SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1101 - June 26, 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.
TEAM NEW ZEALAND
Team New Zealand is $9.5 million short of the money it needs for the America's Cup and is asking Auckland City Council for a $650,000 donation. The funding shortfall was revealed in an Auckland City Council finance committee agenda. The committee is due to meet today to decide whether to vote the $650,000 the syndicate has asked for, with a final decision due at tomorrow's full council meeting.
Team NZ was not expecting the agenda item to become public. Chief executive Ross Blackman pointed out there were eight months to go before the defence began and said the syndicate was "comfortable" with funding achieved so far. "We are in discussions with Auckland City Council but as always we don't discuss our financial arrangements," he said.
The council document said Team NZ was spending its budget in three areas - managing the Viaduct Harbour area, running the cup event and on the defence itself. Most of the $9.5 million shortfall was needed for running the event. Team NZ had the backing of two sponsors compared with five for running the 2000 event. The document said: "Team New Zealand also advises there have been unanticipated expenses beyond those originally budgeted, which has also contributed to the shortfall." The New Zealand Herald understands Team NZ is not the only syndicate still looking for money.
Team NZ head Tom Schnackenberg, who is overseas on holiday, said: "We are basically on target to raise the money we need for our defence, we believe, and so I think it's totally inappropriate for us to be talking about what's on the Auckland City Council agenda." Last August, Schnackenberg was quoted as saying Team NZ had secured about 70 percent of the funding it needed. -N.Z.P.A as posted on the Stuff-NZ website, full story: www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,1248467a11,FF.html
CONTROLLING RULE 42 - Graeme Owens
Rule 42 has had a lot of attention and publicity recently, much focusing on on-water control by judges. A recent report said that at a major event in Europe rocking and pumping was so common that the judges caught and penalized about sixty breaches.
At this year's National Laser Championship there were about 100 competitors. After the event some class officers congratulated the National Jury for the manner in which rule 42 had been handled. One said it was normal at events to hear competitors complaining about other boat's actions but this time he had not heard one complaint. A number of competitors came to the Jury to say how pleased they were and said there had been fewer problems with rule 42 than they could recall at a Laser championship. I did not disclose that although there had been umpteen races held over a full week we had given only six on-water penalties. Why the big difference between the two events? Was there something different in the way the judges handled things? Perhaps there was.
A few weeks back there were complaints about too many motorists speeding through a 'slow' zone past a primary school near me. So one morning the police put a radar behind a tree at the end of the zone and caught about 30 cars that had already sped past the school. A week later the police returned but this time they put a cop by the side of the road at the beginning of the zone. He stood in view looking like he was out of "Star Wars." A big guy in black with riding breeches, helmet, dark glasses, feet astride, left hand on his hip and pointing a potent looking ray gun with his right.
How many speeders did he catch? None! But how many cars sped past the school? None! And the different result was because it now was clearly demonstrated that all were under observation and retribution would surely result.
At the Laser event we made sure all competitors knew we were right there. Our judge boats were clearly recognisable, we got right in amongst the boats on the course, in the prestart period we motored about in the throng saying "Hi" to the competitors, in the final 30 seconds to a start we motored down the full length of the line just to windward of it standing up with a flag in hand so all saw us. We demonstrated we were serious when we gave a penalty on the line at the first start of the first race for bouncing, and a penalty on the first downwind leg of that first race for rocking. When penalizing we used the best whistles, took our deepest breath and blew so hard and long and loud that distant football matches thought it was full-time and the ears of 100 Laser competitors rang to remind them to sail steady as rocks. And only six penalties were needed.
I do not how the event in Europe was handled but perhaps the different result between that event and the Lasers was a more obvious demonstration that the judges were on-hand and would act. Our primary objective is surely to stop the rule being broken, not to hand out penalties after it has been broken. - Graeme Owens, Jury Chairman, National Lasers 2002
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: The above comments were sent to me by ISAF President Paul Henderson along with his personal comments: "I could not agree more. Sailors want competent, involved, fair, Judges whose responsibility is to ensure respect of the rules of Sailing not to disqualify sailors. ISAF must provide that or we end up in the controversy now at FIFA World Cup or in the Olympic Figure Skating. ISAF must act." - Paul Henderson
THE RIGHT STUFF
Sailing is an equipment sport. Period! And when you make it all the way to the Olympics, you simply must have the very best equipment - the right stuff. No wonder the United States Silver Medalist in both the Women's 470 (JJ Isler and Pease Glaser), and the Men's 470 (Paul Foerster and Bob Merrick) used Ullman Sails exclusively. Additionally, Ullman Sails were used by the Silver and Bronze Medalist in the Tornado Class. Isn't it time to moved your sailing performance up to the next level? - www.ullmansails.com
For the America's Cup Match, the two competing syndicates are allowed to work from an inventory of 30 sails. These sail wardrobes are highly specialised. On the morning of a race, the sailors will discuss conditions with the weather team and select their mainsail for the day. Once they are racing, America's Cup yachts cannot change their mainsails, so the correct choice is vital. In addition, they will select a range of headsails to cover a fairly wide band of weather conditions.
The headsails are of different weights and shapes and sizes and constitute the crew's ability to change gears to match shifting weather conditions. Each headsail will operate efficiently across a wind range of about 5-6 knots.
"Choosing the wrong sail for the conditions could slow you by as much as 45 seconds on a single upwind leg," says (TNZ sail designer Burns) Fallow. So, an increasing emphasis is put on making the correct choice and making the sails more versatile for Auckland's changeable conditions. And, back to the eternal America's Cup paradox, they must be lighter and stronger too. - TNZ website, full story: xtramsn.co.nz/teamnewzealand/
* This week the Baltic city of Kiel hosts Kieler Woche - a sailing event that ISAF President Paul Henderson dubbed, "the mother of all the race weeks that now make up the world sailing calendar." After four days of racing for 15 international classes, the Olympic crews take over from Wednesday 26th with over 800 teams from 50 nations expected to have registered. The caliber of the Olympic fleet is as impressive as ever with five world champions, six current European champions and ten Olympic medallists from Sydney racing this week. - www.kieler-woche.de/
* The Swedish Match Cup, in Marstrand, Sweden, July 1-7 will be the final leg of the 2001/2 Swedish Match Tour. The skippers who will compete in DS 37 Match Racers are Peter Holmberg (Oracle Racing), Magnus Holmberg (Victory Challenge), Dean Barker (TNZ), Bertrand Pace (TNZ), Russell Coutts (Alinghi Challenge), Jochen Schumann (Alinghi Challenge), Jesper Bank (Victory Challenge), Ed Baird, Andrew Arbuzow, Jes Gram-Hansen, Jesper Radich, Bjorn Hansen, Mattias Rahm, Mikael Lindkvist, Staffan Lindberg and Karol Jablonski. - www.swedishmatchtour.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 Alexander Meller (In support of Mike Martin's request - Scuttlebutt No. 1100): I grow tired of reading the latest AC headline in Scuttlebutt and then having to scroll down to the next story. I do not want to read any more of this. I cannot stop these people from playing their game, but I do not consider it sailing and I strongly wish to read about real sailing in Scuttlebutt, not the latest foolishness between AC syndicates.
* From Rob Vandervort: Soap Opera nothing. The America's Cup has gotten to the point where it may be compared to many political races. What you get is a bunch of mud-slinging and court actions - "they did this and he did that" - right up until the final event or election. Then when someone finally does win, the spectators (or public) are so tired of all the malarky that has gone back and forth that the spectacle of the event has lost its allure.
Inevitably, someone always says, "you are quick to criticize, but where is your solution." How about something novel: innovation within the intent of the design rules; strategies within the intent of the racing rules; sailing to the best of a team's ability. Isn't that the intent of this competition?
If these simple statements are followed, perhaps the sailing world will benefit from new inventions, observe and learn new strategies, and be witness to great role models sailing in a great event.
* From Jeff Roberts: Prada's "former" law firm in Auckland is reputedly one of the top firms in New Zealand. No such firm would ever act without direction from the client. It is obvious that Prada's Auckland hand did not check with their Milano hand.
For them to sue Oracle, then blame Oracle for defending themselves by simply, and quite correctly, pointing out to the Court as well as the America's Cup community that any such matter belongs with the Arbitration Panel is, well, silly. On top of that, Prada's press releases still insist the matter belongs in the courts -- despite the syndicate's hasty retreat on that front yesterday.
* From Rene Wallage: Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the America's Cup about sailing? You know, skill, technique, teamwork? This is really childish and silly. "Mommy! He's looking at me!"
* From Andy Green, GBR Challenge: All the best sports are part soap opera, stop whingeing and enjoy the ride.
* From Chris Ericksen: Hurrah for Australian Tornado sailors and Olympic Silver Medallists Darren Bundock and John Forbes, and hurrah for the Voting Academy regarding the BEA Male Sailor of the Year Award. In light of all the bickering that is coming out of the Antipodes nowadays, it is refreshing to hear of a couple of sailors who did the right thing and a committee to did the right thing in return. This is what we should be shouting about, not lawsuits over the placement of barges or use of binoculars. And the next time HM Queen Elizabeth II gets ready to hand out knighthoods, I hope she selects Darren and John as men of honor deserving of recognition.
* From Tom Pollack: Jared Morphord and I have to thank quick thinking from Yassou crew members for cutting the spinnaker halyard and spinnaker sheet with their sharp utility knives after we both got simultaneously dragged down the foredeck and slammed into the shrouds during the "spinnaker takedown". As the 16,500 pound Transpac 52 surged forward at 12 knots towards the leeward mark and the 2100 sq foot spinnaker went into the water, Jared & I got the major squeeze play with afterguy & sheets somehow tangled around our legs. After a little painful screaming, the crew immediately jumped into action to free us. A few more seconds and...
Luckily no permanent damage and the wounds will eventually heal. Guess you can add sharp personal knives to the list of safety items for the bigger boats where the high loads can tear off hunks of flesh (or worse) in a matter of seconds.
* From Ralph Taylor: What are they putting in the herring? Just noticed the latest World Match Race rankings, as reported in Scuttlebutt. Among the men, the top four and five of the top ten are Scandinavian (Sweden and Denmark.) For the women, the top five are also Swedish and Danish.
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: The ISAF press release we published yesterday contained outdated rankings for the women. Here are the current (June 21) women's match racing rankings: 1. Marie BJORLING, SWEDEN, 2. Liz BAYLIS, USA, 3. Dorte O. JENSEN, DENMARK, 4. Malin KALLSTROM, SWEDEN, 5. Lotte MELDGAARED PEDERSEN, DENMARK, 15. Sandy GROSVENOR, USA, 17, Betsy ALISON, USA, 23. Dawn RILEY, USA, 25. Charlie ARMS, USA. www.sailing.org/matchrace/
(Peter Bentley took a look at the America's Cup 'happenings' in Auckland in a story he wrote for the madforsailing website and came up with the following conclusions.)
In much the same way as One World have already condemned themselves with limited admissions of guilt in the Sean reeves affair, one can not help feeling that the speed with which Prada have dropped their court action only serves to demonstrate the significant level of concern in which they hold Oracle's submission to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel.
There seems little doubt that simply by opening an action Prada was in breach of the Cup Protocol. Simply dropping the case does not erase the crime - though it might reduce the punishment. So far as the Arbitration Panel are concerned, the case has now if anything become more complex. And in case you are wondering when judgment might be handed down, the answer is not any time soon. The members of the Arbitration panel are refusing to make decisions until such time as the can be sure they themselves will not become subject to legal action as a result of their decisions. - Peter Bentley, madforsailing, www.madforsailing.com
TEAM NEW ZEALAND CREW CLOTHING
Whether your preference is Oracle Racing, OneWorld, or Stars & Stripes, it is hard not to admire the Team New Zealand machine that has dominated the America's Cup since 1995. You can now wear the same clothing as worn by the Team New Zealand Race Crew, possibly the best sailing team in history, and the only Team guaranteed to be in the next America's Cup Finals. See the Team New Zealand clothing ranges from Line 7 at the online America's Cup Store. Shipped worldwide at super-low freight rates.
For those of you with too much time on their hands, there are two websites with a total of 11 web cams overlooking Auckland's Viaduct Basin: www.thepoint.co.nz & www.aucklandnz.com/360views/waterfront/index.html
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* July 5-10: US Junior Women's Doublehanded Championship for the Ida Lewis Trophy, Newport Harbor YC, Newport, CA. Open (no pre-qualification required) doublehanded fleet racing competition for females between the ages 13 to 18. www.ussailing.org
* July 13-14: The Wall Street and Corporate Challenge Cup, Shake-A-Leg-Newport, Newport, R.I. Teams of businessmen raise $30,000 each to race 12 Meter yachts to help people with spinal cord injuries and nervous system dysfunctions. - www.shakealeg.org
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
You know you're in the Midwest when have to switch from "heat" to "A/C" on the same day.