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SCUTTLEBUTT #216 -- November 12, 1998

The nineteen boat fleet had been well managed by Race Officer Mike Thompson, who avoided general recalls by carefully checking those who were over eager to start - and that totaled seven in the first race and five in the next. The racing, in bright sunshine, was close and places changed with great frequency in the shifting south-easterly breeze that backed fifteen degrees

The first race was over a four leg, eight mile, windward/leeward course in 10-12 knots of wind. There was slightly less breeze for the second race -- Renee Mehl

Note to the curmudgeon from Doug McLean aboard Peter Tong's Orient Express
-- "There is some serious competition here."

Provisional results:
1. John Kilroy 1-4 5
2. Jim Richardson 6-1 7
3. Steve & Helga Garland 3-8 11
4. John Thomson 4-7 11
5. Alexis Michas 2-11 13
6. John Calvert-Jones 12-2 14
7. Skip Purcell 8-6 14
8. George Andreadis 13-3 16
9. William Ziegler 7-13 20
10. Tony Buckingham 11-9 20
11. Edgar Cato 10-10 20
12. Charles Tompkins 16-5 21
13. Steve Kaminer 5-19 24
14. Jack Woodhull 9-16 25
15. Bill Steitz 14-12 26
16. Peter Tong 18-14 32
17. Mark Bregman 15-17 32
18. Dick Scruggs 17-19 36
19. Borys Jarymowycz dns-18 38

For the full story:

Sure -- I've heard all those stories about people who are too dumb to come in out of the rain. Yet on Tuesday afternoon there were seven of us sailing in the rain on San Francisco Bay. And while I can't speak for the others, I was having a blast. How's come? It was because I was taking my first test-drive in the new J/125.

Over the years I've sailed on lots and lots of J/Boats and have owned and campaigned a J/24. But this J/Boat is different -- very different. It's a 41-footer that makes virtually no concessions to cruising. This is a pure racer.

The first thing you notice is that the boat has almost no beam -- it's only 10.6 feet wide and looks like a long canoe with a tall mast or maybe half a catamaran. As I understand it, skinny boats push aside less water, which makes them faster. But skinny boats also have less "form stability" which normally makes them tippier. However, designer Rod Johnstone found a way to solve that problem -- he hung 4646 pounds of lead at the end of a narrow foil that's long enough to hit the bottom anytime the boat sails into less than eight feet of water.

The boat is so skinny that stacking a lot of people on the rail doesn't add much stability. So you sail with fewer people and let the lead do its job. 57% of the boat's weight is ballast which makes it stiff enough to carry a #2 genoa into the 20 knot range.

Comparing the J/125 to J/120 you instantly see some 'interesting' differences. The J/125 is only a foot longer but its waterline is two feet longer and the J/125 is skinnier by almost a foot and a half. But perhaps weight is the biggest difference. The J/120 displaces nearly 14,000 pounds, but thanks to high-tech construction the J/125 comes in at only 8350 pounds.

There are also plenty of differences down below. The J/120 has a wonderful cruising interior, while the J/125 is significantly "more modest." And that's being very kind. The ice box is a portable igloo, the sink looks a lot like a urinal and the galley itself is much more austere than the one I had on my old Cal 25. Whitbread navigator Mark Rudiger found that the most convenient way to work at the "chart table" was by sitting on the sink and leaning forward. He couldn't stand up -- there's nowhere near enough headroom. Only Dave Ullman and Norman Davant thought the boat had standing headroom -- anyone over 5' 9" will have to bend over down below.

But this is not a boat you buy for the interior. Its purpose is high performance sailing and Rod Johnstone hit that target right in the middle of the bullseye. It didn't take the curmudgeon very long at the steering wheel to realize the J/125 is very much a "gentleman's Melges 24." It's a big keelboat, but it is also a very spirited one with a very light helm. Turning the huge steering wheel takes a bit less strength than dialing an old fashioned dial phone. One finger does the job -- honest. But when you spin the wheel, the boat does not turn -- it leaps to the left or right. Give me the wheel in 15 knots of breeze with the A-sail flying and I'm pretty sure I could throw any unrestrained bowman over the side if that was my objective. This is one lively sailboat.

Upwind, the helm is still very very light without a trace of weather helm. Perhaps that's because we were using a #3 genoa in only 10-12 knots of wind. Or maybe it's because the carbon-fiber rig was only raked back three feet. Hey guys, it's a J/Boat -- you have to rake the mast way back to give the helmsman some feel. The crew who sailed the 125 in the Big Boat Series said the boat points just fine, but who really cares? Downwind is where the fun is -- guaranteed to produce enduring smiles. There is a hell of a temptation to sail the boat "hot" -- when you do, the boat seems to jump right out of the water.

New owners will spend at least $300,000 before they can race their J/125, but apparently that has not dulled enthusiasm. Four have been sold on the West Coast and the next available hull from the TPI factory is #12.

Admittedly the boat was designed as a day racer, but could you also take it on a Mexican Race? Oh, I think so! The interior is going to be very crowded with six people living aboard; and sleeping will be difficult with the boat continually leaping off waves; and the menu will be very limited. But I can almost guarantee it will take weeks to wipe the smiles off of the faces of those six people.

Sailing the J/125 produces a big rush. Even in the rain.

J/Boats website:

After three days of the first round robin series, only Peter Gilmour (AUS, now living in Japan and ranked #1 in the world) remains undefeated. Current standings:
Peter GIlmour 8 wins, 0 losses
Chris Law 5-3
Bertrand Pace 5-3
Markus Wieser 5-3
Gavin Brady 4-3
Jochen Schumann 4-4
Magnus Holmberg 3-5
Luc Pillot 2-6
Peter Holmberg 2 -6
Sten Mohr 2 -6

Event site:

There is no reason the great graphics on your boat can't be exactly replicated on your crew shirts and other sailing attire. But if you want it done right, you should really talk with Frank Whitton at Pacific Yacht Embroidery. Whether you need tee shirts, polos or jackets -- Frank is the man. Get in touch with him now and find out how affordable it can be. Frank delivers! / 619-226-8033

(Letters may be edited for space (250 words max) and clarity and anything resembling a personal attack quickly disappears!)

>> From Caroline Groen, mother/mother-in-law of Melinda and Bill Erkelens who are the ones organizing Sayonara's "lifestyle and travels" -- I think that someone has been pulling, or at least jerking, Rob Mundle's leg. Sayonara, on its cradle, is leaving Oakland on Thursday, Nov. 19, on the deck of a very ordinary, though brand new, freighter en route to the Sydney/Hobart race. A Russian Antanov sounds very exotic, but Sayonara is taking the longer, and perhaps more scenic water way, arriving in Sydney in early December.

How do I know this? Let's just say with the imminent departure of the boat and its' accompanying containers of equipment, life in the household has become slightly frenetic - much packing, unpacking, and a multitude of decisions as my children, at least, will be gone for 10 months. Australia, NZ, England and Sardinia. The second Erkelens offspring due in April will be born in NZ and consequently be part Kiwi.

>> Response from Rob Mundle -- I and the entire Australian yachting fraternity have been caught by a classic 'oops' from the media centre at the Sydney to Hobart race organisers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. That was the source of the story about Sayonara being air freighted. It ran nationally. Australia will be informed of what is really happening with Sayonara via my newspaper writings today. I guess it all gets back to "if you want to know what's going on speak to the woman in charge!"

Today's ISAF page carries a Sydney to Hobart race story by the race's official PR man, Peter Campbell, which says the yacht will be flown to Sydney. That was my source. But as I said before - I'm sticking with Caroline as the real source of information. Cheers - and thanks to Caroline.

>> From Jon Gardner -- Rolex Yachtsman - No competition - Paul Cayard ... and he is likable! Paul has raised the bar for the US in offshore sailing.

Re Chip Donnelly's comments: Your perspective on the PFD is perfect. We all have enough of big brother looking over our shoulder. The allure of sport is competition and challenges, with some implied danger. Sailing is no exception. If a person WANTS to wear a PFD, then wear one. We should not be forced to don a bulky PFD. When the conditions mandate a PFD, people should have the common sense to wear one. A buoy race in San Diego with 8-10kts or a broad reach to Hawaii in 18kts does not require a PFD.

>> From Susan Cook, US SAILING -- As I watch the discussions about who deserves the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards, I'm hoping that when someone says "my vote is for..." that they have logged their choice in a manner that will be counted officially! The deadline is November 30 and here are the ways a US SAILING member can vote:

--By mailing in the ballot found in the October and November issues of American Sailor (ballot can also be found on

--By emailing choices directly to (must include membership # to be counted, and need to include pertinent accomplishments of your choices).

--By mailing/faxing ballot obtained from infofax (888 US SAIL-6) document 1602.

Nominations get pared down to a "short list," which is then voted on by a panel of distinguished journalists. The more nominations a sailor gets, the more chance he or she has of making it to the short list.

>> From Frank Whitton -- Bless you Jack Mallinkrodt for your untiring efforts to promote IMS and coming up with the Implied Wind method of scoring. However, you are expecting people to swallow the apple whole rather than a bite a time. I understand your system and its merits but the real world can not seem to grasp it because of its complexity and the inherent lack of confidence in the people that are paid to supposedly promote it.

I pose the following question -- What is so "Impractical" about picking a single number off of the table supplied on every IMS Certificate? All of the scoring systems are based on these sets of polors and if they are correct why not use them, and why do the powers to be continue to display them on the certificate if they are "Impractical" to use? If this system of PCS was understandable to the competitors why are there so many complaints to Paul Henderson about the so called scoring system? PHRF is popular because of the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid) and lack of confidence in any other system.

Last statement I vote for Cayard for the Rolex. If not him than I vote for me because I always wanted one.

>> From Carol Newman Cronin -- Great job pointing out one of the major failings of US Sailing. The constant repetition of "Serving Sailors and the Sport" does not even come close to replacing honest, straightforward communication to those not present for the endless meetings.

>> From John Mooney-- In answer to Mr. Humphrey's editorial: I agree that other sports do have clearly defined understandings of the differences between amateurs and professionals and the path from one to the other - pro's get paid, and they become pro's when somebody is willing to pay them. I disagree that the dividing line about who plays where is as clear as he seems to think - didn't the Olympics used to be an amateur event? At any rate, I play on the same "field" as professionals all the time, and for a worthy cause. The cause is that such play improves the game. I don't win often, but it's much sweeter when I do, and I have a lot more fun playing, win or lose.

>> From Ashley Perrin -- There is a very special competitor in the Rhoute de Rhum this year. Ellen (MacArthur) is 22 and has almost 40,000 miles of offshore sailing under her belt of shorthanded competitive sailing. She will have sailed three transatlantics by the end of this year on Open 50's. She is now sailing Pete Goss's former boat Aqua Quorum.

Three years ago she started her sailing career sailing singlehanded Round Britain in a 22 foot Corbee at the age of 19. She saved up for the boat from the age of 8 by saving her lunch money and did it up herself. For this she won the Young Sailor of the Year award in the UK, Last year at the age of 20 she did the Mini Transat singlehanded from France to Martinique via the Canaries and came 13th in the race. Her ultimate aim is to do the Vendee Globe in 2000. All this was done on a shoestring budget (mostly from money earned painting watercolors - all the BT Challenge boats were painted by her) as she only received minimal sponsorship and was living in a port-a-kabin in a boat yard.

Ellen has taught me never to give up and we go by the following saying:

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

The Southern Ocean Racing Conference regatta returns to Miami Beach, FL, in early March under a new sponsorship banner and featuring a new name. It is now the Acura SORC. The 58th annual regatta will be raced off Miami's South Beach and on Biscayne Bay March 3 through March 7, 1999.

Last year's fleet of 172 boats from around the country and abroad was a record for the event in its new form. This year as many as 200 entries are expected to sail on up to four courses, two on the ocean and two on Biscayne Bay.

One Design racing continues to increase in importance at the SORC and this year will see growth in the Farr 40 and Mumm 30 classes as well as the debut of the new One Design 35 class. All these boats will race on the ocean courses, along with One Design 48s, Corel 45s and IMS and PHRF handicap classes. Small PHRF boats will race on the Bay, together with Melges 24s, Hobie 33s, Etchells 22 and Multihull Classes.

Race headquarters and the home base for the ocean courses will be located at the Miami Beach Marina, while Biscayne Bay racing will be coordinated out of the Coral Reef Yacht Club. The volunteer Race Committee for the event will be drawn from all five conference clubs.

The Notice of Race for the event is now available from Buck Gillette, Acura SORC, 757 S.E. 17th Street Box #232, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33316, Tel 954-763-1974, fax 954-767-0076, email: The Notice can also be found on the regatta web site at

Ocean course race entrants can make their berth reservations at the Miami Beach Marina via the Internet at

Victor Jean Noel from Guadaloupe was dismasted during the night at around 90 miles from the northwestern tip of Ushant. The skipper is not hurt. His mast apparently violently hit his 50-foot monohull when it fell, but Victor was able to unrig it and throw it into the water. 27-knot winds were blowing in the zone when he dismasted after having ruptured a shroud. A trade ship from Brest went out to the zone to rescue Victor.

And from Ellen MacArthur on Kingfisher we heard, "What a day. Pretty exhausted, and really struggling with sails. Never, ever will I race alone without furling headsails! Your're not racing when you're getting bashed up on the foredeck. Took pain killers today, as body fairly distraught after my injuries from the first night. Waiting for the next big depression tonight...another annihilation session! Sleep?!? Very tired, but no let up. No wind this afternoon, just changing sails to get her going. Never really succeeded. Hard work, and very demoralizing."

Event website

A clear conscience is usually a sign of a poor memory.