Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 1204 - November 21, 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 seventh edition of the Route du Rhum does not stop surprising. In Guadeloupe everyone was preparing for the sweet victory of Swiss Stève Ravussin on TechnoMarine but a viscous squall last night decided differently. Sailing under gennaker with one reef in the mainsail, the Swiss skipper leading the fleet in the Route du Rhum capsized just 734 miles from the finish line in Guadeloupe.

Ravussin was in the interior of the boat when a fierce squall lifted the boat. The leeward bow crashed into a bigger wave than the others. Ravussin tried to ease the sheets and let go of the sails, but in vain the boat flipped over. Of the 18 ORMA trimarans that started the race, only three are still on the racecourse.

"I had less than 15 knots of wind, under gennaker and one reef when I went to have a rest. I was woken when I felt the boat accelerate in a squall. I pulled out the gennaker sheet which I had lead down below, but it was too late. The floats had already ploughed in. With the inertia of the mast, everything was going very quickly. The boat capsized stern over bow." TechnoMarine-Match TV (the previous Brocéliande and then Alain Gautier's Foncia), lost its starboard foil a few days earlier, which enabled the leeward float (the float on pressure) to lift higher, and not dive in the waves.

Stève Ravussin is safe and sound onboard his boat. His shore crew is currently organising a rescue operation for him and his boat. The three remaining ORMA trimarans will try and sail as cautious as possible after the shocking news of last night's capsize.

Ellen MacArthur's 60-foot monohull Kingfisher is now the closest boat to the finish, once again widening the gap over Ecover to 65 miles. This might mean that for the first time in the Route du Rhum's history a monohull will be first over the finish line! ETA Kingfisher: early Saturday morning. - Josefine Lemmel,

ORMA 60' multihulls: Géant;Michel Desjoyeaux; 1283 miles to finish
IMOCA 60' monohulls: Ellen MacArthur Kingfisher - 795 nm
Class 2 50' monohulls: Nick Moloney Ashfield Healthcare - 1748 nm
Class 3 40' monohulls: Régis Guillemot Storagetek - 1853 nm
Class 2 50' multihulls: Frank Yves Escoffier Crepes Whaou! - 1232

* The two key questions to be answered are the suitability of these multihulls to trans-ocean solo sailing and the advisability of the start time. the Route du Rhum made its name as a trial by ordeal, battling the worst of northern Europe weather in November to be rewarded by a sublime Caribbean finish. But starting earlier in August or September is baulked by the hurricane season, so a spring start could be an alternative. - Tim Jeffery , The Telegraph, UK, full story:

* Trimaran designer Nigel Irens believes that the (Route du Rhum) race organisers need to take a careful look at the weather for this time of year. "Basically it seems to me the thing turns around statistics - does this happen often? In terms of Route du Rhums - if you had weather like this once every 15 Route du Rhums that might be one thing, if you had it every three or four that might be another? So there needs to be some analysis done on that."

The last severe weather seen in a Route du Rhum was in 1986 when once again a majority of the fleet retired and Loic Caradec, skipper of the maxi-cat Royale was lost. So is two races in five too much? It was only just over a month ago that in much the same area of water many of the boats in Around Alone ran for cover to avoid being hit by the tailend of Hurricane Kyle. Daily Sail website, full story:

Leading into the 2002 ISAF November Conference, there were a total of 380 International Judges, of whom 133 whose term of appointment was due to expire. 117 existing International Judges applied for a renewal of status and were approved. With 20 new applications approved, there is now a total of 384 ISAF International Judges. For the IJs who were approved:

Of the current total of 102 International Umpires, the terms of appointment of 24 had expired of whom 5 retired. 18 of the reapplications were recommended for approval. There were 9 new applicants for International Umpire status, of whom 8 were recommended for appointment. This brings the total ISAF approved International Umpires to 104. Approved Ius:

Kaenon Polarized is advanced technology for the human element. To read the breeze and pick shifts last week winning the Farr 40 worlds, multiple Olympic and World Champion Mark Reynolds wore Kore with Copper 12 lenses in bright conditions in the Bahamas. Freshman and current Youth World Champion Andrew Campbell wore Kore with Grey 28 lenses to win the collegiate Singlehanded Championships in murky brown water. Choose your tool. Evolve Optically. Kaenon Polarized. Available at Alain Mikli NYC, Paris, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, Tokyo; l.a. Eyeworks, TeamOne Newport and West Marine.

* Le Défi Areva plan on staying around the Viaduct Basin till the beginning of December, despite being ousted from the Louis Vuitton Cup on Monday. Today, the three directors of the french Challenge, Xavier de Lesquen, Luc Gellusseau and Pierre Mas announced to the team there is still plenty of work to be done, with an eye on their next campaign. "We are working for the next Cup, probably in 2006", explains Le Défi sport director Pierre Mas. "This Cup is not an end in itself, but just a step. The work is continuing and There are a lot of things to learn". The team will sail three days with FRA 69 and 79, then the technicians will modify both Class America before new navigations. - Hauraki News, full story:

* Devoti Sailing will become the official European Builder of the International Melges 24 Class. Headed by Olympic Finn sailor Luca Devoti and his partners Tim Tavinor and Roman Teply, Devoti Sailing Ltd has been building one-design boats since 1992. Their products currently include the Finn, 470, Star and Musto Skiff classes. Devoti will commence production of the Melges 24 immediately at their factory in Poland and anticipate launching the first new boats early in 2003.

* Sail America, the U.S. sailing industry trade association, announced the shipment of its 10,000th Discover Sailing: The Ultimate Adventure video, just seven months after the major marketing initiative launch. Another 7,500 videos have been ordered for distribution to highly targeted sailing prospects. The findings of a brief survey to a random sampling of 1,000 of the video recipients will be presented to the Sail America board of directors in early 2003.

* Vanguard Sailboats has been named the exclusive distributor of Magic Marine products in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Magic Marine makes a full range of technical clothing and accessories for the sailing market including wetsuits, dry suits, harnesses, spray tops and bottoms, hiking pants, gloves, boots and bags. These products will be available for sale by March and will be sold through Vanguard's existing dealer network.

(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.)

* Larry Gotch (re Solo sailing): Back in the 70's I was seriously considering auto racing as a carrier. In am meeting with the Ferrari race team manager, Dick Fritz, he gave me these sage words of advice, "Cheating death is fun, but death only has to win once." Now I do my racing in a monohull (with a crew).

* From Patrik Erlandson: I fully agree with Peter Huston in Scuttlebutt 1203: Wouldn't it be terrific for audience, media, sponsors, shore crews and sailors to have a more frequent race schedule? In between every America's Cup or Volvo Race, you can host either a large annual regatta or perhaps five or ten smaller regattas per year? I can often see the parallels to Formula 1, the Indy or the Cart motor series.

I would love to see different formats of races for both types of boats, like fleet race, match race, 3-boat match race, short and long offshore races and perhaps even team racing.

Keep the format of the AC and Volvo Race as it is for the conservatives and explore the other formats in regattas in between. Our sport is versatile and can be very exiting if produced right.

I think all categories of people stated above will eventually loose their interest in the racing if it does not evolve. All categories are strongly linked together, and for many it is their livelihood. By making it more interesting for the audience, media and thereby the sponsors, more people can be sailing in the top level, and more youngsters will pick sailing as their sport. Change before you have to!

* From George Backhus: While I find team New Zealand's "Loyal" campaign very touching and patriotic, I can't help but thinking past March of 2003 if, by chance, the America's Cup takes a trip back to the Northern Hemisphere. The "Loyal" will be the "unemployed." As professionals in the sailing business, many of these people, like so many Kiwis before them, will no doubt leave the green pastures of New Zealand for greener financial pastures of the cities and countries of the challengers and defenders for the next America's Cup. I say good on Russell, Brad, et. al. for not only being great sailors, but also for learning a bit about the economic law of "supply and demand."

(With Farr Yacht Design at its centre, the Oracle BMW Racing team assembled a massive design effort for 2002. Ivor Wilkins discussed that design effort with Bruce Farr for a story posted on the Louis Vuitton Cup website. Here are two excerpts.)

Farr, who spends about 50% of his time in Auckland and typically two to three days a week out sailing with the team, certainly does not seek to claim all the credit for the design programme. He reckons a good Cup programme should have the potential to improve a yacht's performance by about 10 seconds a mile through the course of the regatta. "Some teams will get 11 or 12 seconds, others only seven," he says. Tweaking the hydrodynamics - underwater appendages - might yield 2-3 seconds a mile. Aerodynamics - sails and rigs - should offer a bit more, say 3-4 seconds a mile. But, he says, sailing technique is the biggest potential area of gain.

"The sailing side can be massive," he says. "When the sailors first get on the boat, they obviously know how to sail a big boat. But, they won't necessarily understand this particular boat. There is a big learning curve, which is obviously very steep in the initial stages, but carries on."

* Of the changes that took place after Round Robin One, Farr says they were less than most observers seemed to believe. "There were a lot of small changes in that period. That is all part of a continuous process. We are always looking for improvements." He adds: "The notion that we made some kind of blind experiment in the first round was definitely not correct." His partner in Farr Yacht Design, Russell Bowler, chimes in with typical under-statement: "The biggest change (between rounds one and two) was the results." - Ivor Wilkins, Louis Vuitton Cup website. There is lots more to this story posted at:

At least 120 classic and superyachts will be berthed at the Viaduct Harbour over coming weeks as the America's Cup challenger series picks up intensity. America's Cup Village chairman Peter Kiely says the owners will each spend tens of thousands of dollars on berthage fees. Many of the 120 craft are already in the Pacific sailing for Auckland, he says. This week, the 44m racing ketch Mari Cha III and the 30m sloop Pink Gin arrived.

On average, the superyachts will be 5m longer than those here for the cup three years ago and will stay on average a month longer. Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison's yacht, Katana, has for months occupied the equivalent of eight berths and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's massive yacht, Tatoosh, arrived recently. Just 17m shorter than the frigate Te Kaha, Tatoosh is anchored in the Waitemata Harbour. - NZ Herald, full story:

Check out the Team One Newport website for their great selection of gifts for sailors and outdoor enthusiasts. They have America's Cup crew gear, Sharon Green's Ultimate Sailing calendars, Harken's new Italian shoes and Blokarts in their Holiday catalog and this only compliments their regular catalog which features Henri-Lloyd, Gill, Musto, Patagonia, Camet, Railriders, DuBarry, Suunto and more! See or call 800-VIP-GEAR for a catalog. Check out their crew uniform section; they just outfitted Le Renard, the new Farr 40 World Champions and 3 other teams in the top 10!

Who controls the Olympic Games? The extraordinary session of the International Olympic Committee, in Mexico City on Nov 28-29, is a watershed for the rank and file members in an organization increasingly governed by their president and executive board.

There are two main issues on the agenda: first, and central to the IOC's function, is the intention of Dr Jacques Rogge, the president, to maintain the ban on visiting bidding cities prior to a host-city election and second, a proposal by the Programme Commission to remove baseball, modern pentathlon and softball and introduce rugby and golf by 2012.

The stated objective of Rogge, Olympic sailor and former rugby international from Belgium, is to modernise the Games, to include contemporary widely-practised sports and to streamline the IOC's operation by reducing expenditure and tightening a proliferating administrative network. - David Miller, The Telegraph, UK, full story:

In the last 24 hours Around Alone Class 2 leader Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America has sailed 343 miles. The wind is from the west-northwest blowing at 25-30 knots bringing perfect conditions for his Finot design. Van Liew is now 1553 miles from the finish with nearly a 500 mile lead over his closest rival, Tim Kent's Everest Horizontal. -

NIWA climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said that this spring the predominant winds were coming from the west, or southwest, but for the past three years the wind pattern at this time of year had been from the north or northeast. Either way, she said, racing fans should just get used to the fickle gulf weather upsetting the official race schedule. "That's just life," Mrs Griffiths said yesterday. "Traditionally, especially in September and October, it would be tough for them to get racing in every day because typically at this time of the year it's windy out on the gulf."

Even with increased wind limits for racing, 18 out of 30 race days have been disrupted since the Louis Vuitton challenger series began on October 1. There were also weather problems last cup, but Mrs Griffiths said one difference this spring was the switch in wind direction. "October and November 1999, 2000 and 2001 all had northerly or northeast, or easterly sector winds more than normal,"Mrs Griffiths said. "Then we've seen this big change to enhanced westerlies or southwesterlies which has made life tricky for them. Every year we get unsettled weather before Christmas, that's standard. We're just going for a little more sou'westerlies or westerlies than is the long-term normal. There's always a big change after Christmas."

Mrs Griffiths said wind levels during the America's Cup races in February should be similar to those of three years ago, when Team New Zealand beat Prada 5-0 to hold the cup. Winds then tended to even out between northerly sea breezes and southwesters. "We would anticipate a lot more settled climate in the New Year, and the El Nino impact would be much, much reduced." - Helen Tunnah, NZ Herald, full story:

* February 1, 2003: Seminar: Americap II Sailboat Rating System & The Chicago Mackinac Race Chicago, at Strictly Sail-Chicago. Dan Nowlan and Jim Teeters, of the US Sailing Offshore Office, and Richard Lillie, Vice Chairman of the Chicago to Mackinac Race Committee -

* February 7, 2003: Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta Race, Del Rey YC. Racing Divisions plus a Spinnaker and a non-spinnaker, three-stop Salsa (cruising) Division.

* July 12, 2003: CrossPac Race - A single and double handed race from San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

Do stars clean themselves with meteor showers?