SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1177 - October 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.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP SERIES - SUNDAY
Seattle-based syndicate OneWorld has convincingly overcome a one-point penalty assessed before the start of the Louis Vuitton series to complete the first round as the only undefeated team. In wind speeds of 12-18 knots, today's much-awaited showdown between OneWorld and fellow American heavyweights Oracle BMW Racing provided the most impressive pre-start of the series.
With Peter Holmberg at the helm for Oracle and James Spithill for OneWorld the pair almost came to blows on several occasions as they vied for the best starting position, proving that these giant America's Cup yachts can be turned on a dime. After an even start, OneWorld crossed ahead of Oracle and took a 22s advantage at the first windward mark.
OneWorld's USA-67 once again showed its strength downwind and led by 46s at the second mark. Oracle's USA-76 which has raised questions over its speed in light wind, had no answer for the Seattle syndicate who extended their lead to 1 minute 04s at the final mark before winning by 40s
* Stars and Stripes have been awarded the point from their race with Le Defi, after the French crew were unable to get their boat ready in time for the restart of their Louis Vuitton Cup match this afternoon. The first attempt for the race earlier in the day was abandoned when wind speeds climbed too high. At that point Stars and Stripes had been well in the lead, after the French broke a forestay and for some moments looked to be in danger of losing their mast. -NZ Herald, full story: www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
* Oracle BMW sailed two races on Sunday - the second against the Victory Challenge late in the afternoon. The Victory Challenge suffered a breakdown early in the first beat when their headsail halyard failed. The Swedish team sailed both upwind legs without a headsail allowing Oracle BMW to sail to an easy win. - www.louisvuittoncup.yahoo.com
OneWorld defeated Oracle BMW, 40 seconds
GBR Challenge defeated Mascalzone Latino, 54 sec
Team Dennis Conner defeated Le Defi Areva (DNS)
Oracle BMW defeated Victory Challenge, 10min 46sec
Prada Vs. Mascalzone Latino, postponed until RR2
SATURDAY - Big wind (like 45 knots) so there was no racing.
GBR Challenge defeated Oracle BMW Racing, 36 seconds
Alinghi defeated Victory Challenge, 25 seconds
OneWorld defeated Prada, 1min, 11 seconds
Mascalzone Latino defeated Le Defi Areva, 5 min, 19 seconds
8-0 One World Challenge*
5-3 Oracle BMW Racing
4-4 GBR Challenge
4-4 Team Dennis Conner
3-5 Victory Challenge
1-6 Mascalzone Latino
0-8 Le Defi Areva
* Note: As a result of a penalty imposed by ACAP, one point will be deducted from OneWorld's score at the end of Round Robin 2.
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On ominous weather forecast issued on Saturday caused the Around Along race organizers to postponed the start of Leg Two for 24 hours. Leg Two was scheduled to begin on Sunday, but the prospect of Force 6 gales winds prompted the decision to postpone.
"Cynics might scoff at the thought of weather being the cause for the race delay given that these boats are designed and engineered to sail around the world, but it's not that the boats can't sail in a gale, it's that they will not be able to get off the docks. The yachts have to be towed out of the marina because their engine shafts are sealed for the leg, and the towboats are not able to manage especially with a strong easterly wind that brings a large swell into the harbor. So with that as a given, race officials have decided to do the prudent thing and postpone the start by a day. It's absolutely the right thing to do," said Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. "Our main concern is to not have any damage to the boats and so if it makes sense to delay the start a day, that's what we will do."
John Dennis (Bayer Ascensia) voiced the reaction of the skippers: "It's a smart decision. We've got a long race around the world, so why take a chance on some very violent weather which might damage our boats getting out of the harbour." - Brian Hancock, www.aroundalone.com
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 Mike Martin: All of these problems of starting in large fleets has been solved years ago by two simple words - "Gate Start." At the 505 worlds, which has had in excess of 150 boats on the starting, gate starts are always used. The number of general recalls is incredibly small on average about once per 7 race series. The starts are just as tactical as a line start and with far less chance of an OCS.
Often race committees for the worlds are hesitant at first to change to a starting procedure that they are not familiar with, but by about the third race they swear that gate starts are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Before you reply to this message on why they won?t work. Try starting in a big fleet using gate starts and you to will see the light.
* From Cam Lewis: The Gate Start system is used in all major 505 class events with great results, few aborted starts, protests and or OCS type problems. The Laser class used this system years ago in major events. I believe many classes have used it in the past with good results.
I like it, many others do. I recommend it for any one design class , especially those having big troubles with conventional starts in any size fleets. I also believe it is easier on all Race Officials. Less stress, less people needed and a lot better chance of not wasting time and losing hours of great racing time- even days.
* From Ted Ritter: I am surprised that nobody has mentioned one tidy way to we experimented with in the Laser Class many years ago to achieve a clean start every time. After X number of general recalls, the sailing instructions required a Rabbit or Gate Start. At the start signal, non-competing Pathfinder sails close hauled on port tack from the pin end closely followed by a guard launch. The constantly expanding start line is between the stern of the launch and the pin. Competitors may sail through the gate on starboard tack at their discretion within a time limit of X minutes. Naturally, this would be a close pass by the stern of the moving gaurd launch.
The result is a picture perfect picket fence line of starboard tack boats with no 'over-earlies.' One down side was if you were at the left end of the line and decided that you really did want the right side of the beat after all, good luck in getting over there.
* From Dustin Romey: Gates aren't the panacea for the starting difficulties Paul Henderson and Bruce Kendall addressed. It won't work in some fleets. But the fleets it does work in, it works quite well in. Its simple, effective, there are no usually OCS, its less work for the RC, and yes it is possible to get a 2nd or 3rd row start. If you haven't tried one before, its worth a shot. Take a look at a typical set of SI's that prescribe gates: www.int505.org/ChampionshipSailingInstructions2002.htm, section 11.
* Peter Bateson: In his Guest Commentary Bruce Kendall comments: "I hope one day race committees are able to signal to starters by use of flag/s or other devices as soon as someone is OCS during the start sequence." Several active Solent clubs use the following practice to help competitors, the wording being taken from the SIs:
"In the last minute before the starting signal, if any boats are seen on the course side of the line or its extensions, IC flag X may be raised (no sound signal) and lowered (no sound signal) when these boats have returned to the pre-course side of the line. Failure to display this flag before the starting signal will not be grounds for redress."
This works well so long as the start line is not too long for the committee boat to be visible!
* From Fredrick Schmidt: Each day, your newsletter's disclaimer proclaims that 'Butt is 'a digest of yacht racing news of major significance.' Sorry - I don't think the Around Alone Race meets that criterion anymore. It appears the event has only attracted three or four serious racing programs, plus a number of adventurers who rely duct tape, perspiration and some begging to stay in the game. The event's web site is certainly not well supported and now we see a sponsor jerking its boats out of the lineup. Last one out, please turn off the lights.
* From Michael H. Koster (edited to our 250-word limit): This appears to be the appropriate time for me to add my 2 cents worth to the discussion of marine industry workers being excluded from sailing in certain classes. US Sailing will tell these individuals that they are not amateur competitors because they work in the industry. Then US Sailing will tell them that they have no control over what the individual classes do with regards to establishing criteria for who can race in these classes.
I work in the industry as a materials manager. ISAF has indicated that I'm a Group 1 competitor (amateur). To date US Sailing refuses to classify me as an amateur. US Sailing will not address is my contention that they are in non-compliance with Section 220522 (a), (14) of the Ted Stevens and Amateur Sports Act and also Article IV, Section 4(C) (12) of the Constitution of the USOC. The law simply stated, a Member National Authority cannot have eligibility criteria related to amateur status that is more restrictive than those of the appropriate international sports federation (ISAF). US Sailing is being more restrictive than ISAF with regards to eligibility criteria related to amateur status determination. The Ted Stevens Act and USOC Constitution applies to any organization that wishes to be an MNA for an Olympic sport in this country.
To date, I have been advised by US Sailing, that if I wish to pursue the matter, I should file a complaint under Article 14 of the US Sailing bylaws. This was done yesterday
* From Colin Smith (Re the debate over 'ISAF services'): The key thing will be what is 'professional', and thus may need all the extra controls which ISAF seem to have in mind, and what isn't/doesn't. I'm biased, because I sail in - and help organise - a non-Olympic international class. But 'professional' is easily defined (eg Olympics/Olympic qualifiers, Americas Cup, Volvo, etc). It should not include non-Olympic classes, or domestic events of Olympic classes. This is where the people 'racing purely for the love of the game' are. They are fully capable of managing their affairs, and will not organise events which are not what the sailors want. But they can be severely affected, through increased costs (paid for by the sailors) and bureaucracy, if controls are imposed on them in an attempt to address issues which do not arise in their events.
And there is also no need to damage their kind of international racing in an attempt to promote the 'elite'. Proposals continue to surface at ISAF threatening the ability of classes to hold worlds and continentals, apparently because the powers that be consider that the 'elite' (professional) events are somehow devalued by the existence of the 'rest'. There is a long-established, successful framework of international racing out there - the onus of proof needs to be on those who would abolish this framework. Personally, I see no evidence that the existence of such events in any way devalues the 'professional circus' which ISAF seek to promote.
* From Jim Champ - Mr. Vandervort overstates the case that the AC trickles down innovation to skiffs. To other lead-mines, sure, no arguments, but the use of lightweight hi tech construction in lightweight skiff types long predates their use in the AC. In the UK the AUS/ NZ/ GBR based Cherub intermediate/lightweights skiff type class built its first foam sandwich boat in 1970, and its first carbon reinforced boat in 1976. One of the guys with most responsibility for those developments was a young New Zealander called Russ Bowler, who dragged the 12s / AC kicking and screaming into modern construction with Kiwi Magic in 1986. We led the AC, they didn't lead us.
* From Pete Mohler: In 'butt 1176, Robert Vandervort writes that the Am cup boats are to thank for bringing hi tech mtls to the little people. On the contrary, the Skiffs, 18s then 14s were sailing with carbon & kevlar hulls and spars as well as with Assy. kites back when the am cup boats were all welded aluminum. There are many sources for innovation, the Am cup is not the only thing. In many cases it is probably easier to experiment with a smaller boat before trying it on a big one.
(Commentator Peter Montgomery interviewed OneWorld's skipper, Peter Gilmour out on the Hauraki Gulf after a win against the once favoured Oracle BMW. Heres' an excerpt from a story published on the Cupviews website.)
Discussing the racing in general over the past few weeks, Gilmour commented, "There has been more dog fight races where its bow to bow, a sign that the boats are more even in speed. I think Oracle has a sweet spot and let them exploit it, they will exploit to absolute advantage. They're a great racing team and we respect them a lot."
"My overall impression so far is that in the beginning everyone was a little unprepared - day 1, wham bam, lots of close stuff. As racing has gone on, people have lifted their game. I see the racing getting a lot closer and results a lot more varied."
* And will we see Gilmour behind the wheel? Said Gilmour, "I'll have to be sailing a lot better than I am now before I move Jimmy over - I look forward to taking him on to a game of tennis in the next few days and see how he gets on." - Cupviews website, full story: cupviews.com
COMMENTARY - Bob Fisher
While it is far too early to make long-term predictions on the outcome of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the indications of the racing so far is that there are only two outstanding teams in the competition, the Seattle-based OneWorld Challenge and the Swiss Alinghi Challenge. Both of their boats bear striking resemblance to NZL-60, and there is nothing surprising about that. After all, OneWorld has NZL-60's chief designer, Laurie Davidson, heading its design team, while Russell Coutts and his band of TNZ renegades were all part of the input into the winning design and must have carried a great deal of them in their heads when they jumped ship.
The obvious disappointment is that of the Farr designed Oracle-BMW Racing that may have been pitched towards the upper end of the wind scale. But bearing in mind that races are only started in breezes between seven and nineteen knots, this may have been a trifle stifling. Certainly, she is slow downwind because she is short of sail area, a situation caused by taking a design penalty, possibly not as was indicated earlier from lighter displacement, but more likely from a slightly deeper draught. The changeover point in USA-76's performance would appear to come at 17 knots-above that wind speed she is highly competitive. - Bob Fisher, Sailing World website, full story: www.sailingworld.com/sw_article_AC.php?articleID=1421
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Houston Yacht Club, Galveston Bay, TX - Final results (64 boats):
1. Eduardo Cordero, Venezuela, 10 points
2. John W. Kolius, USA, 35
3. Malcolm Smith, Bermuda, 42
4. Diego Zimmermann, Peru, 64
5. Eduardo Gonzalez, Venezuela, 66
Corpus Christi YC, Corpus Christi, Texas - It went right down to the wire in the final race Friday. Ian Ainslie, leading by 9 points, started in the third row, and managed to climb back as high as twelfth, but faded to 18th on the last beat. The next three boats in the standings all had a shot at the title, and all posted top ten finishes. Terry Flynn's fifth gave him the title by one point. - Michael McCutchon
Final Results (60 boats):
1. Terry Flynn, Randy Borges, Paul Grenauer (Shoreacres, TX) 50
2. Bill Drahiem, Scott Self, Jim Bookhout (Rockwall, TX) 51
3. Ian Ainslie, Greg Davis, Charles Nankin (Cape Town, RSA) 53
4. Rob Johnston, Stephen Andre, John Skiles (Dallas, TX) 53
5. Greg Fisher, Jeff Elber, Jo Ann Jones, Kaven Elber (Annapolis, MD) 64
Complete Results: www.oemsites.com/j22worlds
STAR EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Two races were sailed on the final day but the second race was cancelled as the wind was shifting through 180 degrees and exceeded the Star class limit. This was unfortunate for current world champions Iain Percy/Steve Mitchell (GBR) who finished the race in first place.
Final results (90 boats representing 23 nations):
1 SWE, Fredrik Loof / Anders Ekstrom, 15
2 USA Mark Reynolds / Austin Sperry, 21
3 DEN Niklas Holm / Martin Leifelt, 28
4 GER Marc Pickel / Tony Kolb, 28
5 GBR Iain Percy / Steve Mitchell, 30
Event website: www.yci.it/
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
Why do we say "after dark" when it really is "after light?"