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SCUTTLEBUTT #247 - December 30, 1998

In a remarkable example of sailing skills and seamanship in the worst weather in 54 years, the 35-footer AFR Midnight Rambler finished the 630 nautical mile race at 5.04 am today, 10th in the fleet and ahead of many larger yachts. Provisional progressive computer calculations, based on this morning's position report "sked" from the decimated fleet, place AFR Midnight Rambler at the top of the IMS grand prix racer division, ahead of the Farr 47 Ausmaid and the Farr 50 Ragamuffin, which have both finished last evening.

AFR Midnight Rambler, is a Robert Hick designed 35-footer, owned by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia members Ed Psaltis and Bob Thomas, who bought the former Chutzpah from well known Melbourne yachtsman Bruce Taylor. Ed Psaltis, 38, has been dreaming about winning the Hobart race since he was five years old. He has competed in 15 races while his father Bill, a past commodore of the CYCA, has raced in nearly 20. Ed this morning admitted it has been a bitter sweet result for his father who, while delighted about his son's result, also lost close friend Jim Lawler off Winston Churchill in the vicious storm in Bass Strait.

Having only purchased AFR Midnight Rambler just four weeks prior to the race start, Ed has put his victory down to the fact that he read the book 'Lessons Learnt from the Fastnet Race', the findings from that tragic race in England in 1979 when 15 lives were lost. "Unlike the others, we hit the worst when it was still daylight so we could see the waves coming. I then remembered reading that the only way to take on waves of that size was to take them on at a 60-70 degree angle rather that pulling away, risking being swamped and rolled by them".

As at 8 AM, 14 yachts had finished the Telstra 54th Sydney to Hobart, leaving 31 still at sea, with 70 yachts retiring at the height the storm in Bass Strait.

Event website:

(The following summary, with its useful built-in hot links, is reprinted with permission from

The race is still on, with 14 boats in, but the stories about what went on the past several nights are filtering in. Terrifying stories about sinking boats, overturned life rafts and sailors slipping overboard into the darkness are now being told.

It even left the overall winner, Larry Ellison aboard Sayonara, dazed and wondering if this was his last sailboat race.

Initial reports were that the fleet was caught by surprise. However, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology put out a warning 24 hours before the start of the race.

The sponsoring yacht club, the Cruising Club of Australia, has agreed to do a review of the race and see if any changes need to be made. Although, some wonder if an open inquiry would be more appropriate.

At least two officials have said the race should go on. Victoria's premier has lent his support to race organizers. And Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, said the race should continue.

Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo around the world, agrees and thinks that while this year's race was a tragedy, it is human nature to test our limits.

Meanwhile, the usually boisterous finish line in Hobart, legendary for its parties, was quiet, everyone thinking of those who had died.

In the case of three of the victims, their death may have come about because of a fateful decision to cut a vent in their overturned life raft.

Nearly everyone says that this week reminds them of what happened nearly 20 years ago in the Fastnet.

I was lucky enough to sail a Soling with Glyn during the Winter of 1997/98. Glyn who had represented Great Britain in the Star Class at the Savannah Olympics had decided to go back into the Soling because of the loss of the Star for Sydney 2000. Glyn had a long history with the Soling Class, twice being runner-up in the British Olympic trials in 1988 and 1992. We (Glyn, Richard Sydenham and Myself) sailed from Hayling Island, Hampshire most days throughout October, November, December and January.

Glyn couldn't get enough of sailing. He loved being on the water. I remember one day it was blowing 30 knots, freezing cold and with a large swell. We'd been training for around three hours and Richard and I were both cold and exhausted. Whilst sailing upwind on a tuning exercise, Glyn looked to us both and said 'I could do this all day!'. This was a typical comment from Glyn. His enthusiasum for the sport of sailing was something else. He was a man who was prepared to work for what he wanted.

Glyn moved back to the Star after it was put back in as an Olympic Class. He sailed successfully on the circuit with Mark Covell and was placed 5th on the ISAF World rankings. Glyn had proved his status as one of Britains best sailors. Among his achievements included winning the British Laser Nationals and helming the British one tonner 'GBE' at the 1993 Admirals Cup. Glyn was thought of as one of the countries finest offshore sailors.

The loss of Glyn will hit the whole British Yachting community. He was liked by all, was approachable, friendly and one of the best people you could ever hope to sail with. My thoughts go to his girlfriend Annie and to his family.

Glyn Charles - A great sailor and a great friend. -- Jim Turner, 1996 & 1998 Fireball World Champion

Yes, the curmudgeon has read Rule 4 - "A boat is solely responsible for deciding whether or not to start or to continue racing."

The words are brief, concise and carefully crafted to let Race Committees completely off the hook. Obviously, if an organizing authority wants to send boats out into a hurricane, that's just fine as far as the Racing Rules of Sailing are concerned.

Before the Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race, Sayonara owner Larry Ellison was calling the event "the greatest ocean race in the world." But after Sayonara got to Hobart, it was a very different Ellison who talked with reporters. "It was just awful, he said. I've never experienced anything remotely like this. It's been a very emotional experience to get here. This is not what this is supposed to be about. A lot of us are upset.''

All of us have been to buoy racing regattas where the Race Committee has prudently abandoned the racing and sent the boats back to the yacht club. However, that does not seem to happen very often offshore. Why is that? Do we really want to look the other way as yacht racing evolves into the ultimate "extreme sport" or should the Race Committees take some responsibility too?

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

There is no doubt that the Asian financial crisis has been the catalyst in slowing down the NIPPON CHALLENGE 2000. Peter Gilmour is still handling the sailing aspects, and will be the only foreigner involved in the challenge. The syndicate is now not expected in New Zealand until just before the start of the challenger series in 1999.

AGE OF RUSSIA -- Must be regarded as a very unlikely starter.

SPIRIT OF HONG KONG -- There has been no resolution to the financial problems they left behind in New Zealand after their aborted first showing. The America's Cup Challenge Association, the organising authority for the challenger series, believe the Hong Kong entry could still make the starting line, but we believe this must surely be wishful thinking.

SPIRIT OF BRITAIN -- Still does not have funding in place and are maintaining a relatively low profile. The tough UK market for sponsorship is proving difficult, but nevertheless Angus Melrose, the project director, is confident of making the start line. -- Excerpt from DEFENCE 2000, which is available from for US $48 per year.

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

-- From Jordan J. Dobrikin -- Pursuant to Jim Durden's and J.C. "Chris" Luppens comments in a/the Race Management "thread". The US Sailing and Canadian Yachting Associations Programs are excellent: and there are many well trained Race Management Officers and Judges available in most, if not ALL, racing areas . The problem is that they are ignored and/or under utilized; by to many, Yacht Clubs, Sailing Clubs/Associations and other Organizing Committees. Even worse many of these Clubs and Organizations are not even, aware, of the resources available to them.

What is needed is a concerted effort to promote the use of trained, qualified, volunteers. All to often Race Organization as well as Management, is left to a subset of the participants; thus opening up the possibility of "conflict of interest" This is, indeed, a touchy subject; however it occurs, primarily in "club" racing, more often than acceptable.

--Jeffrey Littell-- I just received the 1999 master calendar for the Association of Orange Coast Yacht Clubs which lists 160 events for the year. Is there any wonder why race management, protest committees, and the quality of trophies suffer? We're our own worst enemies!

-- From Peter Huston -- To Dave Irish - Yes, I do have a better idea than "user pays". It's called "sponsor pays". If Mumm doesn't want to step up to the plate and pay this bill, I'm sure there are plenty of other companies who would be willing to do so, if of course, there was a comprehensive sponsorship program in place within US SAILING.

-- Scott MacLeod -- I met Glyn Charles at the '85 Laser Worlds in Sweden and then sailed Finns against him. He was a great sailor and competitor but more importantly a great person. He will be missed. Does anyone know of any type of electronic devise one could wear whereby if they are lost overboard they could be tracked like a small EPHIRB? In this electronic age you would think the technology exists.


Slow sails are never cheapno matter how little they cost. But you can improve your boat's performance with quality racing sails at a price that is truly affordable. Let the professionals at Ullman Sails help move your program to the next level. You can get a price quote online right now:

The last sailing of the Chicago to Mackinac race saw a great deal of controversy over whether or not a new record was set for the 333 mile course. This debate has continued onto the letters to the editor pages of sailing magazines months after the finish.

In attempt to find the facts of the controversial situation Torresen Sailing Site conducted research about regulations concerning sailing speed records, and the actual records for both the Chicago to Mackinac and Port Huron to Mackinac Course. We received help from several sources. We did not find records for all categories, and ask that people who know of additional record holders contact us. Our research has turned up the following records and record holders.

For the Chicago to Macinac course we have the following records:

  • Outright: Stars and Stripes sailed by Steve Fossett a 60 foot multihull
  • 19 hours 50 minutes and 15 seconds, an average of 16.65 knots.
  • The any type singlehanded record: David Rearick on a 33 foot monohull in
  • a time of 1 days 17 hours 53 minutes and 50 seconds for an average speed of
  • 7.92 knots.
  • The monohull record: Dick Jennings on his 67 foot monohull Pied Piper, in
  • a time of 1 day 1 hour 50 minutes 44 seconds for an average of 12.88 knots.

We have been unable to uncover the following Chicago to Mackinac records:
  • Any type of vessel, sailed singlehanded by a woman
  • Monohull vessel, sailed singlehanded by a woman
  • Any type of vessel, any number of all female crew
  • Monohull vessel, any number of female crew.
With apologies to those we may have overlooked we urge you to submit record claims in any of these categories to:
On the Port Huron to Mackinac course we have the following records:
  • The outright and any type singlehanded record is held by Jan Gougeon
  • sailing his 35 foot multi hull in a time of 1 day 2 hours and 9 minutes an
  • average speed of 9.96 knots.
  • The any type singlehanded, and monohull singlehanded by a woman record:
  • Cheryl Cameron sailing a 36 foot monohull in a time of 2 days 11 minutes
  • for an average speed of 5.39 knots.
  • The monohull any number of crew: Windquest, Dick Devoss' 70 foot monohull
  • in a time of 1 day 8 hours 13 minutes and 1 second for an average of 9.70
  • knots.
  • The monohull singlehanded record: Jim Otton on his 40 foot monohull in a
  • time of 1 day 15 hours 46 minutes and 22 seconds for an average of 6.51 knots.

We failed to discover records for these categories:
  • Any type all female crew
  • Monohull all female crew.

Again, the records presented are believed to be accurate, but we are open to corrections and submissions in the categories in which we failed to uncover a record holder- Excerpt from a story on the Torresen Sailing Site. For the full story:

43 nations have sent a team to compete Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship which is held in Africa for the first time. The races will be begin at 11 AM on Wednesday 30 December, and will finish on Tuesday 5 January 1999.

Event website:

Standings (distance to finish in parenthesis) CLASS I: 1. Soldini (375) 2. Golding (611) 3. Thiercelin (754) 4. Autissier (774) CLASS II: 1. Mouligne (853) 2. Garside (1332) 3. Van Liew (1685) 4. Yazykov (1997)

Event website;

It's easier to be nostalgic when you don't remember the details.