SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1009 - February 18, 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 one time face of New Zealand yachting Chris Dickson is adamant he remains an America's Cup helmsman despite a second wave of conjecture over his position at Oracle Racing. Off work as his wife Sue prepares to give birth in the next couple of days, Dickson said his job hasn't changed. "I expect to be out sailing and helming [when he returns to work in eight days]," he said.
A website report indicated Dickson had been side-lined and placed on leave of absence but Dickson described the suggestions as false, disappointing and ridiculous. He expected an apology. "I am home for a week and enjoying it," he said. "We are having a baby." Oracle chief operating officer Bill Erkelens confirmed Dickson's leave of absence had been arranged for months. The syndicate has five helmsmen, including Peter Holmberg, one of the best match racers in the world.
Erkelens refused to answer repeated questions on whether Dickson would return to a sailing role. "we will have to see," he said. "I don't have any comment to make." Asked why he wouldn't clarify the situation, he said" "Because things change and you write things down and something else happens - then I look like a liar."
Erkelens said he would happy to say whether Dickson was aboard as the Oracle boats went out to train each day. "My crystal ball is not working right now," he said. Reading too much into Erkelens' reply may be dangerous.
He emphasized he was not going to be pressured into answering questions on issues such as personnel, keels or sails simply to avoid someone being able to say 'because you won't deny something it must be true'. Asked if he or other senior syndicate members had been approached by sailors and been told they didn't enjoy sailing with Dickson, he said: "In those words exactly, no." Asked if they had said something similar to him, he said: "no, not that I recall." Andrew Sanders, Sunday Star Times, NZ
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
As the V.O.60s have headed further north towards Rio de Janeiro and the temperatures have started to soar, the crew have been experiencing excruciating pain as their chilblains and minor frostbite injuries have warmed up. Some of the teams' helmsmen have experienced repetitive strain injury from the rigors of steering their boats in the wild conditions of the Southern Ocean. Others will have cracked hands due to exposure to cold and wet for a length of time, and most will be experiencing the unpleasant and very uncomfortable feeling of repetitive salt chafe, which normally produces very unpleasant and painful rashes and swelling.
When hands crack in the Southern Ocean and you have had your fingers wrapped around a sheet trimming a sail for hours on end, the healing process is much longer and more trying. Add salt to the wound, literally and this will provide extreme pain and swelling and makes any movement of the fingers extremely difficult. Chilblains are another uncomfortable and debilitating affliction. They are a non-freezing cold injury, which appear red and swollen and can be extremely tender and may itch. One thing is certain, once chilblains have developed the treatment to minimize pain and further suffering is to remove the patient from further exposure and to rewarm them slowly. Not really a solution for a Volvo Ocean Race sailor!
On Friday, the Swedish boat SEB retired from the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race due to losing her rig last week. The boat and crew have now arrived in Punta Arenas in Chile. Here SEB will be loaded onboard a cargo ship for further transport to Rio de Janeiro, the starting location of leg five of the race.
Team News Corp has set up an ingenious steering system on-board after a rudder breakage several days ago. Instead of using the temporary tiller, the crew can now steer using the boat's steering wheels. Since the breakage, Team News Corp has been sailed with an emergency rudder attached to a spinnaker-pole tiller. The helmsman had to sit on the cockpit floor to direct the boat, and boat speed and control were affected. The extraordinary force on the boat's hull from the temporary rudder caused stress cracks to appear in the transom yesterday, which meant that increasing sail area and power on the boat was not viable.
The fight for second is as intense as ever. Tyco and Assa Abloy are within sight of each other, doing the same speed in equal conditions with the same distance to the finish. As the wind is forecast to drop over the course of the day the final result could come down to trimming and sail maneuvers. Unfortunate djuice has dropped to fifth and is suffering in less wind than the yachts ahead.
A disappointed Paul Cayard wrote that the wind didn't behave as expected. The header they were looking for never materialized and they were left in calm conditions, doing just two knots when the wind dropped from ten to five knots in just half an hour.
Positions on February 18 at 0400 GMT:
1. illbruck, 134 miles to finish
2. Team Tyco, 23 miles behind leader
3. Assa Abloy, 23 mbl
4. Amer Sports One, 23 mbl
5. djuice, 29 mbl;
6. News Corp, 351 mbl
7. Amer Sports Too, 597 mbl
8. Team SEB, retired
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Following is an excerpt from a NZ radio interview that Peter Montgomery held with the UK's noted yachting journalist Tim Jeffery.)
Pete Montgomery: And Reevesgate. Sean Reeves against the OneWorld Challenge. OWC alleges one thing. Sean Reeves makes some amazing or shocking revelations. If 10% of then are true OW will be struggling to stay in the Regatta. But OW blasted back this week with Laurie Davidson going through the barn doors six guns blazing.
Tim Jeffery: Indeed, indeed. I think it's crucial that we separate two things that are going on here. There is the civil case that is rumbling on in the Seattle Courts and then there is OW's own admission of guilt to some of the things that Reeves has alleged which they've put before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel. That's the one we'll hear about first; that's the one that will involve a sporting penalty. And my feeling is that it might not be as serious as it seems. Certainly, intriguingly, there are two big ticket, big name syndicates waiting in the wings likely to make similar admissions to the Panel. That they might have design information which under the Protocol rules they really shouldn't have either. So OneWorld's rivals aren't exactly gunning for them.
Cheryl has posted this interview on the 2003ac.com website and the full interview can be heard at www.newstalkzb.co.nz/index.asp Time: Sunday 08.45 AM
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 Chris Ericksen: I can't help but notice that, yet again, collegiate sailing has selected a leader from the East Coast in electing Mitch Brindley of Old Dominion as Interim President of the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association of North America (ICSA) as reported in 'Butt 1008.
In its entire history, I do not believe ICSA has chosen a president from west of the Appalachians, let alone west of the Mississippi. While I cannot comment on nor question the talents and qualifications of Mr. Brindley or any of his predecessors, I wonder if there aren't qualified, interested and available men or women on the West Coast or in the Midwest who could serve in this position. Are there not, or is this another example of yachting's East Coast bias? Just curious.
* From Mike Priest (With regards to Catherine Saunders' article about KZ1): I watched the "Coma at Pt Loma" 14 years ago. The yacht race was lost on the water!
* From: John.Greenland: Well I guess the GRB Challenge didn't endear themselves to the other AC teams with their on and off the water antics in the Jubilee - they had the decency to solve the problems through the protest room (the proper way) and decided not to involve the legal systems. Perhaps when the other syndicates realize how cheap (and often efficient) this method is they will be able to save some of their enormous budgets for more useful things - such as youth sailing programs etc.
* From Vince Murphy: While we're remembering the "good ole days" of America's Cup competition, we might also recall that until New Zealand won the cup, it was expected that a challenger that got eliminated would help those that were still in the game. Likewise for defender candidates. The notion of restricting the exchange of design information really did not come into being until after New Zealand had won in 1995, ostensibly as a result of the oneAustrailia two-or-three-boat campaign. The only major furor I can remember over this was in 1987, when the Kiwis broke with tradition and chose to help the defender instead of the challenger.
We might also do well to take a more critical look at a protocol which, as near as I can tell, requires a designer like Phil Kaiko (who last time worked for a team that is not even participating in the 2003 Cup) to forget he even knows what a sailboat is before taking a new job with a syndicate sailing for the *same* country. I would be willing to bet that, before designing Courageous, the Sparkman and Stevens office did not have to throw away all of the information they had on every Twelve they had ever designed for anyone else.
What we are seeing is at least in part the result of silly, unworkable rules. And those rules were largely written by . . . Sean Reeves.
* From Gregg Henning: America's Cup racing as well as many other areas of racing has truly become a race of money. If we want to prove what country truly has the best sailors. Give them a true one-design boat with the same sails from the same loft. Have them rotate boats. Have them sail from their respective countries.
The America's Cup has become a real embarrassment. If you put them in the above senario, all the lawsuits, covering boats to protect secrets, jumping between countries to sail with a different syndicate for a bigger paycheck, would all go away. Let's get back to what sailboat racing is meant to be!
* From Geoff Newbury: Laurie Davidson's only error was in failing to recognize that he could not trust someone who appeared to be totally trustworthy. This error happens every day. Davidson didn't need to 'wrap the binder'. It was sitting on his desk in his own office.
I doubt the photographs were important. If they were "really" important, they would have been protected. If they were of the 'Laurie and Tom with model #4' variety, they were not important, and Davidson's having them was irrelevant as possessing information is not the test.
It is not whether Davidson had any information from a prior campaign, but whether he used data which was prohibited to use. Personally I consider it a vote in Davidson's favor that TNZ did not see any need to demand every last scrap of paper from him when his mandate was completed. TNZ obviously believed that he could be trusted to act in an ethical manner. And nothing since has given any reason to doubt that that still applies.
* From Rasa Bertrand (Re: return to the "Corinthian days" of the Americas Cup so many are referring to): I suggest they research America's Cup from day one. Why were so many of these rules instigated and when? Makes for great reading and a different perspective. Absolutely nothing has changed! As they say. The dogs may bark but the caravan rolls on
* From Robbie Doyle: I have to respectively disagree with the Curmudgeons' description of getting old: "You know you're getting old when you're sitting in a rocker but you can't get it started." That is when you 'are' old. You know you are 'getting' old when you write to the curmudgeon to agree with Onne van der Waal and Roger Vaughn about the good old days.
I will not repeat their comments as they speak for themselves, but one further absurdity that has slipped into offshore racing is the allowing of the sails and all the gear to be moved form side to side for ballasting purposes. For those that have not done it, it is a miserable job that can take over an hour of moving wet sails and other gear about the boat. It wastes everyone's time and effort, and disturbs the entire off watch any time the boat tacks.
No wonder people have to pay to get crew to sail offshore. If the rule of leaving things in their place would be simply followed by all the competitors the net result would be the same, and the sailing more enjoyable and tactical for all involved. The reason given to permit this breach of the rules is that the crew will do it anyway, so you have to permit it! Allowing this attitude to not only survive, but dominate the sport has many other repercussions which is often reflected in Scuttlebutt's coverage of the America's Cup and Volvo.
* From Russ Lenarz: Although a number of valid points could be made in that the Volvo Ocean Race has become more of a survival mission than a race. It is important to keep in mind that it is the sailors themselves who are pushing the limits of these boats.
In defense of the Volvo 60 Rule, with the high dollar amount and pressure from sponsors to perform well, designers are called upon by their clients to find ways to push the envelope in design. This translates into rapid development within the rule.
It has been proven that the Volvo 60 Rule has produced Fast, Seaworthy Designs for this type of racing and the possabilty exists to make a Volvo 60 more livable down below, but designers are in many cases subject to having to go to extremes based on the clients desire to push that envelope. A bigger design could very well be more exciting, but not necessarily any safer and we could very well be having a similar argument five years from now as the envelope is being pushed in that class.
* From Don Bishop: There have been many laments in Scuttlebutt re "Where are the Young Sailors?" The Olympic TV celebrates Youth Events, but more importantly for sailors, the SPEED options youngsters have. The ISAF Youth Championships with approx 300 18 and under, boys and girls from 50 countries may be totally ignored by the press! That's the problem!
The venue this year is Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, an historic town on the Atlantic Coast. The races will be short and many per day. This year Boys 2man and Girls 2man racing will be in 29er skiffs, which have been clocked at 28knts. Very exciting stuff.
FOR THE RECORD
* The mast of the maxi-catamaran Orange was unstepped Saturday this morning, Once down, the spar was moved into a shed in the Multiplast yard where it was carefully inspected. If these early observations are anything to go by, it would appear that the incident is indeed due to a weakness in the zone around the masthead running backstay.
Multiplast is going to set about rebuilding the whole of the upper part of the mast. The boat yard still has the mould which was used to build the composite masts on the three sister ships which took part in The Race Ð i.e. ex-Innovation Explorer, Club Med and Team Adventure. "Multiplast has told us that something between 15 and 19 days are needed to do the job," reported Bruno Peyron.
The question on everyone's lips is whether it might not be too late in the season to set out again! Don't forget that Olivier de Kersauson, current holder of the Trophee Jules Verne, did not leave until 6th March in 1997. Bruno Peyron ended by saying : " Right at the very start of the campaign, we had set ourselves the 10th March as our absolute deadline. We're looking to a new start around that date!" - www.orange.fr
* After some five years in the sponsor-hunting and planning stage, 18 months in the build, finally Olivier de Kersauson's dream will begin later today when he embarks on the first of a four year programme of breaking the world's greatest sailing records. Geronimo, the Frenchman's 110ft long by 69ft wide trimaran sponsored by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric, is due to slip her moorings in Brest Sunday afternoon and will then head up to the start line between Ushant and the Lizard before setting off on her attempt to break the record for sailing non-stop round the world. Ironically de Kersauson will be setting out to break his own record for the Jules Verne Trophy. This currently stands 71 days 14 hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds for the 26,500 mile sprint round the planet. - James Boyd, madforsailing website.
Full story: www.madforsailing.com
The Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year--Steve Fossett and Cory Sertl--were honored with one of US Sailing's most prestigious awards at a luncheon at the New York Yacht Club. A panel of sailing journalists selected the two accomplished sailors for this year's distinction. - Full story: www.ussailing.org
Victory Challenge has confirmed the construction of their second cup boat is under way. Their first boat, Orn, which they have sailed in this week's America's Cup International Regatta, has sail number SWE 63; their new boat will be SWE 73. "When we built Orn, we followed a more traditional design from America's Cup 2000," said project manager Mats Johansson. "For the boat that we now have started to build there is a whole new concept." On sail matters, Prada have been assigned No 74. - Julie Ash, NZ Herald. www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/
AMERICA'S CUP INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
Seattle's OneWorld syndicate won the final fleet race of the America's Cup International Regatta in Auckland, in a thrilling last minute charge for the finish line under Harbour Bridge. The match racing round robin series was won by Team New Zealand. - CNN.com / Inside Sailing, Full story: www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/sailing/02/17/regattasun.spt/index.html
Official website: www.lvcup.com/
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
"Beef dill with mashed potatoes was the menu for lunch with 6 pills as an appetizer. What we eat and drink out here is freeze-dried and desalinated water and as such is lacking in the necessary electrolytes and minerals that we all get ashore. Furthermore, our bodies are sleep deprived and we burn more calories than we take in... I think I have lost five kilos in the three weeks we have been out here. The pills are to replenish the magnesium, zinc and a few other million things that we are lacking out here. People have lost their hair out here due to these depletions! On the last lap with EF [in the previous Round the World Race] we had a doctor, Stefan Branth, who did research on us by taking blood and hair samples before and after the legs and through that he found out all of our depletions. So the recipe of pills we are taking this time is his concoction. We take 12 pills per day" - Paul Cayard, Amer Sports One.
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ST. PETERSBURG NOOD
St. Petersburg (Fla) - Racers at the Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD regatta, a three-day regatta presented by Mount Gay Rum that concluded today on Tampa Bay, came prepared. Each of the 162 teams--traveling from 20 states, Canada, England, and Ireland--managed a long list of logistics just to get to the starting line of this national sailing circuit. But when they arrived, Tampa Bay gave them conditions that are hard to prepare for: days of shifty, northerly winds that give luck a heavy weight in any racer's formula for success.
This three-day regatta, hosted February 15-17 by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, was sailed in a range of conditions: from Friday's sun and little wind; to a stiff and shifty 15- to 20-knot northerly on Saturday; to Sunday's tamer northerlies, at 10 to 12 knots.
Class winners included: Melges 24 (31 boats) - Doug Fisher, Polywog; J-24 (22 boats) Steve Wood, Tasmanian Devil; - Sonar (22 boats) Peter Galloway, Fast Forward; J-29 (13 boats) John Esposito, Hustler; SR Max (10 boats) Charlie Clifton, Col. Fletcher Prouty; Corsair (9 boats) Doran Cushing, Tri Southwinds; Henderson 30 (9 boats) Michael Carroll, New Wave; Level 123 (9 boats), Ed & Scott Peters, Tigress; Corsair (9 boats) Doran Cushing, Tri Southwinds. Ultimate 20 (8 boats) Kevin Knight, KK-Spirit; Tartan Ten (5 boats) Bill Buckles, Liquor Box. - Cynthia Goss, www.sailingworld.com
J/22 LEGG MASON MIDWINTER CHAMPIONSHIP
Final Results, 57 boats:
1. Fats, Benz Faget, 35
2. WaveMaker, Dwight LeBlanc, 38
3. Diesel Snack, Rob Johnston, 42
4. Tejas, Mark Foster, 43
5. Slo Poke, Bonner Cordelle / Eric Faust, 44
6. Chunder, Terry Flynn, 45
7. Bess, Greg Fisher, 49
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
People are funny. They want the front of the bus, the middle the road, and the back of the church.