescale we set ourselves and there are syndicates behind us." - Hauraki News, full story:

The Qualifying series is over and the 25 finalists have been decided: 1. Lopez-Vazquez Santi/ De La Plaza Javier, ESP, 27; 2. Lantermans Pieter/ Nieuwenhuis Pim, NED, 29; 3. Draper Chris/ Hiscocks Simon, GBR, 30; 4. Luka Rodion /Leonchuk George, UKR, 31; 5. Martinez Iker/ Fernandez Xabi, ESP, 33; 6. Sibello Pietro /Sibello Gianfranco, ITA, 38; 7. Brotherton Paul/ Asquith Mark, GBR, 42; 8. Baur Marcus/ Groy Max, GER, 43; 9. Nicholson Chris /Blackburn Michael, AUS, 43; 10. Richardson Alistair/ Greenhalgh Pete, GBR, 46; 11. Hestbaek Michael/ Van Hansen Rasmus, DEN, 48; 12. Mack Andy/ Lowry Adam, USA, 52; 13. McKee Jonathan/ McKee Charlie, USA, 58; 22. Larson Morgan/ Smyth Ed, USA, 71; -

* June 29: Sparkman & Stephens 12-Meter Regatta, Museum of Yachting, Fort Adams State Park, Newport, Rhode Island. American Eagle, Columbia, and Weatherly. Fiddler, Heritage and Intrepid are expected to compete. Crewing opportunities are available to the public on both Weatherly and Heritage. -

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