SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1119 - July 9, 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.
Already considered one of the most potent of the nine challenges for the 31st America's Cup, the San Francisco-based Oracle Racing team have been given extra bite by a new sponsorship deal announced by BMW in Germany yesterday. The sum is said to be upwards of $20 million, and BMW have taken a long-term stake in the America's Cup, given that the challenger who emerges from four months of trials commencing Oct 1 must have a very serious chance of defeating the under-funded defender, Team New Zealand in Auckland next February.
With Oracle Racing having launched both of their new boats, USA 71 and USA 76, in recent weeks, there is little BMW can at this stage bring to the design team led by Bruce Farr. BMW's senior marketing executive Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, spoke instead of the Williams BMW Formula One team and building a similar long-term relationship. "Obviously when we go into a team we will be able to define our co-operation and the output we are able to get from it."
Kalbfell flew to California to meet Larry Ellison, the billionaire driving force behind Oracle Software, and one of the world's richest men. The deal is said to have been 18 months in the making.
It was for this reason that BMW chose not to answer the call from Michael Illbruck for support this spring, when the backer of Germany's winning entry in the Volvo Ocean Race sought a corporate partner for his own follow-on America's Cup campaign. Kalbfell confirmed that he spoke to Illbruck "about their approach and implementation, but felt happier with Oracle Racing". Illbruck's Cup plans have now been deferred until 2006. - Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK, full story: http://sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
* The boat, skippered by Peter Holmberg, is expected to be renamed 'Oracle BMW Racing'. - Agence France-Presse
* (Heinz Kalbfell, BMW's senior vice-president for group marketing) side-stepped questions about whether any quiet words had been spoken over the matter of Ellison's determination to steer his own boat. That one was defused by the British-born sailing operations manager, John Cutler, who said that Ellison's overwhelming desire to win would lead to the right decisions being made. In tight situations Peter Holmberg would be on the wheel, when it was "stable", that is if they were winning comfortably, he could take over. - The Independent, London
(Barry McKay (pitman and project co-ordinator for the building and maintenance of Team NZ's boats) was interviewed by Murray Deaker on radio recently. The audio file is on http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/index.asp (Saturday 3-4 pm). Here are some excerpts.)
Question: When we win the America's Cup this time, what's to stop the other teams taking our guys again? Why isn't there a stand down period for our guys like there is in rugby?
Barry McKay: The second part of the question of the stand down period. It is possibly something that could be incorporated into the next agreement between the Defender and the Challenger. So the America's Cup protocol could include that. What's going to stop the guys from moving on or being headhunted again? Well, we've got a much younger team. It seems like everybody's a lot more committed to the cause. They want to live in New Zealand; they want to be part of this community and they want to contribute to the country. Management is doing a bit of work one on one with the guys. Seeing where they are at. What they'd like to do in the future and trying to work with them and fulfil their goals going forward. So we hope to minimise that.
Question: So, what are you saying? That you're hoping you're going to have them sewn up before the event?
McKay: Yep. Yeah, we have to. There is no way we could have what happened last time. - There's more posted by Cheryl on the 2003AC website: http://isuzu21.webcrossing.com
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WOMEN'S MATCH RACING
From the cliffs of Marstrand, in beaming sunshine, some ten thousand people witnessed Marie Bjšrling beating the reigning champion since the beginning in 1999 - Dorte O. Jensen from Denmark - in the final of the Swedish Match Cup Women's Class. With three wins over Dorte's single one, it was not even a close call. Marie sailed in a very convincing manner not only in the final flights, but during the entire day.
Already in the morning it became clear that Marie was on a winning streak, when she beat Malin Millbourn of KSSS in Stockholm by two straight wins in the semi-finals. Dorte O. Jensen did the same thing to her chosen semi-final opponent, American Betsy Alison, whom she chose after having won the Round Robin. Marie then started the final in a formidable way with two convincing wins before Dorte was able to strike back. Dorte then made a false start in the fourth flight and Marie was able to get a lead that she maintained and increased all the way to the finish line. Accompanied by cheers and applause from the cliffs Marie crossed the finish line almost half a minute before Dorte.
As the winner in the Swedish Match Cup Women's Class, Marie Bjšrling is offered a starting slot in the ADT Women's Match Race Championship, October 12-15, in Bermuda. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is arranging this regatta which is also the qualification round for the ADT Gold Cup, October 12-20.
Malin Millbourne took the third place in the Swedish Match Cup Women's Class, after having beaten Betsy Alison in two straight matches. http://www.swedishmatchcup.com
STARS & STRIPES
(Tony Chamberlain wrote a piece about Team Dennis Conner in the July 7 issue of the Boston Globe. Here's an excerpt.)
Given the range of his experience, Conner said last week: "Right now we feel as strong as we were in '86. We have two good boats and we have a team made up of the best sailors in the world. We're feeling very good." But again, he reminds, the reality check doesn't come until October. This spring and summer, in fact, Conner's insistence that Long Beach is at least as good a training ground as Hauraki Gulf in Auckland has drawn some mild criticism.
None other than 2000 Cup champion skipper Russell Coutts, who has become a hired gun for Switzerland, feels Conner would be better training in the fickle winds of Hauraki Gulf, where the conditions are so inconsistent they demand constant adjustments. But fickleness is not what Conner has been seeking since launching his two boats this year. Instead, he has two models in mind. One negative: that of the New York Yacht Club's last disastrous campaign in Auckland, in which John Marshall's Young America Team - previewed as the challenger to beat - had a boat break up and nearly sink in December. End of campaign.
Had Marshall spent less time in research and development and more time with the team in the boats, Conner says, they may have avoided having to go into Cup competition with just 11 training days under their belt. - Tony Chamberlain, Boston Globe, full story: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/
* The United States International 420 sailing team left for Portugal Monday to compete in the I-420 World Championships at Club Nautico Tavira. Two men's teams from San Diego (Tybor/ Boyd & Anderson/ Biehl) and a men's team from Massachusetts (Seigle/ Flynn) make up the men's division. A women's team (Papanek/ Hoyle) from Yale will compete in the women's division. The U.S. will also participate in the team racing event. The team is coached by Zack Leonard who is the sailing coach at Yale. - http://www.cnt.pt/ukfnor420.htm
* The I-14 National Championship was held at Alamitos Bay YC July 4-7. World Champion Zach Berkowitz with Mike Martin were dethroned by Kris Bundy and Jamie Hanseler, who scored a phenomenal seven wins in seven races. - Grand Prix Sailor, www.sailingworld.com, Complete results: http://www.abyc.org
* The Costa Smeralda Yacht Club - headed by the Aga Khan and the playground of the international jet set - signed an agreement Saturday to team up with the ritzy New York Yacht Club for joint regattas, training and other activities. The New York Yacht Club has similar agreements with three other clubs, two in Britain and one in San Francisco. But this was the first with a Mediterranean club, and the signing brought the New York club's commodore to this port in northern Sardinia. "If we didn't think we had a great future together, we would not be here," commodore Charles Dana III said. - Dennis Redmont, AP
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 Andrew Hurst: Well done Matthew Sheahan for saying the obvious. Personally I get utterly sick and tired of listening to carping weekend warriors and 'professional' sailors, in particular, wittering on about the discomfort of wearing life-saving equipment. Believe me, this is one area where we can really learn from those cruising sailors who we so often like to set ourselves 'above'.
The RORC is currently preparing to firm up its existing life-saving regulations (since that is what they are), which were already declared way 'over the top' by many Admiral's Cup competitors. Having to wear lifejackets and harnesses in moderate conditions, worried about your macho image. Diddums.
With modern lightweight equipment there is no excuse. Matthew has had tragic first hand experience of this subject - he should be listened to.
* From Eric Hall: Dinghy sailors seem so comfortable with PFD's that one wonders if they realize they're donning them. Case in point: I asked Olympic hopeful Tornado sailors Lars Guck and Jonathan Ferrar out for a harbor sail to try out new equipment on our 30 foot test boat Blackwing last Saturday in medium air. Before they stepped aboard, their racing life jackets were already on. Seeing this, I was inspired to put mine on as well. No big deal, no "sea story" to tell, just a couple of guys for whom safety and the use of lifejackets has become instinctive. If the best sailors support the concept, the rest of us should willingly follow.
* From Rand Milton: It is an important aspect to a club's website to have race results posted within hours of completion of racing. But it is equally important to have the NOR, SI's, and scratch sheets posted in a timely fashion too.
* From Tom E. Miller: I am sure you will be pleased to point out to your readers that after five races in the Opti Worlds, Bermuda (still considered part of North America) has two sailors in the top 100.
* From Dede Cooper: I checked your website link for Opti results and it listed Bermuda's Jesse Kirkland in 5th. It would give him the best NA placing as well. He should have been before Hannah Mills. Just thought I'd point it out as we are all very proud of Jesse (he's family as well) here in Bermuda.
* From Rod Carr: Duncan Wood's assertion (in 'Butt 1109) that Intrepid abandoned the third race of the 1967 America's Cup is not supported by the descriptions of the incident by several sailors on the boat on pages 168 - 169 of Defending The America's Cup by Robert W. Carrick and Stanley Z. Rosenfield. With a Coast Guard helicopter standing by, there would seem to have been little reason for taking a 12-meter into close proximity of either the capsized Beatle cat or the chopper. According to the reference cited, Intrepid, sailing on the layline at the moment, bore off to clear the 'copter's downwash, and continued toward the weather mark.
* From Robert Davison (and brutally edited to our 250-word limit): Duncan Wood is most likely thinking of the thrid race of the 1967 America's Cup. The small boat in question had capsized on the layline and the racing twelves only approached it as a matter of course, so to speak. Racing was not interrupted, aside from a scary helicopter versus 12-Meter 'duck'. Here are a few comments from Intrepid's crew:
Toby Tobin: A Coast Guard Chopper was apparently dispatched to chase off a small sailboat that was directly in our track. Hoving over it, the helicopter's tremendous downdraft capsized the boat. The patrol suddenly became a rescue mission and a line was lowered from the chopper to the occupants of the sailboat. The helicopter was headed into the wind and apparently unable to see us approaching, but we thought he could see us and naturally we expected him to move. Instead, as we got in close, he backed down on us and had our sails aback before we could bear off to go around him. It was frightening, but everyone on Intrepid was thinking more about the boat and the rig than themselves.
Anybody given to believe that the NYYC won all those matches on the basis of a stacked deck needs to go to the source and see the sort of excellence that Bus Mosbacher and crew achieved on the water, with the contribution of Olin and Rod Stephens and many others.
* From Rodger Martin: Building boats in one-off female moulds is the 'French' method! For as long as I can remember, racing multihulls have been built that way, & it makes a lot of sense to me as well as saving a lot of material. I have been talking to a Canadian builder about the possibility of building semi custom fast cruising boats that way. I know of no American yacht, let alone an Am Cup boat built that way!
The superyacht Mari-Cha III and several of the West Coast's fastest turbosleds will be rocketing out the Golden Gate this week for the 12th biennial West Marine Pacific Cup Race from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. All told, 72 sailboats -- ranging in length from 26 feet to 146 feet -- are primed to compete in the 2,070-mile ocean race. Yachts have shown up from as far away as England, Germany and Japan for the summer sprint.
Racing began Monday afternoon, with more than two dozen boats scheduled to start near San Francisco's Marina Green. Staggered starts will continue through the week, with the largest boats starting Friday at 4:40 p.m. The yachts will be racing in seven divisions. There is also a separate category for double-handers (with crews of two) as well as trophies for the first to finish and the first overall finish, given a boat's performance rating.
Among the smaller vessels, E.T., an Antrim 27 owned by Liz Baylis and Todd Hedin of San Rafael, is a favorite. Gone With the Wind, skippered by Bill LeRoy of Tiburon, is one of nine Santa Cruz 50 yachts in the race.
Built in New Zealand, the Mari-Cha III was launched in 1997. A year later, it set a speed record for a transatlantic crossing from New York to southern England in less than nine days. Owned by British businessman Bob Miller, the 146-foot ketch was designed as a supreme luxury yacht as well as a racer. Its sleek hull is made of a sandwich of carbon fiber and kevlar. When racing with a 26-man crew, the boat's plush mahogany interior is taken out to save weight.
Miller's biggest competition may be from San Francisco biotech venture capitalist Bob McNeil, whose new 86-foot Zephyrus V will be making its racing debut in the Pacific Cup. Zephyrus V, which was built in Australia, carries 8, 800 square feet of sail going downwind -- more sail than an America's Cup class boat. And his new boat is expected to easily surf the Pacific's huge swells. Another hot competitor in the maxi category is Pegasus 7, owned by Philippe Kahn of Santa Cruz. Mark Rudiger of Sausalito, whose Assa Abloy team recently won second place in the Volvo Ocean Race, will be Pegasus' navigator. - Jim Doyle, San Francisco Chronicle, full story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/07/07/SP186643.DTL
BURSTING FOR EXTRA STRENGTH
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Corpus Christi, Texas, USA - Clear skies and breeze refresh the competition as the competitors leave the dock for three races today. Two were originally scheduled, but due to light winds yesterday, the PRO decided to run three races instead. The first race, with winds around 11 knots, saw the Netherland's sailors leading all three flights at the weather mark. Croatia and Spain were having good races as well. The second and third races were sailed in 12-16 knots of breeze and large wave sets, allowing the competitors to show off their awesome surfing abilities!
Steven leFevre, NED2447, won all three of his races, and is now in 1st place with 17 points. Filip Matika, CRO819, is in second place with 18 points and Eduardo Zalvide, ESP630, is in third place with 27 points, followed by Jesse Kirkland from Bermuda with 42 points. Xu Lijia, CHN106 is now the top girl, in 6th, with Hannah Mills, GBR5047, in 7th. http://www.optimistworlds2002.com/results/preliminary.html
"Icon" is first to cross the finish line in the Vic-Maui 2002. She arrived July 7 at 18:48:06, after leading the fleet most of the way. Icon could take Line Honours, First in Division A, and First Overall. The next boat expected is Dan Sinclair's "Renegade". At roll-call she was 113 miles out, and she has indicated she'll probably finish around 18:48 (almost exactly 24 hours after "Icon"). "Mystic" is only 296 miles away, and due July 9 at 20:18. She is followed by "Atalanta" (July 10) "Jeito" (July 11) "Mojo Riding" and "First Sight" (both due July 13).
The fleet is at last sailing in good winds, and those stuck so long in frustratingly slow conditions are clearly enjoying the ride they came for. The regular, warm tradewinds, and large following seas make for fast downwind sailing on the approach to Maui. The only unknown is how many will be able to make up for lost time and get to the finish before the evening of Friday July 12, when the race officially ends. It's going to be a tight for some, and perhaps already a lost cause for others.
Class Leaders - A: Icon (1st overall) B: Mojo Riding (7th overall) C: Greyhound (12th overall) D: Niye Keema (8th overall). - Peter Bennett, http://www.vicmaui.org
U.S. JR. WOMEN'S DOUBLE HANDED CHAMPIONSHIP
Newport Harbor YC - The heavy southern California marine layer would not go away, which meant a full day of light air, trying the patience of the 35 teams competing in Club 420's. Just about every team in the top ten had problems in the third and final race of the first day of racing.
Emily East and Hartley Meric (Fairhope Yacht Club, Alabama) proved to be the exception and dominated the day with a third in race 3, hitting the dock with scores of 3,1,3 and a ten-point lead. Caroline Young and Shannon Heausler (Davis Island Yacht Club) sit second with a 1,9,7. Derby Anderson and Lucy Kupersmith (Annapolis, MD) rounded out the day with a 2,10,9 and are third just 3 points ahead of Adrienne Patterson and Tinja Anderson (Balboa, CA) who had a troubling 18th in race 3 to offset their solid performance in race one and two. - Peter Wells, http://www.nhyc.org
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
A Politician is someone who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.