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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1128 - August 2, 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.

The October 1 start of the America's Cup regatta is threatened by a potentially ruinous legal standoff. With eight weeks to go before the challenger series starts, a panel which rules on cup disputes is still refusing to take any actions because it fears exposure to crippling lawsuits.

Concern is mounting that unless the legal conflict is resolved quickly, some of the five America's Cup arbitration panel members will decide the risk of lawsuits is too great and resign. That would create immediate headaches for the event, because cup rules say each regatta must have an arbitration panel to hear disputes. As well, the fate of cases in which the panel has already heard evidence would be unclear.

The long-running struggle to get an indemnity against legal action for the panel is upsetting the organisers of the challengers series, the Louis Vuitton Cup, which starts on the Hauraki Gulf on October 1. Louis Vuitton spokesman Bruno Trouble said the organisers of the challengers' series were worried. "Every week I think it will be over by the end of the week, but it's not. We are starting to be a little worried. It must be resolved within two weeks or it will be very bad for the event."

Several high-profile disputes are before the panel, including claims that OneWorld may have obtained and used Team New Zealand design secrets. The panel has heard a mountain of evidence on that issue, and is understood to have made a decision. But it will not release any rulings on any dispute until it is given a guarantee it will not be sued. It also wants insurance cover for any other legal action filed against it.

The panel has significant powers, including the ability to impose hefty fines or even expel a syndicate from the event. Previous panels have operated without insurance, but with syndicates now spending up to $US100 million on campaigns the stakes have become much higher, and existing cup rules are not thought to provide enough legal protection. If any panel members do resign, replacements must be found by October 1, and that would be difficult if indemnity agreements were not settled. It would also raise questions about whether existing disputes would need to be reheard by any new panel. Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald

Full story:

(TNZ Chief Executive Ross Blackman was interviewed (on subject discussed above) by Linda Clark on NZ National Radio. Here are some excerpts from transcript posted by Troup on the 2003AC website.)

Ross Blackman: For some time the Arbitration Panel have been concerned about their exposure to lawsuit, and they have requested indemnity against such suits, and insurance cover for any liability

Linda Clark: Is it true that a decision on OneWorld (design secrets from TNZ) has been made?
RB: I think that's right (panel has ruled but not released decision)

LC: Can you confirm that the OneWorld syndicate is one of those unhappy to provide indemnity
RB: No I can't

LC: (Could this affect the starting dates?)
RB: TNZ have no great concern about the America's Cup start date

LC: Will it be settled before LV starts?
RB: It's conceivable that they could go sailing at the scheduled date without final decision on indemnity

LC: (Why is the America's Cup such a litigation fest?)
RB: Its an easy perception that the event is hugely litigious, but I think I need to stress that the America's Cup is unlike World (Soccer) cup and Olympics in that when you win it you take (the event, not just the trophy) home. We all know is worth a great deal of money to do this. People just want to make sure they are treated fairly and the rules are followed.

Full posting:

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* Rolex S.A, has signed a three-year agreement to sponsor the Royal Malta YC's Middle Sea Race. This year the 607 nautical mile race is scheduled for 26th October. -

* The San Diego Maritime Museum will host the 263 feet long Ecuadorian tall ship Guayas August 13-17. Guayas will be moored along the North Embarcadero directly across from the County Administration Building. Launched in 1977, the ship is used as a training vessel for Ecuadorian naval cadets and as a floating ambassador for that South American country. The public is invited to tour Guayas free of charge daily.

* GBR78 is scheduled to leave Cowes on August 3 and will board a plane to Auckland two days later. Flying the boat to New Zealand, as opposed to marine shipping, saves five weeks, which provides valuable training time for the crew to practice on two new generation 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 J.A. Booker (In response to Dan Nowlan in #1126): I paid for an Americap Certificate last year and lobbied hard in our fleet to get others to do the same so we could parallel score some events. Only four agreed with spending any amount of money on something that they did not "need." This year I chose not renew because there continues to be little in the way of gaining momentum, although I was pleased with how the numbers reflected my boat's performance.

Not too long ago, when people weren't sure they "needed" to be on-line, AOL started flooding mailboxes with free access for people to try it out and the demand has emerged. How about giving a certificate to anyone who wants it (even if it is just the boats already measured) and give race organizers an incentive to try it out. I suspect a free sample may go a long way toward winning support.

* From Jack Mallinckrodt: There's a lot to criticize about Americap II -- as there has been about every handicap system ever invented. But what's surprising about Americap II criticism is how much of it is based on severe misunderstandings about how it works, and how simple it really is to use.

Probably the most persistent misunderstanding of several in the recent postings is about "How does the Race Committee decide what wind strength to use". The short answer is "They don't".

Americap II scoring requires knowledge of the distance and elapsed time for each boat (as do all scoring systems) -- that's all. The two Americap II handicap numbers multiply distance and elapsed time respectively. Light wind is apparent by a relatively larger elapsed time. So by choosing the two handicap numbers in just the right way, the resulting time allowance calculations are inherently adaptive to the wind strength as reflected in elapsed time without any further information from the RC. This is exactly the same Implied Wind principle used in IMS, but in a format that makes it easy for the racer to figure exactly how well (s)he is doing during a race or afterward.

There are many examples showing the time allowance difference between two boats can vary over as much as 100 sec/mi over the range of 6 to 20 knots wind. That's a much larger factor than the differences in handicaps between Americap and PHRF at nominal 10-12 knot winds which are usually less than 12 sec/mi.

* From Jim Teeters (regarding rating rules): Ian Farquaharson is wrong to position " Americap vs PHRF". Americap is not targeted at PHRF. It is for those who want objectivity, the power of multiple ratings, and a fair chance of winning on any given day, not just in conditions that favor their boats. PHRF fulfills a fundamental role in the array of handicap systems: it potentially can handicap any boat, it is inexpensive, it is easy to understand. There is no reason why the 2 systems cannot coexist, side by side, and sure, maybe with some overlap.

Now Brian Watkins has a great idea: use the VPP to support local PHRF raters. In fact, US Sailing in collaboration with its PHRF committee has developed several initiatives to do so. is a web-based VPP. Log on, key in the numbers on your PHRF certificate and save them in your own personal database. You can then change anything you want, 2 feet more draft or a bigger spinnaker, and get a change in boat speed (sec/mile) for your choice of wind and course, say Windward/Leeward 12 knots. Or, get a change in boat speed for a change in wind speed and/or angle to the wind. How about an estimate of how much your new main will change your PHRF rating?

US Sailing has been using this technology to support PHRF handicappers in changing the ratings of modified boats and, as Brian suggests, to look for anomalies in PHRF ratings. What a neat idea!

* From Bruce Brown: Reply to: Jef d'Etiveaud Co-Skipper of Mari-Cha III regarding COB location devices: Not that this is an advertisement but ACR Electronics Inc. has been selling a 121.5 MHz based COB location device called Mini B300 with a user replaceable battery. When coupled with a Vecta II (DF device that is portable with an audible alarm) it makes for a proven location system! Carried by boats like J Bird for COB location, these units are available in many locations around the world. These units have been sold to the USCG and to many commercial operators as well.

* From Brent Foxall: In all due respect to Torben Grael, Bill Koch is a bit harsh bagging him and labeling him " incompetent". There are people in the sailing fraternity that would argue Bill was incompetent, but it didn't stop him winning in 92 .So what is Bill's issue? Torben has never made match racing a huge priority and instead focused on winning Olympic medals. The" Holy Grael" has succeeded in that in nearly every Olympics he's entered. No question Torben is a gambler in the corners sometimes, but let his other results do him justice please. He did help his team make the finals last go around.

As for OracleBMW racing, things couldn't be much better. The new fruit is out on the track as much as possible and the team is starting to jell. I had dinner last night with Holmberg on that controversial barge and he assured me he was focused. He is ready to take it to the next level after achieving his goal on the circuit this season. Don't you worry about OraclleBMW . She'll be a "cracker" mate.

* From Forrest Williams: Torben Grael: 1990 Star World Champion. Enough said.

Long Beach, CA - After six months of sailing in the waters off of Long Beach CA, Team Dennis Conner bid its southern California training ground farewell Thursday with a final sail onboard Stars & Stripes, USA-66, one of the team's two new America's Cup Class (ACC) yachts. USA-66 will be shipped to Auckland, New Zealand next week for the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, which begins on October 1. Her sister yacht, Stars & Stripes USA-77 left for New Zealand Wednesday and will arrive in Auckland in approximately two weeks.

Four-time America's Cup winner and syndicate head Dennis Conner was onboard USA-66 today and at approximately 1:30PM, while heading back to the dock, Dennis noticed several youth Optimist sailors practicing near the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles. He sailed his signature navy blue sloop close to the fleet of much smaller (10-foot) boats and invited all of the kids to come aboard Stars & Stripes for a ride. "It's always a treat to bring young sailors aboard the Stars & Stripes," said Conner who let all of the kids drive his 80-foot yacht. "It's a great opportunity for them to learn about the America's Cup and who knows, maybe one day they'll be skippering their own America's Cup boat," he said with a grin. - Veronica Brown,

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* Saturday, August 3, 4:30PM - 5:00PM ET: OLN - The Road to Louis Vuitton Cup. Episode three features Larry Ellison - Billionaire head of Oracle and one of the American efforts. Then take a tour of the Viaduct Basin - home to the Challengers. And take a look at one way America's Cup yachts are transported to New Zealand. Finally examine the fine line between cutting edge technology and design chaos. And watch as young sailor experiences a chance of a lifetime, to crew an America's Cup yacht.

* Monday, August 5, 8:00PM - 8:30PM ET: OLN - The Road to Louis Vuitton Cup. Episode four features the multicultural world of America's Cup team - it's not a home team effort any more! Then take a look at the British entry and the technology behind their effort. Finally learn how teams work with the rule-makers and enforcers. And then get some tips on how to hold on to your keel - and other essential parts of your yacht.

* Monday, August 5, 11:00PM - 11:30PM ET: OLN - The Road to the Louis Vuitton Cup. Re-air Episode four

NEWPORT, RI - The OneWorld Challenge continued to dominate the Swedish Match Tour's UBS Challenge as helmsman James Spithill finished day two with a 3-0, record to finish Round Robin 1 undefeated in Group B while OneWorld Challenge boss Peter Gilmour directed his Pizza La match race team to a 3-1 record on the day to finish atop Groups A with an overall record of 6-1. Posting equally impressive records today were Paolo Cian of the Mascalzone Latino Challenge who registered four wins and Great Britain's Chris Law and his Team Outlaws who went 3-0. Local favorite Ken Read had a tough day on his home waters. After opening the regatta with a 3-0, record yesterday Read won his first match of the day but then dropped three in a row to Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen, Le Defi Areva's Luc Pillot and Gilmour. - Shawn McBride

Teams will complete the second Round Robin Friday before beginning the Semi-finals on Saturday and Pety«t Finals and Finals on Sunday. Competitors in the UBS Challenge Finals are match racing aboard J/105s

STANDINGS, Group A: 1. Peter Gilmour, AUS/Team Pizza La, 6-1; 2. Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane, 5-2; 3. Paolo Cian, Mascalzone Latino, 5-2; 4. Ken Read, Team Dennis Conner, 4-3; 5. Luc Pillot, Le Defi Areva, 3-4; 6. Mason Woodworth, USA, 2-5; 7. Jean-Claude Monnin, Alinghi Team, 2-5; 8. Ben Cesare, USA, 1-6.

Group B: 1. James Spithill, OneWorld Challenge, 7-0; 2. Chris Law, Great Britain/Team Outlaws, 5-2; 3. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto 4-3; 4. Andy Lovell, USA, 4-3; 5. Jesper Radich, Denmark, 3-4; 6. Gavin Brady, Prada Challenge, 3-4; 7. Dawn Riley, K-Challenge, 1-6; 8. Andy Green, GBR Challenge 1-6.

With moderate winds and a heavy sea, competitors of the Melges 24 World Championship set out to complete races seven and eight. Even with the sun in full view and warm temperature, crews still needed their foul weather gear to take on the spray and large waves. Provisional Results: 1. USA Harry Melges / Jeff Ecklund 14 points; 2. GBR Jamie Lea / Richard Thompson 49 points; 3. GBR Rob Smith / Stuart Simpson 55 points; 4. FRA Sebastien Col / Philippe Ligot 56 points; 5. FRA Bruno Jourdren 59.5 points. -

Jack Sutphen is 82 and still going strong. Last weekend he sailed the PC Nationals at the San Diego YC and put together a 1-1-1-1-3 series for a convincing seven point win. Crewing for Sutphen were Artie Means, Vic McQuaid, and Carl Hancock. Final results: 1. Menace, Jack Sutphen, 7; 2. Trade Wind, Blake Oversmith, 14; 3. La Cucaracha, Linley, Teepce, Kenny, 23; 4. Onion Truck Peter Pekham/Bud Caldwell, 26; 5. . Minx, Dick Stratton & Bennet Greenwald, 27.

Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Sarasota, Florida - Thursday evening standings after ten races with one throw-out: 1. Alex Bunt, 29; 2 JPN Wataru Komiya, 49; 3. Brian Kamilar, 50; 4. JPN Yuma Sakaue, 56; 5. Amanda Johnson, 71. Complete results:

* August 31-September 1: 23nd Annual Classic Yacht Regatta and Parade, The Museum of Yachting, Fort Adams State Park. Approximately 100 classic sailing vessels racing on Narragansett Bay.

* Jan. 20-24, 2003: Terra Nova Trading Key West Race Week, Premier Racing. Two consecutive years with more than 320 entrants suggest the 350-boat limit may need enforcing in 2003.

You're getting old when getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.