SCUTTLEBUTT #244 - December 24, 1998
GUEST EDITORIAL - by Jim Durden
Peter Johntone's letter in 'Butt #224 touches on issues that I frankly
thought were going to receive more attention than they did. Peter's ideas,
if he could successfully implement them, would certainly make him worthy of
"Yachtsman of the Decade". But, I'm afraid it's going to take a decade to
witness the implementation of enough of these great ideas to experience the
growth we would all like to see. If each Butthead embraced just one of his
bullet points with the same passion they have for the sport and put it to
action tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, we could make his vision become reality
in half a decade. But I think there are some obstacles standing in the way
that need to be overcome before great things can take place. There appear
to me to be two distinct groups. The "day sailors" and the "racers".
Racing is what I want to address here, because it is what I am most familiar.
Bruce Golison's Southern California North Sails Race Week has proven year
after year that you don't need a yacht club to put on an outstanding event
and I believe their lead will be a key factor in the future of organized
sailboat racing. However, yacht clubs are still an important place for
nurturing and maintaining the fundamental aspects of the sport. Herein lies
some of the problems.
I think most everybody in Southern California will agree there are fewer
and fewer boats on the line than there was 15 or 20 years ago. Why? #1 --
Too much racing on the calendar. Whenever a day opened up on the calendar,
one of the clubs would fill it with some new-fangled race. Albeit, the
"answer" to all their problems, it wasn't, and low turnout proved it.
#2 -- Individual races in a series were scattered out all through the
summer. It was hard to remember if you even raced in that one, let alone
how you did. This also made it difficult for families to plan their
vacations or think about participating in other regattas out of town. It
also made more work for race committees, who were already hard-pressed for
help for one day, let alone four.
#3 -- The quality of race committee management is, in general, substandard.
I can't tell you how many times I've sailed 9 miles to find the mark
missing, because the club thought it would save time setting it the day
before, only to have it stolen by some fisherman. Or to have the start
line parallel to the wind, and have the race committee cheerfully tell you,
"Oh, no problem, start any way you'd like to". Poor race management
adversely effects other aspects like protest committees who are "fuzzy" on
the rules. The same goes for calculating handicap times.
The quality of trophies, for some clubs, seems to be shrinking too.
Probably because their budget can't support the upgrade version. Heh, when
the turnout is low, entry fees won't help. Most clubs do a great job with
what they have to work with, but some have been talked into "bowling"
trophies by their treasurer.
The only thing racers get out of winning in this sport is recognition
amongst their peers and a goblet. If we don't get the recognition or the
goblet, it isn't too long before we start finding something else to do with
our time, or lose interest in the sport altogether.
#4 -- PHRF going after our rating because we've been winning too much.
Every now and then a PHRF board gets a few hearty individuals who genuinely
want to make a difference, but not very often. Most are there to protect
their rating, period. I wonder how many boats have been converted to full
cruise mode because of self serving, overbearing zealots who handed down
that last 3 sec penalty like an edict from God Himself. That's one way to
get rid of the competition. The only trouble is, after a while, the only
competition left sits next to you each month at the PHRF board meeting. If
the sport is lucky, I mean really lucky, that racer, who just got another
'speeding ticket' will sell his PHRF boat and buy a good one design boat
and stay in the sport, and lose a big headache (PHRF). Face it, the last
thing any racer wants, is to have his sport give him ulcers.
A new year and a new millennium is upon us and I would like to see positive
action steps that we can implement in our respective sailing communities
that would resuscitate our sport. The type of action taken by Wilmette IL
Parks & Recreation that Bob Johnstone talked about in 'Butt #240 is the
kind of effort it is going to take to get the ball rolling. Let the games
1999 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 1999 World Disabled Sailing Championship, organized by the
International Foundation of Disabled Sailors, will be held September 3-10,
in Cadiz, Spain, and sailed in Sonars and 2.4 Metres. The event will
qualify the next eight countries in each event for berths to the 2000
Paralympic Games. In the Sonar class, seven countries have qualified:
U.S., The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, Israel and Sweden.
In the 2.4 Metre class, the seven countries already qualified are: Germany,
Norway, Finland, Italy, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand. The Cadiz
event will provide the only remaining opportunity for the U.S. to qualify
in the 2.4 Metre class. Australia, as host of the Paralympic Games,
receives an automatic entry in both classes. - Jan Harley
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
Letters may be edited for space (250 words max) or clarity or to exclude
>> From Glenn T. McCarthy -- The America's Cup is sailing's rare one time
media blitz. Unfortunately it sends a lot of wrong messages to the general
public that we are trying so hard to attract. First you have to have a
multi-million dollar campaign. After that there isn't a second, since every
human being on the planet just eliminated themselves from the potential
list of new sailing candidates, since all of the multi-millionaires just
showed up at the starting line.
I hope for sailing promotion reasons that the winner is someone who looks
athletic. For upcoming kids, we need a talking head on TV that shows an
athlete so we have a chance at attracting new blood into our sport.
Athletic kids want to see the Mark McGuire's of the world and go try to
emulate them. Sailing needs a better image on the old set.
>> From Peter Huston regarding the Racing Rules - The best way to avoid any
rules interpretation issues - take the long standing advice of Buddy Melges
- start first, increase your lead.
>> From Andrew Jackson -- Brindabella's web page is now up and running at
speed. We intend to update the page as we sail south to Hobart so some
interesting stories and photo's should be found. The address is
http://www.brindabella.com and we have a few links to the Australian
TELSTRA SYDNEY TO HOBART RACE
A confident crew of the US maxi world champion Sayonara has given
themselves just three days of sailing in the Tasman Sea off Sydney in
preparation for Saturday's Telstra 54th Sydney to Hobart and the renewel of
their ocean racing clash with Australia's champion and race-tuned
American owner/skipper Larry Ellison, in fact, declared today that not only
was his boat bigger and faster than when she took line honours from
Brindabella in the 1995 Sydney to Hobart, but that she could smash the race
record for the 630 nautical mile ocean classic.
"Given suitable conditions we could slice half a day off the race record,"
Ellison said at a media conference called primarily to discuss his business
activities as CEO of Oracle Corporation, the second largest software
company in the world, but which logically moved onto his international
ocean racing pursuits. (The record is 2 days 14 hours 7 minutes 10 seconds,
set by Morning Glory in 1996.
"We are bigger, faster and have new sails specially designed for this
raceand provided nothing breaks we should win again," he added, explaining
that a "scoop" on the transom had extended his maxi's LOA to 80-feet and
that a new mainsail had been designed specially for the tough conditions of
the race to Hobart.
Describing the Telstra Sydney to Hobart as "the best ocean race in the
world", Ellison said he also had three of the best sailors in the world
aboard Sayonara for this year's race, New Zealanders Chris Dickson, Joe
Allen and Robbie Naismith."
Dickson flew into Sydney last night, cutting short his honeymoon after
being married in New Zealand last weekend, and joined the boat today for a
sail and systems testing off the Heads.
Dickson, 34, sailed into the international limelight as New Zealand's
"young turk" at the 1986-87 America's Cup challenger series at Fremantle.
He has since twice skippered yachts in the Whitbread Round the World Race,
more recently campaigning a Tornado catamaran to represent New Zealand at
the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Navigator is Mark Rudiger, navigator aboard the winning yacht EF Language
in the recent Whitbread Race. Providing local knowledge will be well-known
Tasmanian yachtsman Graeme "Frizzle" Freeman.
Also in the crew is Lachlan Murdoch, managing director of News Limited
Australia, who sailed his own yacht, the Swan 46 Karakoram, in last year's
Telstra Sydney to Hobart. His father, Rupert, sailed aboard Sayonara when
she took line honours in 1995.
A fleet of 115 yachts is set to line up on Sydney Harbour at 1pm on Boxing
Day with the forecast for freshening nor'easters ahead of a southerly front
with winds of 25 to 30 knots. Steep short seas will be building up against
a strong southerly offshore current.
Sayonara is the odds on favourite for line honours, late entries being the
Queensland pocket maxi Bobsled and Nokia, the former Whitbread Round the
World Race maxi ketch, The Card, which has been chartered by young Sydney
skiff sailor and sometime big boat skipper David Witt. At 85-feet length
overall, Nokia will be the biggest yacht in the fleet but the ketch is 10
years old and has not raced offshore for some years.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, based at Rushcutters Bay on the
southern shores of beautiful Sydney Harbour, has conducted the Sydney to
Hobart Yacht Race each year since 1945, with the event recognised as an
icon of Australian summer sport. The CYCA is also closely involved in the
America's Cup 2000, the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and challenges for the
major international ocean racing events, including the 1999 Admiral's Cup
in England. The Club has challenged for the America's Cup 2000 on behalf of
a syndicate headed by prominent club member and past winner of the Sydney
to Hobart, Syd Fischer. Also, the famous yacht club is located close to the
shore base for the sailing regatta of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and
its members are among the many experienced yachting volunteers helping
SOCOG in conducting the Olympic Test Regattas this year and next and then
the main event in 2000.
The fleet, the biggest since the 50th Sydney to Hobart in 1994, includes
yachts and crews from all Australian States and Territories, Great Britain,
Greece, Finland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and the USA while Nokia
will be flying the burgee of the Raratonga Sailing Club in the Cook Islands.
Sayonara, took line honours in the 1995 Telstra Sydney to Hobart, beating
Australia's champion maxi, the Scott Jutson-designed Brindabella by just
over two hours. Her crew that year included media magnate Rupert Murdoch,
an experienced Sydney to Hobart competitor in the 1960s.
Brindabella, which George Snow sailed to a long-waited win last year, will
be Sayonara's major opposition again this year, along with the revamped
maxi Marchioness, and Grant Wharington's sensational new 70-footer, Wild
Since that brilliant win here in 1995, Sayonara has won the maxi world
championship twice, this year taking line honours in the Newport to Bermuda
race and the 100th Year Anniversary Chicago-Mackinac Race.
Australia's team from the Kenwood Cup, Ragamuffin, Quest and ABN AMRO
Challenge, is all fired up for an individual battle for IMS handicap
honours as well as matching the new Sydney AC 40 One Design Sledgehammer
and the new Chutzpah from Victoria, an Andy Dovell designed 35-footer. The
performance of Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin, Bob Steel's Quest and Ron Jones'
Sledgehammer, Kevan Pearce's Ausmaid from Adelaide and Bruce Taylor's
Chutzpah from Melbourne in last week's Testra Cup highlights the quality of
the fleet. -- Peter Campbell
For the full story: http://www.syd-hob.telstra.com.au/index.cfm
Lew Beery has sold his Andrews 43, It's OK, to Ron Melville, who previously
owned and campaigned the Andrews 40 Impact. That sets the stage for Beery
to hit the "start button" for the construction of his newest project - a
lightweight Alan Andrews-designed 50 footer that will undoubtedly be built
by Dencho Marine in Long Beach, California.
Beery's new boat will be a pure racer with no concessions made for cruising
amenities. It will not even have a refrigerator down below. This
15,000-pound fractionally rigged boat will fly masthead chutes downwind,
but the sexy bulb keel leaves little doubt that the boat will also be a
potent threat upwind.
SAILING ON TV
Gary Jobson will recap the Whitbread Round The World Race on Saturday,
December 26 at 2:30 PM PST on ESPN. And on Sunday, December 27 at 11:00 AM
PST, the Bermuda Gold Cup will air on the deuce - ESPN2. But check your
local listings. For a complete schedule:
American yachtsman Steve Fossett, British tycoon Richard Branson, and Per
Lindstrand of Sweden were moving at about 125 mph at a cruising altitude of
30,000 feet early today, ground control crew said. Three adventurers trying
to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon floated across
Japan early today and headed out over the Pacific. The trio were headed for
the United States in what ground control crew say could be the most
hazardous phase of the journey.
"The ocean is so big that the rescue services do not operate that far out,"
project director Mike Kendrick told Sky TV. "The frequency of shipping is
not good. If they ditch in the Pacific it is very difficult and the chances
of survival are not good, though we have to make sure everything is right,"
Kendrick said. -- Associated Press
For the full story:
Mountain-size walls of black water topped with pale-green foam rear up
behind. Ahead, it's pitch black. The boat is tearing through the night,
wind screaming and moaning, lines straining and popping, every sound
reverberating through the carbon-fiber hull. Splashes of water just degrees
above freezing are as sharp as needles, piercing any exposed skin. The
skippers in the Southern Ocean sail a fine line, balancing speed and
caution, for in a split second something can go horribly wrong.
Wipe-out! It's the one thing they all fear and yet they all know is going
In the last few days the fleet has been hit by a series of monster storms,
with the wind often soaring over 60 knots, and waves the size of houses
almost drowning the sailors' fragile craft. However, the storms have given
them amazing stories to tell. -- Emily Robertson, Quokka Sports Staff
Those stories are all dutifully chronicled at: http://www.aroundalone.com
Standings (Distance to finish in parentheses) CLASS I: 1. Soldini (1350) 2.
Golding (1587) 3. Thiercelin (1615) 4.Autissier (1882) CLASS II: 1.
Mouligne (2424) 2. Garside (2602) 3. Van Liew (3070) 4. Yazykov (3198)
TIS THE SEASON
The curmudgeon and Scuttlebutt's generous sponsors, Ullman Sails and
Pacific Yacht Embroidery, all wish our readers a very Merry Christmas.
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can
sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - William Shakespeare