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SCUTTLEBUTT #251 - January 6, 1999

99 WORLDS - Reports by Peter Campbell
The Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, today officially opened the 99 World Sailing Championship in an impressive and colourful ceremony at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, one of Melbourne's most historic waterfront suburbs. More than 200 regatta officials, international jury members, club commodores and race officials watched a procession of flags of each of the classes competing in the 99 Worlds, followed by the hoisting of these flags as Premier Kennett declared open the huge sailing event.

Paul Henderson, President of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) missed today's official opening of the 99 World Sailing Championships in Melbourne - he is snowbound in North America. Canadian based Henderson was due to fly out of Chicago International Airport for Australia two days ago, but the huge airport has been closed by snow for the past three days.

There are seven Olympic classes out of the 11 contesting World Championships at the 99 Worlds - Laser, Finn, Soling, 470 men, 470 women, 49er and Europe women. All their World Championships come on line this week.

The first Olympic class of the 1999 World Sailing Championships commences its official Worlds racing on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay tomorrow. The 140-strong Laser fleet will sail out of Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, with courses just off St Kilda pier.

Delays because of shifty winds, general recalls and several "black flag" disqualifications resulted in a late start and even later finish to a frustrating day of racing at Europe Week at Mornington Yacht Club. More than 100 women and some 50 men are contesting Open Week in the lead-up to their world championships at the 99 Worlds on Melbourne's Port Phillip, with the women's series a qualifying event for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The World championships start next Monday. Today's Open Week racing for the women saw the fleet divided into three flights with European sailors again dominating the top placings.

Race 3:

Red Flight Green Flight Blue Flight
1. Lenka Smidova (CZE) Hannah Swett (USA) Sari Multala (FIN)
2. Min Dezilie (BEL) Monika Bronicka (POL) Weronika Glinkiewicz (POL)
3. Marcelien de Koning (NED) Mel Dennison (AUS) Marie Coleman (IRE)
4. Marie-Nathalie Castel (FRA) Helen Montilla (ESP)
5. Shelley Hesson (NZL) Erica Mattson Ruhne (USA)

Event website:

(The following is an excerpt from DEFENCE 2000, which is available from -- US $48 per year.)

** Both Telecom and Vodafone, the principal New Zealand cell phone providers, are expecting to add at least another 20 transmitters in and around the America's Cup village and the North Shore. They are designed to provide for the predicted mammoth growth in cell phone traffic leading up to and during the Defender and Challenger series.

** Quote/Unquote -- "Our team is unique because we have selected people for whom sailing is their passion, not just their job. We have the strongest design and sailing team that will lead to the fastest boat, and we have really tried hard to be true to our theory that the winning team will be one without barriers. It will be the best person for the job, man or woman." -- Dawn Riley, skipper and CEO of America True, the co-ed challengers from the San Francisco Yacht Club.

Last night the curmudgeon paged through the new catalog from Douglas Gill. Oh my! All 33 pages are chuck full of wonderful sailing apparel. It doesn't seem to matter if you're planning to sail the Southern Ocean on a Whitbread 60 or preparing for an Opti regatta on the sapphire blue waters off Martinique - Gill has gear that was specifically designed for the job. Their web site will give you a preview. But when you go there, be sure to click on the 'Request Catalog" box. You're in for a treat!

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

-- From Rob Mundle -- Here in Australia and in Butt # 249 we have people armed with incorrect information and half baked opinons going off about the Hobart race. Experts all - they either wanted the race start postponed or the race abandoned.

What a load of codswallop from a bunch of armchair admirals.

When the fleet left Sydney the forecast was for a southerly buster the first night out. Nothing unusual about that. It was not until they were heading down the coast that the low really showed signs of developing in Bass Strait. All competitors were advised of the weather warning from the radio relay vessel the first night out. And prior to the start and during the race all skippers and navigators were reminded of their responsibility when it came to deciding whether or not to continue racing.

The system developed so quickly it gave few a chance to seek shelter. The fact is that many of the yachts that struck trouble had already retired from the race.

Now is not the time to initiate search and destroy missions. It's time to remember those who were lost and learn from the experiences of those who survived. I have no doubt that this horrible Hobart race will benefit all maritime activities and search and rescue operations world wide. Even armchair admirals will benefit.

-- Dan O'Brien -- There is no greater single experience than racing across an ocean with a bunch of other sailors pushing as hard as you dare. The venue of wind and ocean are two of natures most powerful forces. In no other endeavor will the fine line between excitement and terror be experienced for such a prolonged period. Your position on either side of this line is of course directly dependent upon your experience and the intensity of the moment. Where else can you be so totally humbled?

Should a race committee cancel or postpone an ocean race in the face of an approaching storm. Yes, for the same reason they require all the safety gear to be aboard. So the experience can be enjoyed by a greater number of participants who may not be completely aware of the dangers involved. A thinking race committee has to be like the prudent skipper who would rather not endanger lives needlessly.

Probably put in better terms, the race committee prior to the start is in a similar position to that of the skipper who must choose whether to start or not. Once started the decision to continue on is in the hands of the skipper of the individual boat. Prior to the start that decision is shared. Neither need to suffer the guilt and anguish of the knowledge they had the chance to prevent the loss of a life and did nothing.

It shouldn't be a matter of liability, but one of prudent seamanship.

-- From Derek Webster -- The ultimate decision to race - and continue racing is the job of the captain and crew. Stuff happens in sailing, and people need to decide whether it's really worth risking their life over a boat race. Although the severity of the storm may have been unknown, everyone knew a storm was due. People need to take responsibility for themselves. Nobody is requiring them to race. The race committee should run the race in any reasonable (loosely interpreted) condition.

-- From Michael Ford -- Sailing is by nature a dangerous sport. Every individual who participates accepts the full knowledge and responsibility of this. I have been sailing for almost 23 years and been involved in conditions ranging from blown jibes resulting in critical medical care to sudden storms which caused severe damage. In none of these cases could the race committee or any other "authority" have prevented the carnage.

I truly feel for everyone involved in the Sydney-Hobart race. However, one thing must be remembered...they chose to start the race, both skipper and crew. In doing so they accept the inherent dangerous nature of the sport. I saw several comments regarding the "extreme" nature of sailing. As individuals we must choose what we consider extreme and where we set our limits. The limits are not the same for different people. Each of the sailors in the race felt their limits included the conditions they might experience based on the information provided. Again there is only so much information available, so the risk remains. That element of risk is part of what keeps sailors going back for more.

-- From Peter Huston -- Let's see - America's Cup syndicate fortress-like compounds. NASCAR Races with very open pits and garages. NASCAR racing is now the second highest rated sport on TV in the US, just behind pro football. Sailing barely registers in the ratings books. Could there be some lesson here?

When does an old boat become a "classic?" It's probably not official until Daniel Forster has taken a picture of it. I know you'll enjoy the great images of classic yachts on his web site. And don't overlook his new 1999 calendar, which is where some of the 'tastiest' photographs are showcased. Check it out:

Ten Things to Check Before Every Start

  1. Current
  2. Compass heading to first mark
  3. Wind direction Check every 5 or 10 minutes while preparing for your sequence.
  4. Get a line sight. Get a range on the line by sailing outside the leeward end and sighting to the weather end. Get a bearing on land to judge when you approach your start. This is one great way to know if you are on the line, over or late.
  5. Jib leads
  6. Main halyard, jib halyard, rig tension, etc.. Basically get tuned well before the preparatory signal.
  7. Course #. Sounds obvious, but always know the course you're sailing (You will probably be winning and will not have anyone to follow).
  8. Which end of the line is favored.
  9. Which side of the course is favored?
  10. What shift are you going to be on right at the start. Knowing if you are lifted or headed right off the starting line can set you up in rhythm for the entire beat. -- Contributed by the Coach at

We've heard that Bob Johnstone is submitting strongly worded suggestion to US SAILING for an Appendix R exemption for people over the age of 55 (minimum age for US St. Francis Masters Championship) or at least 65 (minimum age for Medicare). "For gosh sakes, how senile do you have to get before you are no longer a threat?!?," Johnstone reportedly stated.

A roaring Southeaster provided an anticlimax on the final day of the 1998 Volvo Youth World sailing championship. Only the Mistral sailboards braved the 28-knot wind to complete their eleventh race. At 12h05 race officials abandoned racing for the rest of the day.

18-year old Eugenie Raffin of France finished the championship the way she started by winning the eleventh and final race. She made a clean sweep in the Mistral sailboard class for girls and remains undefeated in this class. Anat Kolodny of Israel finished second overall with Wai Kei Chan of Hong Kong in third position. Although Emily Rae of Britain put in a strong challenge today, she could not finish in the top three and had to be satisfied with the fourth place. Brazilian Ricardo Santos took top honours in the Mistral boys' class, followed by France's Alexandre Guyader in second and Brit Nick Dempsey in third position overall. South African Gareth Blanckenberg took gold in the Laser class for boys with Croatian Marin Misura second and Francisco Sanchez of Spain in third place. Poland's Katarzyna Szotynska took top honours in the Laser girls' class with Britain's Sarah Ayton in second place and Australian Jo Dikkenberg in third place.

The gold medal in the 420 class for boys was a tight battle to the end with Israel and New Zealand tied on twenty points each after ten races. The winner was finally decided after looking at the number of wins scored by each pair. The French team finished in third position overall. Australian girls Lisa Charlson and Sarah Roberts-Thomson clinched the top spot in the 420 class for girls. Johanna Innemee and Lobke Berkhout of the Netherlands finished in second position with the French girls, Anne-Claire le Berre and Marie Riou in third place.

Billy Besson and Tamatoa Audovin of Tahiti remained unchallenged for top honours in the Hobie 16 class. Frenchmen Matthieu Souben and Gurvan Bontemps clinched the silver medal by finishing one point ahead of Australians Bradley Cox and Dan Corlett.

NAUTICA CUP Final standings: 1. France (416) 2. Great Britian (324) 3. Israel (267) 4. Australia (239) 5. New Zealand (215) Others: 17. USA (82)

Event website:

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?