SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1139 - August 19, 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.
Seattle's OneWorld Challenge have been penalised one point by the America's Cup arbitration panel for possession of design drawings from three other teams, including defenders Team New Zealand. In an age of billionaire-backed syndicates, the panel felt a monetary fine as sanction in a year-long scandal was meaningless. How harmful the one-point penalty is will become evident when the Louis Vuitton challenger trials start on Oct 1.
The deduction will be made at the end of the pair of rounds-robin on Nov 1 when the field of nine is reduced to eight. At the very least it will affect the rankings and may pit OneWorld against a stronger rival as the trials move to a knockout format. If OneWorld's boats are fast, this should not trouble them, but if they are caught up in the pack, then it may be decisive and has been enough to eliminate the likes of Dennis Conner in previous years. - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, UK, full story: sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
The America's Cup has a long history of infighting, espionage, back-stabbing and dirty tricks. Cast in that light, according to the author and marine historian John Rousmaniere, the current contretemps are little more than business as usual. "It's a great story with some great characters," said Rousmaniere in a phone interview. "But sometimes it goes a little astray.
* With a combustible mix of endless and highly interpretive rules, ambitious players and skyrocketing budgets, Rousmaniere said he was not surprised that lawyers were playing a prominent role in the lead-up to the Cup. "When things get too technical and heated for the rest of us, that's when you hire lawyers," he said. "They serve as mediators. I think they have a place." - Herb McCormick, New York Times, full story: www.nytimes.com/2002/08/18/sports/othersports/18BOAT.html
(A story by Helen Tunnah in the NZ Herald included a list of the facts found by the America's Cup Arbitration Panel in the matter concerning the OneWorld Challenge America's Cup syndicate.)
Former Team NZ designer Laurie Davidson did not work for OneWorld before the end of his Team NZ contract in 2000.
Davidson did have Team NZ tank-testing photographs that were "briefly and casually" shown to other OneWorld crew.
He had Team NZ measurement certificates. The panel accepted he did not use them but they could have provided "vital measurements" of NZL57 and NZL60.
Former Team NZ employee Wayne Smith had carbon-fibre material certificates containing "significant design information" while at OneWorld. He said he did not refer to them or show them to anyone.
Former Team NZ designer Ian Mitchell copied a file when leaving the syndicate. He later produced "as an initial point of reference for discussion by a group of OneWorld designers and crew" a document representing the general deck layout of NZL60. He said the information was available in public photos.
OneWorld had Prada's sail design material from the last cup.
America True's boats were bought by OneWorld and their principal designer hired. Design drawings for America True were used during repairs to those boats.
Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
OneWorld Challenge chief executive Gary Wright told the (New Zealand) Herald he thought the one-point penalty imposed by the panel was severe enough, and more punishing than a monetary fine. "Every point counts. For most teams, fines are probably easier to pay than penalties. "We'll give it our best shot to be in the top four [but] we don't have expectations of just automatically being there. "That point could be the difference." - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
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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 Gregory Scott: Once again I write in relation to penalties applied to a pro sailing event. During the Volvo series issues arose that required arbitration and penalty. Each time the penalty seemed absurdly weak. This time, when the issue is similarly grievous although not an on water foul, the penalty seems pointless (pardon the pun).
It is hard to find no correlation to the time period spent considering the liability of the panel and the penalty finally assessed, when you also consider the volume of text written by senior yachting journalists on the implied severity of the infraction.
The America's Cup has in my mind moved outside the yachting protocols we in the non pro racing world govern ourselves by. This is not necessarily a bad thing; simply a new event to add to the F-1 and other pro racing events that are governed by money.
* From Eric Steinberg: The virtue of communicating by SSB is it's a "one to many" mode, meaning that when you shout into the mic you may be heard by many people at once. This is especially true during a race when particular frequencies are being monitored 24/7 by the race organizers and the distances of the transmissions are short (vessel to communications vessel and / or race HQ) where the vagaries of SSB become a non-issue. I have always regarded SSB as a safety device first and a way to chat or send email second.
Stating the obvious, a (sat) telephone is a "one to one" mode. If you get a busy signal at the number you dialed, you're SOL and must redial. If you have a 6" hole in your hull, the time it takes to look up a new phone # and redial may be significant. Dropping or damaging a handheld phone is also a concern in an emergency situation. The one upside to a handheld is if you can't plug the 6" hole, you can take the sat phone with you.
There is a place for sat phones (and data modems over SSB) that has been shunned by race committees for too long, use for Internet access of public information. One of the reasons in the past was it was very expensive and therefore an unfair advantage to well funded boats. This argument can now be set aside with sat systems available around $1400 and SSB email modems at $650.
* From Jim Nash: Shortly after my father acquired an ocean capable ( Thunderbird, 26' ) vessel, with a friend of his and a friend of mine, was a Crew Over Board drill. During a called tack, Dad handed me the helm, put his thumb over the top of his beer, and stepped over the side. We were able to get his 250+pounds aboard, only with his subtle assistance, a surprisingly difficult effort considering the flat water of Kane'ohe. Practice and SSB forever.
* From Steve DeGraff: Please keep covering all aspects of the Amercia's Cup. I eagerly await the latest news. In many cases, it's the only interesting news to read. It will get even better when the sailing starts ... and then watch the fur fly onshore after the racing. The events leading up to the cup are what make the cup interesting.
I for one, am not at all surprised by the non-racing shenanigans, for they have always existed with the Cup. Lord Dunraven would feel right at home with the current group of challengers. In all honesty, the activity of late is not that big a deal. Anyone remember Keelgate, or Spritgate.
* From James Callahan: As someone newer to the sport of sailing and a growing fan of the America's Cup competition, I want to say that I heartily approve of the coverage this event has been receiving in Scuttlebutt. My viewpoint is that the AC is not just a sailing event, but a much larger game that highlights not only sailing skill, but design, organization, training, fund-raising and budgeting skills as well as patriotic elements. Other events may contain these as well, but not apparently to the same degree as America's Cup. I'm even unwilling to say that sailing is the most important of the skills showcased in this competition. Some say "design", others "organization", some say "money" and so on.
Naturally when the "playing field" extends to off-water areas there must be rules covering those areas, too. Where there are rules, there are certain to be infringements, allegations, missteps and so forth. Errors or innovations can be made in any of the sectors mentioned above. It's all part of this game.
My point is that there are undeniably many elements to this very unique competition, all of them worthy of reporting and valuable to spectator enjoyment! Certainly the pros in the participating syndicates recognize this to be the case and rightfully refuse to ignore any aspect of the game which could impact performance.
If someone wants to feel that it is just about sailing, they can self-censor their reading to that segment alone, but don't limit my enjoyment of the total event!
* From David Gill, (about the AC): Putting all of the lawyer-ing, innuendo's, allegations, ranting & raving aside, it's good to see the spirit of competition is alive and well. Regardless of nationality and who is sailing for whom this is a competition between teams. At least no one is sending troops or suicide bombers into each other's camps.
* From Lloyd Causey: The Sailnet America's Poll is like many political polls in that it screams of the bias of the poll taker. I am not embarrassed about the America's Cup one bit and am enjoying all of the news. I wish I could be there.
US Sailing Team member Kimberly Birkenfeld (Miami, Fla./Myrtle Creek, Ore.), the number one ranked Women's Windsurfer on the 2002 US Sailing Team, remains in the intensive care unit of the hospital until the doctors have determined it is possible for her to be transported back to the U.S.
Birkenfeld was injured 8 August 2002 by a motorboat propeller in an accident that occurred while she was sailing, in Glyfada, Greece, in preparation for the Athens 2002 Regatta. She sustained two injuries: one to the base of her skull, where two bones were pushed in toward her brain by the propeller; and a severe leg laceration.
Birkenfeld underwent two surgeries immediately after the accident and it appears that there is no permanent injury.
The Greek Coast Guard is conducting an investigation into the accident, which will remain open until they have been able to obtain a statement from Birkenfeld. - Jonathan R. Harley
NOT THIS TIME
One of the world's classic sailing records slipped away from the crew of the maxi catamaran Orange early Sunday morning, as they found themselves becalmed three miles from the finish line off the Isle of Wight. Orange, co-skippered by Bruno Peyron (France) and Neal McDonald (UK) crossed the finish line of their Round Britain and Ireland record attempt Sunday morning at 0728, a little more than one hour short of the world record time set by Steve Fossett (5d 21h 5m) in 1994 on board the 60-foot trimaran Lakota.
When asked about his plans for the future Bruno said, "The most important thing for me is to continue our public awareness campaign to keep the public informed about big boats and racing. Everyone's been really enthusiastic and the suspense was intense. Very encouraging all round with the perspective of The Race 2004 ahead and the Giant multihull circuit which we are in the process of organizing for the coming years. "
"What now? I am staying in England for a few more days, then Orange will be heading back to the Mediterranean to continue her programme of record attempts, which include the Marseilles to Carthage and Round Corsica records."
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NAUTICA STAR WORLDS
George Szabo and crew Austin Sperry solved the weather riddles of Santa Monica Bay and made all the right moves to build an unbeatable lead in the first race of the Nautica 2002 Star Class World Championship Sunday, but their final opponent was time.
With light, shifty winds forcing the fleet of 105 boats to play beat the clock, the San Diego duo sailed across the finish line 3 minutes 21 seconds ahead of the 3 1/2-hour deadline for the 10 1/2 - mile race, while a bunch of big names behind them prayed they wouldn't. Szabo's finish made it an official race, leaving nine former world champions with finishes of 22nd or worst.
Runners-up Mark Mansfield and crew Killean Collins of Ireland were 2 minutes 53 seconds behind, followed by 1990 winner Torben Grael of Brazil. San Francisco's Paul Cayard, the '88 champion, was delighted with seventh place. - Rich Roberts
Results of race 1:
1. George Szabo/Austin Sperry, San Diego
2. Mark Mansfield/Killean Collins, Ireland
3. Torben Grael/Marcelo Ferreira, Brazil
4. Paul-Ambroise Sevestre/Vincent Berenguier, France
5. Reinhard Schmidt/Jochen Wolfram, Germany
6. Xavier Rohart/Yannick Adde, France
7. Paul Cayard/Hal Haenel, San Francisco
8. Dave Watt/Alex Dunn, Seattle
9. Philippe Presti/Jean Philippe Saliou, France
10. Gonzalo Araujo/Marcos Iglesias, Spain
North Cape Yacht Club, LaSalle, Michigan/Toledo, Ohio - Bill Healey with crew Tim Healey and JoAnne Jones won the 2002 Lightning North Amercans by 10 points with very consistent finishes. The predominantly medium to heavy breezes brought large shifts that made it hard to maintain good scores. David Starck with crew Joe Starck and Becky Starck scored races in the top 10 to finish a strong 2nd with 25 points. Dave Peck (27 pts), Ched Proctor (29) and Matt Fisher (32) rounded out the top 5 respectively in a very strong 117 boat fleet. - Skip Dieball
Complete results and photos: www.lightningclass.org
Cabrillo Beach YC, San Pedro, California - The tiger of Hurricane Gulch remained a pussy cat on Saturday. The 505 North American championship races started late because of lack of wind and only two races could be completed, leaving a regatta of only 10 races. Howard Hamlin and Mike Martin won the four-day event. This regatta marks a record-breaking 6 NA wins for Hamlin, and 5 NA wins for Mike Martin - the only person to win as both a skipper and crew. With husband Carl riding the wire, Carol Buchan from Seattle took second place in the event, just eight points behind the winners. Third place went to Dan Thompson and Andy Zinn. www.cbyc.org
SWEDISH MATCH TOUR
Skovshoved Harbour, DENMARK (August 18, 2002) - Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen and his Team Victory Lane defeated Sweden's Mattias Rahm and Team StoraEnso 2-1, in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire, three match final at the Danish Open 2002 to claim their first Swedish Match Tour victory. Their appearance in the Danish Open 2002 final was their second on the Swedish Match Tour.
Previously, Gram-Hansen and crew qualified for the finals of the this past March's Steinlager/Line 7 Cup in Auckland only to have the finals cancelled due to lack of wind and have the championship awarded to their opponent, Oracle BMW Racing's Peter Holmberg, on countback. As an added bonus, their win moves Gram-Hansen and his Victory Lane crew of Michael Arnlund, Rasmus Kostner, Christian Camp and Jens Dolmer to the top of the Swedish Match Tour 2002/2003 Rankings.
1.Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Victory Lane - US$7,950
2.Mattias Rahm, SWE/Team StoraEnso - US$5,295
3. Staffan Lindberg, FIN/Team Musto - US$3,972
4. Lars Nordbjaerg, DEN/Team Nordbjaerg - US$3,178
5. Henrick Jensen, Denmark - US$2,383
6. Jesper Radich, Denmark - US$1,588
7. Chris Law, GBR/"the Outlaws" - US$1,191
8. Bjorn Hansen, SWE/GOL Sailing - US$927
2002/2003 Swedish Match Tour Standings:
1. Jes Gram-Hansen, 43
2. Chris Law, 31
3. James Spithill, OneWorld Challenge, 31
4. Ed Baird, USA/Team Musto, 30
5. Jesper Radich, 28
6 .Mattias Rahm, 20
7. Lars Nordbjaerg, 18
8. Peter Gilmour, USA/Team Pizza La, 15
8. Staffan Lindberg, 15
ATHENS PRE-OLYMPIC REGATTA
Stormy weather conditions caused the third day of racing at the pre-Olympics test yachting event in Athens to be abandoned.
STANDINGS after four races:
470 MEN: 1. Marinho / Nunes, POR, 23pts
11. Hunt / Miller, USA, 63
23. Anderson-Mitterling / Biehl, USA, 81
1. Bekatorour, Sofia / Tsoulfa, Emilia, GRE, 24
14. Clark, Amanda / Mergenthaler, Sara, USA, 63
19. Provan, Jen / Girke, Nikola CAN, 70
1. Lantermans, Pieter /Nieuwenhuis, Pim, NED, 17
2. Mack, Andrew, USA 17
9. Fagen, David / Gulari, Bora, USA, 42
1. Ainsley, Ben GBR, 3;
15. Ewenson, Geoff, USA, 31
19. Hart, Mo, USA, 41
1. Kaklamanakis, Nikolaos GRE, 10
27. Stittle, Kevin, CAN, 95
35. Wells, Peter, USA, 136
1. Lee, Lai shan, HKG, 12
33. Vallee, Dominique, 126
34. Hall, Farrah, USA, 129
1. Backes, Olivier / Voiron, Laurent, FRA, 6
14. Daniel, Robert / Jacobsen, Eric, 26
22. Gluck, Lars / Farrar, Jonathan, USA, 44
1. Dennison, Melanie/ Aders, Caroline/ Herbert, Fiona, AUS, 17
2. Swett, Hannah/ Touchette, Joan/ Purdy Melissa, USA, 20
5. Cronin, Carol/ Epstein, Linda/ Filter, Elizabeth USA, 36
LIDO 14 NATIONALS
Thirty-one teams came together in Sequim WA for what proved to be a light-air Lido-14 Class Championships. Southern California Mark Gaudio sailing with John Papadopoulos won his second consecutive championship with a 15 point win over Bob Yates & Pat Kincaid. Eric & Alexa Kownacki finished in third place. www.lido14.org
The France Red team added fuel to the fire when they posted the best score in the Line 7 short inshore race without really having the need to compete on the final day of the Rolex Commodore's Cup. Their overall margin was 62.5 points clear of the Netherlands with another 34.74 points to the England Red Team.
Throughout the regatta, the France Red team has sailed confidently and with precision, led by former winner of the RORC's Yacht of the Year, Courrier Nord, an IMX-40, skippered by Gery Trentesaux. He was admirably backed by another IMX-40, Eric Fries' Fastwave 3 and the X-442, Clin d'Oeil of Jean-Yves le Goff.
Overall team points after nine race:
1. France Red, 171.75
2. Netherlands, 234.25
3. England Red, 269
4. Wales, 283.25
5. Commonwealth, 284.5
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Some minds are like concrete - thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.