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SCUTTLEBUTT #244 - December 24, 1998

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 begin!

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

>> 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 and we have a few links to the Australian sailing sources.

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 Brindabella.

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 Thing.

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:

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.

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 to happen.

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:

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)

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