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SCUTTLEBUTT #222 -- November 20, 1998

For the over 200 sailors competing at the Mumm 30 Worlds at Hilton Head Island, the sight of no wind this morning was-almost-a blessing. After a tough day on the race course in 20-plus knots yesterday, there seemed to be few complaints as crews waited for the breeze to arrive: Sailors were sacked out comfortably on foredecks, and in cockpits-taking advantage of free time forced on the fleet by the absence of wind.

After a postponement of over 3 hours, a light southwesterly breeze filled in on the racecourse and the Race Committee began a starting sequence. But the breeze was short lived: it dropped below 5 knots, shifted some 50 degrees, and the committee abandoned the race before the fleet reached the windward mark. No other races were started.

The final day of racing is tomorrow, and the 1998 Mumm 30 World Champions will be presented with the Royal Canadian Yacht Club Trophy on Friday evening. With the minimum number of four races completed, yesterday's results will stand for the world championship if tomorrow's weather brings a repeat performance.

The current standings are: SISSABELLA, owned by Luca Bassani (Monte Carlo, Monaco), in first place with 10 points; MENACE, owned by James Dill (New Suffolk, NY), in second with 26 points; OFF THE GAUGE, owned by Jack LeFort (Stuart, FL), in third with 31 points; USA 48, owned by Ed Collins and Barry Allardice (West Dover, VT) with 32 points; USA 65, owned by Michael Dressell and Al Hobart (Shelburne, VT) in fifth with 33 points. -- Cynthia Goss

Event website:

Michigan's Bayview YC's website the latest to post Scuttlebutt on a daily basis. By the curmudgeon's last count, that makes five places you can get 'Butt on the web but who's counting. Check it out:

Pacific Yacht Embroidery has a program to supply you with regatta apparel at a guaranteed profit. Help offset your regatta costs by selling apparel at your event. There is no risk to you and no event is too small to qualify for this program. Call Frank Whitton(619-226-8033) for details on how this can put dollars in your pocket and a quality product on the racers back.

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

>> From Frank Gleberman -- We learned that Hurricane Mitch ending the lives of 31 valiant sailors and their ship. Our group and hundreds of other friends have sailed with me on Fantome some fifteen times. We knew many of the crew.

The tragedy was chronicled by the Miami Herald reporters in a sensitive and caring way. We must remember that our loves, the Ocean and Mother Nature, sometimes present us challenges beyond our ability to handle. Around the world today, in homes and cathedrals, many of us tolled Eight Bells, signifying the sailors' traditional End of the Watch for Fantome and her crew.

>> From Graham Kelly-- Am I the only person to notice how the CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS in SCUTTLEBUTT #218 seems to delineate the USSA life jacket controversy rather cleverly:

"Tell a man there are 400 billion stars and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it."

USSA seems to perceive itself as an astronomer (or philosopher-king) with a large and powerful telescope which gives it knowledge outside the perception of ordinary mortals. Based on their esoteric research, these "scientists" pronounce facts regarding the nature of the universe and are prepared to tell each of us how we should conduct ourselves to conform to the "scientific reality."

In contrast, many of the "questioners" believe that, like the wetness of paint, the issue of lifejacket use is empirically verifiable from personal observation (with the possible addition of relevant statistical information). Such persons consider that the necessity of a life jacket is subject to objective analysis, and their individual experience qualifies them to exercise independent judgment.

Of course, the controversy is fueled by a widespread perception that, unlike astronomers who constantly test and refine their hypotheses, the pronouncements from USSA are not supported by relevant observations which demonstate the problem, and also that the solution proposed is unlikely to resolve the underlying problem, if one exists. Unfortunately, the combination of scarce statistical information and irrelevant comparisons does little to resolve the controversy. However, until the powers at USSA can demonstrate that the issue of life jacket use must be taken on faith, I believe that most sailors will continue to rely on their personal observations as the most accurate guide.

>> From Shipwreck Schupak -- Ok, I took the bait and checked out Scuttlebutt on the yachtracingclub sight. Sure the type is bigger, flashier, easier to read and the formatting looks great and they even throw in a couple of pictures. But where did you get the background music. I'm sorry, but listening to Romeo loop doesn't get me into a lather to go out sailing. I know you're the curmudgeon, but let's at least get some uplifting if not exhilarating music. Don't forget, you're trying to market the sport.

>> From Colin Case -- Scuttlebutt with music ...? Let me guess:
I. Barry Manilow
II. Steppenwolf
III. Wagner
IV. Margaritaville
V. None of the above ?

>> From Peter Huston -- (To Dobbs Davis) The ORC Special Reg which governs the use of PFD's in races sailed under rules governed by the ORC did not "come from Newport where the water is rarely over 70 degrees". US SAILING is a broad based, national organization with decisions such as this made by the volunteer committee members who come from all corners of the country. The prime motivator in this instance, was Retired Navy Captain John Bonds, former ExDir of US SAILING, now a resident of South Carolina, and someone who probably has much salt water, both hot and cold, in his boots as any other person reading this publication.

Contrary to the assumption made by many people, this Special Regulation is not a nationwide mandate by US SAILING. The reality is that it only applies to a very small number of races held in this country. But what this Special Regulation did was prompt thoughtful discussion in many parts of the country as to how best handle this subject for their local environments. I remember the initial resistance in San Francisco when StFYC first implemented mandatory life jackets. Big Boat series attendance doesn't seem to be hurt too much since this rule has been adopted.

The people who continue to complain about the application of the US SAILING ORC PFD Special Regulation are continuing to show their ignorance of the specific wording of this rule.

Anyone care to ask Leslie and Alexander Klein what they think of this rule?

>> From Bill Sturgeon --I have to agree with others that have written; we are adults and SHOULD know when to wear our PFD's. Unfortunately in practice this is rarely the case. A perfect example would be San Diego's Mid Winter Regatta this past year. We left the dock with wind gusting into the high 20's. By the time we reached the race coarse our B & G's had shown gusts to 30+ with seas over 10ft. The race committee decided to abandon the regatta for safety issues. On the way back in, 2 boats lost masts.

These conditions definitely warranted the wearing of PFD's. Everybody was in full foul weather gear, and at best I saw only a handful of people wearing PFD's. The issue about being a good swimmer is laughable. I have grown up in So. California surfing, rough water swimming, and have been a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard. The point is, I am a very strong swimmer and I can't swim with full foullies on -- I've tried.

Let me pose one question to those of you that bring up the statistics -- how many lives must be lost before you think the inconvenience of a PFD is worth it? Personally I feel one life is too many. For those of you that are like me and don't like the bulk of the old school PFD's, try the USCG approved fanny pack inflatable PFD's. They're so small you forget you're wearing them.

'Butt is not in the habit of providing free commercials to anyone -- ask Ullman Sails or Pacific Yacht Embroidery. However, a number of 'Butt-heads have had problems getting insurance when taking their trailerable boats overseas, and there is a solution to that problem. David Williams told the curmudgeon he has a new insurance program offering worldwide coverage with a $5 million liability limit for owners of Olympic class sailcraft. The minimum premium is $250.00 and boats like a new 470 run about $350.00 annually. Williams can be reached at:

Marcus Hutchinson, spokesman for Louis Vuitton, the challenger series sponsor, has spoken out against perceived complacency amongst New Zealand companies and a number of local authorities. "Kiwis seem to be oblivious to the fact that the America's Cup starts in October 1999, and not February 2000. I would remind you all that the bulk of overseas visitors are likely to bury Auckland during the challenger series, supporting their national syndicates whilst they are still in there with a chance.. We are worried about the shortage of accommodation." Mr Hutchinson expressed his concern about the number of building projects that will still be under construction during the challenger series. Visitors and super yacht owners tied up adjacent to apartment blocks under construction will not take lightly to construction mayhem and dust.

He has a very valid point. Economic times have not seen a buoyant sales period for high priced apartments in New Zealand over the past six months, and there are still at least three new complexes awaiting sales to a break-even point before construction can commence. For sure, they will not be completed by October 1999, and this will be a great pity for New Zealand's reputation.

Many of our overseas readers failed to take us seriously, when we told you more than two years ago that there would be a major shortage of accommodation in New Zealand at the start of the Defender series. This was no idle comment. The Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) has booked every available bed in Auckland, and even the Italians have been asked to vacate the two floors they have booked for the month of September '99. We tried last week on behalf of a visiting group of 22 to find them beds, but without success. We had to settle for accommodation 57 miles from the village. (And that is going to get a lot further out as September and October '99 gets nearer.) -- -- Excerpt from DEFENCE 2000 which is available from for US $48 per year.

>> Aboard Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher -- The first problem to spoil the morning was to find that the forward hatch had been sprung slightly open, possibly aided by the violent motion of the boat in what were very confused seas. That meant water down below in quantities that were indeed a problem. Whilst just getting on top of this issue, everything was suddenly overshadowed by a much bigger event. With a sudden lurch, the boat took on a very different motion and it quickly became apparent that the keel was no longer stationery.

Kingfisher has a swing keel - this means, in basic terms, that it is designed to swing laterally in order to keep the boat more upright and therefore faster. The swing is controlled by a hydraulic system that uses rams to pivot the keel from one side to the other depending on which tack you are on. A failure in the hydraulic system of this kind meant that the keel was then able to swing freely from side to side, limited only by the resistance of the water. MacArthur is now working hard on implementing a system to at least block the keel in one position.

For the full story:

>>Alain Gautier (Broceliande) hit a whale while he was sailing at 17 knots. He had almost caught up with Laurent Bourgnon aboard Primagaz at the time of the accident. As a result, his rudder is ruptured and his spinnaker boom is damaged. Gautier is still confident and is still hoping to gain on Bourgnon.

Event website:

The US Sailing Center on the Jensen Beach Causeway in Martin County (Fla.) is the place to be from Friday November 20 to Sunday, November 22. A USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival, sponsored by West Marine, is taking place and the activities range from clinics, to a regatta to a day full of festival games.

Advanced sailing clinics, featuring Olympic sailors will be held on Friday and Saturday. Louise VanVoorhis, Tracy Hayley, Kim Logan and Kurt Taulbee have each planned training sessions for the youth sailors. Clinics will be held for single/double-handed and windsurfing.

Saturday and Sunday will be exciting as the competition is played out on the water. The boats for the regatta include Optimist, Byte, Laser Radial, and 420s. Racing will be held on the Indian River.

USA Junior Olympic Sailing is a grass-roots program that provides a path where young sailors can become involved in sailing and develop their skills through events nationwide. The program involves more than 3,500,000 participants annually.

For more information:

Maybe this is a life lesson, or maybe it's a sailing lesson. Either way it's definitely one to note. There I was on the first beat, battling for the lead. After a good start and a well executed first leg I was approaching the weather mark and starboard layline, about 7 boat lengths shy of the port tack layline. A nice lead on the pack and only one boat to worry about - the starboard tacker one boat length above the starboard tack layline. What do I do? I get greedy.

Instead of ducking and fighting for the lead on any of the remaining three legs of the race, I leebow the starboard tacker. A mediocre tack, a little current at the buoy, an extra long anchor line, a nice deep centerboard (V15), and there it is: "The Egregious Error." I hit the mark, get stuck, turn my circle and am in 5th place in the pack and the leader is launched, OUCH!

Knowing your risk entering any given tactical decision is imperative to making the right move. Sure, going for the lead is great, however, with three legs remaining of a race, nice separation from the pack and a touch of current, waiting for another window of opportunity looks pretty good in retrospect. In fact, in retrospect it's a no-brainer. In the moment it would have been a no-brainer too, if I had made a quick check of the risk versus the gain. -- The Coach at

If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?