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SCUTTLEBUTT #245 - December 28, 1998

US maxi Sayonara is expected to cross the finish line late this evening or early tomorrow morning to take line honours and possibly the race record in the Telstra 54th Sydney to Hobart yacht race after enduring, along with other yachts in the fleet, among the toughest conditions ever experienced in the history of the bluewater classic. The record, set by the German maxi Morning Glory in 1996, is 2 days, 14 hours, 7 minutes and 10 seconds and to beat this record, Sayonara must finish before 0307 hours tomorrow morning.

The last report from Sayonara's Satcom C unit this afternoon was that the maxi, skippered by American computer company chief Larry Ellison was abeam of Freycinet where winds have eased off the Tasmanian east coast. At last report, she was 31 nautical miles ahead of Australia's champion maxi Brindabella with whom she has duelled all the way since the start of the race in Sydney on Saturday. However, in what appears to be a cat and mouse game, neither yacht came up on radio at the 2.05pm position report from the fleet. Late this afternoon, race officials were endeavouring to make telephone contact with the leading two yachts to ascertain their position and likely ETA.

Of the fleet of 115, a total 67 of yachts have retired or taken shelter along the New South Wales coast leaving 48 still racing to Hobart. (Earlier race reported mentioned 80-knot winds.) Meanwhile up to 25 aircraft, both fixed wing and helicopters, along with a Navy frigate, having been carrying out an intensive grid pattern search and rescue operation in Bass Strait for the missing yacht Winston Churchill.

The veteran 15.5m cutter which competed in the inaugural Sydney to Hobart race in 1945 is owned and skippered by Sydney yachtsman Richard Winning with eight other members of the crew including several prominent yachtsman on board. There has been no contact with the yacht since last evening, several hours after Winston Churchill had sent out a distress call with the skipper advising the radio relay ship Young Endeavour that they were taking to their life raft as the yacht was taking large quantities of water.

Earlier today the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia announced with regret that two crewmen had died aboard the Tasmanian yacht Business Post Naiad after it was rolled twice in heavy seas in Bass Strait. Advice from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in Canberra is that owner/skipper Bruce Guy suffered a heart attack when the yacht was rolled and that crew member Phil Skeggs had drowned when the yacht rolled a second time, trapping him in his safety harness. The remaining crew members of Business Post Naiad, a Farr 40 built in New Zealand, were winched off the yacht by helicopter early this morning and taken to a Victorian airport. - Peter Campbell

Official website:

Sailors -- What a very sad day for Sailing and especially for the families of our friends who lost their lives in the Sydney Hobart Race. Every time this happens one becomes very reflective. I can remember when as a young boy a close friend was drowned in a 14ft Dinghy Race. The man who died being lifted out by helicopter in the Fastnet Race was a man I had sailed Dragons with many times. The loss of Larry Klein, a superb sailor, on San Francisco Bay impacted all of us. Then there was the tragedy, for all of sailing, when we lost Duncan Munro-Kerr. Now we are again faced with loss of life at sea. Although we all know it is a risk sailors take when they challenge the elements it is always so personally devastating because they are our colleagues. To all the Families and on behalf of the International Sailing Federation can I express our sincere sympathy. -- Paul Henderson President ISAF

Frustrated by slack winds, three adventurers trying to make the first round-the-world flight in a balloon abandoned their quest on Christmas day, splashing down in the shark-infested waters off Honolulu. The men- American yacht racer Steve Fossett, British mogul Richard Branson, and Per Lindstrand of Sweden - quit halfway through the journey after they lost the high-altitude, high-speed winds they needed to carry them across Pacific to North America. All three were rescued by the Coast Guard and were reported to be in good condition.

The balloonists were being brought ashore at Barbers Point, about 10 miles west of Honolulu, by two Coast Guard helicopters. From there, they were to be taken by ambulance to a hospital for an examination. U.S. customs inspectors were waiting to meet them and have them sign the declaration forms required of all those entering the United States.

They had gotten caught in a low-pressure system and feared they would be stuck there for a week. "I'm afraid the weather has beaten us," Mike Kendrick, the team's project director from the ground control center in England, said earlier in the day. "It's a bit of bad luck. We almost made it. I think we missed the weather by an hour."

At the time the balloon was landing, Fossett said he was thinking "about the fact that I've made three attempts to fly around the world just in 1998, and it's getting pretty discouraging. I think it's time to go sailing," Fossett said. - Associated Press


There were more than 100 teams competing at the 505 World Championships this year, but the top two boats in the final standings had a full inventory of Ullman Sails. Ullman Sails also finished 1-3-4 at the 505 NAs. It probably won't be very long before the other 505 competitors start catching on and order Ullman Sails too. How about you? You can get a quote on your new sail ONLINE right noweven if you sail something other than a 505. But hurry --the Fall price discounts are now in effect:

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

-- From Paul Henderson, ISAF President -- You maybe reading of the Scandals which are attacking the very foundations of the International Olympic Committee. I can tell you that from first hand experience during the Toronto 1996 Bid, less than 5% need disciplining and that must be done.

To show you the foolishness of how the media is "mudslinging" they are attacking a most respected man in Sailing Dr. Jacques Rogge who is being accused because he raced a "Yacht" in Sydney Harbour. Has the World gone insane -- especially the press? When was it a crime or even worth noting when an Olympic Sailor goes Sailing?

Hopefully the Yachting Press will stand up and point out to their journalistic colleagues how completely inane they have become by lowering their profession to such ludicrous depths. Yes there must be reforms but there is a solid foundation of honorable IOC members such as Jacque Rogge on which to rebuild that trust.

-- From Rick Merriman -- I have been a NAYRU/USYRU/US Sailing member for over 25 years. While I am a big supporter of their efforts, I am irritated over the $25 fee for deciding a person's eligibility status. How come for $65 I receive a years worth of Sailing World, administration of numerous committee's and the overall cost of running US Sailing, but it cost $25 to administer a form in which by answering the questions you are self-declaring your eligibility status.

I realize that it is an extra cost for US Sailing to take this on for the racing classes, but the costs do not seem justified. I am sailing on a 1D35 in Key West with a crew of seven. Each person onboard must have their eligibility declared, total revenue 7X25=$175 per boat. There are 21 1D35 registered 21X175=$3675 from just the 1D35 class alone.

In addition to the $25 fee, if you are not a US Sailing Member you must join for $65 or you can become a nonmember/nonresident for $75. While it is a good way to get people to join, why not write the fee into regular dues or add an extra $5 or $10 to determine a persons eligibility status.

I would be glad to make some easy money on the side for the kind of money they are making off this fee. If there is any 'Butt reader that can explain this, please do so. I am open to answers.

-- From Bruce Golison (regarding Jim Durden's bullet points, i.e., too many races, too spread ut, race management concerns, worthwhile trophies, etc.) -- I am hoping that Southern California's new "Volvo Inshore Championship series" which combines San Diego Y.C.'s "Yaching Cup", Cal Y.C.'s new "Cal Race Week" and our "North Sails Race Week" will provide the West Coast yacht racers the kind of compact, high energy and owner and crew friendly sailing circuit that is lacking on the west coast.

I was really excited to be invited by SDYC to join the new Volvo series and my hope is that it will show other yacht clubs that by combing forces, a bigger and better sailing event can happen - and this is good for sailing!

-- From J. C. "Chris" Luppens (regarding Jim Durden's thoughts about "substandard" race management quality in general, and protest committees who are "fuzzy" on the rules.) -- I am certain these are true statements, though I have only seen them on rare occasion here in the Gulf Coast. As a member of US SAILING's Race Management Committee and being a Certified Judge, as well as a fairly active racer, the mere fact that the statements are being made is bothersome.

While US SAILING seems to take at least a fair amount of criticism, one thing that US SAILING does for the benefit of all sailors is set standards for quality Race Management and Judging. The new Judges certification program that includes testing, annual reporting and other requirements is creating a core of qualified people.

The Race Officer program is also being revised to include similar requirements, including testing, and will result in only qualified people being certified. Supporting US SAILING, and insisting that events use at least one certified person on the race management team and another certified person on the protest committee will help insure that there is an acceptable level of quality at any event attended.

When people ask what is US SAILING doing for me, this is one area that there really should be no question that sailors needs are being addressed. Improvement in any of the items that Jim mentions, will improve the sport and participation in the sport. This is one area that I believe has a solution in place.

-- From Jim Pugh -- Further to Scuttlebutt #244 and report on Telstra Sydney-Hobart Race, line honours in this year's (1998) Newport-Bermuda Race were taken by the Reichel-Pugh Alexia, ex-Windquest (designed in 1992), not Sayonara. As Windquest, this yacht also took line honours in the 1994 Newport-Bermuda Race and line and handicap honours in both the Chicago and Port Huron Mackinac Races of that year.

Scuttlebutt was correct in noting that the Reichel-Pugh Maxi Morning Glory, owned by Hasso Plattner of SAP, holds the Sydney-Hobart record. In 1997, Morning Glory also took IMS Fleet and Handicap Honours in the 1997 Fastnet Race and also holds the Cape Town-Rio Race record.

The very successful Reichel-Pugh 66' Exile, which finished 9 minutes behind the Maxi Brindabella in last year's Sydney-Hobart, is sitting in San Diego for sale, tricked out and ready to win all.

-- From Jeffrey Littell -- The coverage of the Sydney-Hobart race on the web site is incredible! The live audio/video coverage of the event, audio conversations with competitors while still racing, frequent updates, and quality production have raised the bar for coverage of any yachting event. I hope everyone has a chance to look at this web site to see the possibilities available to our sport.

LASER CLASS REPORT - by Bill Hardesty in Australia
The Laser class at the Sydney international Regatta was full of high level intense competition and tough conditions. 98 of the world's very best Laser sailors showed up for what was the most competitive laser regatta I have competed in to date. In preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in the same waters, the race committee used a similar format to what they used at the Pre-Olympics and the forested format for the 2000 Olympics. Sydney Harbor has 5 main race courses that they run races from, A, B, C, D and Offshore. All courses are full of congested pleasure boat traffic and those oh so dreadful Sydney Harbor Ferries. Courses A is furthest inland and course D is at the harbor inlet. The Laser Class did two days of fleet qualifying on course C and the final two days on course D.

The first two days of racing were done in fleets that were divided using the international ranking positions and recent regatta results. Course C was perfect for the tactically minded, light air, and flat water sailor. With the course limited by land, the windward legs were approximately .5 miles in length with a course of multiple laps to make up for the relatively short course. The first day breeze was ranging from 10-14 knots from the southeast. Things started out quite well winning the first race after coming from behind followed by an 8, 9 in the following races. The last race of the day was exciting as the local Friday night big boat series headed for their reach mark located 50 yards from our windward mark. The top group had the pleasure of rounding just as the 50 footers approached with beers in hand and tonnage rights that far out weighed the laser hailing starboard tack right of way. No one was hit by these big boaters but many close calls were reported and hiking pants soiled.

Day two brought lighter winds, 8-12 knots from the northeast but nicer overall conditions with sunshine and warm weather. Things were again going quite well as the day started out with another come from behind second followed by a third and a seventh. I was caught over the line early in the last race of the day and was disqualified but it was not a big deal, confidence was high as things rolled into the final series.

The final series being held on course D which is also known as the "washing machine." It has a very confused wave pattern generated by the large in size and numbers of ferries, and waves entering from the ocean as they bottleneck in the harbor entrance and bounce off the shorelines. The breeze was up in the 18-22 knots range from the north-northeast. Things were a bit more difficult and I found that my heavy air speed is still not quite at the top international level, but it is closer than it was a month ago. The breeze was very puffy and quite randomly covering the course. It was a game of getting a good start and having options to choose when to make that first tack towards the next puff and shift. I had a shocking 38 in the first race after taking some risk and losing big on the final downwind followed by a 14 and 19 in the two following races.

The final day of racing was similar to the previous day with only a southeasterly breeze. The waves were bigger and the left side was extremely favored as it was less restricted by land. After a bad start in the first race I learned just how favored the left was after going right and finishing with a 29. The other two races were similarly difficult with a 22, 17 respectively.

Unfortunately the first two days of qualifying only counted as one race. Your overall finish in the qualifying series was carried over as your first race finish in the final series. Michael Blackburn, local Sydney resident, found himself right at home, winning the regatta with a worst race of a 4 in the final series. Robert Scheidt of Brazil had a great series but had a couple of relatively bad races near the end to lose to the regatta. Great Britain's Ben Ainslie had another strong showing finishing third. Nothing new to see these three in the top. The rest of us are getting better but still have a bit of polishing when the breeze builds.

We are now headed back to Melbourne to celebrate Christmas in the summer heat of Australia and get up to speed before the upcoming World Championships. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all! - Bill Hardesty

Sailing will be a full medal sport for the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, with the Paralympic Regatta scheduled for October 20-27, 2000, less than three weeks after the Sydney Olympic Regatta. Entries will be limited to 20 boats/countries in the Sonar class, and 25 boats/countries in the 2.4 Metre class. - Jan Harley

CLASS I: 1. Soldini (728) 2. Golding (865)3.Thiercelin (1051) 4. Autissier (1135) Class II: 1. Mouligne (1319) 2. Garside (1690) 3. Van Liew (2348) 4.Yazykov (2394)

Event website:

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.