SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1135 - August 13, 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 brief excerpts from an editorial in the New Zealand Herald.)
In less than two months the international campaign to remove the America's Cup from New Zealand begins on the Hauraki Gulf. One of nine syndicates from six nations will eventually seek to deflower a Team New Zealand weakened by the loss of Sir Peter Blake, wholesale defections to other syndicates and relative financial fragility.
Last week Team New Zealand passed one of the milestones in any campaign with the public but highly secretive transporting of its first race yacht to the syndicate base. It was typically unrevealing and uninspiring but it does serve as a marker.
As all the American, Swiss, Italian, French, English and Swedish players shape up for the October to January challenger series, the black team, which was not long ago on its knees, is moving steadily towards the sharp end of destiny. The skipper Dean Barker has reinforced his sailing credentials on the match racing circuit.
The defender is about to launch a Saatchi & Saatchi advertising campaign on the theme of "loyalty" - which should not be a difficult concept to push given the presence of Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, Craig Monk and Laurie Davidson in other camps. The support will be there, more tangibly than in past years given the public's raw feelings of treachery and Team New Zealand's unfamiliar status of underdog.
One unknown, though, is the financial strength of the New Zealand camp. In a field where $100 million budgets are de rigueur the worry must be that this country's investment might not match those with deep pockets and special "insight" into designs which put New Zealand ahead in past contests.
Even if the America's Cup is not your cup of Steinlager, this regatta will be one to savour. It is not, from a New Zealand point of view, about the moneymen or the corporate spoils. It is a real defence of loyalty, kinship and honour.
Full editorial: www.nzherald.co.nz
TEAM NEW ZEALAND
Team New Zealand have been given confidential boat drawings belonging to bitter America's Cup rival OneWorld Challenge as a long-running wrangle over design secrets gets murkier. The design package was handed over with two original Team New Zealand designs that were given back to the cup-holders last week.
Team New Zealand was given the OneWorld designs, and two original copies of designs for their 2000 boats NZL57 and NZL60, by OneWorld former operations manager Sean Reeves. He has worked for the New Zealanders in the past, but left soon after the last cup to set up the rival United States syndicate, taking with him key Team NZ crew, including designer Laurie Davidson.
Mr Reeves handed over the two design packages last week, along with a sworn affidavit outlining where he got them. Team NZ would not reveal what was in the affidavit. But yesterday they publicly displayed a small part of the returned documents, which clearly show they are detailed NZL57 deck and hull plans. They have held on to their own designs, but yesterday gave OneWorld's material, which was in sealed packages, unopened to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel.
The actions of Mr Reeves, who is embroiled in a bitter court dispute with OneWorld, have infuriated the Seattle syndicate. They deny ever having seen the two Team New Zealand documents and have demanded their own design package back. Chief executive Gary Wright said the syndicate would also ask the FBI to investigate Mr Reeves for contempt of court. - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald.
There's much more to this story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
RACES ARE WON BY COMFORTABLE CREWS
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Recent overboard incidents in ocean racing have inspired the Transpacific Yacht Club's board of directors to expand its safety regulations by adding a mandatory pre-race man-overboard drill. Each crew in the 42nd running of next July's race from Los Angeles to Honolulu must certify that it has conducted such a drill, following guidelines in the Offshore Special Regulations of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). There will be no need to draw lots or ask for volunteers. The normal procedure for a drill is to drop a floatable item, such as a float cushion, fender or life ring with a drogue, and recover it within a reasonable period of time.
After receiving mixed reviews of a change to two mandatory daily position reports for the 2001 Transpac, the directors voted to return to the former system of one---a move sure to be hailed by the tactically aggressive competitors. Because all boats monitor the race radio frequency, navigators sometimes will call for a course change soon after roll call to slip away from rivals. The twice-daily rule limited the strength of that tactic. As before, the single report will be in the morning roll call by the communications vessel. At the same time, it was voted to increase the penalty for reporting a false position from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
The directors also voted to expand the freedom of racers to access weather information from public Web sites. - Rich Roberts, www.transpacificyc.org
* The entire text of the OneWorld Syndicate's public statement is now posted at www.scuttlebutteurope.com/oneworld.php
* There are now seven competitors in both Class I (60') and Class II (40' & 50') of the Around Alone Race. The Venturer Class has been withdrawn with the official retirement of George Stricker, after he turned back from his qualifier with unsurmountable problems with the boat. - www.aroundalone.com
* The Organizers of the Antarctica Cup International Yacht Race 2004 after consulting with the yacht design and build team have announced extensions to the closing dates for receipt of Race Slot Reservation Forms. A change in dates has also been made for the latest date for completing Race Participation & Yacht Ownership Agreements , necessary to allow participation in the Race (see Section L of Notice of Race). The revised closing date for receipt of Race Slot Reservation Forms is now Thursday 31 October 2002. - ISAF website. Event website: www.antarcticacup.com
* At 08:10:13 GMT Monday morning Bruno Peyron's maxi catamaran Orange set off on her attempt to break the record for sailing non-stop around the British Isles. The time to beat is 5 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes and 27 seconds, the existing record set in 1994 by Mr Sailing Records himself, Steve Fossett. In theory Orange should romp it. The current record was set by Fossett on his 60ft trimaran Lakota and at 110ft Orange has a distinct waterline length advantage that should allow her to demolish the record. - James Boyd, madforsailing website, www.madforsailing.com
* The first five nations to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Regatta in the Star Class will be decided next week at the Nautor Star World Championships at the California YC in Marina del Rey, California, USA from 19-25 August 2002. The preliminary entry list stands at 114 teams from 26 countries so far, including all the top 20 ranked crews in the class. It is an impressive list, with many veterans of the class hoping to add more medals to their collections. www.starworlds2002.com
* David Wright won the U.S. Singlehanded Championship for the O'Day Trophy sailed at Michigan's Crescent Sail Yacht Club. Andrew Campbell took second place with Chris Raab in third. www.ussailing.org/championships/Oday/2002/Results.htm
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.com)
(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 Enrico Alfredo Ferrari: I am a Seattle sailor and am rooting for OneWorld for a couple of reasons but if they win are we going to watch boats drift on Puget Sound or are we going to have demolition derbies off the coast of Washington or ?? My best guess for the most exciting racing with winds of 20-30 and some rollers and chop would be racing in the Straits of Juan de Fuca out of Port Angeles, a two hour drive from Seattle.
Certainly the Seattle basin would have lots of spaces that would like to be developed for the AC carnival but if the racing were held near the main population centers we would have relatively flat water racing that would typically have winds 10-15 in the winter (our racing season) and 0-5 in the summer.
Seattle has a very extensive yacht support system and the population is boat oriented so it would be a positive boat atmosphere but the boats that would win here would look a lot different than those racing in Kiwi land.
* From Peter McColl: Just as the Americas Cup has limitations on the number of hulls, sails, crew composition etc why can not we put a limit of the dollars that can be spent on Lawyers. As a contributor to the Cup Campaign I would be much happier to know that all of my money was spent for where it was intended. The race course - not in the pocket of some Ambulance Chaser.
* From Dinny White (Regarding all the subterfuge and secret activity of the America's Cup): Perhaps the event should be aired daily on our daytime network television as competition for "As the World Turns" and "All the Days of Our Lives". The resulting ad revenue and possible syndication rights would funds the future events many times over!
* From Rich Jones: Some of the people involved with The America's Cup shame us all. If sailors, they are hard to recognize. If they have principles, such attributes are well hidden. And it seems these people did not earn the right to be called professional the old-fashion way. They, and their ilk in other sports, take the class out of world-class events.
I am a sailor and proud of it. I'm an amateur with above average skills, but not by much. And like EVERY sailor I race with and against, I respect and am protective of the image of our sport. I think if someone were to take a poll of us amateurs, the results would show that the things we care about most are (1) our crews, (2) our boats, (3) our safety, (4) the rules, (5) the water, (6) the air, and (7) looking cool. I believe this represents the true character of sailing. I hope I'm right, because I think I've gotten other people hooked on sailing by promoting these as the cardinal traits of our sport.
(Stars & Stripes navigator Peter Isler has a story posted on the OLN website about the training at the Team Dennis Conner America's Cup base in Los Angeles. It's a long story, and well worth reading. Here are two brief excerpts to whet your appetite.)
Although the boats have changed (and gotten faster!) over the last seven months, the daily routine as remained very similar. This training phase of a Cup campaign does not have all the fanfare and glamour of the racing phase (which commences October 1 in Auckland). It's all about maximizing the use of limited time, learning about and optimizing our boats, spars, sails and teamwork in preparation for the racing. It entails long hours, on and off the water, and a staid and unvarying lifestyle that might look attractive from the outside, but eventually borders on drudgery. The movie "Groundhog Day" - where Bill Murray repeats the same day - over and over and over, has come to mind more than once.
* Upon arriving at the dock, the crew breaks up again into its various areas of responsibilities... unloading the boat and support boats of a large arsenal of sails is a big task. I unplug my computers, review any problems with our electronics' support team, and then head up to the office with my waterproof computer (its a laptop made by Itronix, and it is definitely waterproof!) and bag of foul weather gear and begin preparing for our "testing meeting". In that meeting, which is attended by the afterguard and sail trimmers (and anyone else on the crew who can escape from their shore job) we review what learned during the days testing - making postulates and designing follow up tests.
We also discuss sail shape and sail trim ideas and generally stare at a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper and trying to wring as much as possible out of the data. This meeting might never end, if not for Mick Harvey, the head of team operations. He generally knocks on the door and says "Everyone's gone, you guys are the last one's here". Finally we break up the meeting and walk out into a virtually empty America's Cup compound. Everyone has headed home to a shower, his bed to get ready to do it again. - Peter Isler, OLN website, full story: www.olntv.com/__1774.cfm
FRONT ROW SEATS
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The super rich are about to converge on Auckland, bringing their super yachts and opulent lifestyles within gawping distance of anyone who wants to stare and dream. Floating mansions, with their spa poos, baby-grand pianos and marble bathrooms, will start arriving in numbers next month to watch the challenger series, being sponsored by the luxury French luggage company, Louis Vuitton. By Christmas, all 94 berths at the Viaduct Harbour will be dripping with the big toys of some of the wealthiest people on earth. People such as Oracle Software mogul Larry Ellison, who is bankrolling his own challenge and whose 75m two-storey boat, Katana, has spent the best part of this year tied up in the harbour. Missing, however, will be two of only three giant 1930s-vintage J-class yachts still sailing.
Grant Davidson, of America's Cup Village Ltd, said the challenger series was attracting power boats. Last time it was big yachts. But overall, more boats were coming and they were getting bigger. In 2000, the average length was 36m. This year, the average length was 40m. The scramble for space has led to the construction of a new, 14-berth marina immediately outside the western entrance to the harbour. It will be home for the biggest vessels of up to 70m. The last America's Cup generated about $118 million in business from super yachts and $127 million in the marine industry.
Americans Bob Billingham and Tom Ehman, both of whom were with AmericaOne at the last regatta, are behind a VIP hospitality centre called The Base Club. The club, with seven corporate suites, is being built on stilts at the Halsey St entrance to the harbour so it will not stop the public getting a close-up view of the yachts leaving and returning from racing. The Americans are selling all-day packages, including a boat ride to watch the racing, from NZ$495 to NZ$1495 for the cup defense, which starts on February 15. - Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz
North Cape Yacht Club LaSalle, MI/Toledo, OH - With light and shifty breezes, Jody Swanson (Buffalo, NY) with crew Skip Dieball and Tom Starck won both of their qualifying races and hold a two point lead over Matt Burridge (St. Louis, MO) and George Fisher (Columbus, OH). The 117-boat fleet will complete four round-robin qualifying races before the fleet is split into three divisions for the Championship. Past Champions competing include Tom Allen, Bruce Goldsmith, Jim Crane, Larry MacDonald, Ched Proctor, Matt Fisher, Brian Taboda, Tito Gonzales.
Complete results: www.lightningclass.net/2002nas/Results.htm
ROLEX COMMODORE'S CUP
Cowes, Isle of Wight - On what must have been one of the best days for yacht racing this year, with 12-15 knot north-westerly breezes and a sky clearing progressively of clouds, the 33-boat fleet of Rolex Commodore's Cup began stylishly in the Eastern Solent.
The French Red team of Gery Trentesaux (/X442) Jean-Yves Le Goff (IMX 40) and Eric Fries (IMX 40) leads 27.25, points followed by Commonwealth, Peter Harrison (Farr 52) Nick Harrison & Robert Greenhalgh (Ker 11.3) and Tony Clarke (Ker 11.3) with 28.5 points and Ireland Orange with 33.75. - www.rorc.org
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* August 23-25 - Vanguard 15 Nationals, Treasure Island Sailing Center , St Francis YC, San Francisco, CA. V15 - www.v15.org
* August 30-September 1 - 29er Nationals, Richmond YC, San Francisco, CA. www.richmondyc.org/racing/nor/29byte/29byte.html
* October 7-12: J22 World Championship; Corpus Christi YC; Corpus Christi, Texas; regattasites.com
* October 30-November 3: Rolex Osprey Cup St. Petersburg Yacht Club, St. Petersburg, Florida. Women's Grade 1 match racing event. Request for invitation attached to NOR at: www.spyc.org/Womens/OspreyCup/2002/OSPREYHOME.html
THE CURMUDGEON'S OXYMORON