SCUTTLEBUTT #253 - January 8, 1999
There are two BIG stories in today's Grand Prix Sailor. GPS has given 'Butt
permission to print the brief summaries that appear here, but you'll want
to check in at the Sailing World website to read the full stories. They'll
be posted by 9:00 AM PST:
** Peter Holmberg's financially strapped Team Caribbean was forming an
association with the low-profile Team Dennis Conner for the America's Cup
2000 in New Zealand. The agreement finds Holmberg in Conner's Strars &
Stripes afterguard. Team Dennis Conner's Bill Trenkle says the Reichel/Pugh
design for Team DC's yacht is firm. New England Boat Works, Portsmouth,
R.I., which built Conner's Whitbread 60, Toshiba, will build Conner's new
Stars & Stripes, scheduled to be finished early this summer. In a separate
announcement, Team Dennis Conner reported that Ken Read, two-time Rolex
Yachtsman of the Year, and a team member of Young America in '95, would be
signing on as helmsman. -- Carol Bareuther and Dave Reed
** The 2001-2 Volvo Ocean Race will have only two stops in Australia with
the choices still to be made among Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney and
Auckland. The South American stopover is unlikely to be San Sebastiao again
as the Brazilian resort is remote, and both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro
are under consideration. The two United States ports will come from Miami,
Charleston, Baltimore and Newport. All the legs will be scored with the
same number of points; there are no bonuses to be awarded for the longer
legs The boats will be of the same class, renamed the Volvo Ocean 60s, but
carbon-fiber masts will be allowed -Bob Fisher
LASER -- World number one ranked Laser sailor, Ben Ainslie of Great Britain
today had a perfect score in trying conditions on Port Phillip Bay, winning
races three and four of the 1999 World Laser Championship. Sailed from
Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron at St Kilda, Ainslie excelled in the heavy
conditions, where winds gusted to 30 knots, kicking up short, steep waves.
In race four, the Atlanta silver medallist defeated Poland's Maciej
Grabowski with third place going to reigning world champion Robert Scheidt
of Brazil. It would have been a sweet moment for the Briton, having lost to
Scheidt in the Atlanta Olympic Games.
After this first clash at the 99 Worlds between the top three ranked Laser
sailors in the world - Ainslie, Scheidt and Blackburn, all three are equal
on points in first place. In flight two of race four, Finland's Roope
Suomalianen also scored his second victory of the series, beating Andonis
Bougiouris of Greece and Australia's Brendan Casey in third. It was a fine
day out for Casey, having claimed his flight in race three earlier in the
day, beating Robert Scheidt in a close series.
Laser World Championships Race Four (provisional results): Flight One 1.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) 2. Maciej Grabowski (POL) 3. Robert Scheidt (BRA) 4.
Michael Blackburn (AUS) 5. Daniel Birgmark (SWE) Flight Two 1. Roope
Suomalianen (FIN) 2. Andonis Bougiouris (GRE) 3. Brendan Casey (AUS) 4.
Karl Suneson (SWE) 5. Brett Beyer (AUS) Race 3 (provisional): Flight 1 1.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) 2. Serge Kats (NED) 3. Michael Blackburn (AUS) 4. Simon
Small (NZL) 5. Anthony Merrington (AUS) Flight 2 1. Brendan Casey (AUS) 2.
Robert Scheidt (BRA) 3. Fredrik Westman (FIN) 4. Jim Taylor (GBR) 5. Peder
EUROPE -- World champion Carolijn Brouwer from The Netherlands has stamped
her mark on the Olympic Europe dinghy class for women by winning the Europe
Open Class at the 99 World Sailing Championships being sailed on
Melbourne's Port Phillip. Sailed from the Mornington Yacht Club, Open Week
ended with the fleet sailing in the freshest wind of the week, 15 to 20
knot south-easters. In an impressive leadup to the Europe Worlds starting
next Monday, Brouwer won from the Finnish sailor Sari Multala and Atlanta
gold medallist Margriet Matthijsse, with Australia's Melanie Dennison
coming in third followed by fellow Australian Christine Bridge.
Europe Open Week, Women: Race 8:
|| Red Flight || Green Flight || Blue Flight
|1 || Matthijsse (NED) || Wennerstrom (USA) || Terese Torgersson (SWE)
|2 || Sara Macky (NZL) || Luciana Scarrone (BRA) || Aiko Saito (JAP)
|3 || Abbey Mason (NZL) || Chiara Calligaris (ITA) || Kristin Endres (GER)
|4 || Cecilia Bengtsson (SWE) || Denise Cesky (AUT) || Fernananda Pinta (BRA)
|5 || Sari Multala (FIN) || Fabiana Scarrone (BRA) || Cathelyne in't Veld (NED)
Event website: http://99worlds.org
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SEARCH AND RESCUE
(Rick Merriman prepared this special report for Scuttlebutt about Search
and Rescue (SAR) operations at sea. Merriman's was a US Navy P-3C pilot for
8 years where he flew on over 50 SAR missions. He was stationed in Hawaii
and California, and also deployed to Alaska and the Indian Ocean.)
To best ensure that you will be found and ultimately rescued you must try
and increase your chances of being found. There are a few ways to this.
The first is to make sure you have an EPIRB or GIRB onboard the life raft
or boat you are in. Know how to use it before you need it. On one SAR the
boat kept turning it on for an hour then off for an hour to save the
batteries. All this did was take longer for the shore based DF stations to
come up with a reliable AOP (area of probability).
Next is to have a radar reflector on the boat and life raft. A fiberglass
or carbon hull does not present a very good radar return especially in high
seas. An aluminum mast presents a good return but more and more boats have
carbon fibre mast which gives a boat almost stealth capacities. Not what
you want when some one is looking for you. A P-3 or C-130 can sweep an
area of the ocean 300 miles across as it flies at 5000 feet with its radar.
Visually they can see 10 miles on either side of the aircraft during the
best conditions and next to nothing during bad weather and high seas. Most
rescues are because they found the raft or boat on radar, not visually.
Try to get the reflector as high as possible, especially during a high sea
state. Tying a spinnaker pole up vertically also helps if it is aluminum.
A survival suit should be mandatory on board when ever the combined air
temperature and water temperature is 110 degrees F. Otherwise you will die
of hypothermia before they have the chance to find you. I can not tell you
how many times they have found the boat or raft and the people on board
have died due to hypothermia. We carry them on the aircraft in case we
have to ditch and spend some time in a life raft. I would not trade the
weight of that Gumby suit for gold.
Some other things that you should be aware of is that the aircraft carry a
survival kit that can be dropped to you in the water. It is actually two
rafts with food, water, a radio and other gear to help you out till a ship
or helicopter can get to you. They will fly perpendicular to you and the
wind and will throw out one raft that is connected to the other raft with
150 feet of line. Once they throw out the first raft the line will pay out
till it gets to the other raft and it will then leave the aircraft. They
will drop it at an altitude of 200 ft and approximately 200 knots. It
should land near you. They might drop a smoke first to try and determine
the wind direction and current drift. Let the raft drift to you do not
swim for it unless you are already in the water.
The frequencies they are monitor are 121.5 VHF, 243.0 UHF, 8364 HF.
A signal mirror is very effective during the day when it is sunny.
Smoke and green dye are effective if the a/c is within a few miles but its
usefulness decreases the rougher and more wind you have. Flares are good
at night but most a/c search only during daylight hours because they cannot
visually ID you unless they have an Infrared camera on board.
The best time to prepare for the worst possible situation is before you are
in the worst situation.
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
Letters may be edited for clarity, space (250 words max) or to exclude
-- From Ken Guyer -- I appreciate the spirit and confidence expressed by
Dawn Riley ('Butt #251) regarding her team. However the spirit of a
"winning team without barriers...man or woman" becomes diluted and a bit
convoluted when it comes from a team whose tag line in every news release
is the "first America's Cup team managed by a woman".
-- From James Nichols -- In all seriousness, I read an article in the paper
not too long ago about a medical study that suggested that, in fact,
alcohol consumption does not kill brain cells. Reminds me of what President
Lincoln is rumored to have said when someone criticized U.S. Grant for his
weakness for whisky: "Find out what he drinks, and send a case to each of
our other generals."
-- From Bob Wilmot -- As a Sydney to Hobart competitor, I would like to put
into perspective the expected conditions for this race. Almost every year
the predicted weather includes a Southerly Buster. It is not uncommon for
the Southerly to generate winds up to 65 knots. We the competitors must go
to sea prepared for and expecting these conditions. We must be diligent in
our own and our fellow crew's safety preparations, the seaworthiness of the
boat, and be committed to learning all we can about the art of surviving in
extreme conditions. Blaming others for our shortfalls should not be an
If we were to pressure the race committee into the practice of postponing a
race due to predicted bad weather, then how would it be policed? Such an
arbitrary practice would always be open to scrutiny and I think it would
lead to less seaworthy boats as they will not be "expected" to race in
severe weather. Unexpected exposure of these "less seaworthy" boats to
severe weather could be devastating. Unexpected weather is definitely the
norm in Bass Strait!
I hope this tragedy becomes a reminder for years to come to fellow
yachtsmen who are preparing for an ocean race or passage. Do not rely on
the safety inspector or the race committee to tell you what the minimum
requirements are. I do not think it is their job to guarantee that the
safety harnesses have not rotted. Take it upon yourselves to be prepared
as your life may someday depend on it.
-- From Harvey Loomis -- Of course ocean racing can be a dangerous sport,
but Michael Ford's position that everyone out there has a choice to make
about whether to go or not is pretty unrealistic. Does he really think that
an 18-year-old racing with his father is going to say on the morning of the
start, "Dad, I'm scared -- can't we drop out of the race?" or that a
40-year-old with experience, who may be a watch captain, is going to say,
"You go if you want, but I think I'll skip this one." No way. Which puts
the decision squarely with the skippers -- and they, of course, have their
own heavy pressures working against "wimping" out. Not the least of which
is the all-too-human tendency expressed as "Well, if everyone else is
going, I guess we're going too." And that, it seems to me, puts a greater
onus on the Race Committee to make the decision, not in a legal sense (I
emphatically hope), but in the need to have a realistic understanding of
how individual decisions are made or not made.
The decision to postpone a race is a indeed a thorny one, but one thing is
sure: Only a handful of skippers are ever going to make that decision on
their own; the rest of the fleet will go when the gun goes. So if anyone is
going to take what seems to be a prudent measure, it's going to have to be
-- From Glenn McCarthy -- In the 1970 Chicago-Mackinac race, a storm with
hurricane winds decimated the fleet. Less than half of the fleet crossed
the finish line. By the grace of god, there were no fatalities, even though
there was one overboard during the storm, who was recovered by his own boat.
Clearly, any fleet, anywhere is subject to an intensifying low pressure
system. We have seen it with the Chicago-Mackinac, the Fastnet and
Sydney-Hobart (twice). It is part of Offshore Racing. It will happen again.
Looking at the ORC Special Regulations, it is clear that each item of
safety equipment has been created through failure. Reading the press on
Sydney-Hobart, they seem to have a set of Safety rules they believe exceeds
the ORC Special Regulations. I am sure that out of the 1998 Sydney-Hobart,
revelations will be made (adding to the safety recommendations) that will
give each one of us a better chance in the event we meet one of these
storms. There is a silver lining in the clouds of Sydney-Hobart.
Marina del Rey's California Yacht Club has announced it will be offering an
AMERICAP start in the 1999 Sunset Series. Central to AMERICAP is a velocity
prediction program that handicaps a boat's performance for different types
of race courses and wind speeds. However, unlike IMS, this system allows
owners and tacticians to easily calculate differences in corrected times
between competitors on the racecourse. There are standard ratings for over
700 yacht designs, which allows implementation with minimal cost to owners.
- Dick Hampikian
CYC is holding an AMERICAP seminar on February 18, 1999 at 7:30 PM. CYC
MALIBU AND RETURN RACE - Del Rey YC
Class winners: Turbo A: Magnitude, Doug Baker, LBYC, *PHRF A: Airwaves,
Reiner Kaiser, CBYC, PHRF B: Superstar, S. Blinder/D Epstein, WYC, PHRF C:
DIVA, Rey Costello, Jr., SMYC, ORCA: Double Bullet, Robert Hanel, CBYC,
STEIN: Main Squeeze, Vic Smith, WYC
SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT
The organisers of this year's 1800-mile Coffs Harbour to Fiji race will
consider changes to safety standards following the lessons being learned
for the tragic Sydney to Hobart classic. The Chairman of the Cruising Yacht
Club of Australia's committee reviewing the Hobart disaster, former
Commodore Peter Bush, has already contacted Fiji Race Director Rob Mundle
and arranged for any relevant information to be passed on once the review
and coronial inquiry are complete.
"It is becoming apparent from the Hobart tragedy that some international
standards that have been seen as being acceptable will need to change," Rob
Mundle said. "The safety of competitors in the Coffs Harbour to Fiji race
is paramount so if there are any new safety standards that we feel should
apply to this race then they will be implemented.
Organisers are expecting a fleet of more than 20 yachts following a
remarkable response from yacht owners to news of the race. The fleet will
race in three divisions - IMS, Performance Handicap and two-handed - to
Suva, the capital of the Fiji Islands. - Rob Mundle
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
The trouble with good ideas is that they soon degenerate into a lot of hard