SCUTTLEBUTTNo. 1001 - February 6, 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.
As the international America's Cup-regatta starts on Monday there is no doubt what will catch several curious eyes: Örn, the Swedish Victory Challenge-syndicate's newly built boat. It is the first time that a boat built for the next America's Cup, which starts with Louis Vuitton Cup on October 1st, will participate in a competition.
"We wish to compare, to collect experiences and see where we are standing and which weaknesses we have" says the project manager Mats Johansson, who himself will be tactician during the regatta. "Besides, Örn is for us a prototype for the next boat, which we will start building later on during this quarter of a year."
Helmsman will be the Dane Jesper Bank, twice gold medallist in the Olympic Games with Soling, latest in Sydney 2000. Soling is sailed both with fleet racing and match racing.
Team New Zealand will once again use the winner boat NZL 60 at the regatta. Dean Barker, the team's new star skipper, steers the boat at the regatta, just as he did at the training against Jesper Bank and Örn latest.
This is a definitive change from the traditions of America's Cup. The challengers normally wish to be as far away from the Defender of the world's oldest sailing trophy, this time Team New Zealand, that won the America's Cup both in 1995 and in 2000. Normally all the challengers wish to conceal their design secrets from the Defender - everything is supposed to be kept secret until the America's Cup-final, as the winning challenger of Louis Vuitton Cup meets the latest America's Cup-winner. That is why several of the challengers have turned down the invitation to participate in the international regatta that Team New Zealand has invited them to, but not Victory Challenge, the American OneWorld and the British GBR Challenge.
* GBR Challenge has announced that they will use the previous JPN 52, which with great success was sailed by the Japanese Nippon-syndicate in the three round robin-races at the latest Louis Vuitton Cup. OneWorld has not announced which one of their two training boats they will use - USA 51 (formerly America True) or USA 55 (formerly Stars & Stripes). - Victory Challenge website, www.victorychallenge.com
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
* News Corp has hit a growler, while sailing at 21 knots of boat speed Tuesday morning. The crew immediately dived below decks to make sure that the yacht was safe and that they were not taking on any water. Fortunately, the boat appeared to be sound and the crew were all safe and well. Since that time, however, the boat has had to make a course away from the favored route in the south, to sail downwind in order to effect immediate repairs to their rig which was damaged at the time of the collision, along with some sails. - www.yachting-world.com
* Last night Amer Sports One also came close to disaster as they lost control of their overpowered yacht when charging towards two large icebergs right in front of them. When the yacht wiped out, they shredded the storm spinnaker. After re-righting the boat, Roger Nilson navigated them through a gap between the two bergs. This has given Tyco the opportunity to slip into second place. The yachts are still extremely far from land, beyond any outside help. Cape Horn lies 1450 miles ahead.
With strong wind coming up from behind the whole fleet gained some miles on the leading yacht, illbruck. SEB and Assa Abloy are still at 60 South in very cold conditions.
Team News Corp appears to have completed repairs. Back in full racing mode they achieved the highest average over the last six hours.
Positions on February 6 at 0400 GMT:
1. illbruck 3701 miles to finish
2. Team Tyco, 55 miles behind leader
3. Amer Sports One, 56 mbl
4. Assa Abloy, 104 mbl
5. djuice 127 mbl
6. Team SEB, 190 mbl
7. News Corp, 191 mbl
8. Amer Sports Too, 390 mbl
With News Corp hitting a growler down near Antarctica, it's likely that Volvo Ocean race management in Southampton are holding their collective breaths right now. Judging by messages coming from the Volvo fleet, it seems this will be the last Volvo Round the World race to place the fleet so far south in the approach to Cape Horn. Just as an island gate off the West Australian coast kept the fleet close enough for rescue, we expect to see the fleet further north off the South American coast, then sliding down to Cape Horn next race. - Rob Kothe, Sail-World website, www.sail-world.com
THE KEELS WERE DIFFERENT BUT THE CLOTH WAS THE SAME
In 1983 Australia II won the Americas Cup with a revolutionary keel that was very different to Liberties, but both boats used the same sailcloth technology from Bainbridge. 18 years later and we are still at the forefront of Sailcloth technology with products such as AIRX spinnaker fabric and DIAX-Carbon laminates, and for the Americas Cup jubilee regatta Australia II again chose Bainbridge. More Information at www.sailcloth.com
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
* "I have never seen so many icebergs, small and big just everywhere. We have constant radar watch to avoid collisions and a couple of hours age we saw an iceberg big as Isle of Wight in Britain." - Gurra Krantz, Team SEB.
* "I am bloody worried. This is dangerous ... there are icebergs everywhere. There are growlers floating nowhere near the bergs. We hit a small berg whilst doing 21 knots. I was steering and all I felt was a loud crash on the hull and then the rudder. The guys below then rushed into the bow and checked the interior but we appeared to be ok. We have had a shocking day, broken sails, battens, halyards. The boat's a shambles, sails everywhere downstairs and the guys are sleeping in their survival suits. We are sleeping with our feet forward - if we hit something you don't damage yourself too much. A normal life looks very attractive at the moment. There will be amazing stories when we all get into to Rio. This is sport in the extreme." - Ross Field, News Corp.
* "While hoisting the jib the boat took off down a wave at 25 knots. A solid wall of water washed over the deck as the bow dug in. The jib and three of the crew ended back beyond the shrouds tangled with each other and the lifelines. Nipper [Guy Salter] took a knock to the head and has received stitches above the eye, nice fix up job by Jan [Dekker]. Brad Jackson has a badly bruised nose, hopefully not broken. We are constantly hitting speeds of over 27 knots and it feels like we are on a runaway train." - Kevin Shoebridge, Team Tyco.
* "I am not looking forward to the night - I know it won't be much sleep at all for anyone onboard. If it gets any worse than now (right now we have 44 knots of breeze) with even more ice, we will slow down a touch. We need to be able to make quick turns in case something appears in front of us," Knut Frostad, djuice.
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(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 David Palmer: Just to put the Record Straight (extract from Herb McCormick's article), the Jules Verne Trophy was not invented by Bruno Peyron, but was dreamed up by another French yachtsman, Yves Le Cornec in 1985, the idea being to try and girdle the globe faster than the legendary Philieas Fogg, i.e. in under 80 days, but it wasn't until 1992 that an association was formed under the impulse of Titouan Lamazou (winner of the first Vendee Globe) and yachtswoman Florence Arthaud (a former winner of the Route du Rhum), the "Tours du Monde en 80 jours" association, and the actual trophy created.
Bruno Peyron was, as Herb McCormick rightly says, the first winner of the Trophy, which inspired him to invent The Race.
* From Reynald Neron (Answering Manfred C. Schreiber comments regarding the sail number 69 of Le Defi): As a frog myself, I would like to point out to your readers that the "French Kiss" and the "69" are 2 very different concepts. (I could go into details but I believe the Curmudgeon would censor me!) Anyhow, I agree that the idea is very representative of the French spirit: Professional... and cheeky!
While singlehanded offshore racers are winning awards, inspiring future generations of sportsmen and women and generally behaving like the forefront of our sport, remarkably it still has next to no support from the yachting establishment in the UK. If you are a youth sailor, inspired to become the next Ellen MacArthur, there is the chance to get training and funding to go to the Olympics, but not to set you on the road to the Vendee Globe.
The reason for this reluctance is down to a long held belief that singlehanded offshore sailing is illegal. Under the International Maritime Organisation's International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (1972) rule 5 states: 'Lookout: Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.' - Ed Gorman, Madforsailing website, Full story: www.madforsailing.com
Not much is truly custom made anymore - but Ockam Instruments has quietly provided custom products since the early 1980s. A few examples from our "099 Custom " series: Depth Below Keel that changes with centerboard height, Yanmar engine RPM, oil and water warnings on Ockam displays (great if your engine panel is below decks as found on a number of race boats), Enemy tracking by laser gun or radar screen "pinging", dual depth sounders (fore and aft for BIG boats), weather boat systems, race committee boat systems, and more. To discuss your custom application email Tom Davis (email@example.com).
JUST A WALK IN THE PARK
(During the last few days we've published lots of e-mail messages emanating from the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. However, as I read the e-mail comments Paul Cayard sends from Amer Sports One, it becomes more and more obvious he is having the time of his life. Following are just a few examples from his Tuesday's e-mail.)
* Another great memory: 0300 local, sunrise, light snow falling, partly cloudy skies, clouds illuminated pink, large iceberg eight miles to leeward glistening ice blue in the light, boat speed 17 knots, direction: the corn [Cape Horn]. This is what I came here for.
* Last night we pulled the mainsail down. Phil Airey, our onboard sail maker did a great job leading the repair, a task executed by six guys. Roger calculated that we only lost 1.5 miles doing it with the spinnaker ands staysail up all the while. As soon as it was fully hoisted we were back on our bike at 100%. You learn to appreciate 100% down here.
* Just pulled off a gybe in 35 true [wind speed]. That is all hands for two hours to get fully squared away on the new board. Kite down, unstack, gybe, new kite up, stack, repack the old kite.
* What an awesome ride this is. I drove for two-hour stints this morning and did more quality sailing in those four hours than I often do in a year. When we were kids at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, we used to sail our Lasers just outside the Golden Gate Bridge on ebb tide summer afternoons. There we could go downwind for hours, practicing our gybes in 25 knots [of wind]. With a 4-knot ebb, you usually never really needed to sail upwind to get another ride going. This is a bigger version of that and it is just as much fun. 3000 miles of hauling ass. Sorry for the language but that is the best way to describe it.
* As we surf down the waves we plough into the one in front and two feet of water come down the deck at 25 knots. Everything is tethered forward so it can't be swept into the wheels and break them. Inside it feels like we are hitting something constantly but it is just the bow hitting water at high speed.
* I have never seen so many iceberg sightings reported in 30 hours of this race. I don't have the official tally (the race office does for sure) but it seems like 100 would be a lowball number. Roger [Nilson] is sitting next to me, writing a report to the race office to advise the other competitors. He's laughing at me writing this to you saying I am like Hemmingway who wrote while he was at war with bullets flying around his head. He says Hemmingway had a cigar and Whiskey. I am a bit short on that stuff right now but I will make up for that when I get home. - Paul Cayard, Amer Sports One, www.nautorchallenge.com
(Roger Nilson, Cayard's teammate on Amer Sports One, also seems to be having a ball, and his e-mail messages certainly exude enthusiasm.)
Earlier today we blew out our Code 3 kite - $US40,000 worth of sailcloth flogging to pieces like Tibetan prayer flags in an Himalayan gale. When we pulled the sail down, the air was filled with small sharp chunks of icy snow as the temp was around zero Celcius. Water just above freezing creates a harsh environment on deck but also below. Grant says he has never been as cold, with feet and fingers numb and full of pain. We certainly live in a raw atmosphere but we love the sailing down here.
As we passed the iceberg and the Swede Fredrick Loof was helming, having a great time planing at 26 knots in 30 knots plus of breeze. I saw a small icebit from where I standing on the stack of sails at the mast. The bit was just barely visible on the surface and seemed big as a Fiat 500. Not good to hit it in darkness.
The boats south of us, specially SEB and djuice, seems to be zig-zagging between countless icebergs, growlers and ice bits. Sailing in gale conditions with this amount of ice around is a bit like playing Russian Roulette with good odds. The risk of hitting one is always there and it's not possible to control. All boats are using radar but only the big icebergs show up. We have a night scope capable of picking up light from small pieces of frozen water, but so far we have had no reason to use it. If we come close to ice at night, then it will become handy. The good news is that the nights down here are very short, similar to the Scandinavian summer. But certainly colder.
Sleeping conditions are acceptable as most sleeping bags are damp but not wet. They are covered in a big Goretex sock to keep the moisture out. Inside the boat humidity is 100% humid and steam formed as we breathe. not pleasant to undress. And the seawater is a bit cold even for brushing one's teeth. Still life works well between the 12 of us and so far I have not heard anybody complaining about anything or anybody. I know, that after rounding the Horn, we will all feel relieved but also miss this most spectacular ocean on the planet. - Roger Nilson, Amer Sports One, www.nautorchallenge.com
Dawn Riley has been named the 'Sailor of the Year' by the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. Riley was Rolex's 1999 Yachtswoman of the Year, is the CEO and Captain of the America's Cup sailing team, America True. She is the only American, man or woman, to sail in three America's Cup and two Whitbread Round the World races. She is also a champion match racer and devotes many hours to youth sailing outreach programs. www.sailingcenter.org
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* February 16-24: 46th Annual New England Boat Show, Bayside Exposition Center, Boston, MA. Over 600 boats and every conceivable accessory. naexpo.com/boatshow
* March 2: Suddenly Alone Seminar, Cruising Club of America & Bonnell Cove Foundation, Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort, Ft Lauderdale, FL. - www.cruisingclub.org
In both August 2002 and August 2003, the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee will run sailing 'test events', based as closely as possible, on a true regatta environment. The Athens 2002 regatta will take place from 12 to 25 August and the races will be held in the same area as in the Olympic Games. www.sailing-games.com
The Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) announced two new partners that will push the Windsurfing World Tour forwards to a greater presence on the International sporting landscape. Sportshows Television Limited have been appointed as the new media partner for the PWA World Tour and Proteus Sports Limited have been awarded exclusive marketing rights to the Tour. This will take immediate effect with the 2002 season due to start in April.
A fresh approach to the Tour will combine with long experience and specialist equipment to produce a dedicated World Tour television series of unprecedented dynamism and energy. This World Tour series will be distributed worldwide to a potential household audience estimated to be in excess of 200 million. The PWA World Tour for 2002 is set to take in fourteen events throughout Europe, North America and the Caribbean with exciting Wave, Freestyle and Racing events. - ISAF Website.
Full story: www.sailing.org
PWA World Tour website: www.pwaworldtour.com
Speaking on RadioNZ last Sunday Pete Montgomery confirmed that a Challenger Regatta will be held on 4-9 March. All challenging syndicates currently in Auckland will take part - Victory, Prada, Oracle, OneWorld, Alinghi, & GBR.
Pete Montgomery also stated, "I know definitely that Denis Kowalski is bringing Endeavour and I hear that there is a very very good chance that Shamrock will be here. And they are trying to twist the arm of the owner of Velsheda to come."
PJ speculated that if the three J boats were to race during the 4 week gap between the LVC and AC, the event would more likely be remembered for the J Boat race rather than the AC match itself.
Prada raced against Team NZ last Friday as did the Swedish Victory syndicate's Örn, SWE63, helmed by Jesper Bank a few weeks ago. - Cheryl, 2003AC website, www.2003ac.com
Suffice to say that the curmudgeon was very moved by, and grateful for, the e-mail barrage that issue #1000 generated. It certainly reaffirms my reasons for doing this. There is no question about it - - it's the people who make our game sooooo special!
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.