SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1171 - October 4, 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 PRADA MESS
* Prada head Patrizio Bertelli says it was a team decision to sideline renowned yacht designer Doug Peterson. In a press conference this morning, Bertelli said Peterson had not been fired from the team but had been demoted from his position as design director. "It was a unanimous decision and something we had been thinking about for a long time now," Bertelli said.
"We believe we are strong team, we believe we know what we have to do. When I say it was a unanimous decision I mean it was a decision from the whole team - the sailing team, the design team, everyone together." He said the team had been thinking about demoting Peterson 'for quite some months' and it was not a reflection on Prada's loss to Oracle BMW Racing on Tuesday's first day of racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup. - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
* Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli has backpedalled. It is very clear that Doug Peterson has not been fired. He is still part of the team but is not to have anything to do with design. The guts of it seems to be that there is a major disagreement on how to develop the Prada boats and Doug Peterson is a casualty from that. Thus Peterson is able to watch Prada race but has no input. Also, Gavin Brady is back into the heart of the team. He will be on the second boat in today's racing. - PeterMontgomery, www.newstalkzb.co.nz/index.asp
* There have been reports that the second Luna Rossa, ITA-80, suffered structural problems that developed from intense heat across the equator as the boat was delivered to Auckland on a container ship. "I never heard about this rumour before," Patrizio Bertelli said. "Maybe the sun across the equator was very harmful for someone's brain, but not the boat." - LVC website, www.louisvuittoncup.yahoo.com/story435.html
* Yesterday Peterson was described as "an unquestioned genius" in his biography on Prada's Luna Rosa website. Today, his name picture have vanished - he is no longer listed as a member of the design team.
ON THE RACECOURSE
It could not have been nicer on the Hauraki Gulf -sunny with 15-17 knots of breeze at the start.
Alinghi helmsman Russell Coutts found himself in the unfamiliar position of having to chase a boat around the Hauraki Gulf on Friday, as Seattle syndicate OneWorld crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of the Swiss.
The second race of the day on the Romeo course between the Swiss favourites and OneWorld provided the most excitement. OneWorld won the start and then covered SUI64 closely up the first beat, not allowing the Swiss syndicate to get any clear air.
Midway through the race Coutts and his crew started to attack aggressively downwind, forcing the Americans to reach down to the mark, and closing the gap at the fourth buoy to just 10 seconds. In a neck and neck drag race down to the finish Peter Gilmour's crew managed to hold off the strong Alinghi charge and take the much-needed win.
Meanwhile Prada's drama off the water seems to have disrupted their on the water campaign as well, with the defending champions suffering their second defeat out of two. Team Dennis Conner were relatively untroubled by the defending champions who lagged from the beginning to the end of the two-hour race. Although Prada did close the gap after trailing by almost one minute at mark two, Stars & Stripes were 35 seconds ahead of the Italians when it counted.
In the greatest mismatch of the day Oracle BMW Racing came away with their second win of this round robin. The Americans backed by software mogul Larry Ellison crossed two minutes and three seconds ahead of the Italian rascals - Mascalzone Latino. The all-Italian syndicate are not here to win the Cup and it seems highly likely they will be the first to depart New Zealand shores.
The long awaited first clash for Victory Challenge proved worth the wait on Friday, as the Swedish syndicate took the gun one minute and six seconds ahead of their French rivals, Le Defi Areva. The crew on board FRA69 were left rueing what might have been, as a few tactical errors, combined with bad luck down the first run, saw them in the Swede's wake for the entire race.
The French lost a few boat lengths by overlaying the top mark on leg one and then disaster struck with their spinnaker ripping during the launch. However, the young inexperienced crew stayed calm, and tripped the shoot allowing the old shredded sail to drop and a new one to be set, without the uproar and mayhem one might expect, although the whole process took a little longer than they might have liked. - Fiona McIlroy, nzoom website, americascup.nzoom.com
S&S beat Prada 35 seconds
OneWorld beat Alinghi 10 seconds
Oracle BMW beat Mascalzone 2 min. 3 sec.
Victory beat Le Defi 1 min. 6 sec.
S&S 2 - 0
Oracle BMW 2 - 0
OneWorld* 2 - 0
Victory 1 - 0
Alinghi 1 - 1
GBR 0 - 1
Prada 0 - 2
Mascalzone 0 - 2
Le Defi 0 - 2
* Note: OneWorld will lose one point because of a penalty imposed by ACAP.
OneWorld races GBR
Victory races S&S
Mascalzone races Alinghi
Le Defi races Prada
Bye: Oracle BMW
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: If you're looking for race results and deltas right after the races end, cupviews.com seems to get them posted well ahead of anyone else. And if you want stories about the races, nzoom.com generally has them posted first. There is a wealth of material posted the official LVC website, but it takes a little longer after the races to get that material posted.
POLE-LESS IN ANNAPOLIS
When Team Pegasus broke their spinnaker pole at the Mumm 30 Worlds last week things looked bleak. At 4:00 p.m. where could one get a pre-built carbon Mumm 30 pole in time for tomorrow morning's races? Fortunately, Annapolis Performance Sailing was just around the corner. APS, the most comprehensive performance sailing store in the Americas, had it in stock! Out the door with pole in hand, back on the water in the morning. Customer service is what we're about and we stock what we sell. Give us a call or find what you need online. www.apsltd.com/scuttlebutt.asp
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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 Vince Cooke: Though the immediate objective is to win the Louis Vuitton Cup, the ultimate objective is to win the America's Cup Match. If the Conditions for ACXXXI follow the same format as ACXXX, and they probably do, there will be no wind limit restrictions during the Match.
What kind of breeze do you think will prevail on 19 February at the commencement of the Match? I guarantee you that the conditions will definitely not be the same as those encountered in October and November. The breeze in Auckland varies considerably as the season moves from early spring to mid-summer and it moves from downright nasty to balmy and benign.
The Challengers (and Defender) can build only two new boats. If you expect to be the Challenger, you have to survive the spring conditions and then if you expect to win the Match, you better have a boat that can compete in the light summer breezes. That is an impossible design consideration.
So, what can the Challengers do to compensate for the fact that the Match will be raced in relatively benign conditions as compared with the spring conditions? Answer: impose wind limits such that they are similar to what will prevail during the Match.
* From From: Joe Ozelis: The folks complaining about racing in the LV being postponed just don't get it (even though it is explained in the beginning of 'Butt 1170). The boats aren't designed to race in 20+ knots not because they can't be, but because when they meet for the AC match itself, they don't need to be. As any engineer can tell you, you don't design to an area in the parameter space that you will never occupy.
If you did design to 25+ kts for the LV series, then you end up over-designed (and over-weight) for the AC itself, and hence are then at a distinct disadvantage against the defenders, who can target their design to only the (lighter) average conditions expected for the Cup match itself.
So rather than risk racing in conditions that could potentially damage their boats, conditions which they are unlikely to see in the AC finals, the Challengers have decided to limit the upper windspeed. Keep in mind that the Challengers' goal is not to provide "good TV" for the masses, but to win a boat race in a set of conditions 4 months from now that differ markedly from the conditions that their eliminations are being sailed in.
* From Lloyd Causey: Both Tom Chiginsky and Jim Puckett complain about the boats not being able to sail in heavy weather. The designers could make this happen and the boats would hold up. However none of them would be able to compete with the light air boat the Kiwis would build to sail next year.
The reason all of the challengers (not the billionaires) want to make sure they sail and qualify in weather similar to the weather that will be there for the America's Cup. What the challengers are doing is to protect themselves from the advantage built in by the defender when they set the schedule.The defenders do not even need to declare any boat design until next year. The rules are always in the favor of the defender, so do not complain when the challengers try to even the playing field.
* From Gordy Wagner Seems that there is more noise at Prada than just Gavin Brady. Doug Peterson has left or was fired? Last time the Young America boat broke and almost sank. This time it seems that the Prada team has broken and is sinking before things really get started. I think this may bee too much for the boat builders to fix! Too bad, there is enough talent on that team for 2 or 3 teams! Again we see that the AC is far more than a boat race.
* From Peter Huston: The funniest thing happened this week - I was watching a sailing regatta, and an Italian Opera broke out over in the Prada compound. What entertainment! In this day and age of the bland corporate-speak sports stars it is so refreshing to have such an interesting character like Patrizio Bertelli do whatever he wants with his team - and after all, it is his team.
So Patrizio, if you want to bench Gavin Brady, who it is well known within Cup circles to be the best helmsman - both starting and on the open course - in the Prada camp, then fine, lose with grace and style. Now Doug Peterson is "demoted"? In the rag trade, no one can argue with your choice of designers, because you certainly run a premium fashion company. But as the owner of a sailing team, Patrizio, you might want to ask yourself if this is the right time to "demote" one of the all-time best yacht designers. How about just not hiring Doug for the next Cup instead?
If the issue with Gavin is a matter of national pride because he's not Italian, then ask Ferrari how they have enjoyed their success with a German driver for their F1 team. And if you come to your senses and want to undue all that you did this week Patrizio, we'll all love you for it even that much more. You've proven to be a great Producer and actor in a wonderful show - so sing on Patrizio, sing on!
* From William F. Cook: A lot of people have been writing in about the AC wind limits as if their heavy-air sailing experience qualifies them as an expert. For the record, it does not. Put 7500 sq ft of sail on a 25-ton boat and you have a load condition that the average weekend yachtsman cannot even begin to imagine. The boat gets wound up tighter than a snare drum. It's like a party balloon that's been inflated until it's on the verge of popping.
I have personally witnessed an ACC yacht doing more than 20 knots of boatspeed downwind in a breeze exceeding 30 knots. I can tell you that from my relatively safe distance of about 300m it was quite exciting, and I have no doubt that if I had been on the boat at that moment I would have needed a change of pants. The boats are scary, difficult beasts with rigs that are more than 100 feet high, and it is amazing that the sailors handle them in anything even approaching 20. In fact, they can and do handle them in quite a bit more.
* From Robert Duffy: Referring to Tom Dolan's comments on mediation in Butt. Sept 02, I would go one step further. Frequently the protagonists in a mediation process get a feel for the merits of their case by the slant of the questions posed by the mediator and are quite prepared to change their position in a full hearing based on that information. If arbitration fails and it goes to a full hearing let it be before three new judges with unbiased minds but ensure the arbitrator is in the room as an observer and in a position to advise the jury on whether, or not, the evidence given is in accordance with the earlier mediation process.
TIME FOR A CHANGE?
Jim Pugh thinks it's time to re-do the IACC rule. "Maybe some of the class parameters need to be changed to define a bit of a different boat," he says. "These boats are dated, anyway. The wind for the limits was developed for San Diego, where very rarely you would get that much breeze. Now we're in a windy venue with similar or lower wind limits. It's kind of crazy."
In other words, they're still building boats to the edge for San Diego, not the Hauraki Gulf.
"You raise the edge when you know that's what you've gotta race in," Pugh says. "We do it for boats that go offshore and can't come in when it's windy. They should be able to start in 25, maybe 30 knots. There are all sorts of races in parts of this country where club racers go out and race in that. Build the boat for the conditions. I think they should be out there sailing.
"It's in protected waters, anyway. Even when it blows from the north, it's not like you're in the ocean. It's not like Fremantle. We've got to stop complaining about the TV when we can't go sailing, anyway." - From an interview by Rich Roberts for the Yacht Raing website, full story: http://www.yachtracing.com/richroberts/accomentary.htm
(Jim Pugh and his partner John Reichel have designed Dennis Conner's IACC boats Stars & Stripes for both the 2000 and the 2003 America's Cup challenges.)
Virtual Spectator aims to attract 100,000 subscribers to its online 3-D racing service that will allow a worldwide audience to watch every Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup race in real time over the web. A small team of five to 10 Virtual Spectator workers will begin tracking boats racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup from today, as the Auckland company launches an online racing service, much improved on its efforts in the last America's Cup.
The online service is based on GPS (global positioning system) data each racing boat downloads from a satellite to plot its course and work out distances and speeds. That information is then transmitted from the boats to Virtual Spectator and on to the web using Telecom's fixed cdma wireless data network. The data are used to graphically plot the courses of the boats online and present race statistics and a running commentary. Those on broadband connections will ultimately enjoy the best-quality service. - Peter Griffin, NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz
CURMUDGEONS COMMENT: Just do it. Don't think twice about it - order VS right now! VS was wonderful during AC XXX in 2000, but they have made a huge technology leap for this event. It's simply amazing. I watched all four races tonight, simultaneously, and missed nothing. If you want to go back to see something again, just push the rewind button. When you select the free camera mode, you can select whatever view you want with the left mouse button, while the right button lets you zoom in and out. It's truly great technology. Even if you have OLN, you will want VS too. And you will undoubtedly spend more time watching the races on VS than on OLN. It's the best $24.95 you'll ever spend. And in case you're wondering, this is not a paid advertisement. - www.louisvuittoncup.yahoo.com/section7.html
THE PROVING GROUND
"A sailing masterpiece." -- Walter Cronkite
"What a fantastic adventure story this is." -- Esquire
"A page-turner." -- Washington Post
"Harrowing." -- New York Times
"This is adventure writing at its best." -- Detroit Free Press
"The most marvelous sailing documentary I have ever read--brilliantly executed, poignant, comprehensive, enticing." -- William F. Buckley Jr.
The Proving Ground, G. Bruce Knecht's acclaimed book about the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race, which focuses on Larry Ellison's experience during the race, is available at bookstores or at Amazon.com: www.amazon.com
Alinghi's decision to use SUI64, rather than SUI75, raised the issue of whether that was really their best boat, (Team NZ head Tom) Schnackenberg said. "Is it because 64 is their favourite boat, or is it because the boats are similar, and they think maybe 64 is good enough to win a lot of races, and 75 might be the boat they want to race later on, or is 64 really their best boat? - From a story in the NZ Herald by Michael Daly, www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Peterson has been shown the door, but not pushed out of it." - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, UK, sport.telegraph.co.uk/sport/
October 3 - At 05:55:04 local time (04:55:04 UTC) Tim Kent sailed across the finish line in Torbay. After 17 days at sea Everest Horizontal will take third place in Class 2 following an earlier arrival by Derek Hatfield's Spirit of Canada, and Brad Van Liew with Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. - www.aroundalone.com
THE CURMUDGEON'S QUESTIONS
Some say squeaky wheel that gets the grease, while others insist that the nail that sticks out gets hammered?