Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1179 - October 16, 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.

With the first round of the challenger series all but over, one thing is clear heading into the second round next Tuesday. It will take polished performances from the seven other challengers to beat OneWorld and Alinghi. Although there are still four months until the best challenger lines up against Team New Zealand to race for the America's Cup, the first-round results show OneWorld and Alinghi have an edge over the rest.

OneWorld went into the competition with a one-point deficit after the America's Cup arbitration panel ruled they had other teams' design information, but the Seattle syndicate have been the slickest unit on the water, charging through the first round unbeaten. Australian helmsman James Spithill, 23, has been calm and collected at the wheel, their experienced crew have performed faultlessly, and their Laurie Davidson-designed boats have proved to be among the strongest in the shifty conditions the Hauraki Gulf served up. "There is a long way to go and in the next round it is clearly going to get closer as each team has learned a lot facing the competitors," Spithill said yesterday.

Alinghi's only loss was to OneWorld by 10s. In that race, the Swiss syndicate bungled their pre-start and were 8s behind at the start. Many yachting experts have cited similarities between the OneWorld and Alinghi yachts and Team New Zealand's 2000 cup-winning boat, NZL60. That comes as no surprise, considering Davidson was a key designer with Team New Zealand in 1995 and 2000, and former Team New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts, now with Alinghi, is known for his technical expertise.

Coutts said it was relatively easy for teams to change their boats and believes several would be considering it now they had an indication of where they were at compared with their opposition. "I think you'll see some quite big changes," Coutts said. "It wouldn't surprise me if some of the teams who appear to be not so competitive now actually reverse the tables. If you've got a week or two of strong winds I would say you would see some very different results out there." - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, full story:

But while spectators draw breath between the two Round Robins, it's business as usual for the teams in the Viaduct basin. No racing doesn't mean no work, far from it. Whether they're carrying out modifications to their boats in their yards, or continuing their testing programmes afloat, time is still of crucial importance. Using it wisely is another important aspect of running a successful campaign. But not everyone operates the same system.

During the break Alinghi's plan is to sail every day with both their boats for the whole week, so long as the weather allows. "When we can't sail due to the weather, the maintenance team will work on the boats so there is still plenty going on at the base," said Bernard Schopfer. "As far as the sailing team are concerned, we were lucky with the draw and the way things worked out which saw us completing our races in Round Robin 1 on Sunday, so Monday was a day off for us," he continued.

Other teams were less lucky with the closing stages of the round. The French team broke their forestay and damaged some other areas of their boat on the last day of racing, which means that they will be busy with repairs and modifications this week. Once complete, the team will need to sail the boat to conduct some testing as well, so for French, time is very tight.

At Prada Challenge modifications and maintenance to both of their boats means that the sailing team will not be out on the water for the first few days either. Here, the sailing team has been split into two with each taking three days off, while the shore team continues as normal. It's business as usual for the Brits too, at least it is for their shore team who have from Tuesday to Thursday evening to work on the boat before the sailing team come back from their two days off to go back out onto the Gulf once again.

For Oracle and One World, a single day off for everyone was their way of making sure everyone had a break. Victory Challenge are also planning a day off for their crew at some stage during the week, but having decided to use their second boat SWE-73 for the next Round Robin, they've been keen to spend as much time as possible testing her alongside SW-63. Sailing both boats for most of the week is most likely to occupy the Swedes. - Matthew Sheahan, Louis Vuitton website, full story:

Boat set up is easer than ever with Harken Deck Specs! This year, we've organized our library of hardware systems by basic boat size. Use the suggested layouts as is, or modify and customize them to suit your own boat and sailing style. Deck Specs was a big hit with sailors at the Annapolis Boat Show and is now posted on Deck Specs is also featured in the front of the 2003 Harken catalog.

* Damon Roberts has joined Insensys Ltd. where he will focus on the development of optical fibre strain sensing systems within the Marine, Exploration and Aerospace industries. Insensys Ltd is a new company that has been established to develop the commercial application of fibre optic strain sensing, an exciting technology which has 'come of age' for the marine market. Optical strain sensing involves the process of embedding optical fibres into laminates such as masts, hulls, rudders, multi-hull cross beams and anywhere loads need to be monitored.

(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.)

* Jesse Andrews: Regarding Bill Lee's letter about the "unique approach" to OCS. If the electronic beam aimed across the starting line is functional and affordable, then it is the ideal solution. Assuming that this system can "see through" other over early boats, it would be unbiased and more accurate than the human eye. How can the race committee be sure that there is only one over early boat if that boat blocks the view of other boats to Leeward. This is what causes general recalls. With a beam that is turned on with the starting signal, it will make the system 100% accurate and consistent throughout the world. No more guessing if you are over or filing for redress when you "think" you were mistakenly called over.

The timed start requires the most strategy, skill, boathandling and tactics. Please no more rethinking the wheel with "pace car starts" or any other brainless "on your mark, get set, go" approaches.

* From Fred Schroth: The last major North American Laser Class event to use the gate start was a late 90s US Nationals held in at Cape Cod. The competitors were overwhelming in their disdain for the system and for a number of reasons. The national fleet did not ask for gate starts. The nationals was a lousy place to introduce a new method of starting to the game. Starting line tactics are entirely different from gate start tactics. It was likened to using a pitching machine for golfers to tee off at a US Open. It may be a fun game and the same competitors may ultimately win but it is not the traditional game the fleet had chosen to play and had played for years.

Let's teach race committees to set decent lines. We do not use the gate start at the major Laser regattas because we are fortunate in our association to be able to find a sufficient number of tremendous race officers to run our events. If the huge Laser fleet can be managed properly on a starting line so can all the other smaller fleets.

* From Tom Fischbeck: Could not agree more with Platt Johnson! Sailing is a dying sport! Extreme kids with Skateboarding, snowboarding, kitesurfing, wakeboarding, Parasailing, Para gliding, Ultralighting, Skysurfing, Waves machine pools, Extreme rock climbling, Cable waterskiing, Little wheels on the bottom of your tennis shoes! etc.etc. Where does it stop!

To preserve or enhance Corinthian yachting could take a centuries the way this past time works! Wake up yachties, Ditch the lead! Buy an old Hobie cat and go sail it with your kids on a windy day, might be a good start!

* From Will Wagner: I agree fully with J. Joseph Bainton's letter in Butt 1178. What other sport can you just show up and compete against the best in the world. Do you want to sail against Paul Cayard or Mark Reynolds? Get yourself a Star and go to the Bacardi Cup. Do you want to sail against Dennis Conner? Go get yourself an Etchells 22. Over simplified yes, but not far off. The Schumachers, Samprases, and Elways of our sport are accessible and are a great boost to the sport. Which would have a better ring to it in your journal of sailing accomplishments? I finished 5th in the Etchells 22 worlds, or I finished 5th behind Dennis Conner in the Etchells 22 worlds? I know the way I would tell the story. Just by showing up these guys push the level of competition up and at the same time without even trying make you and I become better sailors. So don't get upset, open your eyes and ears and go to school on these “pros”. I guarantee you will be faster when the smoke clears. Yeah, so they get paid, and yeah they can make a living sailing, and yeah I'm jealous too.

* From Bruce Gresham: (re Fredrick Schmidt comments about the Around Alone Race) The 13 Around Alone entries are sure to keep us buttheads spellbound as they plane across the Southern Ocean at 25+ knots. Has the regatta web site now become a measure of the significance of a yacht race? Duct tape, perspiration begging reminds me of college sailing days. Keep the great coverage coming.

* From Peter Willcox, Greenpeace: Geoff Newbruy's comments about Greenpeace are a bit over the top. Never have I been a hater of all things French. Not even close. Such an attitude would be stupid. Nor would I try to excuse the mistakes made in France in May. But I would hope that Scuttlebutt readers can keep them in perspective. We have been using non-violent actions as tools for public education for over 30 years. Our policy against property damage is well known and closely followed. As for our feelings nuclear energy, I would not dream of voicing them in Scuttlebutt! (But "inimical and unreasoned"? I think not.)

* From Roger McBride: I am Category 1. But, I have numerous friends that are Category 2 and 3. People should remember that ISAF and US Sailing do not restrict professionals in sailing, some one-design classes do. These restrictions were put in place to serve the interest of the owners. At the risk of irritating some of my friends, I think the restrictions have worked for all involved. The restrictions have clearly increased the number of boats in the classes. They probably have slightly increased the money top tacticians get, although you should realize that most Category 3 crew don't get paid directly for being on the boat. And they have increased the opportunity for true amateurs to sail with and against the pros. As is frequently pointed out, the people hurt are the Category 2 and 3 people that are second tier, but are very competent sailors. Whether US Sailing should charge for the classification system administration in the way they do is an issue I would rather stay out of.

* From Risky Rick: I was surprised to see your coverage of the Miami Columbus Day Regatta. I didn't realize that you would cover the story of the deaths of the drunken power boaters and not make mention of the racers. The race has always been about sailing not the many power boaters looking for an excuse to express themselves in a manner that shows the public that boaters are dangerous idiots when they operate a boat. As racers we wish that we could divorce ourselves from that group. As for the race, it was a great two days of close racing that will ensure a close battle for the overall winner. The weather was great and we had a wonderful time on Biscayne Bay. We are all saddened by the deaths of our fellow boaters. But all boaters must realize that drinking and operating a boat at night are a dangerous combination.

* From Morgan Larson: I must agree with Barry Ault and he is rightfully frustrated that in our sport an "amateur" sailor must pay a fee and file a form so he/she can race. I am curious why the people who make their livings from the sport "pro's" aren't required to? Maybe it is an a matter of economics? A large majority of racing sailors are amateur so hit them with the tax.

(The Cup View website has posted a long interview with Russell Coutts. Here are a few excerpts.)

At this stage I think we are seeing technology differences between the syndicates. I think there certainly has been quite pretty dramatic improvement since 2000, perhaps more than there was between '95 and 2000, but the conditions out there are quite difficult as well. We have seen several days where we've been racing in conditions very shifty and puffy and sometimes it's quite hard to read the wind on the water as well.

I always think the Hauraki Gulf is like sailing on a like, which is probably quite appropriate to the Swiss Challenge as well, but it is like sailing on an inland lake. You've effectively got islands all the way around, it's very shifty and I think the northwesterly breeze is very challenging to race in. As the boats close up, I think the sailing skills will become more important.

I think we've got room to progress but I think we've made some inroads and shown that we are a competitive team. Whether we can take it to the level you need to win the America's Cup, well the Louis Vuitton Cup then the America's Cup, that's a challenge ahead of us. I think we've got a good show at that but I wouldn't say we are there yet. - Cup Views website - full story:

You can now buy official Oracle BMW Racing Team Clothing at The official online superstore of the America's Cup 2003 is also selling Team New Zealand, Victory Challenge, GBR Challenge, Alinghi and Le Defi official team clothing. America's Cup 2003 clothing, Replica Silverware, and accessories including Official Programs are also available. You can order from the comfort of your home or office with worldwide delivery at low freight rates.

16/10/02: 1330 UTC - Solo-sailor Brad Van Liew hasn't slept or eaten since he left Torbay, England, for Cape Town, South Africa, but he has been able to stay in the lead of his class in the second leg of the Around Alone race. Horrendous weather conditions causing steep waves from all directions have kept the front-runner fighting just to stay aboard Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America for the full 48 hours since he left the England port. In sailor's lingo, he has encountered "confused seas," or constantly shifting winds of 40 knots or more that create incredibly steep waves and "holes" that make the North Atlantic seem like the inside of a washing machine.

Tiscali arrived in Brest a couple of hours ago and Simone is reported to be extremely tired, let alone very perplexed as all of his autopilot systems are not working. Normally there are two or three on board so if one is temporarily faulty the skipper can turn it off and switch to the second one.

Simone reported that he had two broken mainsail battens and that one stanchion had been broken as well. His shore team met him there, and technicians are arriving soon to resolve the problem as swiftly as possible in order for Tiscali to set off on her route to Cape Town without losing too much ground on the fleet.

Standings Fleet Positions 06:00 UTC October 16, 2002 - CLASS 1: 1. Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Bernard Stamm ,6907 miles from finish; 2. Hexagon, Graham Dalton, 35 miles behind leader; 3. Solidaires, Thierry Dubois, 38 mbl; 4. Pindar, Emma Richards, 79 mbl; CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, Brad Van View, 7004 miles from finish; 2. Spirit of Canada, Derek Hatfield, 25 miles behind leader; 3. BTC Velocity, Alan Paris, 25 mbl; 4. Spirit of Yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi, 25. -

In a closely fought Final Round of the Bermuda International Women's Match Racing Championship, Bermuda's own Paula Lewin defeated World No. 1 Marie Bjorling of Sweden in two straight matches to win the inaugural Grade 1 event. With the victory comes $5,000 in prize money and the ornate sterling silver 4th Squadron Cruiser Bowl. Sailing took place in International One Design class yachts on Hamilton Harbour in front of a large spectator crowd. In the Petit-Final, Klaartje Zuiderbaan of the Netherlands defeated American Debbie Willits 2-0. Both Lewin and Bjorling have earned a berth in Round One of the Bermuda Gold Cup, which begins on Wednesday.

The ranked skippers sailing in the Gold Cup include, Jes Gram-Hansen, Bjorn Hansen, Karol Jablonski, Lars Nordbjerg, Jesper Radich, Staffan Lindberg, Mikael Lindqvist and Mattias Rahm. Six skippers and their teams advanced into Round One from the qualifying round: Glenn Astwood, Peter Bromby, Andy Horton, Chris Law, Tucker Thompson and Mason Woodworth. -

Hampton Yacht Club - Final results (40 boats, 3-25 knots)
1) Barney Harris and David Byron (Arlington, VA) (12 pts)
2) Neville Herbert and Steve Pennfield (GBR) (12 pts)
3) Marty Hublitz and Pascal Buckley (Vienna, VA) (16)
4) Jasper and Becky Craig (Pasadena, MD) (18)
5) Raines Koby and Abby MacInnes (CAN) (20)

If a candle factory burns down, does everyone just stand around and sing "Happy Birthday?"