Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT #252 - January 7, 1999

99 WORLDS - Reports by Peter Campbell
LASER-- Swirling winds delayed the start of racing in the 1999 World Laser Championship off Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron at St Kilda. The first Flight got away an hour and a half after the scheduled start time of 1 pm. Conditions had settled down and winds were registering between 10-15 knots from the south.

The Laser fleet, the biggest among the Olympic classes in the 99 Worlds, is 140 strong. It is also the first of the Olympic classes to commence official world championship racing.

The first flight was taken out by Greece's Andonis Bougiouris, from Fredrik Westman (Finland) and Mark Tonner (Australia) in third. Tonner, from Elwood, made the most of his local knowledge with a strong showing in the first flight. It was, however, a frustrating day for the sailors, with two general recalls for each of the first two flights.

In the second flight, Australia's Michael Blackburn had to be content with third after a strong start, the race going to Denmark's Peder Ronholt. In race two, reigning World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Robert Scheidt rebounded after seventh placing in his first heat to record a strong win over Fredric Gilman of France and Karl Suneson (Sweden) In the second flight, Blackburn again recorded a third, behind Roope Suomalainen of Finland and Great Britain's Ben Ainslie.

SOLING -- Colin Beashel and David Giles, Australia's bronze medallists in the Star two-man keelboat class at the Atlanta Olympics, have elected not to contest the three-man Soling class at the 99 World Sailing Championships in Melbourne. Beashel and Giles were to have sailed in the Soling world fleet racing championship on Port Phillip next week before deciding which class they would campaign in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Beashel, a Sydney boatbulder, has told News Limited reporter Amanda Lulham that lack of time had forced him to pull out of the 99 Worlds. "It's been very busy at work and we didn't have a chance to put the work in on the Soling that we needed to do," Beashel said. Beashel and Giles are the current World champions in the Stars, becoming the first Australians to win a Star World title. "We will now concentrate 100 per cent on our Star campaign and head to Miami later this month for our first regatta of the year," Beashel added.

The Soling world fleet racing championship starts next Sunday, January 10, and continues through to Saturday, January 16, with the Soling match racing starting on Monday, January 18 and continuing through to Friday, January 22.

EUROPE -- Europe Week for women again produced new winners today as racing continued from the Mornington Yacht Club in freshening southerly winds.

Race 6:
Red Flight Green Flight Blue Flight
1 Doris Wetzel (GER) Roberta Holden (CAN) Fernanada Pinto (BRA)
2 Carolijn Brouwer (NED) Britta Shatz (GER) Kristin Endres (GER)
3 Sari Multala (FIN) Marieke Poulie (NED) Ako Nakura (JAP)
4 Tytti Petaja (FIN) Fabiana Scarroni (BRA) Huis in't Veld (NED)
5 Matthijsse (NED) Riwanon Leroy (FRA) Lynn Olinger (USA)

Race 7:
Red Flight Green Flight Blue Flight
1 Monika Bronicka (POL) Sanchez (ARG) Cathelyne H. Veld (NED)
2 Christine Bridge (AUS) Britta Shatz (GER) Fernanada Pinta (BRA)
3 Dennison (AUS) Marieke Poulie (NED) Lynn Olinger (USA)
4 Margriet Mattijsse (NED) Vines (CAN) Ako Nakura (JAP)
5 Christiane Petzke (GER) Chiara Calligaris (ITA) Kristen Endres (GER)

I-14 -- Australians Guy Bancroft and David Lorimer were right at home on Melbourne's Port Phillip bay today as they led the huge fleet of 140 boats to an all-the-way victory in the opening race of the world championship for the International 14s at the 99 World Sailing Championships. Bancroft and Lorimer sail from the McCrae Yacht Club and while that club is further down the bay than Sandringham Yacht Club which is hosting the 14s, they obviously know the bay conditions well. While more than 50 boats were capsizing in the lumpy seas and freshening 15-knot southerly, the Victorians were in their element.

They held off a strong challenge from Britain's Andy Fitzgerald and Chris Turner who briefly grabbed the lead, third place going to Canadians Fred Eaton and David Mackay.

Race 1: 1. Guy Bancroft/David Lorimer (AUS) 2. Andy Fitzgerald/Chris Turner (GBR) 3. Fred Eaton/David Mackay (CAN)

For complete results:

Mills Design has been selected by the Royal Ocean Racing Clubs' Rating Office to prepare a 36' design to their new IR2000 Measured Rule (IRm), due to be implemented next year. The project is intended to offer the Rating Office a first look at the results of an aggressive design teams approach before the final version of the rule is released for public scrutiny in July of this year. Mills Design will be subjecting the current version of the rule to careful analysis in order to discover any hidden weaknesses or loopholes the authors may have overlooked in the creation of this exciting new rule.

IRm is the more performance-oriented rule in the RORC's new IR2000 rating initiative, while IR Club (IRc) is intended to cater for the broader fleet currently racing under the popular CHS rule. IRm promises a return to a simpler single-figure handicapping system at the top level, using a publicly available Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to calculate ratings on the spot. This will allow owners and designers to review all the available design options without recourse to trial certificates or expensive VPP software. The type of design the new rule is promoting promises to be an exciting combination of speed and stability, with large rigs and lighter displacement offering "an incentive to owners to return to a more competitive racing circuit in closely matched designs" according to designer Mark Mills of Mills Design. - Mark Mills

Mills Design website:

No matter where you live, it is time to start thinking about the new racing season. Your first priority should focus on getting commitments from your crew. However, right after that, start eliminating the weak spots in your sail inventory. Let the pros at Ullman Sails help move your program up to the next level. You can get a price quote online right now. It's more affordable than you think:

The European retailer Kingfisher plc, announced its continued support for 22-year-old single-handed yachtswoman, Ellen MacArthur. The company has agreed to a two-year sponsorship package leading up to the Vendee Globe non-stop around the world yacht race in November 2000. This follows Ellen's success in the Route du Rhum transatlantic race in November last year at the helm of the Open 50, 'Kingfisher'.

In the Route du Rhum, Ellen won her class and finished fifth overall in the monohulls. She has since been named 'La Jeune Espoire de la Voile" by the UNCL in France and the BT/Yachting Journalists' Association's Offshore Yachtsperson of the Year. She is nominated for the BT/YJA Overall Yachtsperson of the Year Award, which will be announced on Friday (8 January) evening.

Kingfisher is one of Europe's leading non-food retailers and operates over 2,400 retail stores employing over 100,000 in 10 countries, principally the UK and France. - Mark Turner

Related websites:,

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

-- From Bob Fisher -- As the author of a book about the 1979 Fastnet disaster, like John Rousmaniere, I find myself plagued with the "Find-a-Scapegoat" radio and television producers who emerge whenever there is a death in a yacht race. There were more than a few this time round. Somehow, it never fully gets through to them that it is the responsibility of the skipper and crew to decide whether or not they shall take part, let alone continue, and that there is no way that it is possible to bring all the boats back in once they have started an ocean race.

True, the sailors and the organisers alike knew that a Southerly Buster was imminent for the Sydney Hobart (but I can hardly remember a race when one wasn't forecast), and they made their decisions and stuck with them.

If race organisers are to be given the responsibility of deciding whether or not a race should be held, it will open a massive can of worms for the litigiously minded (and there is every chance that it could spread from American shores around the world).

No one more than me regrets the death of six fine sailors, but I would point out that a similar number of climbers have died on the Scottish hills since that storm swept through Bass Strait, and I am sure more have died in the Alps in the same period, but no one wants to stop them from their adventurous pursuit. Or is it because they cannot see any way to do so?

-- From Mark Turner -- I have no doubts that there are lessons to be learnt on the issue of safety - there always are. From accounts of a friend in the crew of Sword of Orion, it is quite possible that a Very Pistol could have saved Glyn Charles' life. Its easy to find reasons why - and you can never cover everything - yet any small improvement, for the right reason, can only be a step forward in what is essentially a sport with real risks. There is no doubt in my mind, that the safety standards that are now set in Single-handed racing are far ahead of those in ORC Cat 1 races.

A simple example that I was considering as I was trying to steer the Murray 40 around the breaking waves, was the question of life harnesses. Not only are those used by many in Australia below the strength of my own, there is only one strop - as I watched one of the crew go down to clear a line to leeward, he was forced to unclip from the weather jackstay, fall across the cockpit, and then clip on to the leeward jackstay, which was under the water for much of the time. That was crazy. It must make sense to have two leads on a harness so you can always stay clipped on.

Lets hope there are lessons learnt. For the sake of those who lost their lives - at least doing what they enjoyed.

-- From Kevin Gault -- In response to Glenn McCarthy's comments in issue #248, I think his feeling that small, light boats are not "offshore" boats is off-base. My boat, Poltergeist Moore 24 #7 not only completed, but was first to finish and won the 1975 Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara race, in which two lives and at least one boat was lost. This was long before I owned her but the point is, with a very capable crew (including Dee Smith), this 2000-pound 24 foot boat survived what has been reported as 50+ knots of wind over a very rough section of the California coast.

Sistership Moore 24's have made numerous Transpacific crossings, Farallons races etc. Obviously the Sydney Hobart race was well beyond these conditions, but to arbitrarily say you'd be O.K. in a Swan is wrong. A well-engineered boat is one thing. A big, heavy boat is another. If I recall recently a Tayana 37 was rolled off New Zealand. I don't know the specifics, but I think sometimes stuff happens and you hope for the best and learn from it. My feeling is a knowledable, experienced skipper and crew is most important, and a little luck helps to.

-- From J.Sinclair, Project Manager, Andrews 70 Renegade -- After reading some of the letters coming in regarding the Sidney-Hobart race, it seems like some people are blaming the race committee for the storm. The race committee had no control over the storm or the results of that storm. Storms happen. Weather moves fast on the ocean and there is very little protection out there. Having been on Merlin in '92, and having been the project manager for both Tranpac '97 and Vic-Maui '98 for Renegade, one of the biggest concerns of mine was being prepared for anything to happen.

Racing in the ocean is not like racing in the bay. You can't just throw everything off the boat and go racing. Preparation and boat maintenance is key (you won't win if you don't get there) in fact the race usually hinges on that fact.

For this year's Vic-Maui we took a spare main. Good thing, since we blew up the Sobstad Genisis gybing in 32-knots of breeze more that 500 miles out of Hawaii. In my opinion the overall decision to go or no-go, belongs with the skipper. However, the skipper better know what he or she is doing.

Maybe the answer is better preparation seminars before the race provided by the committee, focusing on boat preparation, safety inspections, rig condition, and most of all WEATHER! The sailors are the ones that have to be better prepared and equipped, anything can happen out there. Might as well be ready for it...sure is a long way to swim home.

-- From Craig Alan Levin (concerning an 'old age' exemption to Appendix R) -- Whatever sailing gene has made the great sailors successful does not go away with age. For example, Buddy Melges, Lowell North, Dennis Conner, etc. They are not as mobile as they once were, but then they probably weren't the best crew when they were younger either. But put a tiller or wheel in their hands and they're deadly. I am sure that they have lost recollection to more sailing tricks than I will ever know.

Alcohol consumption does destroy those memory circuits much more quickly than age.

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

** Auckland 2000 Centre -- This new facility has opened on the edge of the Cup Village, designed to ensure New Zealand fully capitalises on publicity generated by the series of events planned in New Zealand over the next two years. (The Cup and the Millennium celebrations to name but a few). The centre is designed to cater for the needs of up to 4,000,000 visitors and the 10,000 media representatives that will visit Auckland alone in the year 2000. The Centre has three floors. General visitor information and booking services are on the ground floor, the first floor houses an economic and business resource centre and the media catered for on the top floor. It is, believe it or not, one of 98 Visitor Information Network Offices in New Zealand and on an international scale, the New Zealand network is rated as second only to the British system. The Auckland 2000 theme is a marketing term developed by Tourism Auckland to market the broad range of event and associated opportunities that will be seen here over the next two years.

** Statement from Dennis Conner -- "In my estimation, Prada (Italy) and Young America (New York Yacht Club) will be the toughest challengers to overcome, by virtue of healthy funding and strong design resources. It is all driven by money. Without that, you can't work on design. Without design, you can't have a fast boat. Without a fast boat, you can't win. Stars & Stripes program is about as far ahead as other challengers. We have a design as good as any and hopefully a little better. We have kept a low profile as far as our funding is concerned, but we are quietly moving ahead."

To say that the Around Alone fleet is a little spread out would be an understatement. At 0340 GMT today, five of the boats had finished and Robin Davie was still 4,155 miles from Auckland, hoping to arrive sometime before the new millenium. - Herb McCormick

Class II Standings (distance to finish in parenthesis) 1. Mouligne (finished) 2. Garside (486) 3. Van Liew (523)

Event website:

No one ever says "It's only a game," when their team is winning.