SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1145 - August 27, 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.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, August 26 - Black Magic she may be, but tonight Team New Zealand kept its secrets closely guarded with the launch of their new boat. Shrouded from her deck down, and sporting an old rig, there was little to see of the boat as the America's Cup defenders took extraordinary measures to protect their secrets from prying eyes. And designer Clay Oliver admitted the skirts would be staying on if NZL81 heads to the Hauraki Gulf tomorrow for her first sail.
Lady Pippa Blake, widow of murdered former syndicate head Sir Peter Blake, tonight officially christened the first of Team NZ's two boats "New Zealand". "I name this boat New Zealand," Lady Pippa said. "May God bless her and all who sail on her." But even she had no idea what was under the bow to stern-length skirts.
Although most syndicates now hide their boats under skirts as they lift them in and out of the water, Team NZ's decision to keep their boats hidden on the tow out to the Gulf, dropping them only for actual sailing, is an extreme measure. Oliver said Team NZ had no choice but to be wary of spies. "There are two sides to it," he told the Herald. "We can say there is something specifically to conceal...or there may be nothing to conceal, it is a mystery. We'll just let that mystery float." - Julie Ash and Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
"Most of the challengers are falling in line with what the norm is ... pretty much the boat which won the America's Cup last time. The beams are a little different, the bows are a little different, but this group of boats is going to be quite close in performance. There is one group which is a little different and that is Oracle and we'll see what their ideas are when the challengers start racing. But for us, we will not know until February 15 if we have done our job." - Team New Zealand designer Clay Oliver: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
After spending two weeks hospitalized in Greece, US Sailing Team member Kimberly Birkenfeld (Miami, Fla./Myrtle Creek, Ore.), has been transported via air ambulance back to her native Oregon. Birkenfeld, the number one ranked Women's Windsurfer on the 2002 US Sailing Team, will continue her recovery at the Oregon Health and Science Hospital in Portland.
Birkenfeld was preparing for the Athens 2002 Regatta on August 8 when she sustained two injuries -- to the base of her skull, and a leg laceration -- from a motorboat propeller. The motorboat driver was instrumental in getting Birkenfeld to shore where she was quickly transported to the hospital. The accident remains under investigation by the Greek Coast Guard who will not issue a report until they have been able to obtain a statement from Birkenfeld.
"US Sailing will not comment further on the circumstances of the accident while this investigation remains open," said Olympic Sailing Committee Chairman Fred Hagedorn (Chicago, Ill.). "Until she is able to share her impressions of the accident, we hope our position complements the ideals of fair-play that Kimberly, herself, has always exhibited." Hagedorn, acting as a spokesman for Birkenfeld's family, stressed that they have no desire to take any attention away from Kimberly and her recovery.
"Recovery from a serious trauma, such as that which Kimberly has received, is a slow process. Kimberly has continued to improve over the past two weeks and remained stable throughout her transport by Critical Care International. She remains in the ICU and is now undergoing a full evaluation with the medical team at her new hospital."
Further updates on Birkenfeld's condition will be issued as her progress dictates. - Jan Harley
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* David Armitage has just joined Quantum Sails. A sail maker for 12 years, Armitage has been involved in the previous two America's Cups. 1994/95 with Team New Zealand as a sail maker/trimmer and 1999/2000 as sail coordinator/mainsail trimmer for America True. He has been the director of sail design and technology at Halsey Lidgard for the past 4 years. During this time he has designed sails for every type and size boat, from one-design dinghies to large maxi-cat and mega yacht sails. - www.quantumsails.com
* Photographer Rick Tomlinson has some awesome new images of the GBR Challenge's AC boats. Visit his website and click on the New GBR Challenge Gallery link: www.rick-tomlinson.com/
* SailNet has sold three operating units, Canvas, Cushions and Spars, to a group based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The remaining operations, order fulfillment, AirForce Sails, and Rigging will be relocated to a new facility located in North Charleston, South Carolina. In addition, SailNet will move the existing call center, customer service and corporate offices to the company's new facility in North Charleston by the first week of September, 2002. The new owners of the sold units, lead by former JSI employees Bill Wright and Ken Clark, plan to expand the OEM business and focus on the local Tampa/St. Petersburg retail market. www.sailnet.com
* Swedish Victory Challenge daily report: A day with gusts over 30 knots in Hauraki Gulf. So Victory Challenge has not been able to sail and continued instead with preparations on the base for the first two-boat sailing session with Örn (SWE 63) and Orm (SWE 73). - www.victorychallenge.com
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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 Tak Uchino (Regarding Jochen Schuemann's interview): While I am sure that the chance to start a new challenge was enticing for the Team New Zealand members who joined the Swiss Alinghi America's Cup syndicate, I am not convinced that it was a more powerful lure than the money.
In the summer of 2000, I got the chance to see Russell Coutts address a group of junior sailors. He was asked a variety of questions that were important to the juniors. Did he ever capsize? What type of pizza was his favorite? He was also asked by one junior why he joined the Swiss. After saying that he was expecting the hard questions later in the evening from the adults, he said the money was hard to pass up. I don't recall him mentioning "new challenges."
I think that it is important that we do not underestimate the role of money in the campaigns. The handicap sheet for this Cup is beginning to look a lot like the balance sheets of the campaigns.
(Following is an excerpt from a story by Laurie Nadel in the New York Times dealing with the upcoming annual meeting of a Stars & Stripes sponsor - the financially troubled Computer Associates.)
One budget item may go unremarked: the millions of dollars Computer Associates has committed to sponsorships in Formula One auto racing and America's Cup sailboat racing, the two most expensive sports in the world. The company is in the sixth year of its sponsorship of the British-based McLaren Formula One team, which has finished second in the last three world constructors' championships and won the drivers' championship in 1999. And C.A. is the principal sponsor of the latest America's Cup campaign by Dennis Conner, a four-time winner of yachting's biggest prize and also the only American to lose it.
Rita O'Brien, a Computer Associates spokeswoman, declined to give specifics on the company's spending on sponsorships, but Bill Trenkle, one of the skippers of the Conner campaign, confirmed that it was getting $10 million from C.A. Andrew Klein, president of Revolution Marketing in Manhattan, estimated C.A.'s sponsorship of McLaren at between $5 million and $7 million a year.
In exchange for all this money, Computer Associates has its corporate logo displayed prominently on Team McLaren's two cars and Mr. Conner's two boats, both called Stars and Stripes. The Long Island company also pitches in with software programs, and so can claim to have more than a passive role in these two ventures at the pinnacle of engineering and competition. ''It's a highly visible venue to build brand awareness,'' said Ken Fitzpatrick, Computer Associates' marketing director.
Kurt Hunzeker is director of business development for Team Marketing Report, a sports marketing industry publication based in Chicago. ''Sponsoring Stars and Stripes and a Formula One car is a better long-term media strategy than a Super Bowl ad, where you have 30 seconds to say everything about yourself,'' he said. ''They are looking for international exposure,'' he said of Computer Associates, noting that Formula One is one of the bigger sports in Europe, South America and Asia.
''In terms of demographics, it's a higher-end audience than car racing is here,'' Mr. Hunzeker said. ''The C.E.O.'s, company presidents, vice presidents and directors who watch Formula One and America's Cup racing are the people who make the choices about who their technology partners will be.'' - Laurie Nadel, Sunday's New York Times www.nytimes.com
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Complete with medal ceremony and closing party, the conclusion of the first official test event in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games brought mixed emotions to many at the Aghios Kosmas Sailing Centre in Greece last Friday night. With organizers allowing multiple entries per country (unlike the actual Olympic Games which permits only one boat per class per country), this event was the closest many sailors will get to having an Olympic moment. Two weeks of intense competition notwithstanding, the sailors enjoyed the novelty of being the first in any sport to preview the 2004 Olympic venues of Athens.
The temporary venue, judged by several Olympic veterans to be first-rate, offered shade outdoors in addition to air-conditioned tents where competitors could escape the notorious August heat. Obviously bearing in mind that many hands make light work, the numerous volunteers handled shoreside duties smoothly and efficiently. One thing the Greek organizers could not control, however, was the weather. Early in the event a violent mid-afternoon storm resulted in the cancellation of racing for the day. And with several days of racing remaining, the wind became notably absent, forcing both competitors and race officials to endure frustrating postponements. As Greek organizers are committed to holding a test event in every sport under conditions similar to those expected during the Games, sailors will be the only athletes to have a second test event Ð in August of 2003 Ð due to the varied conditions on the field of play.
Of the 40 countries represented at the Athens 2002 Regatta, the U.S.A., with 43 athletes, had the largest contingent racing in the eight classes (ten events). Several members of the U.S. team used this event to try new equipment and tactics, while competitors in the Laser and Tornado classes worked to prepare for their upcoming world championships.
EUROPE: In the nine-boat Europe fleet, Lauren Bernsen (Coronado, Calif.) and Tanya Haddad (Portland, Ore.) finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
FINN: Sailing in a fleet of 31 Finns, Mo Hart (S. Portland, Me./Santa Cruz, Calif.) finished 14th overall. Geoff Ewenson (Annapolis, Md./Newport, R.I) was 25th.
470 MEN: In the 36-boat 470 Men's fleet, Steve Hunt (Hampton, Va.) and Michael Miller (Charleston, S.C.) finished 26th overall. Mikee Anderson-Mitterling and Graham Biehl (both San Diego, Calif.) were 29th, while Stu McNay (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) and Ross Anderson (Preston, Conn.) were 35th.
470 WOMEN: Katie McDowell (Barrington, R.I.) and Isabelle Kinsolving (New York, N.Y.) finished 20th overall in the 470 Women's 31-boat fleet. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sara Mergenthaler (Colts Neck, N.J.) were 25th, and Courtenay Dey (The Dalles, Ore./Rye, N.Y.) and Linda Wennerstrom (Miami, Fla.) were 28th.
49ER: Sailing a 16-race series in the 38-boat 49er fleet, Andy Mack (Seattle, Wash.) and Adam Lowry (San Francisco, Calif.) finished 16th overall. David Fagen (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Bora Gulari (Detroit, Mich.) placed 23rd. Dalton Bergan (Seattle, Wash.) and Zack Maxam (San Diego, Calif.) were 29th.
LASER: Sailing in the 51-boat fleet replete with several Olympians and world champions, 2002 ISAF Youth World Singlehanded Sailing Champion Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.) finished 9th overall. Brett Davis (Largo, Fla.) was 23rd, and Andrew Lewis (Honolulu, Hawaii) was 34th.
BOARDS: Sailors in the board events counted 10 races for the series after lack of wind on the final day of racing kept them off the race course. Peter Wells (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Ben Barger (St. Petersburg, Fla.) finished 25th and 31st, respectively, in the 42-board Mistral Men's fleet. Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) finished 34th out of 34 boards in the Mistral Women's fleet.
TORNADO: Winning the final race of their 11-race series, Robbie Daniel (Clearwater, Fla.) and Eric Jacobsen (Annapolis, Md.) placed 10th overall in the 29-boat Tornado fleet. Stan Schreyer (Newport, R.I.) and Forbes Durdin (Houston, Texas) finished 23rd overall. Lars Guck (Bristol, R.I.) and Jonathan Farrar (Miami, Fla.) finished 25th.
YNGLING: With a show of strength, the American teams claimed three of the top-six spots in the 23-boat Yngling fleet. Winning two of the 11-races in their series earned Hannah Swett (Jamestown, R.I./New York, N.Y.), Joan Touchette (Newport, R.I.) and Melissa Purdy (Tiburon, Calif.) the silver medal. Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), Lee Icyda (Stuart, Fla.) and Suzy Leech (Avon, Conn./Annapolis, Md.) battled back from the mid-fleet position they held through much of the event to place fourth. Carol Cronin (Jamestown, R.I.), Linda Epstein (Arlington, Mass.) and Liz Filter (Stevensville, Md.) claimed sixth place overall.
The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad will be held August 13-29, 2004, in Athens, Greece. - Jan Harley, Event website: www.athens.olympic.org
JET 14 NATIONALS
The Jet-14 Class just completed its 50th Anniversary Nationals at the place of the boat's original design and first sail -- the Island Heights Yacht Club in Island Heights, New Jersey. Commemorative events drew Jet alumni from around the country. Past National Champions Ed Barbehenn won the Alumni race sailed on Friday: his son Brent Barbehenn won the overall championship with six bullets in 8 races.
Complete results (40 boats): www.ihyc.com/2002Jet14NationalResults.htm
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* August 31 - September 1: Sailing World National Offshore One-Design (NOOD) Regatta, St. Francis YC, San Francisco, California. Some 120 boats will compete in nine one-design classes: 1D35, Express 27, Farr 40, J/105, J/120, J/24, J/35, J/80 and Melges 24. www.sailingworld.com
* September 2-7: International 18-Foot Skiff Regatta, St. Francis YC. This regatta marks the newest destination and final leg of the 18-Foot Skiff world circuit. - www.stfyc.com
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
In Paris, do people just ask for toast and get French toast or do they need to ask for American toast?