SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1008 - February 15, 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.
(In the February issue of Seahorse magazine, Rod Davis reviewed and graded all of the America's Cup teams. In order to define the teams he gave points for the design team, sailing team, organisation/ time/ finances and then an 'X' factor. As Rod Explained, "The X factor covers lots of stuff, including my non-objective feeling about a team." Because Rod is employed by the Prada syndicate, he wisely chose not include that team in his review. Here are some excerpts of Rod's column.)
ORACLE: Many of the Prada sailors pick Oracle to be the best of the challengers. I think much of this has to do with respect for Farr. I think they will be good and high rating, but losing Paul Cayard has got to hurt the team. Oracle has done it tough, with not one but two keels falling off. This makes a shambles of the sailing program. But they are tough characters over there so they will be ok. Score 32.
ONE WORLD: Life must feel like a roller coaster for them. First it's the mega-buck program, then no money, and now they are back. One World's design team reads like who's who of the last Cup. They've got Peter Gilmour to run the sailing team and lots of Team NZ people to crew. One challenge for them is to build an indentity for themselves. With so many Kiwis, Austrailians and American's all sailing under Mcall's One World banner, it's hard to build a culture. All in all a very tough team. Score 32.
THE SWISS: If intimidation has anything to do with it, they are leading. The compound in Auckland is bigger than any one else's - by a lot. The sailing team has been winning in match racing, Farr 40 worlds and the Jubilee Regatta. Everything is falling into place for Russell and Co. One question I have is on the boat design side of things. Alinghi does not have the 'name' design team that some of the other teams have. I'm not sure that is a bad thing, mind you, as with big names comes big egos. Certainly a top team. Score 33.
TEAM NEW ZEALAND: These guys are clever, and on every front. The departure of the old sailing team has left the door open to the new team. Dean Barker and his boys are young, aggressive and motivated. Any coach will tell you that makes a tough combination to beat. On the design side, brother [in law] Tom will not stop with NZL-60 speed. The new boat will be faster - and by a fair bit. Hometown team so it's got be the favorite. Score 36. (I double checked that - it could be a 35 but it's still a very high number!)
TEAM DENNIS CONNER: The money situation has to be a worry. America's Cups are nearly impossible to run hand to mouth. DC is a very resourceful guy and surrounds himself with excellent talent. Kenny Read has come on well in the match race game, and the overall experience of the Stars and Stripes team counts for a lot. Score 31
BRITISH: Their own press releases, and they send out plenty, say the 2003 campaign is a starting point for the future. They intend to do better than they say, it's an old trick to under sell yourself. The incorporation of the Japanese design team will be a plus. Lots of sailing talent with this young team. Plus recently they have started recruiting some older hands. The team did not endear themselves to the other AC teams with their on and off the water antics in the Jubilee. Score 28
ILLBRUCK: Talent coming out their ears, just not much time to put it together after the Volvo race. Thus they will have their backs against the wall. Score 25.
SWEDES: Another first time, well first time in a long time challenge. The Manni Frers (formerly of Prada) design will be interesting to see. Holmberg is as good as anyone in the match racing world. I think it is still an uphill battle for them. Score 26
So my guess is we have the big 5, with Prada included and several other teams that could join them. That's my story and I am sticking to it! - Rod Davis, Seahorse magazine, www.seahorsemagazine.com
Chris Dickson has joined Paul Cayard on the sidelines with Larry Ellison's America's Cup team, the Oracle Challenge, a source told YachtRacing.com. There was no formal announcement, but the crew, currently training in Auckland, was informed at a Friday morning meeting that Dickson had been placed on a "leave of absence."
The move leaves two of the world's most prominent competitive sailors in limbo. In December, Cayard was relieved of his position as sailing director and relegated to administrative duties for reasons still unexplained to him or the public. He was given leave to sail with Amer Sports One on the current leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, which he won in 1997-98.
Dickson's departure comes as a larger surprise. He has been a key part of Ellison's sailing operations for years, long before the current campaign. As principal helmsman on Ellison's maxi, Sayonara, he drove the boat safely to victory in the tragic Sydney-to-Hobart race of 1998.
Earlier, Dickson, 40, was the top-ranked match racer in the world and was skipper for three America's Cup campaigns with New Zealand in '86-87, Japan in '92 and his own Tag Heuer bid for New Zealand in '95.
YachtRacing.com was told that the change was made "after a period of difficulties" related to personality clashes within the team but not with Ellison or his administrator, Bill Erkelens. The move apparently was not related to training incidents with the boats involving keels falling off and a mast breaking. - Rich Roberts, Yacht Racing Website, yachtracing.com
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: It should be remembered that John Cutler has been Oracle Racing's Sailing Director for some time now, and will continue in that position.
AC COMMENTARY - Larry Boutilier
Who will beat who? It is clear to me who will win the America's Cup. Also why Paul Cayard is in the Volvo Race instead of helping his America's Cup team. At some point Cayard would have told his boss,"I know what it takes to win the cup. Either we do what it takes to win or stay home. I've been there done that and really do have the t-shirts." His boss said," Can't do that so you can stay home." Cayard went to the Volvo race to clear his mind and get away from futile A-Cup effort.
All of the challengers plus New Zealand are making a limited campaign except for Prada which is doing whatever it takes. All the other campaigns are bringing one new boat to the Cup except for Prada. Prada will have the fastest boat this time and the best crew and will win the America's Cup. It's over. Cayard is really smart. He said the US needed one syndicate. There are three U.S. syndicates. Imagine if they were all one. Cayard is also doing a tremendous job on Amer Sports One. They will probably finish this leg in second place even though their boat is not as fast as the ones behind them. - Larry Boutilier, madforsailing website.
Full story: www.madforsailing.com
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
At 2030 GMT on February14, Team News Corp lost her rudder some 1200 miles out of Rio. At the time the boat was sailing at speeds of up to 22 knots on a shy spinnaker reach with full mainsail, when all of a sudden the rudder sheered off below the hull. There was no other damage, than a blown out spinnaker. There are no injuries. There is no apparent cause for the failure, but hitting the ice in the Southern Ocean may have contributed to the failure.
News Corp is continuing to race. The crew is pushing the boat as hard as they possibly can and are hoping to be in Rio within eight days, given the forecast conditions. At this point in time, they are making an astounding 13.2 knots and keeping up well with the fleet. SEB is expected in Punta Arenas later today, following her dismasting earlier in this leg in the Southern Ocean.
Meanwhile, the fleet continues to make their way very quickly towards Rio de Janeiro with Tyco, djuice and Assa Abloy doing 19 knots boatspeed. Tyco and Amer Sports One have pulled back some distance on illbruck since the last position report and there is only 16 miles separating them.
Positions on February 15 at 0400 GMT:
1. illbruck, 963 miles to finish
2. Team Tyco, 81 mbl
3. Amer Sports One, 97 miles behind leader
4. Assa Abloy, 109 mbl
5. djuice, 109 mbl
5. News Corp, 167 mbl
7. Amer Sports Too, 536 mbl
8. Team SEB, 1460 mbl
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An attempt by the maxi-catamaran Orange to break the round-the-world record has suffered a major setback when its mast broke just half an hour into the voyage. The 33.5m (110ft) catamaran with 14 crew had set off from the French port of Brest on Thursday, hoping to set the pace in the Jules Verne Trophy for the non-stop race. But French skipper Bruno Peyron, who was the first holder of the trophy nine years ago, was back to the drawing board when the tip of the mast snapped about half a metre from the top as the multihull sped under gennaker at 28 knots in a 20-25 knot wind. Nobody was hurt and none of the metal fittings or sails were damaged.
The crew carried out emergency proceedings to drop the gennaker. One of the crew was sent up the mast to free the jammed sail and prevent further damage to the mast. The boat then changed course for Vannes where she was due to be assessed. - CNN.com/ Inside Sailing website, Full story:
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 Vaughan: Man, do I ever agree with Onne van der Wal about putting a little joy back in the Volvo Ocean Race. This is the fourth Volvo (Whitbread) I've covered for ESPN, and I sailed the Auckland/Punta del Este leg of the 1990 race on FAZISI, and with every report that comes in I can only shake my head at the gruesome ordeal it has become. It's gone beyond extreme sport in terms of diet, dangerous amounts of sleep deprivation, and beyond-funky personal hygiene. Three freeze-dried meals a day, "sleeping" in the wet on an 18" slab with the other guy's feet in your crotch, and a seatless toilet next to the stove? All I can ask is why? And the degree of risk appears to be out of hand. Playing Russian roulette with truck-sized growlers at 25 knots in the pitch dark is way beyond any reasonable nightmare.
Fuzz Spanake said of the last race that if animals were found living like the Volvo sailors, someone would call the ASPCA. Why not add some fresh food to the mix to avoid the potentially damaging long term effects of the glop crews are eating? And install some basic pipe berths, add a no-frills head, and maybe enforce a few way points to circumvent the icy mine field. The Volvo isn't for everyone. But legislate a few changes of that sort and for sure more sailors would be interested in the race. And as Onne suggested, probably more sponsors too.
* From Doug Lord: With the Enron mess, the Olympic skating debacle and the mess with the America's Cup there sure is a crisis of integrity afoot in the world. I agree with Olin Stephens: the breakdown of the nationalist basics of the Cup certainly add to the opportunity for skullduggery when nothing else seems to stand in the way like honor, patriotism or personal integrity. The disintegration of the New Zealand team into a group of greedy men without a country is one of the saddest episodes in the history of the Cup. Of course it takes two to tango: one to give and one to receive and I'm afraid that the ethic of going by the rules is dead or dying ...
* From Mike Blecher: Olin Stephens is right on point in connection with his comments on the latest America's Cup fiasco. When he discusses the original intent and spirit of the rules of nationality, his words are clear, flawless, and the idea, simple and perfect--like much of his life's work. Personally, I am disgusted with the situation, and I agree completely with Mr. Stephens--there should be no incentive to cross borders, or worse--much worse, to buy information simply in pursuit of winning.
* From Andrew Besheer: At heart I agree entirely with Olin Stephens and his comments on nationality in the AC, however I think it only fair to wrap a little perspective on "the way it used to be". I'm only going on memory here, but Charlie Barr - who may well have been the greatest Cup sailor of all time - was a Scot. And all those crews on the big Herreshoff and Starling Burgess boats from the turn of the century into the '30's -while they may have been recruited from Deer Island, Me.- there was certainly a reason they were referred to as "Norwegian steam".
* From John Longley: With respect to Olin Stephen's comments on Nationality and those supporting his comments, they suggest that in the '"good old days" the America's Cup was strictly sailed along National grounds. This is simply not the case. Prior to the war there were many matches where both Challenger and Defender used professional Scandinavian crews. In fact Tommy Sopwith was one of the first to use amateur crews in 1934 with Endeavour because his professional crew went on strike for more pay.
I sailed on Australia in the 1977 match and our tactician was none other than the Californian match racing whizz kid, Andy Rose. There was absolutely nothing to stop us doing that. This was obviously a concern to the NYYC as they bought in strict Nationality rules for the 1980 match which have since then been watered down to residency requirements.
The Board of Directors of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association of North America (ICSA) elected Mitchell Mace "Mitch" Brindley its Interim President for the balance of his predecessor's term, which concludes June 30. Brindley succeeds Mike Horn, Harvard '63, who served as President from 1988 until his resignation, effective at the close of the ICSA's Mid-Year Meeting. At the time of his resignation, Horn indicated he is looking forward to being able to concentrate full effort on coaching and to enjoying life as a private citizen of ICSA. Brindley will remain Head Coach of the Old Dominion University Sailing Team where he has served since 1995. Gail M. Turluck, www.collegesailing.org.
AC INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
Day Four racing started on time in a 10 knot South-Easterly under a clear summer sky. The racecourse situation, in the lee of Rangitoto Island, meant that the wind on the water was patchy with different amounts of breeze blowing just metres apart. The result of both races today were determined more by being in the right pressure at the right time than by having the fastest boat or the best tactics.
One World Challenge won the race against Team New Zealand by one minute and six seconds. With the wind has all but gone and Victory Challenge drifted across the finish line first while GBR Challenge crossed the line four minutes and 38 seconds later.
During the first flight of the day the breeze dropped away to almost nothing and never really established itself again, meaning that the last flight of the second Round Robin will not be held until tomorrow, and the identity of the second finalist will have to wait. - www.lvcup.com
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QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
* "Personally I have had a shocking 24 hours. It started with a blocked toilet yesterday. This was followed by being drowned by 10 gallons of water coming in through a cockpit vent and landing on me in my bunk. Just after I had changed into my dry gear in the nav station, another 5 gallons came in that hatch; so I was soaked again. To finish the day, I found my gear bag floating in the bilge mixed with a cup of diesel. I am looking forward to tomorrow; wonderful sport this, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing." Kevin Shoebridge, Tyco.
* "We just spent 6 hours becalmed. I think it will have happened to a few others also but maybe not all. When you are becalmed, you work your ass off, believe it or not. You change sails, stack and unstack, look for breeze by sending guys up the rig...it is not an idle time. It is a desperate time. You know you are losing to someone at the rate of 14 miles per hour. You have to find a way out and most of the time there is nothing you can do but wait for Mother Nature to take her course." - Paul Cayard, Amer Sports One.
* "It makes me laugh, these girls are some of the world's toughest female sailors who have just emerged from dodging icebergs at mach speeds in the depths of the Southern Ocean. Valentine's Day rolls around and one by one, as the emails from loved ones come in, they go soft as putty and for a brief moment collapse into a puddle of emotional mush." Lisa McDonald, Amer Sports Too.
TEAM DENNIS CONNER
Team Dennis Conner is spending Thursday conducting crew drills off Long Beach, sailing their trial horse, USA-54, the old Abracadabra. Reached during practice today, helmsman Ken Read said that everything was going well. The team is keeping mum about whether they've had a chance to sail the recently completed USA-66. "We're just keeping that information to ourselves right now," said Read. - Tony Bessinger, Sailing World website, www.sailingworld.com/sw_article.php?articleID=657
A remembrance gathering for Carl Schumacher will be held on Sunday, March 24 between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. at the Saint Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco on the Marina Green. A parade of boats, particularly Schumacher boats, will follow the event and proceed from the club to the Blackaller buoy and then to their respective home ports. The family also wishes that if anyone intends to make a donation, that it be made to the Carl Schumacher Fund, Encinal Sailing Foundation, 1251 Pacific Marina, Alameda CA 94501. The Foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization.
It's now 14 years since KZ1 sailed and lost a yacht race in the courtrooms of San Diego. Subsequent to that sporting debacle, Sir Michael Fay in 1990 donated KZ1 to the NZ National Maritime Museum. This huge yacht, one of the biggest sloop rigged yachts ever built, now straddles the entrance to the viaduct basin. This yachting icon is one of the largest artifacts belonging to the Maritime Museum.
On Friday February 15 at 6:30 am a survey of the Big Boat's rig will begin. This will not be a simple operation. The height of the mast is 153.5 ft (46.8m). A crane using a man bucket will carry out the operation. Terry Gillespie of Southern Spars (contracted by the Museum for the survey) said "This is an unusual job and due to the scale of the task combined with the length of time KZ1 has been out of use it would be unwise to use the halyards to assess rigging."
Designed by New Zealander Bruce Farr and built by Marten Marine in Auckland KZ1 incorporated state of the art technology. It is still considered a phenomenon that this colossal yacht took only 24 weeks to build. - Catherine Saunders
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
You know you're getting old when you're sitting in a rocker but you can't get it started.