SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1202 - November 19, 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 2002 ISAF Annual Conference Closed on Saturday 16. Following are some excerpts from a report posted on the ISAF website that provides an overview of some of the major changes.)
Minimum Age Limit - One of the ISAF Executive Committee's more controversial submissions received a knock by the Events Committee at their meeting on Wednesday 13 November when they recommended for Council to reject the proposal to place a minimum age of 15 years for World Championship events. They did however express their support for the intent of the submission. In a responsible move by Council it was resolved that the submission would be withdrawn and a working party of experts formed to analyze and evaluate the current position and medical, emotional and logistical research relating to the effect of such high level competition on the younger sailors in the world. They are to report to Council at the 2003 Mid-Year Meetings in May.
Athens 2004 - Looking at some of the issues concerning the new Olympic women's keelboat, the Yngling Class, the ISAF Council endorsed the weight measurement procedure as approved by Council in May 2002 and implemented over the summer. The International Yngling Class had proposed a change to the class rule to prohibit carbon in the spinnaker pole and tiller. However, considering that in November 2001 the ISAF Council had supported the continued inclusion of carbon specifically in the spinnaker pole and tiller, Council rejected the Class submission with the support of both the Keelboat Committee and Women's Sailing Committee.
The proposal from the President on the qualification system for the 2003 Sailing World Championships in Cadiz, Spain was supported. This proposes a system of allocation of slots, which will automatically give every nation the right to two entries per event, with up to an additional four entries (for a total of 6) per nation per event. The additional entry quota will be based on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings.
Racing Rules - Council endorsed the proposal to introduce a penalty for those sailors who do not comply with RRS 3 - Acceptance of the Rules, which requires that a competitor agrees "not to resort to any court or other tribunal not provided by the rules". This proposal links up with the desire for sailors at certain International events to sign up to use the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Council supported the proposal from the Windsurfing Committee to hold trials in the late Spring/early Summer of 2003 to evaluate potential future Olympic Windsurfing equipment, with manufacturers of production one-design boards, Formula boards and board prototypes all welcome to participate. A knowledgeable body of racers, ex-racers and ISAF representatives has been formed in order to evaluate requirements and conduct trials for the 2008 Olympic Games. They will determine the criteria for selection, alongside the members of the Events Committee Olympic Equipment Working Party.
Safety - The proposal noted the suggestion from the Spanish Sailing Federation to introduce safety levels in dinghy sailing, which included issues such as permanent use of the lifejacket while sailing, personal knife compulsory, positive floatation on masts, safety drills and tests.
Several ISAF Classes had requested changes to their class rules affecting the ISAF Advertising Code. However, whilst some of the advertising limitations the classes wished to implement were supported, as they were outside the existing Advertising Code they could not be approved.
ISAF Classification Code - It was confirmed that the ISAF Classification Code will become mandatory for all classes using an amateur / professional rule from 1 April 2003.
ISAF Match Race Rankings - Skippers may now apply to ISAF to take an on hold period of between six and twelve months, followed by a recovery period of 18 months. This has come from the principle that when skippers cannot compete in graded events their ranking inevitably drops. When they are able to return to competition, some event organisers will find it difficult to maintain grading criteria if some such skippers who are known to add value to the events are invited. This On Hold period will be controlled by ISAF and any skipper On Hold will be given an On Hold ranking and a normal ranking.
Nations Cup - Council supported the re-introduction of the ISAF Nations Cup, which will constitute a series of regional match racing events for national teams, culminating in a final. Whilst sponsorship may be sought, it is intended that the events can be run at low-cost without sponsorship. Hugely successful when previously run back in the mid-90's, there is a projected participation in excess of 60 nations. ISAF website, full report: www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=3412
LOUIS VUITTON SERIES SCHEDULE
Seattle's OneWorld Challenge stunned most America's Cup observers Monday by choosing Team Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes as its opponent in the repechage round of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger quarterfinals.
OneWorld was knocked into the repechage by a 4-0 loss to San Francisco's Oracle BMW but, as the highest ranking loser in the upper bracket, had the privilege of picking from among Team DC, Sweden's Victory or Italy's Prada.
"Each of these teams are extremely challenging competitors who must be taken extremely seriously," OneWorld CEO Gary Wright said. "We put it to the team, and at the end of the day we determined that this was the right decision for us today. We look forward to getting back on the water doing what we came here to do."
That leaves Sweden to meet Prada, which will be a heavy favorite. The best-of-seven repechage series start Friday. The knockout rounds will determine the two teams that will join Alinghi and Oracle in the semifinals. Those two are already qualified by dispatching Prada and OneWorld, respectively.
The term repechage is from the French word repecher, which means (a) to recover, as in fish a body out, or (b) in sports such as rowing and fencing, to let a weak candidate through. For the LVC, either one or both will work.
The Swedes, though the top team in the lower four through the two round robins, never beat a top four team, and their 4-1 success against France's hapless Le Def’ Areva (3-18) did not boost their prospects much. Stars & Stripes, on the other hand, has been upgraded from biggest disappointment to possible giant killer after switching from USA 66 to USA 77 and toying with Britain's GBR, 4-1.
Alinghi and Oracle BWM Racing will not have to race again until they race each other in Semifinal Round, which starts on December 9. - Rich Roberts, Yacht Racing website, full story: www.yachtracing.com/amcup2003/notes-quotes/nq-11-18-02.htm
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* The Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC) of US Sailing, has named Peter Wells (Newport Beach, California) and Lanee Butler (Aliso Viejo, California) as members of its 2003 Pan American Games Team. Wells and Butler are the respective winners of the Mistral men and women's selection trials held recently at the US Sailing Center in Florida. Pending approval from the US Olympic Committee they will represent the USA in the boardsailing events at the Games in August.
* Prada is currently making major changes to its boat ITA-74, replacing the bow for the second time, raising questions about whether the boat will be ready for racing by Saturday. If not, Prada can use their second boat ITA-80 which has also undergone extensive modifications and had a new bow attached. - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, www.nzherald.co.nz/americascup/
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 Robert L. Johnstone: Somebody forgot to mention that the new Farr 40 World Champion Steve Phillips, in September, had also won the 2002 J/105 North American Championship in Chicago in a 50 boat fleet (for the 2nd time, also 2000 NAs in Annapolis) ... in a chartered boat, no less. Combine that with the 2002 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Nassau and you'd have to say that he's topped two of the most competitive owner / driver one-design classes one could sail in. That should make Steve a candidate for yet another Rolex watch ... Yachtsman of the Year.
* From Kett Cummins: The reactions you received regarding your coverage of the Gay Games, both anonymous and not, were somewhat predictable but generally reassuring all the same. As in society, there are certainly unspoken prejudices remaining in our sport, but what unexpectedly sprung to my mind were the very visible "special" trophies that so often appear at regattas. These include Highest Placing Master (or sometimes simply, Oldest Skipper) and Highest Placing Woman (I think we've finally seen the last of "Skipperettes"). Certainly it would be inappropriate to recognize the Highest Placing Gay or African-American Skipper, but that's not my point. By essentially expecting, for example, that women will not do as well as their male competition, aren't we limiting, or at least trivializing, their present skills and future development?
Our sport is one of the few where physical abilities and disabilities do not necessarily divide or differentiate the competitors. In many (most?) classes of boats, anyone can compete on an even playing field. In this regard, sailing is largely unique. I think the best way to honor the women, masters, gays, or whomever in our sport is not to single them out for special recognition, but to join them out on the water and go racing! May the best sailor win!
* From Reynald Neron Is it only me, or the idea of "Gay Games" is by itself a contradiction to the will of the Gay and Lesbian community of not being discriminated against? I have the feeling that if we had "straight Games", the organisers would be sued for sexual discrimination...
Also, I hate to spoil the sensational news given in the report, but Sydney Harbour is not exactly infected with sharks, they much rather stay offshore (although a few have been spotted on the decks of some boats).
Now during the regatta itself, I had the pleasure to skipper a spectator boat with some visiting teams. I had a great time, hope they had too, and don't really care about their sexual orientation. So why should it be any different with sailors?
* From Brian Tetreault: In Scuttlebutt 1201 you ran an excerpt of Ron Judd's column from the Seattle Times (below). I want to call attention to the fact that Judd has done a fantastic job of reporting on the Louis Vuitton Cup. He has had numerous columns on the racing, with detailed information of interest to those of us already following the series on the web and via Virtual Spectator - and this in a "mainstream" newspaper! - while still being interesting for the average (i.e., non-sailing) reader and sports fan. I hope that if OneWorld's fortunes wane (perish the thought) his excellent coverage will nonetheless continue through the America's Cup and onto other sailing events, including local sailing events. I think this goes to show that there can be "accessible" sailing coverage in the mainstream media if good writers are given the opportunity by their editors.
* From Adrian Morgan: The America's Cup is what it is. Evolution has lead to its current format as a match race, supposedly between maritime nations and the sailors thereof.
It's most akin to medieval champions fighting for the outcome of a battle (thus avoiding unnecessary bloodshed). Whether it's "interesting" or "boring" is beside the point. Whether the champion slays his opponent with the first blow or they slug it out all day is not the question. Only the result is important.
I covered my last America's Cup as correspondent for the London Daily Mail from San Diego and did find the long drawn out process intensely boring (with some notable adrenalin rushes). Rather like war, so they say...
A final thought: back in the 19th century the challenger did in fact meet a fleet of defenders. Maybe that's the way to go. Fully in keeping with the history of the event, the defender can wield a fleet of their best boats - imagine a dozen Black Magics lining up against a lone challenger. Scary...
* From Marc Fountain (edited to our 250-word limit): When it is possible that a rule has been broken on the course and on either side of the question racers have a 50/50 chance of being tossed out instead of a 90/10 chance, then the rules have created an incentive for both sides to play the odds rather than an incentive for a boat with the burden of proof to take a penalty.
In Sailing World magazine, Dick Rose suggested that social pressure be used to compel racers to act in accordance with the rules. The theory being that in order to maintain a positive social standing with one's peers, a racer will elect to follow the rules when one's peers combine together to point out the infraction. In many of the fleets I've raced in, egos are too strong and too much effort is at stake for that approach to possibly work. Even if it did work, the spectacle of three boats on the 'wrong' side of a rule shouting at a single boat on the 'right' side of a rule to get that boat to take a penalty or retire is both plausible and absurd.
The Corinthian spirit operates from within - a Corinthian racer takes a penalty because it's the right thing to do, not because three other racers are shouting at him or her to capitulate. To suggest that social pressure replace Corinthian decision-making in sailboat racing is to utterly abandon the self-regulating model of competition based on mutual respect.
AROUND THE WORLD
Attending regattas around the world, it is obvious that the sailors have one thing in common, boat after boat is seen with crews wearing the Camet sailing shorts.Now available in three designs, the Camet 3000 shorts, the Camet Cargo shorts the new Bermuda style shorts, and the new women's Ocean shorts. Different designs, with the same quality, comfort, fast drying and Made in the USA. When you go to the Camet web page check them out, don't forget to order one of the Mylar Day bags to carry your gear down to the boat. www.camet.com
THE SILENT TREATMENT
Each day when America's Cup boats leave Viaduct Harbor and head out to race on Hauraki Gulf, they pass through a narrow cut where crowds line the quay to cheer the sailors on -- except for one team. Alinghi, the Swiss boat that leads the challenger series, often meets stony silence.
Some Kiwis are angry that Alinghi's skipper and half his sailing team defected from Team New Zealand after winning the 2000 Cup. Other Kiwi sailors followed, joining other teams, but Alinghi gets the blame for starting the trend and taking the cream of the crop.
Skipper Russell Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth played key roles in winning the Cup for New Zealand in 1995 and defending it in 2000. National heroes, they pledged loyalty to the Kiwi cause after the 2000 defense, but soon after signed to work for Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli in his bid to spirit the trophy away to Europe.
These days Coutts and the other ex-Kiwi sailors on Alinghi can glance up from their dock at huge, black banners hung from downtown offices that sport the New Zealand emblem, the silver fern, and a one-word slogan aimed at them: "Loyal." Ads on TV show blackshirted Kiwis lining the island nation's shores, fists over their hearts, vowing loyalty to the Cup defense.
These anti-Alinghi symbols seem tame compared to an alliance called Blackheart, convened before the Cup season began in October. The secret invitation to gather, which found its way into outsiders' hands, quoted Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's call to war: "Forgiveness is up to God; it's our job to arrange this meeting." It described Blackheart as "like-minded, staunch and true New Zealand patriots," asserting, "The time for action is upon us." - Angus Phillips, The Washington Post, full story: www.washingtonpost.com
Class 2 leader Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America is on the fringes of the Southern Ocean waiting to hitch a ride on the front with strong North Westerlies that will bring him charging into port within the next 9 days. Van Liew will have some relief when the front comes along since his rivals to the north, Tim Kent on Open 50 Everest Horizontal and Canadian Derek Hatfield on Open 40 Spirit of Canada have taken an advantage of a kink in the South Atlantic High and are cutting the corner to Cape Town. It will be interesting to see if they can continue to steer that course for the next few days, but the chasing two boats are now only 230 miles behind, and have slashed more than 300 miles off Van Liew's lead in the last three days. - Mary Ambler, www.aroundalone.com
MAST DISPLAYS AND CREW CONTRIBUTION
Information displayed at the mast doesn't just make it easier for the driver to process instrument data while watching where he's going - it focuses the whole crew, and over time builds a stronger team of sailors. Communication between the crew forward of the cockpit and the crew aft is greatly enhanced. Downwind gains are particularly significant with spinnaker trimmers keeping an eye on the numbers while describing sheet pressure to the driver, resulting in better synchronized sailing. For a great selection of mast display pods in anodized aluminum and carbon fiber visit www.ockam.com
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
* "I think the format is a disadvantage to our side of the bracket. Would we like to put another keel on or another bulb, or change the position of our mast, or whatever you could do if you had three weeks like Oracle and Alinghi have? Yeah, we'd love to do that. But on the other side of the coin, we get to go out and get race tough. We think getting race tough is as important a part of our programme right now as anything. 66 is already under the knife and we have some plans for 77, and we'll continue to try and leapfrog these boats over each other. We have a lot of plans. How can you do it all in four days? Fortunately the weather is going to make it easier over the next couple of days and pretty much blow everybody out, which will give us a couple of days to make some changes." - Ken Read, Stars & Stripes skipper
* "I've announced to the team, because of course we've not been able to bring GBR78 Wight Magic fully into our considerations, and there's further work we can do on 70, we in fact will be carrying on here till at least 31st December. I want the continuity to start from here and so our team will be continuing to work as if we're already starting on the next one. We really need to know what we've actually put together and whether there's any real benefits of the particular 78 versus 70 so we will be carrying on while we continue here. All the infrastructure's here and we want to continue sharing the excitement of it as well." - Peter Harrison, GBR Challenge syndicate head
More than just bragging rights were at stake this past weekend, and that fact drew one of the largest turnouts of 470 sailors for a U.S. event in recent years. For the 18 teams competing at the 470 Olympic Pre-Trials, hosted by Houston Yacht Club (LaPorte, Texas), the prize for the winning teams in each division (men and women) was a highly coveted entry to the 2003 Athens Regatta. Generating additional pressure to do well at this event was the ranking system that will determine the 470 members of the 2003 US Sailing Team. It mandated this event and one other - the 2003 Rolex Miami OCR - as the only events that will count toward the 2003 rankings.
1. Mens, Steve Hunt/ Michael Miller, USA, 7 pts
2. Mens, Paul Forester/ Kevin Burnham, USA, 11 pts
3. Mens, Mark Ivey/ Howard Cromwel,l USA, 19 pts
4. Womens, Katie McDowell/ Isabelle Kinsolving, USA, 30 pts
5. Womens, Jen Provan/ Nikola Girke, CAN, 33 pts
Complete results: team.houstonyachtclub.com/results/
As winners of their respective divisions, Hunt and Miller, and McDowell and Kinsolving, will preview the Olympic venues at the 2003 Athens Regatta, scheduled for August 14-28, during sailing's second and final official Olympic test event in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Regatta. - Jan Harley
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
How do you tune a Bagpipe?