SCUTTLEBUTTNo. 1002 - February 7, 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.
JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE - Knut Frostad
The waves started to get bigger and steeper, probably to around ten metres high. We had decided to get the spinnaker down at 45 knots, but normally it's more the waves than the wind that stops you. Suddenly a big gust came from behind and we had '466' knots of wind. The speedometer stops reading at 29-30 as the hull is too far out of the water. It's just a constant spray from the bow out to each side. We were on fire. My focus was on one thing: the true wind angle [readout display]. In darkness that's the only guideline to the wind you have. And most critical, is to make sure you don't end up in the bottom of a wave too low [in heading]. The more wind we have with a spinnaker up, the narrower the angle we can play with.
At this stage, I had to keep the boat between 152 and 160 true wind angle. [We were] now averaging about 28 knots of boat speed. Everyone in the cockpit was just so focused on his job - absolutely no time for any small talk. The wind seemed to pick up more and more. Should we take it down? It might drop again soon, you know. Okay, let's keep it. Suddenly Jean Yves appeared in the hatch, "There is a large iceberg right in front of us, about 8 miles. You need to come up ten degrees." S***. How the hell were we going to sail ten degrees higher when I already only had about eight to play with. We already had the boat ballasted with 80% of the water in. "Fill up the last tank." We tried our best, but as I heated up five more degrees, we only went faster, and had to come down in the waves as the wind swung forward in the surf. Jean Yves came back up in the hatch, "Less than six miles now, and you are still aiming at the berg." Wow. Those two miles went fast. I ran through a quick calculation in my head. 'Five miles to go, 28 knots average speed, that gave us over ten minutes to clear it. This was just too risky. We always try to pass to weather of the icebergs as the small and dangerous growlers normally are positioned to leeward of them. Bearing away was therefore not an option, especially at night.
"Okay guys. Let's get rid of the spinnaker." It took us eight minutes to get it down, as the drop line had twinned itself with a sheet. With no spinnaker and a double-reefed mainsail, we then had to come up 35 degrees off course to avoid the berg. An hour later, we could get going again and with a reaching jib, as the wind was constantly above the limit for a chute.
So there you go - the result: we lost quite a few miles to some [of the boats] in the fleet after having been the fastest boat for the two last position reports. Damned iceberg.
Talking about staying to weather of the ice. Half an hour ago we passed to weather of a small berg, and sailed straight into a minefield of growlers the size of a bus. So much for the golden rule. Have never seen that before, to weather of the bergs. On the other hand we can't see much anyway, as it is either dark, foggy, raining or snowing like hell. Might be the better option. - Knut Frostad, djuice, www.volvooceanrace.com
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
The fleet is almost getting used to the constant fear of flying through an ocean of semi-submerged icebergs. Excess adrenalin is pouring out of their emails back to the real world. The crew are going through a confusion of emotions, from pure elation one moment to sheer terror the next. - Andy Rice
Another shark was caught, this time with illbruck's rudder. They had to drop the spinnaker and sail backwards to clear the shark in more than 30 knots of wind. Before they realized that the reason for losing control of the rudder was the shark, they feared being victim of another rudder failure. News Corp's track in the north is getting better by the hour. They gained remarkable 38 miles or did a more than six-knot higher average speed than the race leading yacht illbruck. Assa Abloy is back in full racing mode after the backstay failure earlier on.
Positions on February 7 at 0350 GMT:
1. illbruck, 3315 miles to finish
2. Amer Sports One, 52 miles behind leader
3. Team Tyco, 67 mbl
4. Assa Abloy, 132 mbl
5. djuice, 148 mbl
6. News Corp, 166 mbl
7. Team SEB, 260 mbl
8. Amer Sports Too, 469 mbl
Team SEB were so interested in the effects of stress on the human body that they have been carrying out ongoing research with their crew while they are sailing around the world. The stress-research project was initiated by Hans Bäck, an orthopaedic surgeon and Team SEB's crew doctor when the boat is in port, in association with Lars-Gunnar Gunnarsson, who is a Reader in Vocational Medicine at the Stressforum Clinic of Vocational & Environmental Medicine, at Sweden's Örebro University Hospital.
The project has been launched to determine whether the human body is capable of mobilising stress hormones and energy with the same vigor throughout the entire nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race, or whether these resources become depleted by fatigue. The project also aims to determine the extent to which activation of such stress hormones affects the individual's own perceptions of his health, strength and general feeling of vitality. The aim of the study is to contribute useful data about whether - and if so how - extended and considerable stress can affect an individual's health, and will help identify symptoms of imminent physical breakdown as a consequence of exhaustion, or some other stress-related impact on health. - www.volvooceanrace.com
SAIL CLOTH 2002
Make sure you've marked calendar correctly. The correct date is Tuesday, February 12. At that time, John Glueck of Dimension/Polyant sailcloth will discuss the new carbon fibre cloth and the best materials for your racing inventory! It all takes place at 7:00 PM at the Ullman Sails loft, Newport Beach. E-mail or call the loft to reserve a seat for this interesting and informative Tuesday Night Seminar (949) 675-6970 or Ullman@Ullmansails.com
A rumour has been going round Auckland for a while and the time has come to answer the rumor officially. Team Alinghi has indeed discovered an anomaly in the America's Cup Rules, an anomaly which might enable one competitor to win all of the races with a strong lead over its fellow competitors.
The America's Cup qualifying races and the America's Cup itself, are raced on " International America's Cup Class " boats. These yachts are designed to comply with extremely precise standards - the " America's Cup Class Rules, version 4.0, dated 19th October 2000 ". The aim of these rules, which apply to all competitors, is to guarantee a fair competition, based on rules which are identical for all.
However, historically, these rules are subservient to the Deed of Gift, in the same way as a country's Constitution prevails over its Highway Code. The Deed of Gift is the deed which founded the America's Cup and it dates back to 27th October 1887.
This winter, (summer in New Zealand), Hamish Ross, a member of Team Alinghi and a great specialist of the America's Cup Rules (he's currently in the process of writing a book about the Deed of Gift) noticed that the Deed bore the following paragraph :
"Centre-board or sliding keel vessels shall always be allowed to compete in any race for this Cup, and no restriction or limitation whatever shall be placed upon the use of such centre-board or sliding keel, nor shall the centre-board or sliding keel be considered part of the vessel for any purposes of measurement."
As a result, Team Alinghi found itself faced with a dilemma - whether to build a yacht which is different from all the others, a boat with much greater performance capabilities but which does not respect the spirit of the competition, or to ask the America's Cup Arbitration Panel to make a clear ruling on the matter, determining whether the Deed of Gift or the Class Rules prevail. The second solution was chosen easily by the members of Team Alinghi who are determined to race the competition according to rules which are identical for all those taking part. The Panel's ruling is awaited by all of the Challengers as well as the Defender of the next America's Cup. - Bernard Schopfer, Alinghi website, www.alinghi.com/_gcmweb/web_alinghi/templates/flashintro.asp?NodId=127
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 Roger Neiley: The race updates provided by the excellent Volvo Ocean Race site are vicariously thrilling, especially over the past few days. But as an ocean-goer always concerned about collisions at sea (even in "normal" climates) I am losing sleep imagining 20+ kts... at night...in fog... through the ice. Would it not be just as testing of a race if an imaginary mark were placed at approx. 50S 130W which had to be left to starboard? I pray we don't lose a boatload of the world's best sailors due to the current routing.
* From Jack Spangler (re Paul Cayard's emails comparing the present Southern Ocean Sleighride with Laser downwind sailing on the ebb tide of San Francisco Bay): A lot of guys need to bow respectfully now and then to Bruce Kirby for coming up with the Laser, and thereby our discovering early-on that whether in single-man competition, or as a team, there is nothing more thrilling than to have in hand among diehard competitors a sailboat, any size, in a big breeze of wind. And to think that Bruce's latest creation I looked-in on last week under construction in Charleston, SC - is 43 feet long, has a flat bottom, flat sides, two athwartships rudders, etc. And for all its plainness, will nevertheless sail smiles always onto its owner's face, just like the little Laser.
* From Chris Welsh: Icebergs, growlers, snow, 40 knots of wind - reading all of the reports from the Volvo Races and the conditions they are hurtling through, I am wondering where are all of the writers questioning Amer Sports 2's capabilities, determination, etc. To survive in the environment these sailors are seeing is obviously demanding, and I applaud every participant, whether in first place or last. Wish I could be there - for about three hours worth!
* From John Drayton: Bill Ficker once told me that one of his dreams was be dropped on a Whitbread/Volvo 60 for 2-3 hours of sailing in the Southern Ocean, and later whisked off (by helicopter?) after his short stint on the helm. While this obviously isn't practical, I share his (and apparently your) combination of awe and fascination with what these folks have been living through these last few weeks.
FRENCH SHRUG OFF CONTROVERSY
PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) - France's yachting team gearing up to compete in next year's America's Cup in New Zealand shrugged off Monday swelling controversy over its choice of French nuclear group Areva as its sponsor. But Xavier de Lesquen, the executive director of the team, told AFP late Monday he was not worried. "There are some people who are a bit hot-headed," he said by telephone from France's Atlantic coast, where the boat is being built in a shipyard at Vannes. "But you shouldn't be misled by all that."
He argued that, once informed, the public would make a distinction between France's civilian nuclear power industry, which is all basically bundled together in the newly formed Areva, and the French government's military nuclear policies. In any case, de Lesquen said, "the teams are free to choose their sponsors as they see fit."
But Sortir du Nucleaire, one of the French groups opposed to Areva's 15-million-euro (13-million-dollar) sponsorship, said it was determined to see the French company withdraw and another from another industry take its place. spokesman, Alain Rivat, told AFP. "We support the boat, we are behind its sailors, but we oppose the fact that it is going to be slowed down by the ambitions of the nuclear industry," he said. Nevertheless, he said his group's campaign would be "symbolic and non-violent", relying mainly on showing that Areva "trails a nuclear trash can behind it".
De Lesquen said construction was well underway on the French yacht, which was being kept in the shipyard under "normal" security. He said the 32-member crew should be announced in March and the boat will be put to sea for training in May.
The team chief said no extra security precautions, such as police escort vessels, would be put on during the training. If any protest boats tried to shadow the Defi Areva, they would be "welcome" to try to keep up during the gruelling six-hour days, he said. - Agence France-Presse
Violence, kidnap and murder on the high seas spiraled further out of control last year, says a global maritime organization. Today's pirates are well-orchestrated teams of hired mercenaries who will often murder an entire ship's crew rather than risk leaving witnesses.
"The figures showed an increased use of violence during attacks, particularly the rising number of instances where firearms were used instead of knives," the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its 2001 report. Slayings at sea increased to at least 21, six more than last year, the IMB said.
The yachting world was shaken in December when masked attackers shot dead legendary New Zealand yachtsman Sir Peter Blake. Blake was gunned down when his rifle jammed as he defended his research vessel Seamaster at the mouth of the Amazon River. Following another macabre attack in August, a Canadian yachtsman drifted for two days, incapacitated by two severe wounds to his neck. He was only rescued when his yacht ran aground off Mexico.
Hijackings doubled to 16, with Indonesia's Aceh province emerging as a major new black spot, the IMB said. "During the year, a new trend in piracy emerged in the northern part of the Malacca Straits... kidnap and ransom," the report said. In one day in June, Indonesian naval forces were storming one hijacked Singaporean tanker, the Selayang, while just along the coast a different gang of pirates was kidnapping the crew of another, the Tirta Niaga. - REUTERS, NZ Herald
Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=&storyID=888463&reportID=57034
QUOTES FROM THE VOLVO BOATS
* "I could sail here everyday of my life and not get bored, this is like a gnarly day out windsurfing, with too big a sail and every so often you get too much air and think you are going to die, but you hang on and the adrenalin buzz is fantastic..." - Emma Westmacott, Amer Sports Too
* "The brutal reality of the Southern Ocean keeps hitting home hard. This leg has not been an easy one to date and we are all looking forward to some less stressful sailing. Everything you do down here from eating to a major heavy air gybe is just plain harder to do than it is in any 'normal' ocean. There will be a collection of very impressive stories from throughout the fleet after this leg and it's hard to pick any that I could do justice to in a few words." - Steve Hayles, Tyco.
* "I do not know what other people think but passing growlers at night, boat speed 20 -25 knots, within a couple of feet makes me nervous. Three times have we passed a growler, the size of a car, so close that the white water around it actually touches the hull! Russian roulette is probably safer than this." - Gurra Krantz, SEB.
* "As there were only three of us capable of driving in these conditions, we decided to rotate every two hours. The first term went well with 36 knots top-speed and black darkness for just the last half hour. When I came up it was black dark and blowing 30-35 knots. Within 10 minutes of taking the helm a squall hit us with 40 knots. Very intense in the pitch black with huge, sloppy waves as you get down here. Then 15 minutes later I got a blast of 45 knots for three minutes. This was absolutely crazy. Hanging on until it passed, I told Grant [Dalton] that I could not do my full two hours of that intensity without serious chance of wiping out. I should have said that no one could but I did not want to speak for the others. That was a mistake and not using my experience." - Paul Cayard, Amer Sports Too.
* "Running in a gale with the storm spinnaker and reefed main, we broke a vital part of the runner [running backstay] system. Fortunately a safety strop and quick crew work saved the rig [mast and sails] and this whole project from a near disaster. We had been running extremely hard all night in over forty knots [wind] having averaged over 20 knots [speed] for five hours, when suddenly there was a huge unexpected bang! Guillermo did an excellent job controlling the boat in treacherous seas, while all hands wrestled the storm reacher below. The crew is now effecting repairs, which unfortunately means we will be running at reduced speed for a while." [Mark] Rudi Rudiger, Assa Abloy
IT'S BOAT SHOW SEASON
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ACC Technical Director Ken McAlpine has issued sail number seventy two (72) to Mascalzone Latino.
SKANDIA LIFE COWES WEEK
Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC) anticipates that around 950 boats will compete at the 2002 Skandia Life Cowes Week from August 3 to August 10. This is a significant increase on the year 2000 which is more directly comparable than with 2001 when there was a Fastnet race and the America's Cup Jubilee taking place.
This year CCC is offering dual-scoring in the appropriate handicap classes. This means that for those with an IRM certificate, owners can opt to have results under both IRM and IRC which enables them to get IRM results whilst still racing for the major trophies.
After thorough deliberation, it was decided that to offer Windward/Leeward racing to a few classes would effectively restrict the course options for the majority of the fleet to an unacceptable level. The only realistic way that it could happen would be to have Windward/Leeward courses outside the Solent, either to the east of the Forts or in Christchurch Bay. The organizers do not believe that many crews would wish to have to motor for several hours before and after racing each day and the last thing CCC want to do is to split the fleet so that some boats are forced to berth away from Cowes. It was therefore reluctantly decided that this option is therefore not viable. - www.cowesweek.co.uk
In the last few days you've seen the Volvo Ocean Race taking more and more space in 'Butt. I will not apologize for this because as far as I'm concerned the material is simply too compelling to ignore. And I find it hard to believe that we will see anything like this ever again in major league yacht racing. - The Curmudgeon
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
If procrastinators had a club, would they ever have a meeting?