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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1012 - February 21, 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 Yacht Racing website has posted the full text of the affidavit of Team Dennis Conner President Bill Trenkle in the Sean Reeves' case. Here are two short excerpts.)

We just had some small talk initially and he asked how the campaign was going. Then he asked how serious we were about wanting to win the America's Cup. And I said we were very serious about wanting to win the America's Cup. He said, would you win at all costs? I said that was a hard statement to answer, depends on what the costs are. He said, I have some information that would help you guys along. I know your syndicate is behind on the design program and I have some information that would get you up the learning curve much quicker. He proceeded to lay out that he was no longer with OneWorld Challenge, that he had left them, and that when he left he was able to retain certain information that was his property from Team New Zealand and from OneWorld. He was offering to provide that information to our syndicate in exchange for a fee.

Reeves described the information he was offering with some specificity. He said that he had the design for the Team New Zealand Millennium mast and that he had additional information that came about from the research that OneWorld had been doing on masts. He said that he had OneWorld's rig information. He said that OneWorld had made some big gains in their mast program, from the millennium rig. He also said that he had the lines plans for NZL 60 and that he had information as to what Team New Zealand would do for another boat, the next step, where he said they were thinking they would go next. I said that was enough, I did not want to hear any more. I did not fish for a lot of detail because we were not buying. We were not interested. I did not really want to know. I did not want to hear anymore. The conversation was over very, very quickly. - Yacht Racing website

Full text:

(Following is an excerpt from a story in the New Zealand Herald that covers in some depth the latest murky chapter of the America's Cup along with some Cup background and history.)

The Cup Protocol was designed to put an end to some of the often bizarre controversies generated by interpretations of the competition's founding document, the Deed of Gift. Drawn up in 1887 by George L. Schuyler, the sole survivor of the schooner America, which won the Cup from a British fleet off the Isle of Wight in 1851, the deed donated the now-famous silver ewer to the New York Yacht Club with its "friendly competition" aim. Given that America's win in the inaugural race included a controversial dodgy shortcut, and an unfounded suspicion that it had used a propeller, it was always an optimistic mission statement.

It took another 132 years, the longest winning streak in sports, before Australia II took the cup Down Under. After Dennis Conner wrested the cup back to America in 1987, the lack of an immediate challenger and a Cup Protocol allowed New Zealand's Michael Fay to lodge his notorious big boat challenge under the old provisions of the deed of gift. The fiasco that followed on and off the water brought the introduction of an immediate challenger of record and a Cup Protocol. In essence, it is a modern-day agreement stemming from the Deed of Gift's clause that the terms of a challenge can be made "by mutual consent".

Over the years the protocol has been amended to tighten rules over reconnaissance (spying), nationality and design information, enshrine the new America's Cup class and bring in the two-boat and limited sails rules. It also provides for the mandatory public unveiling of challengers' and defenders' yachts before racing.

Until now, clandestine snoopings added to the cup's intrigue, as syndicates went to the very edge of the rules. But accusations of deliberately stealing information are a far blacker stain. A senior cup insider said the difference this time was the shiploads of money being spent on the campaigns. "It's all about money, it's being thrown around, and for some it appears to be too much temptation." - NZ Herald. Full story:

An ongoing quest at Ockam is the hunt for boatspeed and wind sensors with no moving parts - the theoretical advantage being considerable. As of today, the choices we've tested are either somewhat compromised in performance or durability, or are very costly. However, there are some promising new devices currently under evaluation. Because the Ockam system is designed to allow a wide choice of sensors and easy integration of custom components, future steps forward can be made available to existing clients. Stay tuned. Please visit or email Tom Davis at

A little under 60 hours after crossing the start line, Geronimo had reached Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. This express trip to the equator has delighted the crew of the giant 110-foot trimaran. "It's been a fantastic trip so far, with winds between 30 and 37 knots. Geronimo has been making between 23 and 27 knots without us having to drive her hard at all," said Olivier de Kersauson in his latest radio transmission. "We're going to wait until tomorrow before putting on any more sail. After three days, the crew will be completely organized and able to give their maximum performance. There's no point in piling on the stress too quickly, because they have to find their own feet. -

(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: Liv Sherwood (Re America's Cup nationality rules - edited to our 250-word limit): As one who served on seven Cup juries between 1974 and 1995 and as the "neutral" director of the America's Cup Challenge Association last time, I hate to see the sorry mess emerging this time. That great gentleman and sportsman Olin Stephens rightly identifies the ridiculous laxity of the current nationality rules for the Cup as a major cause of the controversy and welter of accusations that are so far removed from the historic spirit of the Cup. At first it was just the sailors, "Dickson San" for Japan then Paul "Cayardini" for Italy. Seldom mentioned is Rod Davis, an American and one time contender in U.S. Cup trials later competing for New Zealand then Australia and now coaching Italy. The only nationality that seems important now is that of the billionaire who hires the best foreign sailors, designers etc. away from their own countries.

The changeable nationalities of designers has really exacerbated the situation. Is a designer like Laurie Davidson required to forget every design factor that contributed to the Kiwi success in the last Cup? Difficult if not impossible. Derek Paterson proposes that a person changing nationality be required to skip one Cup. This would be a great help. Requiring five years of new domicile or principle residence could help while not tying down a sailor or designer forever to the competing country he is first associated with but it would not solve switches to other syndicates in the same country unless coupled with Derek's proposal.

* From Mark Wynter, Isle of Wight, England: Malcolm McKeag and Bob Fisher's explanations for the 1934 Endeavour crew strike are at variance with contemporary newspaper reports. The Cowes-based J Class expert, Rosemary Joy, has kindly lent me a facsimile of Sir (then Mr.) T.O.M. Sopwith's scrapbook for the year. It contains newspaper cuttings dated 16 and 17 July 1934 from the Morning Post and the Daily Mail about the strike.

Unfortunately they are too long to reproduce in detail within your 250 word limit, the Morning Post's article running to 16 column inches. They both make it clear that the issue was solely that of money, and give the precise offer that Mr. Sopwith made to his crew: If Endeavour loses, £5 10s per week; if she wins £6 10s per week. Alternatively, if Endeavour loses £4 9s per week; if she wins £8 per week. This was to run from the present date to the end of October. Not much, but it compares favourably with the average pay for a yachting season of £3 6s per week. The article also pointed out that the crew of Rainbow had signed a round-robin demanding a 50% increase in base wage, and an even larger increase in prize money and extras.

Curmudgeon's comment: Thank you all for this history lesson. This thread is now officially dead.

* From G. E. Kriese: I agree with Matthew Frymier's comments regarding the Rolex awards and Greg Fisher's outstanding record, but I can explain it. Greg Fisher's results, while spectacular, don't really count as he won in classes predominantly sailed in by amateur, weekend warriors, non-professionals! (I understand Fisher is a sail maker)

While I personally think this is an awesome achievement, what do I know? I'm an amateur and it's the "pros", the big $$ sailors paid to sail for the big "programs" are what that really count in our sport. Scuttlebutt readers don't want to hear about the intense competition in Lightning's, Flying Scots, J22's and Interlakes. Most professionals wouldn't even admit to knowing what an Interlake was!

Scuttlebutt readers want yet another breathless account of how a small cadre of elite sailing professionals brave the elements in the Volvo, America's Cup and other "Grand Prix" events - for a paycheck of course - and I'm sure the Rolex judges read Scuttlebutt.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: By strange coincidence, the Yacht Racing website has just posted an interview by Rich Roberts with Steve Fossett that touches on some of these issues. Here are a couple of excepts:

At 57, Steve Fossett is not only the oldest recipient of the (Yachtsman of the Year) award in its 41 years but the first to win the Rolex without the usual resume. If you have a problem with that, you are not alone. But the guidelines for the panel of sailing journalists who make the selections each year are clear and simple: "[to] recognize outstanding on-the-water achievement within the calendar year."

Where does it say you have to race against anybody? Still, his selection may have surprised hardcore racing sailors, if not Fossett. He said he was "well, not surprised, but very pleased. There have been so many great sailors who never got it who have congratulated me-like Mark Rudiger, who was navigator on a winning Whitbread boat, and a couple others who missed it."

He has raced in the conventional sense-several Southern California-to-Mexico races and the Transpac in '95 and '97 with his former boat, the 60-foot trimaran Lakota. Sailing one of Dennis Conner's old Stars & Stripes catamarans, he was the first ever to finish the Newport-to-Ensenada race before sundown. In 2001 he raced his 125-foot PlayStation in The Race of giant cats, although he was forced out early with a broken daggerboard and mainsail problems. But, no question, racing in the conventional sense has not been his forte. "I was aware of this issue when I was a candidate back in the late 90s," he said. "In fact, I've been first to finish in 22 major yacht races, although not during the year 2001."

One of the gratifying things about this is that what I'm doing in sailing is being recognized. I've been very much involved in records. I came into sailing with this concept. I brought it in from other sports where you try to have the best equipment and be the fastest. - Yacht Racing website.

Full interview:

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A relieved News Corp crew took down the sails after crossing the finish line, knowing that they have made the best that was possible under the circumstances. News Corp sailed a strong leg, always close to the leading yacht illbruck, until the first disaster struck when they hit a growler on the morning of February 7. A shocked crew turned the boat to the northeast and made her way to warmer latitudes to escape the strong grip of the ice. There they pushed hard and moved up in the standings again. But too much damage was done to the rudder and it finally failed on February 14, 1250 miles from the finish in Rio. Within two hours the yacht was back on her way to Rio under emergency rudder.

1. illbruck, 23d 05h 58m 42s, (combined time for first four legs - 85d 16h 33m)
2. djuice, 23d 11h 52m 42s, (92d 6h 23m)
3. Tyco, 23d 13h 4m 52s
4. Assa Abloy, 23d 14h 22m 21s, (89d 18h 56m)
5. Amer Sports One, 23d 14h 50m 55s, (86d 8h 41m)
6. News Corp, 24d 21h 55m 10s
7. Amer Sports Too, ETA 0626 GMT February 21.

1. Illbruck, 29
2. Amer Sports One, 22
3. Assa Abloy, 20
4. News Corp, 19
5. Tyco, 18
6. djuice, 17
7. SEB, 12
8. Amer Sports Too, 7 pts

* March 2-8: Thistle Midwinters East, St. Petersburg YC (FL). To be run concurrently with Coach-TCA seven day race training program with Greg Fisher. -

Graham Dalton's new Open 60 will be sponsored HSBC, the financial services group. The sponsorship for this new Owen Clarke designed New Zealand entry in the Around Alone 2002/2003 Race involves a global education initiative. For data about the boat and pictures:

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: James Boyd took a good look at Dalton's boat and his program in a story now posted on the madforsailing website. Here's a brief excerpt from Boyd's piece:

"Compared to Ellen MacArthur's Vendee Globe steed, the Dalton Open 60 has some significant differences such as a taller rig and more sail area, an articulating bowsprit and a single daggerboard (Kingfisher has twin asymmetric boards). It also shows some similarities to a Volvo Ocean 60 such as having twin wheels and a trench-style cockpit that is open-ended at the transom. Both features are contrary to present Open 60 design thinking - wheel steering weighs more than a carbon fibre rudder attached to the top of each stock, while short-handed sailors usually prefer enclosed cockpits and an aft deck. If you fall overboard on Around Alone, the event for which the new boat has been built, there's no one to come pick you up..." - James Boyd, madforsailing website.

Full story and pictures:

The widows of four sailors who died in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race are suing the event's organizers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and the Bureau of Meteorology for negligence. The action was launched late last year and club members were briefed on the matter at a meeting on Tuesday.

The husbands of Shirley Bannister, Penny Dean and Denise Lawler were aboard the yacht Winston Churchill, which foundered at the height of a savage storm on December 27. Mike Bannister, John Dean and Jim Lawler took to a liferaft but drowned after it fell apart in high seas. A survivor from the same liferaft, John Gibson, has also filed a suit against the club.

The women named the CYCA, the Bureau of Meteorology, the supplier of the liferaft, RDF, and the yacht's owner, Richard Winning, as defendants. Mr. Gibson named all but Mr. Winning.

Another woman whose husband died in the race, Stephanie Skeggs, of Launceston, has launched a suit claiming negligence against the club and the bureau. Mrs. Skeggs's husband, Phil, drowned when the yacht Business Post Naiad rolled and he was trapped underwater. Its owner, Bruce Guy, died from a heart attack in the storm. The yacht was allowed to compete even though its certificate of stability was below the race requirements. Mrs. Skeggs's suit alleges the club was negligent in allowing the boat to enter.

The club is still wrestling with a defamation suit brought by Richard Purcell, the owner and skipper of Margaret Rintoul II. A Supreme Court jury found that Mr. Purcell was defamed by two former commodores of the club, Hugo Van Kretschmar and Peter Bush, at a press conference in 1999, and the case is to go to trial before Justice David Levine. - Alan Kennedy, SMH website.

Full story:

* "The other thing that is tough to describe is the motion inside the boat. To feel the violence of the boat when it is skipping across the waves like a rock skipping on water. And then the sound that that makes; it's like a drum, as if someone is beating on the side of the boat and the whole thing is shaking. It's just an unreal ride they don't have rides like this at Magic Mountain." - Paul Cayard, Amer Sports One

* When Ross Field was asked, On a scale of ten, how do you rate the danger on that leg in the Southern Ocean, he replied: "There was no doubt about it. I openly admit that I was seriously worried and on occasions, really scared. We were sitting in the nav station, when we broke some rigging on our fractional halyard trying to come up around some ice, and all we were doing was seeing ice on the radar. This is really crazy stuff. We kept hammering on, but I was seriously, seriously worried." - Ross Field, News Corp

Jim Denning, owner and skipper of the Cal 40 Montgomery Street passed away February 14th. A memorial service will be held at Richmond Yacht Club Saturday February 23 at 1:00pm for all his many friends to visit and pay respects. Jim and Montgomery Street are best know for racing the same boat in 11 Transpacs and winning at least one.

The curmudgeon is off again - this time to navigate Jim Madden's J/160 Stark Raving Mad in the San Diego Yacht Club's 1000-mile Puerto Vallarta Race. Happily, David McCreary has once again agreed to take the helm until I return in early March. Until then, letters to the curmudgeon should be sent to David at:

You can't know what's enough until you learn what's too much.