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SCUTTLEBUTT #234 -- December 10, 1998

The curmudgeon is in the US Virgin Islands -- giving up his personal time to insure the 'Butt-heads get first-hand and insightful reports from the Marriott Frenchman's Reef International Match Race series. And on my first day down here, I learned there is some interesting stuff going on in the world of big league match racing. They seem to be making up the rules as they go along.

Apparently, the new Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) have created some unexpected problems on the match racing circuit. Recognizing this was not a good thing to happen with the America's Cup Challenger Trials Series less than a year away, the ISAF opened the door to some "experimentation."

On Wednesday evening, prior to the welcoming reception at the St Thomas YC, there was a meeting between the umpires and the competitors, discussing proposed amendments to the Sailing Instructions for this event. Each of the proposed amendments would change the RRS for this regatta only. US Sailing's rules guru, Dick Rose, was on hand to participate in this experiment and help with the language of the amendments.

One of the proposed amendments would have changed the definition of an overlap to exclude spinnakers and spinnaker sheets. During the discussion that followed, it quickly became obvious that the sailors did not like this change. After a well-mannered exchange (honest), everyone agreed it was a bad idea, and the amendment was dropped from the sailing instructions. Pretty amazing.

Proposed changes to rules 17 and 18 met with a more favorable reception, and will be used for this event. The idea is to try them on the water and see if they actually "improve the game."

The window for these experiments shuts on March 30. A month later the match racing rules will be finalized, and those will be the rules that the AC syndicates will live with in Auckland.

The match racing here in St. Thomas starts today. We should have a full report in tomorrow's 'Butt.

America's Cup skippers Colin Beashel and New Zealander Rod Davis are among entries flooding into the 1999 World Sailing Championship headquarters at the Port Melbourne Yacht Club on the foreshores of the city's vast Port Phillip. Beashel, bronze medallist in the Star class at the 1996 Atlantic Olympic Games and reigning Star world champion, and Davis, an Olympic gold medal winning crew in the Soling class, will contest the Soling keelboats at the '99 Worlds. Also entered for the Solings is current world Soling match racing champion Jochen Schuemann from Germany.

What will be the world's largest ever sailing regatta starts on January 2, when junior sailors from around the world contest the International Cadets at Royal Geelong Yacht Club. This will mark the start of three weeks of world class sailing action, spread around the vast bay known as Port Phillip from Geelong on the south-western shores and Blairgowrie on the south-eastern shores, north to the bayside suburbs of the city of Melbourne, capital of the State of Victoria.

Colin Beashel was mainsheet trimmer on the illustrious Australia II when it broke the shackles of the New York Yacht Club off Newport, Rhode Island, in 1983. He returned to the America's Cup arena for the Australian defender series in Fremantle in 1986-87, this time as skipper of Australia IV. Rod Davis, then an American citizen, also was one of the challenging skippers. Beashel has won five world championships, at least seven Australian titles and numerous major international regattas and in September became the first Australian to win the world championship in the Star class. With the Stars not racing at the '99 Worlds, Beashel has elected to contest the Soling three-man keelboat.

Schuemann is a triple Olympic gold medallist, once in Finn dinghies and twice in the Soling class and is on his sixth Olympic campaign for Sydney 2000.

Another prominent European entrant is the Atlanta Finn class bronze medallist Roy Heiner from The Netherlands whose other successes have included winning a leg of the 1997-98 Whitbread Race around the world. Entries have closed for the 1999 World Sailing Championship, except in the Soling class, with fleets exceeding target numbers in most of the 11 classes in the regatta and international competitors already arriving to "test the waters" of Port Phillip.

Event website:

On November 29, the Swiss America's Cup training yacht arrived at Auckland aboard a Mediterranean Shipping Co. container ship. During the following days, a temporary base was set up at the American Express America's Cup Village, while hull, keel, rudder and rig have been reassembled.

The boat has now been launched and the crew is ready to begin sailing early next week, under the guidance of Marc Pajot. Helmsman Jochen Schumann and tactician Enrico Chieffi will also attend the training sessions. The entire team is now facing a busy period. Christmas and New Year's celebrations are likely to be reduced to a minimum!

"Gathering as much local information and knowledge as possible is an essential part of our preparation" says Project Manager Marc Pajot. "We are very satisfied, that in addition to completing extensive research and tests as part of our R&D program, we are now one of the few teams able to practice on site in New Zealand."

The FAST 2000 Design Team is currently busy at the drawing board to finalize the plans for the Swiss Made racing boat. Construction will begin later in January '99. -- Hans U. Bernhard, FAST 2000

Hey racers and boat owners! Got a good action picture of you boat? Send it to Frank and let him transform it into stitches for your yachting apparel. Once the design is complete you own it and it can be sewed on just about any fabric that you can wear. The cost is cheap and the work is done by a professional specialty artist. Call Frank Whitton at Pacific Yacht Embroidery (619-226-8033).

Letters may be edited for space (250 words max) or clarity or to exclude personal attacks.

>> From Marc Hollerbach - (Re: Ali Meller's comments on "Hunting") Thanks Ali for making the rest of us aware that this is once again "on the table". I agree with your comments - from the opposite end of the size spectrum. Racing an SC70 in breeze presents the same problems with potentially deadly results. Even without a collision, what about broken bodies, people in the water from crash tacks? The fact that we have not yet seen a problem with the hunting rule (our owner/drivers, like you, don't have the stomach for it) is a non-issue. The rule allows it to happen, therefore it will. We had several series this summer in which the series could be won by only 2 boats by the final day. This is a custom made invitation to hunt the other boat out of the race.

This is a rule created by and for match racing which makes little sense on crowded, and less professional, fleet courses. I would like to see us leave it in the former venue and use a little more common sense in ours.

>> From Jack Mallinckrodt -- I strongly endorse Ali's well-expressed thoughts on hunting. Two more points, particularly directed at the club level i.e. the vast majority of our racing. 1. The present wording of rule 16, Changing Course is not consistent with the good intention of rule 14, Avoiding Contact. Rule 16 (and definition) encourage serious damaging contact. Just fortunately most big boat drivers, have the common sense to not push this dangerous rule. 2. Except for umpired events, any resulting collision is essentially impossible to resolve. P says he did everything possible, "promptly and in a seamanlike way". S says "no he didn't". End of evidence. Impossible to resolve objectively.

Seems to me the problem is in "room". That's difficult, probably impossible to define in objective terms; that is, in terms that are at least in principle, measurable. That's exactly why it is necessary to state the ROW boat's limitations, rule 16, in terms that provide some margin of safety, as old rule 35 did.

I would suggest that the essence of old rule 35 should be reinstated as the default rule, and that the present rule 16 wording be made a separate appendix alternative to be invoked by specified wording in the SIs for classes or events that really want to play chicken.

The Dateline NBC Around Alone story discussed in 'Butt #233 was bumped from its scheduled time slot by a story about the impeachment inquiry in Washington, D.C. At present,NBC has rescheduled the piece on the race to air this Sunday, 13 December, during the show's evening broadcast (check local listings for time and station). Should something unexpected arise, it is possible the story could be bumped again, but for now it looks like Sunday is the day. -Dan Miller

DynaYacht's successful Schock 40 prototype "Red Hornet" has been sold to Kathleen and Paul Parks of Annapolis, Maryland. Kathleen and Paul have campaigned a series of boats named "Sundog", most recently a Melges 30, and have twice won the Chesapeake High Point Championship.

Launched in January 1997, the canting ballast-twin foil (CBTF) sloop has enjoyed a successful racing career on the West Coast, Great Lakes and Florida. "Red Hornet has proven to be much more efficient and reliable than other moveable ballast systems including water ballast and canting keels," said DynaYacht president, Chuck Robinson.

The former Whitbread Round the World maxi ketch The Card has been accepted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia as a late entry for the Telstra 54th Sydney to Hobart and will race south under her sponsor's name as Nokia. The huge 83-footer, skippered by young Sydney skiff sailor and sometime bigboat skipper David Witt, will be the largest yacht in the 117 boat fleet setting sail on Boxing Day, December 26. While she is larger by several feet than the two line honours favourites, the 78-footer Sayonara from the USA and local 76-foot maxi Brindabella, Nokia will not necessarily be faster as she now 10 years old and has done little racing in recent years. - Peter Campbell

Telstra Sydney to Hobart website:

Two days ago, Isabelle Autissier informed race headquarters that she was experiencing problems with the hydraulic system that controls her canting keel, and that she might have to "slow a bit" in heavy airs. She intimated that she might have to head for port. Everyone thought she meant Cape Town. Clearly, her heart is set on Auckland. At 0940 GMT this morning, Autissier was roaring along at an average speed of 16 knots and had opened up a lead of 30 miles over second place Giovanni Soldini. What if she had complete confidence in her boat?

Autissier was making better than 17 knots-two knots faster than her competition-when she discovered problems with one of the two hydraulic keel rams that are utilized to swing the keel and, in turn, stabilize her 60-foot PRB. A steel plate that serves as the linkage between the ram and its integrated mount in the boat's carbon hull is the source of the trouble. Autissier decided to press on after designer Pascal Conq confirmed that she could sail on with one working ram, which was enough to safely hold and swing the keel. The leaders are now flying along before the second cold front they've encountered thus far. It's Autissier's first test in big breeze since reporting the breakage. As Mike Golding, Marc Thiercelin and Josh Hall-holding third through fifth-can attest, everything seems to be working fine. -- Herb McCormick

Standings CLASS I (Distance to finish in parenthesis): 1. Autissier (5697) 2. Soldini (5727) 3. Golding (5755) CLASS II 1. Garside (5954) 2. Mouligne (6013) 13. Van Liew (6116)

Around Alone website:

Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.