SCUTTLEBUTT #236 -- December 14, 1998
MARRIOTT FRENCHMAN'S REEF INTERNATIONAL MATCH RACE SERIES
Bertrand Pace, representing France's Yaka Challenge for the America's Cup,
mastered both the tricky conditions on Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the
current World Champion of Match Racing, by beating Peter Gilmour in a
commanding 3-0 finals today. While all around him competitors lost their
heads, their spinnakers, and their tempers, Pace kept cool and led his crew
to a near flawless display of strategy and tactics. With more shifts of
direction then a slick politician, the wind alternated from east to
northeast and southeast in a maddening dance that tripped up one of the
most competitive fields in match racing history. And if the winds weren't
disconcerting enough, the rules book played a major part in the final
standings as penalties were handed out faster than compliments at an awards
The day started with the determining race of the semi-finals between Peter
Gilmour and Peter Holmberg, a match cut short yesterday as time ran out
before the intriguing and entertaining CitiBank Youth Regatta took center
stage. With Gilmour and his Nippon America's Cup Challenge team leading
2-1, Holmberg needed two wins to advance against Pace, who had defeated
Chris Law on Saturday by 3-1. But in Gilmour's best demonstration of
tactics during the day, he controlled his opponent in the pre-start,
forcing Holmberg over the line at the gun. The Japanese team then took a
windward position and soon had a two boatlength lead which was never
relinguished. Twenty minutes later, it was Gilmour moving on to the finals.
The petite-finals to determine places three and four saw more than its
share of aggressive driving on the part of both Holmberg and Law. The
pre-starts of all three matches were ferocious battles of bow-to-bow and
stern-to- bow maneuvers, each team deperate to achieve the controlling
position. In race one, Law got the better of his opponent, but Holmberg
kept the race extremely close until two penalties spelled his doom.
In race two, Holmberg came storming back with a masterful display of match
racing skills as he and his team tacked several times on windshifts on the
first beat and pushed Law to the right as they caught a massive left-hand
shift that allowed them to lay the line to the mark without additional
tacks. From there it was simply a matter of the Virgin Islanders stretching
their lead to tie the series at 1-1.
The decider was decided on a controversial pre-start windward-leeward
penalty that saw Holmberg luff into the wind before contact could be
avoided. Both teams called for a penalty and the umpire's decision went in
favor of Law. From start to finish, the race was led by Holmberg, but Law
was never more than a length or two behind. Holmberg reached the finish
line in front, but as he executed his penalty turn, Law passed him to win
third place and $5,000. Holmberg received $4,000.
The Pace/Gilmour final might be summed up in two words--"spinnaker
trouble". The Japanese team struggled with the massive asymmetrical chute
throughout the competition, but never more than in all three races today.
The Frenchman got the better of the start in the first race, and controlled
a close match throughout, with Gilmour's crew work below the standard
expected at this level of competition. Spinnaker wraps and hourglasses gave
a signal of what was to come.
In the second confrontation, Pace forced the Japanese crew into two rules
infringements, which sent them into disarray, and they compounded their
problems by dropping their spinnaker over the side of the boat. Gilmour
finally got control of the situation at the start of the final heat, and
held a narrow lead at the first mark, but a tactical blunder left him in a
windless patch, while the French crew sailed around him, and off into the
Pace commented after his victory, "this is our first year sailing together
as the Corum Sailing Team, so it is good that the teamwork has come
together, and we have started winning." A very disappointed Gilmour simply
commented, "In this sport you can have good days and bad days, we had a
dead set shocker".
Though Pace has been near the top of the leaderboard in most of the events
he has sailed this year, this is his first victory of the season, in what
is the last regatta of the '98 circuit. For his efforts, the Frenchman
pocketed $10,000 and Gilmour was enriched by $6,000. - Paul Larsen & John
1. Bertrand Pace France / Yaka Challenge
2. Peter Gilmour Japan / Nippon Challenge
3. Chris Law Great Britain / Spirit of Britain
4. Peter Holmberg US Virgin Islands / Team Caribbean
5. Paul Cayard USA / America One
6. Luc Pillot France / Yaka Challenge
7. James Spithill Australia / Australia Challenge
8. Gavin Brady USA / America True
Event Web site:
WRAPUP FROM ST. THOMAS
"You just can't beat this place for match racing," declared Chris Law in a
conversation with the curmudgeon just before the start of the petite
finals. "They have great boats (J/120s provide by the Moorings), great
breeze and the top umpires. And because of the intimate 'amphitheater'
atmosphere of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, you get wonderful spectator
support, so the sponsors get very good value. This event has certainly
grown in stature on the world stage of match racing," Law concluded.
Law acknowledged that the J/120s are big demanding boats for a crew of five
to handle, but did not complain about it. "At this level of racing, the
boats should be challenging," he stated firmly. Sailing short-handed, it
was commonplace to see the helmsman handling the mainsheet while steering
the boat through a jibe, and he generally also doubled as a mainsheet
grinder while turning the boat around the leeward mark.
Law expressed a preference for asymmetrical kites over conventional
spinnakers in match race events, although it was only about two hours later
that his 'ayso' went up with a very tight 'hourglass' and cost him a race
in his petite finals match with Peter Holmberg. There were lots of
spinnaker wraps during the week, despite of the fact that some the best
bowmen in the game were at the regatta. And those spinnaker wraps were
frequently responsible for transforming a race leader into race loser.
There were also two kites totally shredded - one by Gavin Brady and another
by Chris Law. In fact, the regatta organizers were out of spare chutes and
if they blew up another one they undoubtedly would have raced the finals
Paul Cayard may not have won the regatta, but he certainly won the
concluding press conference. His remarks about the joy he experienced as a
coach and mentor to the junior sailors from the St. Thomas YC during
Saturday's Citibank Youth Regatta (which also used the J/120s) won the
hearts of the hundreds of Virgin Islanders who attended the function. It
was also obvious why Peter Holmberg has brought Team Caribbean so far along
on their journey to the America's Cup. His popularity here was obvious
throughout the event.
All of the skippers at this year's Marriott Frenchman's Reef International
Match Race Series plan to be in Auckland next year. But even with different
skippers, you can't help but get the feeling that there is more than
sufficient local support to insure this event will be one of the biggies on
next year's match race calendar.
Lindsey Cunningham has decided to shelve plans for an assault on his own
world sailing speed record for probably a year after control problems
continued to plague his latest contender, Macquarie Innovation. With Simon
McKeon and Tim Daddo aboard, the triple-hulled sailboat reached a top speed
of 43 knots on one run--less than four knots under their world mark. But
at times the four finely developed vertical foils fitted to both leeward
hulls were not giving the desired directional stability and the boat became
extremely difficult to control. -- Rob Mundle, Grand Prix Sailor
For the full story:
They are absolutely everywhere. They're in Norway, Spain, the UK and
Canada. There are two each in Japan, Australia and Mexico. Italy has three
and there are 10 in the USA. San Francisco even has one now. And every one
of these Ullman sail lofts will give an email quote on a new sail to show
you just how affordable improved performance can be for your boats
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
Letters may be edited for space (250 words max) or clarity or to exclude
>> From Gary Thorne -- However, this is how I view hunting -- If a
right-of-way boat holds her course until she as to maneuver to avoid
collision, she has been fouled. If a right-of-way boat does not hold her
course, and a collision results, or the burdened boat must make extreme
course alterations to keep clear, I tend to assume the right-of-way boat
has committed the foul unless she makes a good case otherwise.
I realize this is not the majority view, but I think it could help resolve
the hunting issue without requiring any changes to the current rules.
>> From Gay Lynn -- The team racing Appendix has an addendum to Rule 16:
"Furthermore, when boats are on a beat to windward and a port-tack boat is
keeping clear of a starboard-tack boat, the starboard-tack boat shall not
change course if that immediately compels the port-tack boat to change
course". Hunting is really a frightening concept in team racing; they have
chosen one way to avoid the problem.
>> Keri Shining -- Of all the ideas that you have passed along from your
readers on how to increase participation in sailing, I think the most
immediate and most effective way to grow the sport of sailing is by doing
exactly what you are doing -- telling people immediately and quickly about
the best of sailing as it happens.
Yacht racing isn't dull and stuffy -- it is fast-paced stuff that requires
real skill and dedication to do well. And yacht racers aren't dull and
stuffy -- those who are devoted to the sport as are as devoted to their
craft as any athelete in any sport. We just haven't had a medium that
effectively keeps people informed and excited until e-mail and the Internet
came along (I feel the same way about the ISAF Web site, www.sailing.org).
The best way to grow the sport is through faster, better reporting of the
great events that already occur.
>> From Richard Spindler, Publisher, Latitude 38 -- Regarding Shef Phelps'
intimation that Latitude 38 made up his wife's letter that appeared in our
November issue: After the BBS article, Marda phoned Racing Editor Rob Moore
to complain that her 'Marda Gras' hadn't been identified as the winner of
the 'SC 52 Nationals'. Since Latitude is a print medium, Moore naturally
encouraged her to write a letter to the editor. A few days later Latitude
received a letter from Phelps, which we ran. Shortly after the Letters
section had gone to the printer, a woman identifying herself as "Marda
Phelp's secretary" phoned Moore to ask that the letter be pulled. It was
too late. Shef is correct that Marda did not send the photo that
accompanied the letter. It was taken at this year's Big Boat Series by
Moore, and Marda was favorably identified as "the only woman to earn a
trophy at the BBS." While we're certainly not above making up Letters, it's
regrettably been years since we've had the time or space for that kind of
BALLS OF STEEL
Nick Moloney became the first person to WINDSURF across the notorious Bass
Strait from Victoria to Tasmania. Moloney, 30, set out on the 150 nautical
mile journey from Flinders at 6 am yesterday and at arrived at Stanley on
Tasmania's north-west cape at 4.01 am, 22 hours later.
"I'm not feeling very flash. I actually feel worse now I'm off the board
than when I was on it", he said after his epic trip."I trained really hard
for this but it turned out to be a lot tougher than I ever thought it was
going to be to complete.
Moloney who describes himself as "Not the world's greatest windsurfer," is
seeking treatment for a severely swollen left hip, his hands, in particular
three fingers that have lost a lot of sensation.
Moloney is an accomplished international yachtsman from Melbourne. He has
completed the Whitbread Round the World Race, crewed on the 1996
Sydney-Hobart winner "Ausmaid" and was involved in two America's Cup
campaigns. The idea to undertake such a journey stemmed from Lanee
Butler's participation in the Newport-Enesenada race on her Mistral
(A special report to the 'Butt-heads from Jonathan McKee)
Welcome back to Sydney, site of the 1998 49er South Pacific Championships.
After 3 days of qualifying races, the Gold Fleet was determined, with the
top 25 teams squaring off for 4 final races to determine the title. As
usual, the field was hot, with nearly all the top 49er teams in the world
on the starting line.
The day did not start well for the American teams. Sailing up the course
getting ready for the first start, both boats failed to hear the warning
signal and missed the start. Morgan Larson and Kevin Hall made a strong
recovery to 11th place, while the McKee brothers on Team McLube struggled
back to 16th place after being 2 minutes late. The race was won by the
French team of Mark Audineau and Julian Farnarier, who have been training
on these waters since September. Second went to perennial favorite Chris
Nicholson and Ed Smyth, winners of the qualifying series. The Budgen
brothers from Britain were third, followed by the second French team,
Silent Night from New Zealand, and the Italians.
The second race was sailed in similar conditions, a shifty 6-12 knot
easterly in Rose Bay. Dan Slater and Nathan Handley from New Zealand led
around the first lap, followed by Nicholson/Smyth, Team McLube, the Budgens
and Larson Hall. On the puffy second beat, the crafty Australians moved
into the lead, which they held for the run to the finish. The Kiwis were
second, followed by the McKee brothers and Morgan and Kevin. The Gold
Fleet headed fo shore as the Silver Fleet took the water for 4 races.
When Gold Fleet racing resumed in the late afternoon, the breeze had swung
southeast and built to 10-15 knots. The course was shifted entirely within
the narrow confines of Rose Bay, making for a very short course with
radical puffs and shifts. Larson and Hall controlled the starting pin for
Race 3, and extended to a commanding lead which they never relinquished.
Adam Beashal and Teague Czislowski on Smith's Kodak Express, winners the
previous week in Brisbane, came second. The Bruni brothers from Italy were
third, and Chris and Ed battled back from mid-fleet to finish fourth. The
McKees had a poor start and first lap and finished 12th, effectively
dropping them out of contention for the title.
It appeared at this point that Nicholson and Smyth had the regatta won,
with 1, 2, 1, 4 scores and only one race remaining. But the sailing
instructions did not provide for a discard race, so a couple of other teams
were still mathematically in striking range.
The wind build to a puffy 15-20 knots for the final heat. The Boyd
brothers from Australia finally found their form in the stronger breeze and
led around the first lap, followed by the French, Italians and 2 New
Zealand teams. Team McLube rounded the top mark in 6th, a couple places
ahead of Larson and Hall. Then the unthinkable happened. Chris and Ed
capsized in a big puff at the top mark during a spinnaker set! The regatta
wasn't over after all. Boyds held on to win the race. The McKees rallied
to third on the second beat and passed the French at the finish to claim
second. Morgan and Kevin moved up to 4th, just ahead of the Bruni brothers
and Hansgrohe from New Zealand. Nicholson and Smyth righted their boat and
worked their way furiously through the fleet. But the course was short,
and at the finish they had clawed only up to 18th, 3 places short of what
they needed to beat the consistent scores of Larson and Hall.
So Kevin and Morgan won their first major international regatta with very
consistent sailing in a variety of conditions. Their starting was
especially strong, and upwind speed was good throughout the wind range.
Nicholson/Smyth were beaten for the second regatta in a row, showing at
least some degree of vulnerability. Despite poor starts, Team McLube also
had pretty consistent speed and good tactics to finish just ahead of the
snarling pack. Other North American finishers were Tina and Trevor Baylis
in 17th place in Gold Fleet, and Jason Rhodes/Jeff Echard from Canada were
third in Silver Fleet. Stay tuned for our next Team McLube Race Report
from the Sydney International Regatta next week. - Jonathan McKee
Final Scores: 1. Morgan Larson/Kevin Hall, USA (23) 2. Chris Nicholson/Ed
Smyth, Australia (26) 3. Team McLube Jonathan & Charlie McKee), USA (35) 4.
Dan Slater/Nathan Handly, New Zealand (36) 5. Francesco Bruni/Gabriele
Bruni, Italy (36)
AND THE WINNER IS
We had dozens of entries in the 'Butt contest to pick the four finalist in
the Marriott Frenchman's Reef International Match Race Series.
Interestingly, none of those entries picked Bertrand Pace' to win the event
and only one entry that correctly identified all four of the finalist. So
our distinguished international panel of yachting journalists that included
Bob Fisher (Yachting World - UK), John Roberson (Australian Yachting) and
Charles Mason (Sail) quickly agreed the official 'Butt-head embroidered tee
shirt should be awarded to JOE ERWIN, who predicted the following order of
finish: 1. Holmberg, 2. Gilmour, 3. Law, 4. Pace. As you can see, Joe had
#2 and #3 spot-on, and just reversed #1 and #4. Congratulations, Joe! Frank
Whitton from Pacific Yacht Embroidery will be sending you an official
'Butt-head tee shirts soon!
The curmudgeon will be on an airplane in just a few hours, starting the
12-hour journey back to California. And while there probably will be an
issue of Scuttlebutt sometime tomorrow, it certainly will not be my top
THE CURMUDGEON'S OXYMORONS (from the Virgin Islands)