SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1007 - February 14, 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.
THE AC MESS
United States America's Cup syndicate OneWorld has increased the pressure on a former worker to settle out of court his claims the syndicate obtained Team New Zealand's yachting design secrets illegally. Chief executive Gary Wright said OneWorld now had three affidavits from leading cup figures saying the worker, Auckland lawyer Sean Reeves, approached them with OneWorld secrets.
The latest affidavit has been sworn by Team Dennis Conner operations manager Bill Trenkle. Trenkle yesterday confirmed he had sworn a statement, but would not say what was in it.
OneWorld lodged a lawsuit against Reeves last year claiming he was trying to sell $6 million of their secrets. In turn, Reeves has counter sued, saying it was OneWorld who illegally obtained other syndicates' secrets. He accused former Team New Zealand head designer Laurie Davidson of passing on confidential design data when he joined the Americans. Wright, who, with Davidson, denied Reeves' claims, said the syndicate wanted the matter resolved out of court because it was bringing the regatta into disrepute.
Wright said he did not know what would persuade Reeves to drop his countersuit, but said having three affidavits against him was strong evidence and they wanted to settle. "It is our preferred option. In actions like this, nobody's a winner," Wright said. "Eventually the evidence becomes overwhelming."
He said Trenkle had approached OneWorld after publicity about the case. In his statement Trenkle alleged Reeves spoke to him about Team New Zealand and OneWorld design information. Trenkle said he stopped the meeting.
OneWorld's legal action against Reeves is not due to be heard until after the next cup, in about April next year. But the continuing poor publicity will be a problem for OneWorld and their sponsors, and the integrity of the entire regatta. OneWorld is also anxious the affair is sorted before the challenger series begins on October 1, and that no questions can be asked about the validity of their challenge.
Accordingly, they have referred any information they think might be queried as a potential transfer of technology from another syndicate, specifically barred by cup rules, to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel for a ruling. Panel head Sir David Tompkins, a retired High Court judge, said a decision was likely in three to four weeks. - New Zealand Herald, Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
* The panel's ruling will be binding and an extreme punishment would be the expulsion of OneWorld from the cup. However, if any breaches are found, OneWorld expects them to be minor. That is more likely to result in a fine - and past fines have been very small for syndicates with budgets approaching $US100 million ($NZ242 million). - Helen Tunnah, New Zealand Press Association
* Peter Montgomery interviewed Bill Trenkle from Team Dennis Conner on Radio NZ (newstalkzb). Here are some excerpts:
Montgomery: You have made a signed affidavit and allegation that Sean Reeves is trying to sell secrets to you as well?
Trenkle: Back in the fall when One World was trying to find out if anyone else had been approached by Mr Reeves we contacted them and let them know that we has also been approached. They asked if it does go to court in Seattle would you be willing to sign a declaration stating it the facts. We, of course, agreed and just the other day we were contacted by the attorneys to make the declarations.
PM: What is the guts of your declaration? I understand you met Reeves after he left OW??
BT: Yeah, he was in San Diego which was not unusual because we did see him in San Diego before. We just got together for a casual coffee and he made similar type of approaches as you heard about with Chris Dickson and David Barnes stories. To tell you the truth, I thought it was all a joke, or not necessarily a joke, but I thought it was like a scam to try to get us to buy this information and find us in violation of the Protocol; being that he's a rules advisor and obviously very well versed in all the technicalities of the Protocol. So I thought it was laughable that he would be offering this kind of information.
PM: And I understand quite a lot of it was TNZ such as the millennium rig.
BT: You know, there wasn't a lot of information. It wasn't a long conversation with a lot of detail. It was over quite quickly because like I said, I really didn't take it too seriously and was not interested, and so it didn't go very far.
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Once again, Cheryl has posted Montgomery's interview in the forum section of the 2003AC website www.2003ac.com. Also, I understand that you can hear the interview audio files on the website for Newstalkzb, www.newstalkzb.co.nz/index.asp. Cheryl has posted those instructions in "Spy Network Sightings" forum section.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
The front which opened up opportunities for big changes has passed over all yachts and pulls the fleet now with southwesterly winds. Illbruck had to wait as late as 2030 GMT for the wind to swing around, but in contrast to all the other yachts, John Kostecki's crew didn't get a break with light air. They ended up with a quick sail-change and are charging toward Rio now.
Tyco has closed some distance on Amer Sports One in the last 12 hours, the race is tight for second place, and both boats are now pushing illbruck hard having closed 11 miles on her since the last position report. Tyco reported fresh breeze earlier, which had given them this gain on Amer Sports One, but were expecting to lose a little back to them as the breeze fills across towards her some 70 nautical miles further east.
Both Amer Sports One and djuice have tried to edge a little further to the west towards the fleet to hook into the stronger pressure quickly. Assa Abloy and News Corp to the west have lost a few knots of windspeed over the last couple of hours.
Positions on February 14 at 0359 GMT:
1. illbruck, 1267 miles to finish
2. Amer Sports One, 58 miles behind leader
3. Team Tyco, 63 mbl
4. Assa Abloy, 89 mbl
5. djuice, 90 mbl
6. News Corp, 98 mbl
7. Amer Sports Too, 508 mbl
8. Team SEB, 1264 mbl
First, check that the compass is physically aligned properly; it should be level and pointing forward parallel to centerline -a consistent discrepancy all the way around 360 degrees probably indicates your compass simply isn't pointing forward! Always keep the compass area clear of metal or electronic objects that may be moved or have changing magnetic fields. A good practical measure is to post a "compass area" warning note for the crew. It's easy to tuck a box of tools in next to the compass and later arrive in Iceland rather than Bermuda as planned. Please visit www.ockam.com
FOR THE RECORD
Skipper Bruno Peyron confirmed that the maxi-catamaran Orange and her 13-man crew will slip their lines in the commercial port tomorrow morning at 0800. The boat will head for the starting line that stretches between Ushant and the Lizard to cross it sometime between 1200 and 1400 in an attempt to break the round the world speed record for the Jules Verne Trophy. - www.orange.fr
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 Larry Law (edited to our 250-word limit): Olin Stephens, one of the Grand Masters of the sailing world, is also a pillar of common sense and a caretaker of valuable sailing tradition. I couldn't agree more with his comments in 'Butt 1006. As he points out, we have lost sight of the competitive intent of the AC Deed of Gift, and that's truly a shame. While the Cup has become commercialized, I submit that sailing is one of the few sports where great assets (designers, builders, sail-makers, skippers & crews, etc.) are available worldwide. This wouldn't seem to thwart the commercial aspects for the professional sailors; it would just return the Cup to a format that I believe would generate more interest.
Look at the Olympics, they field a number of sports that many would find untenable to watch, and yet one could make the point that what makes a Curling match between the UK and the US an exciting event is the national competition - not the game (no ill-will towards Curling intended). One of the best parts about sailing is that it has avoided becoming a major league sport, and while I respect and admire those who would make a living at a sport I dearly love, I hope we never quite get to that level of insanity.
Thanks Olin for blowing away the smoke, I'm sure it won't return to the "national" format but it's nice to know that the tradition lives in the hearts of at least a few.
* From Thomas S. Griffin, Jr.: Mr. Olin Stephens' comments were resounding, in my humble opinion, and should be taken to heart by all those who hold dear The Cup and sailing in general. A return to strict interpretation of nationality requirements would signal a desire to recapture integrity of the AC competition, and thus restore some of the lustre of this wonderful event that has seemingly disappeared in recent years.
Multiple passports...jumping ship and country for money...stealing or buying/selling design secrets...such a travesty. Do we really want to continue to go the same way as the professional sports?
How about moving in the direction of purely one-design boats, to obviate the need for the design-and-money rat race? The competition to be decided on the water by the best sailors - period! I can hear the howling now, by those who are in it for the lucre.
* From Scott Truesdell: Olin Stephens, bless his almost infinite perspective, has hit the nail squarely, dead-center, on the head.
* From David Gill (In response to Alan Ouellette's comment that the America's Cup is a poor reflection of the sport of sailboat racing.): I am afraid that the America's Cup is a reflection of our society as a whole. Look at our government and win at all cost's corporate mentality. It would be nice if sailboat racing could be that rare exception and provide some decent character in the world of sport and society.
* From Gregory Scott Kingston (edited to our 250-word limit): I think Laurie Davidson is going to have a problem; If not by the letter of the law, but once again, by the spirit of the law in the court of public opinion. As professionals, we have all experienced the issue of "care and control". The sequence where we have in our possession information and or materials that are not ours but must be treated in high regard.
Mr. Davidson has been around the game a long time. The "appearance" that he may have allowed sensitive material in his care and control, to become visible and accessible to others is not good. Once he decided to take the walk to "Granny's house" why he chose a route that went through the dark and scary woods only he can explain. Also, he could have wrapped the binder of photos so tightly that no idle circumstance could compromise their care. A "wolf" for example could of course have bumped the basket holding the binder onto the floor exposing the contents. Then the innocent "wolf" would be forced to inspect the materials to identify the contents and establish the rightful owner if, per chance, Mr. Davidson was out of the wolf's eyesight for twenty minutes. Why he would let himself fall under this cloud contaminates all other words spoken.
* From H.D.Spencer: Amongst all the scandal of late I thought it may be an idea to share some good news with your readers. I invite you all to check out our web site www.mclassyachts.org.nz and the recent re-enactment of the first J.J. Giltman trophy of 1938. 6 Traditional 18 footers (M Class) were shipped to Sydney from Auckland for this re-enactment early this year. Who won isn't really important, just the Corinthian spirit shown was amazing, to the point where the Australians sponsored the shipping of the Kiwi boats. Nice.
We invite you all to check out the web site and come and witness another re-enactment between the 'Emmies' and the Ozies to be held on Auckland harbour between the Louis Vuitton and the AC next year. 1939 was the year the M Class Manu won the J.J.Giltman trophy, the 'Emmies' have a proud tradition being one of the oldest classes (oldest?) in the southern hemisphere, being raced continuously since 1922 with minimal class rule changes. Good clean fun in the spirit of sailing.
If you're in Auckland in the summer months come down to the Okahu Bay boat ramp (on the water front drive just outta the city centre) at 12 noon most Sundays to see the floating antiques that in 15+ knots of breeze, fly. If you're keen, you can and most probably will, get a sail!
* From Onne van der Wal (edited to our 250-word limit): It sounds like it is time to go back to the Round the World boats that everyone enjoys sailing and have a little more fun on all points of sail. Sure it is great surfing off waves at 30 knots but every other point of sail sounds like hell. These 60's seem to be producing a lot more complaints and all the sailors do is dream about home and being ashore. Sure, it's good pay but what happened to the adventure and spirit of the event that was once open to any sailor ready for an adventure. Now the passion for sailing the whole ocean seems gone - it, like many other big sailing races - has become a race of the $'s!
I sailed as bowman in the 1981-82 Whitbread race on the winning Dutch entry, the 76 ft Frers sloop Flyer. We also did 30 knots surfing down the southern ocean greybeards, and it was best sailing I have ever done! No seasickness, plus reaching and beating was great: warm and dry, good food, always a dry bunk. I thoroughly enjoyed the 7-month adventure and was sorry when it was all over. I don't think the guys on the 60s will say the same.
Why not go back to bigger, safer boats and get everyone involved, probably get a lot more interest and involvement from all aspects like sponsors, crew and spectators and maybe the number of entries will go back to where they were in the 80's?
* From Mary Ambler: I thought to share with you the excellently succinct quote from top French skipper Marc Thiercelin, which appeared in the major French national sports paper L'Equipe as to why he decided to enter the Around Alone 2002/3, his second time in this event and fourth circumnavigation:
"I thought about doing the Route Du Rhum - but it just isn't long enough...!"
For those who think racing solo, let alone across one ocean (Route du Rhum is a solo transat race), is like climbing Everest, this remark just says it all about what it takes to participate in the longest race for any individual on this earth.
THE OTHER AC MESS
The French team in the America's Cup is unsure what sort of reception to expect when they arrive with their nuclear-sponsored boat. Defi Areva head Xavier de Lesquen said that the team would concentrate on sailing and winning races when their boat arrived at the end of August and hoped protesters would stay away.
The team's sponsor, Areva, comprises France's nuclear fuel and power plant industries, embracing the entire power cycle from uranium mining to power-plant decommissioning. Company spokesman Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier said Areva would be happy to debate with New Zealanders the morals of its $33.7 million sponsorship of the French America's Cup team. Mr de Lesquen and Mr Saulnier are in Auckland to counter growing opposition to the nuclear-sponsored America's Cup entry, nicknamed the Atomic Warrior.
Anti-nuclear groups in France have been planning non-violent actions to try to scuttle the sponsorship deal and Greenpeace in NZ has promised protests against Areva and any New Zealand company that leases the team facilities. Mr Saulnier said he understood the sensitivity and history between NZ and France over the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior at the Port of Auckland 17 years ago and French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll, but they had nothing to do with Areva, which was formed only five months ago.
About 40 per cent of Areva's business is in technology and electronics. The company is one of the top 10 in France. It has 50,000 employees worldwide and a turnover of about $20 billion. Areva is 5.2 per cent owned by the French Government and 79 per cent by the French Atomic Energy Commission, which developed France's nuclear arsenal and monitored nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
Mr Saulnier said 80 per cent of France's power was nuclear energy, which was environmentally friendly and made France the lowest producer of carbon dioxide gas in Europe. He challenged protesters to a debate on the environmental advantages of nuclear energy instead of focusing on sponsorship of the America's Cup team.
Greenpeace campaigner Bunny McDiarmid said it was true that nuclear power did not produce CO2 emissions but the company failed to mention the issue of nuclear waste and the environmental dangers it posed. She accused Areva - "a new name for the same old nuclear companies" - of hijacking the America's Cup to polish its image. - Bernard Oshman, NZ Herald
Full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
The Volvo Race and the America's Cup have one thing in common, "We have only seen the tip of the iceberg." - Daniel Forster
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AC INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
Two rounds of match races were completed on Day Three of the America's Cup International Regatta. In the first round, OneWorld Challenge beat Victory Challenge by 32 seconds while Team New Zealand beat GBR Challenge by two minute and six seconds.
In the second round, the undefeated Team New Zealand beat the Swedish Victory Challenge by one minute and four seconds. In the other match, OneWorld Challenge had to drop their spinnaker and do a 270 degree turn at the finish line. The GBR Challenge was able to cross the line before the penalty boat had finished its turn to win by five seconds. - www.lvcup.com
IT'S A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
(On Wednesday morning we received separate e-mail massages from djuice crewmembers who obviously saw the same day very differently.)
* "Life on board has become a little like Groundhog Day, all the same every day, on watch, change a sail, move the sail stack on the windward rail, check the sked to see how we went, go to bed for four hours. Get up, on watch, change a sail, move the stack and so on." - Grant Wharington, djuice.
* "It's certainly been a very exciting night. Did we make the right choice going East yesterday? Is the low in the west going to deepen enough for the western boats to get some extra breeze? I have hardly slept at all tonight, as I have been keeping an open eye on the barometer, true wind speed and direction every hour, every minute. So far I am very pleased with our route. Whatever happens in the next few hours, we have gained a lot on the leading pack through doing what we have done, and even if we lose some of it, it will almost certainly be a net gain." - Knut Frostad, skipper, djuice.
A CHANGE OF PLANS
It has been decided that the 2002 Olympic Qualification Regatta for the Yngling Class shall be raced in an open fleet, not a separate women's start as agreed by ISAF Council in November 2001. The 2002 Olympic Qualification Regatta, which is the 2002 Yngling Class World Championships - 19-26 July, Lake Uri, Switzerland - shall be sailed in an open fleet. The top 5 women crews will qualify their nations, with already qualified nations not being considered. - ISAF website, www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=1902
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
A pessimist's blood type is always B-negative.