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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1185 - October 25, 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.

Apparently the ISAF is at it again. In a recent a 'Butt article, ISAF President Paul Henderson said to "Core Business of ISAF" was to provide "the rules and regulations whereby we can participate and compete in the sport of Sailing" and to make sure that "sailors who race purely for the love of the game with no financial rewards expected are allowed to compete free from onerous regulations." But having said that, ISAF is apparently seeking to extend their grasp into issues best left to sailors.

An e-mail sent out by the One-Design Class Council of US Sailing warned that submissions for approval at the upcoming ISAF Annual Conference will, if approved, usurp decisions currently made by one-design classes. Among them is a requirement that ISAF must approve all judges, venues and race officers, supervise entries, oversee measurement, specify the use of the ISAF scoring system and approve the notice of race for regattas for Olympic classes; that no one under the age of 15 may compete in a world championship; and that all boats must have at least a minimum four-part purchase on the mainsheet.

What, you may ask, are the reasons behind these submissions? Shouldn't it be left to a one-design class itself to determine the venues, race officers, rules and scoring systems best for that class (think of the International 14 or 505 classes)? Shouldn't it be left to a one-design class to determine the minimum age for a world-championship participant (think of the Opti class)? And who seriously thinks that ISAF knows better than a one-design class itself how boats should be rigged (think of any class)?

Are there issues out there that the classes themselves cannot solve and have asked ISAF to take care of? The short answer is, "No." What is the reason for taking the decision as to venues, race officers, rules and scoring systems out of the hands of the Olympic classes and giving it to ISAF? They say, "There is now too much at stake for the various sailors and Member National Authorities (MNAs) to allow the major events not to be directed by the Federation (ISAF)." The reason for setting the minimum age of participants in a Worlds: "It is the opinion of the (ISAF) Executive Committee that the increased pressure on young people to compete at top-level events has an adverse impact on sailing at entry and junior level." The reason for four-part mainsheets: "Pumping is greatly reduced by this easily controllable mainsheet rule."

Note that none of these three submissions were written were by one-design classes or Member National Authorities. One is from the ISAF Executive Committee and the other two were written by President Henderson himself. None add value to the events they seek to control, only limitations. All seem to have sprung from the minds of the people who administer our sport rather than from the participants these administrators are supposed to serve.

Members of the US delegation to the ISAF Annual Conference will be watching this carefully. US Sailing passed two resolutions at its recently completed Annual General Meeting in Marina del Rey. One reads, "US Sailing is opposed to ISAF rules or regulations that disenfranchise class organizations and their members. ISAF classes should retain their autonomy and class management, including their class rules and the rule amendment procedures." The other reads, "US Sailing opposes any move by ISAF to place additional age limits on participation in World Championship events." US Sailing's delegates will strenuously voice their opposition to these submissions that only seek to strengthen ISAF's grip on our sport without adding value to the events they seek to control.

I encourage all one-design sailors - indeed, all sailors who are concerned that the spreading tendrils of ISAF control may reach down to them - to watch this carefully, too. All of us welcome changes that improve our access to and enjoyment of our sport; none should accept changes that seek to limit access and enjoyment. - Chris Ericksen

All scheduled races were postponed due to high winds.

As Skipper Steve Fossett and his crew of 13 aboard the 125' maxi catamaran PlayStation passed The Lizard (the southwestern-most point on the British mainland) at around 1635z this afternoon, the big cat continued to pick up speed on the 'home stretch' to the Round Britain and Ireland finish line at Ramsgate in Kent - some 282 nautical miles away. They will need every bit of available speed through the night. All of their gains over the first 3 days were lost Wednesday night and Thursday morning as the new Atlantic Low pressure system (with its higher winds) only began to appear this afternoon.

Skipper Steve Fossett said, "We lost a lot of time last night and earlier today with slack or low winds. Wind speed is now building... but we've got to average nearly 18 kts all the way in now. If we get the projected winds through the night, we have a fair chance. If not - we'll miss it." -

* Following is a Special Report to Scuttlebutt from Howard Hamlin from aboard PlayStation: Just after my last email we had one of the most intense sailing experiences of my life. Broad reaching in 30-38 knots, gale warnings came true, the North Atlantic in late October, off the West coast of Ireland, speed over 30 knots, just slightly faster than the rain/sleet squals all around us. The power, loads, stress, noice, vibration, and confidence in each other is beyond description. All eyes on the speedo and apparent wind angle. Navigator, Chris Tibbs, has the has the hydraulic mainsheet lever in hand, Dave Thompson is holding the staysail sheet out of the jammer, Simon Cotter doing the same with the main traveler sheet. Main traveler is 7 meters below centerline, only 1 meter left. Will that be enough to avoid a capsize? Probably not.

Steve Fossett, Mitch Booth and I are the designated drivers on our watch. I used to think that was too many drivers, not now, we each need a break to be at 110 percent while at the wheel. To my surprise, Steve confidently takes the wheel in these conditions and does a great job.

I remember that the day before we were flying a hull while beam reaching in 25 knots of wind with one reef in the main and staysail. We now have the same sails up in 35 knots of wind. I can only imagine that one momentary loss of control on a wave, we would capsize and people would die. All my senses are fully alert. I don't have to remind myself that this is serious shit, I love it, that is why I am here. I think we all came here for this.

In 3 days, with 98% on starboard tack/jibe, we have gone 1350 miles, 3/4 of the way around the British Isles by working the outer isobars of one big deep low-pressure system. But the system has finally moved on to the east and left us parked for 7 hours, ironically 40 miles from Fastnet Rock, off the southwest corner of Ireland. We are going upwind now, not good, but with the forecast for the wind to go right which would allow us to blast down the English channel to our finish 450 miles from here just north of Dover. We need to get there in 26 hours to beat the record. - Howie Hamlin

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* Oracle BMW Racing has already experienced some fallout from syndicate head's Larry Ellison's decision to install Chris Dickson as starting helmsman in place of Peter Holmberg. Yachting commentator Peter Montgomery said on Newstalk ZB that veteran trimmer Stuart Argo, twice an America's Cup winner, has apparently decided he does not want to sail under the new regime and has resigned for the team, effective immediately. There is reportedly a long-standing rift between Argo and Dickson. Argo will board a plane on Friday night and head back to his home in Michigan. nzoom website, full story:

* Team Dennis Conner's request for redress has been adjourned by the International Jury. TDC is seeking redress in its match against GBR Challenge because it believes that the windspeed was below the mandated average. The jury needs more evidence. - LVC website,

(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 Jim Puckett: It seems to me that the Oracle's biggest problem is not the skill of their helmsman or afterguard but the overall speed of their boat. Holmberg has performed well in almost every Oracle start and has made few tactical errors. Replacing him with Dickson, knowing the friction that has existed between him and the rest of the crew, could do more harm than good- especially if it causes good crew to leave the team. I know that his reputation and skill speak for themselves, but Dickson has not been sailing on USA-76 and it could take him time to get in back in tune with the boat and the crew.

Perhaps instead of demoting Holmberg, Ellison should be having a serious talk with Bruce Farr. USA-76 just doesnât seem to be very fast- especially in light to moderate conditions. Conditions that, as many have pointed out in this newsletter, are likely to become the prevailing conditions as time goes on. Oracle's two hulls are said to be "nearly identical" to allow for better testing of different appendage configurations. That may work well in theory but what if the hull shape isn't right? They need to find better boastspeed soon or they may have to start thinking about major surgery.

* From Malcolm Kirkland (edited to our 250-word limit): I really can't understand where ISAF is coming from with their attack on Optimists. No Worlds under 15 years of age? Youth Sailing is not soccer where national depth of the sport provides fun and challenging competition on a regional level.

In North America and certainly Bermuda, "developed world" kids age 12 are exposed to liquor from adults, drugs from older, adolescents (marijuana particularly), sex (ditto), othere urban pathology, and intense competition in sports largely fueled by overzealous parents on the side-line. You can either nurture your kid to venture out into the world and make choices to thrive or you can cloister them into ever-concentric circles. Since we do not think cloistering creates global citizens, we chose the former.

It is difficult to learn to sail in an Optimist at 120 lbs (54 kilos), but a large, excellent tactical sailor can contend, eg, Lucas Callabrese (ARG) in 2001 Worlds in China. We tell growing sailors to learn to optimize their circle of influence as part of learning to manage situations outside their control. We have never heard of the use of drugs to reduce weight and would obviously be outraged at it. If an Optimist sailor grows too large, we recommend that they move on to the Byte (in our case), even if they have qualified for the Worlds. We find goals of world-class sailing actually highlight good nutrition and fitness; we have sailors who are actually weaning themselves off TV, processed foods diets.

* From Rick Merriman (edited to our 250-word limit): While it has been over 25 years since I raced an Optimist, I can still remember like it was yesterday racing in the 1975 Worlds in Denmark and 1976 Worlds in Turkey. As a young teenager in my formative years I learned a lot about the world, other cultures and how other kids were just like me even though they were from 26 other countries. They loved to sail and compete no matter where they were from.

Competitive sailing for juniors gives them independence, allows them to make decisions for which they are accountable for to themselves, pride and ownership in taking care of their equipment and most of all a great base of friends to spend their free time with.

Not all of the kids stuck with sailing however quite a few did and as a matter a fact the winner of those two Worlds was Hans Wallen from Sweden. He continued on and I believe he has won a few Olympic medals.

To be able to reach the Opti Worlds in itself is a great accomplishment and it gives the sailors a goal to try and attain. The small reward is winning, the largest reward is competing. Lets not take away a golden opportunity for the youth of the world to come together once a year to compete against each other and make lasting friendships and memories.

* From Jerry Coe: I agree with Andrew Mason's comment, though the Lexcen omission must be attributed to a series of presumably knowledgeable and impartial selection committees, none of which (I believe) included Halsey Herreshoff. I visited the Hall some years ago and was astonished to note the absence of both Ben Lexcen and Alan Bond. I personally drafted and sent a nomination of Ben Lexcen to then head of the selection committee, John Rousmaniere. He politely acknowledged my nomination. But, as with other Lexcen nominations that must have gone before mine, the committee chose to perpetuate this terrible injustice. I feel the same about the absence of Alan Bond.

Talking yesterday to an audience of yachties and businessmen at yesterday's Air New Zealand luncheon at Sydney Tatterstalls Club, the 60-year-old Dennis Conner is still passionate about the America's Cup. "Me losing after 132 years was the best thing that ever happened to the America's Cup and the best thing that ever happened to Dennis Conner."

"Before the win by the Australians, the America's Cup was only big in the minds of the yachties, but the rest of the world didn't know or care about it at all. But when we lost it - it was a little bit like losing the Panama Canal - suddenly everyone appreciated it. If I hadn't lost it, there never would have been the national effort to get it back in Fremantle, and without that there never would have been the ticker-tape parade up Fifth Avenue in New York, lunch with the President at the White House and all the doors of opportunity that it opened..."

Asked how he felt after that historic loss. "It was awful. I just did not want to get out of bed in the morning. I am usually full of like and energy. I just wanted to hide. But I figured out that I just had to get it back and that mission is what got me going again." Sail-World website, full story:

If frostbiting Lasers is your extreme sailing, here's something you might find of interest. Harken, maker of the preferred Laser vang upgrade, introduces the new X-Treme Angle Fairleads and Forkhead Blocks. Specifically designed to eliminate the difficulty cleating and uncleating lines at any angle on the new Laser set-ups, they're hot. If you had enough trouble in the summer, don't wait till you're breaking the ice off your controls. It's time to Harken-ize your cunningham and outhaul now. Check out these and other great innovations on Annapolis Performance Sailing's weekly updated hot new items page.

Abrasive New Zealand sailor Chris Dickson has been told by his billionaire boss, Larry Ellison, that the America's Cup is his to win or lose for the Oracle BMW syndicate.

* Ellison, who enjoys a reputation as an uncompromising competitor, said he did not think the recall of Dickson, as famed for his off-the-water tussles as his sailing skills, would lead to divisions within Oracle. "I've sailed with Chris for years and years and I've never had a personality clash with him," Ellison said yesterday. "We weren't getting the results, and when you're a professional sports team and you're not getting the results you have to make changes. I don't know of any more talented sailor in the world than Chris Dickson."

Asked what would happen if Oracle did not pick up under Dickson, Ellison said: "I guess we'll lose. I can't make constant changes to the team. It's Chris' to win or lose." Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, full story:

CURMUDGEON's COMMENT: For the record, Chris Dickson is back in the same job he had at the start of campaign - he will run the sailing team and the on-the-water operations. Bill Erkelens remains as the syndicate's COO and John Cutler is still is a member of the Oracle BMW aftergaurd. Peter Holmberg is back at the job that he was originally hired to do - drive the B boat. But no one should be surprised to see Peter on the A boat from time to time.

San Francisco software tycoon Larry Ellison, who stunned the America's Cup community with the news that he had replaced skipper Peter Holmberg with the volatile Chris Dickson, has failed to come up with convincing reasons for his actions. No one believes this will be the last eruption from within the Oracle BMW camp.

* Ellison's switch is puzzling. If Oracle BMW displayed a weakness in Round Robin One it was in boatspeed, not Holmberg's sailing. That downwind speed deficit may not have been eliminated entirely by changes for Round Two. By common consent, Holmberg, the current match race world champion, has been the best starting helmsman of the trials along with OneWorld's James Spithill. Ellison says the design issues and sailing team issues are separate. "I think we have great boatspeed," he said.

* One thing is certain, in moving Dickson from the fringe to the heart of Oracle BMW, Ellison has done precisely what his rivals would have wished. They sense a second fuse has been placed inside a tinderbox. - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, UK, full story:

"After Larry's decision during the morning meeting most people were wondering whether to fish or cut bait and I looked around and saw the *&^% was starting to float close to the top of my hip waiters and decided to reach for the 747. I am a huge believer in chemistry on a team and the pill was too large to swallow, said a few words to that effect and bowed out gracefully." Stu Argo, Oracle BMW Racing team, full story:

"Just as expected in many boat sheds along Halsey Street, the talented, but ego-heavy Oracle camp is disintegrating under the increasing pressures of Cup yacht racing. And equally as expected, the OneWorld and Alinghi camps ever more clearly, the class boats in this field are solidifying." - Ron C. Judd, Seattle Times,

Day two of US Sailing's C of C's brought more wind, but still lake-like shifts on Lake Norman near Charlotte NC. With seven of 17 races completed (one race in each Flying Scott), Mike Ingham (Thistle) is tied with Bill Drayheim (Flying Scott) with 21 points each. In third is Dick Tillman (Windsurfer) with 32 points. - Mike Ingham,

On Thursday morning we added subscriber number 16,000 to the Scuttlebutt mailing list just a freckle more than six weeks since reader number 15,000 signed on. Than you!

Talk is cheap, except when Congress does it.