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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1126 - July 31, 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.

UPDATE - USA 77
Long Beach, CA - Stars & Stripes USA-77 has now been inspected by Team Dennis Conner's engineers and has had a full ultrasound to determine the extent of the damaged areas where the bow hit the bottom. The whole incident has been analyzed and we have determined that it was quite a soft landing because the bulb and bow apparently went into the mud and silt almost together. The bulb was buried in more than three feet of mud. This explains the gentle stop the boat made as it slipped lower and lower into the water then just stopped going any further and finally came upright. There was never a sudden stop and that is why the damage is localized to the deck, because of the hydrostatic water pressure and forward topsides as a result of the bow impact with no deck support.

USA-77 is presently being readied for her trip to New Zealand. All cracks have been temporarily reinforced and the hole where the rudder tore out has been covered to ensure a safe trip. She will be launched and side-towed to the container ship where Columbus Lines will manage the lift onto the cradle on the ship. Fifteen days later USA-77 will arrive in Auckland where she will be launched, towed to our base and put into our boat shed and the work will begin.

The full extent of the repair work to be done and the exact timetable are undefined until the work begins in New Zealand. There could be more or less work involved as we get into the project but we are confident we will be sailing her sometime around mid-September for continued testing against USA-66 and if we so chose, she would be available to race in the first race of the Louis Vuitton Series, starting October 1. Details of the rudder failure will be kept confidential due to the sensitivity of the design information that would be revealed. Our designers and engineers do know what caused the failure and can prevent it from ever happening again with one design modification. - Veronica Brown, TDC, www.stars-stripes.com

OPINION
(Bill Koch was interviewed by Tony Chamberlain for a story that appeared in the Boston Globe last week. In the story, Koch stated, " the Swiss have the highest chance of winning the Louis Vuitton Cup." In following excerpt he discusses some to the other syndicates.)

Next, in Koch's estimation, is a group of three that will be near the top, but slightly below the Swiss. Despite its lack of an $80- million budget, Team Dennis Conner (New York Yacht Club) will be there, along with two of the billionaires - Larry Ellison's Oracle and Patrizio Bertelli's Prada. Conner's only weakness, says Koch, is the lack of an unlimited budget, although there are more plusses than minuses. He has two new boats, a seasoned team minus the young egos that can, in his view, bring a team down.

"When Dennis did superbly well [winning the America ' s Cup in 1986]," says Koch, "he had John Marshall as his [production] manager. He is superb technically, and he's not one of those designers who fall in love with their own creation."

The Ellison group, he says, despite unlimited money to spend, is lacking drive at the top. "Their weakness is their management style and they have no killer instinct," Koch said.

As for Prada, says Koch, "They have an Italian mentality that doesn't really appreciate technology." He also rates tactician Torben Grael as "incompetent," though adds Prada once again could make it to the Louis Vuitton finals. "To win the America ' s Cup ," says Koch, "you have to do everything well, and you have to continuously improve both in boat speed and crew." - Tony Chamberlain, The Boston Globe, July 21.

MUSTO AND LINE 7 FOUL WEATHER CLOTHING
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ITA 72
After more than 25 hours on a plane the Mascalzone Latino syndicate will be hoping their boat hasn't suffered any long-term jet lag with the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup just two months away. Their new ACC boat, Mascalzone Latino XII, left their Portoferraio base on the Island of Elba in Italy on July 24 and finally touched down in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday.

The boat has been through a rigorous travel itinerary including a ferry trip from their base to the port of Civitavecchia and a drive to the Roman airport Leonardo da Vinci before boarding a company plane designed for special transports. The plane flew at a traveling altitude of 7000 meters to avoid any pressure damage to the state-of-the-art yacht.

ITA 72 will now be transported from the airport to the Viaduct Basin where it awaits the arrival of the rest of the Italian crew, who should be settled in to their Halsey Street base by mid August. Nzoom website, onesport.nzoom.com/sport_detail/0,1278,120583-2-124,00.html

NEWS BRIEFS
* EF Language, winner of the '97/'98 Whitbread race, and her matched pair EF Education are now in Australia and will be used in the Kookaburra Challenge corporate match-racing programs on Sydney Harbour, as well as for charter. The VO60s replace the 1987 America's Cup defenders, Kookaburra II and III previously used for that purpose. www.boatingoz.com.au

* Greenpeace members have distributed T-shirts around Auckland that read, "I'm pro- America's Cup and very antinuclear." One of them was given to Trevor Mallard, New Zealand's minister for the America's Cup. - Wall Street Journal, 7-3-02

* Mitch Booth and Herbert Dercksen from the Netherlands successfully defended their Formula 18 World Championship Title in Travemunder, Germany. Booth and Dercksen sailing a Hobie Tiger have won three Formula 18 World Championships in a row and all on a Hobie Tiger. Top (and only) American at the event were Greg Thomas and Jacques Bernier from San Diego, CA who ended up in 16th overall. www.travemuender-woche.net

LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (leweck@earthlink.net)
(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 Jef d'Etiveaud Co-Skipper of Mari-Cha III: I want to briefly comment on Zephyrus's MOB during the Pac Cup. They did indeed lose the owner in the middle of the night running downwind with an established breeze. We were on Mari-Cha about 4 miles to their lee and dropped all our running sail to give assistance. The excellent job done by Dee (Smith) and his boys without doubt saved one life that night. They should be commanded for this and I am sure the owner showed them his gratitude.

Here are several thinks to remember from this event:
1- During the first few minutes after the distress call I found the crew on Mari-Cha shocked and, although we are all well trained, the drama of the moment impaired some. This shows how important is to train again and again for these situations.

2- Zephyrus sent a crew up the rig to favor the spotting, this is not in the book but worked.

3- With all the technology available the tech world should be able to mass produce a portable MOB locating device. I'll get one!

4- Having been in the situation of been in a position to assist an MOB for the first time I cannot understand that anyone could remotely think about continuing racing in these circumstances.

* From Vann Wilson: I am a bit surprised that the US sailing media did not make a real big deal out of Andrew Campbell's gold medal finish in the Laser at the 2002 ISAF Youth World Championships. The list of past Youth World Medalists reads like a who's who of yacht racing. In the 30 year history of the regatta, I think there has only been six or so American Gold Medalists in the laser.

* From Dan Nowlan, Offshore Director US Sailing (In response to Hugh Wainman-Wood and Bob Johnstone re Americap in Scuttlebutt # 1125): You both make the point that a key element in the success or failure of Americap is how well it's non-subjective VPP algorithm rates boats. Boy, do I agree with both of you about that! However, there are two other points on which I take a different view.

Hugh, you state that with PHRF, if the rating is wrong, it can be changed, but with Americap "you're stuck with it". Not quite true. Throughout the season, we review race data searching for those "glaring errors". Fixes to their causes are incorporated into the next year's VPP. In PHRF, how much time passes between finding an error and adjusting the rating?

Bob, you have examined one race, a distance event, compared results to PHRF ratings (that tend to be buoy racing oriented) and concluded Americap is so far out of line that we should withdraw it and fix it. There are other events with more favorable conclusions. Take a look at St. Francis' Stone Cup results. One of your J120's placed second.

Race data is the lifeblood of any rating system. To make further improvements, we need race results from boats with current, accurate measurements. If we withdraw Americap, we lose that ability.

Does Americap have it all correct? No. Do we have a platform that permits rating fairness advances? Yes. Do we have a plan to find and fix the problems? Yes. Do I wish I had a season of analyzed results and identified fixes in my pocket to help me write this response? Yes.

* From Steve Johnson (In response to Jerry Fipps comments about two numbered rating systems - edited to our 250-word limit)): I completely agree that a two wind speed system is much more likely to be successful in fairly handicapping boats than any single number system. It is also unnecessary to go to a multiple windspeed system as IMS tried so unsuccessfully. As Olin Stephens has stated simplicity (usability) is important, and two wind speeds provide reasonable accuracy beyond which complexity and uncertainty override any increased accuracy.

The fact is that any rating system can be refined to provide two numbers for wind speeds, including PHRF. I believe the urge to challenge PHRF with new rules would diminish if they began a serious effort in developing two wind speed numbers.

The problem with two wind speed rules is not developing them but, as experience with IMS showed, determining who decides the wind range for a race (and thus the winner). RC's have been loathe to make this call because of the back-biting. Polling the competitors is futile. Backing into a wind speed based on performance fraught with error.

What I disagree with Mr. Fipps about is his implied endorsement of Americap as a better way to race not just to theoretically handicap sailboats, particularly for the serious amateur and clubracers. Americap violates Olin Stephens simplicity principle on two grounds. First is the complex and expensive hull measurement and second is the curious scoring structure, with its mixture of time on distance and time on time making it almost impossible to accurately assess one's position in a race.

* From Kurt M. Hoehne: Let us racers take the handicapping issue in our own hands before there is no more handicap racing to save. PHRF is inconsistent at best, dependent on the judgment of the handicappers. Proudly they claim the high ground that its regionalism and flexibility are strengths, and no handicapping system is perfect. Critics must be spoiled sports. Is it working? For an ever increasing number, it's not. Listen to post race conversations and that's quite clear.

Will Americap II (or III or XX) work? Over the last 10 years or so US sailing has had its chance. And if one's boat not already measured, it's an expensive process.

IRC is working for much of the world. (Not perfectly, but remember that no handicap system is perfect) We don't have to invent it for it to be good! Wouldn't it be fun to be on the same system as much of the rest of the world? Wouldn't it be fun to race under a measurement system again? I'm sure plenty of 'Butt-heads have raced under IRC. What's good and bad about it? Would it work here?

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Make no mistake - the PHRF thread is still officially dead. However, we will keep the door open for discussions of Americap, IRC and other measurement handicap systems. At least for a while

JUSTLY DESERVED
Skip Allan has been awarded the US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal for coming to the aid of three people who were thrown into very cold water when their boat broached during the Moore 24 Nationals in Santa Cruz, California last May. That incident was well documented in Scuttlebutt at the time and started a long and very positive thread in these pages.

Interestingly, Skip received the Rescue Medal at the West Marine Pacific Cup Awards Ceremony, in Kaneohe, Hawaii. But it wasn't the only award he received that night. He also picked up hardware for being first in his double-handed class and first overall in Pacific Cup transpacific race -in his Wylie 27 "Wildflower" that was also the platform for his memorable rescue achievements last May. Way to go!

WHEN FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
When you are pressing to win, you want the best lines available. Look to the leader, Samson Rope Technologies. You've seen the ads and heard the talk about the new Color Match 24 system. But how do you tell a Samson line from all of the others? Simple; look for the red and green tracer! This critical I.D. marker is your assurance that you have Samson quality on board. Don't trust the race to cheap alternatives. Rigging failure is not an option. Check for the red and green tracer! Samson, The Sailor's Line. www.samsonrope.com/home/recmarine/index.cfm

BUDGET
Team New Zealand has more than 95 per cent of its budget secured for defending the America's Cup next year. Chief executive Ross Blackman said yesterday that the syndicate still had to raise about 4 per cent of the money needed for the defence, but he was sure all the necessary funds would be found. The size of the budget has never been revealed, but it is thought to be at least NZ$80 million - twice that of the last campaign.

The syndicate received a potentially million-dollar boost yesterday when real estate company Bayleys announced it would run an on-line fundraising auction over the next few weeks. Bayleys managing director Jeff Davidson said he was optimistic the auction could raise $1 million for Team New Zealand. - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/

WORLD MATCH RACING RANKINGS
July 24, 2002 - Open Rankings: 1. Peter Holmberg, ISV, 2. Jesper Radich Johansen, DEN, 3. Ed Baird, USA, 4. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN, 5. Magnus Holmberg, SWE, Karol Jablonski, POL, Gavin Brady, NZL.

Women's rankings: 1. Marie Bjorling, SWE, 2. Lotte Meldgaared Pedersen, DEN, 3. Liz Baylis, USA, Malin Millbourn, SWE, 5. Dorti Jensen, DEN. - www.sailing.org/matchrace/mrranking.asp

MATCH RACING SIDEBAR
They may not possess the America's Cup pedigrees of many of their competitors, but over the past three years Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen of Team Victory Lane and Jesper Radich have more than proven themselves the equals of their more famous, fellow skippers and this week the crowd's along Newport, RI's, Goat Island will have the opportunity to witness them take on some of the leading 2003 America's Cup challengers at the Swedish Match Tour's UBS Challenge Finals.

Gram-Hansen, 29 years of age, and Radich, 25, both "amateurs" in the world of big-budget America's Cup campaigns, have each competed on the Swedish Match Tour since its inception. Schooled in the discipline of match race sailing at Denmark's famed Match Race Center, north of Copenhagen, each has steadily climbed the world rankings and established themselves as regulars not just at Swedish Match Tour events but also on the Swedish Match Tour Championship Leaderboard.

Radich, with no sponsorships at all, is an amateur in every sense of the word, and is known for his aggressiveness in the starting sequences. Radich's risk-taking style has managed to earn him a Swedish Match Tour event title, defeating American Ed Baird in the finals of this past May's Match Race Germany.

"We fund ourselves from our prize money at each of the events," explains Radich. " We are all students and this is our passion. We love match racing because the competitions are close to shore so the crowds get into it and the races are short in length so the adrenaline really gets pumping."

Gram-Hansen, reserved and thoughtful in both his demeanor and approach to racing, is able to look back on the past year with a sense of accomplishment. "We're just amateurs and most of our competitors at each Swedish Match Tour event are part of an America's Cup team so we approach it as if we really have nothing to lose."

Maybe nothing to lose, but certainly much to gain as each holds aspirations of one day helming an America's Cup boat and challenging for yacht racing's oldest and grandest prize. - Shawn McBride, www.swedishmatchtour.com

MELGES 24 WORLDS
Day two of racing at the Melges 24 World Championships in Travemunde, Germany proved to be exciting, full of competition and controversy. Winds were around 8-10 initially and quite shifty. This combined with three general recalls resulted in the postponement of racing for two hours.

As a result of black flag infringements twelve boats were disqualified from race three including Bruno Jourdren (FRA-472 - Pokemon) who subsequently lodged a protest against the disqualification and was re-instated and will receive average points. Overnight leader Jean Francois Cruette (FRA 321 - Scutum) had a disasterous day finishing 23rd in the third race and being black flagged in the fourth race ending up 22nd overall.

With protests complete, overall results still list Harry Melges, in first place overall followed by Kristopher Spone (NOR) in second place and Rob Smith (GBR) in third. - www.melges24.com/news/main.asp?news_id=76

THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
For many people, getting organized means little more than lots of multi-colored 'Post-it' notes.