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SCUTTLEBUTT #255 - January 12, 1999

99 WORLDS - Melbourne Australia
49ers -- Two times Australian world champion Chris Nicholson and his new crew Ed Smyth still lead the Olympic 49er class after sailing four more qualifying races at the 99 Worlds on Port Phillip Bay. However, they are being strongly pressed by Italian brothers Francesco and Gabriele Bruni, with the top five places still wide open as the big fleet goes into tomorrow's last round of qualifying races. The 49ers today sailed in ideal conditions, a light southerly and flat waters off Port Melbourne after Monday's wild sailing which wrought havoc among the less experienced sailors.

1. Chris Nicholson / Ed Smyth (AUS) 1-(4)-2-1-1-3-4-1-(7) -- 13 points after discard
2. Francecso & Gabriele Bruni (ITA) 1-(7)-3-1-(4)-1-1-4-3 -- 14
3. Jonathan & Charlie McKee (USA) (8)-1-4-3-2-1-1-2-(6) -- 14
4. John & Gary Boyd (AUS) (10)-3-1-2-2-4-(8)-1-3 -- 16
5. Adam Beashel / Teague Czislowski (AUS) 6-1-1-(9)-1-(7)-5-1-2 -- 17
8. Morgan Larson/Kevin Hall (USA) 4 1 2 2 4 8 3 (20) (DNF) - 24

CLASS A CATAMARAN -- Defending world champion in the A Division Catamaran, America's Pete Melvin had a black day at McCrae Yacht Club. Melvin was first to finish, only to discover he had been ruled out for a premature start by race officials. The 1997 world champion (the A Division did not hold a world title in 1998) has been struggling for form in Melbourne, with a scoreboard of 9, 19 and 24 so far. Melvin worked his way through the fleet to hit the front by the fourth windward mark but would have been bitterly disappointed with his OCS.

LASER -- Britain's Ben Ainslie, the bridesmaid of the Laser Olympics and World championships, looks strongly set to win his first world title at the 99 Worlds on Melbourne's Port Phillip tomorrow. Ainslie, silver medallist at Atlanta, won the first race of the gold fleet finals today and although he was back in 11th place in the second race of the day, his major opposition were well down the line. Atlanta gold medallist and three times world champion Robert Scheidt from Brazil finished 11th and 28th in today's light breezes.

After two discards, this leaves Ainslie on 20 points, Scheidt on 34, Suneson 37 and Blackburn 42 points. Ainslie is not unbeatable with just two races to sail tomorrow, but is certainly looking good for a well deserved victory.

Event website:

(Jeff Madrigali provided this special report about the action in the Soling Worlds in Australia)

We did not get into then dock until after 7:00 PM, but had a pretty good day with a 1st and a 11th. It was very windy (18 to 25) with huge waves. We had several general recalls in the 1st race and we changed jibs just before the real start which was a black flag start. We were on port tack approaching the fleet with about 1 minute to go and I said to Craig (Healy) to hike out so we could get a bit farther down the line before we tacked and he fell right off the boat because he had forgotten to hook in after the jib change. We tacked back and got him back in the boat with 30 seconds to go and had just enough time to get to the leeward end of the line and get a good start. Craig was very heavy with all the water he picked up and we shot out of there and rounded the top mark 3rd. We went on to win the race. The other Americans did poorly so we are now the top American and 3rd overall. The next race was in the same conditions and we had a much harder go of it. We did pass 5 or 6 boats on the last beat to end up 11th. We missed the last shift at the finish or we might have beat Tony Rey and been about 8th, but it was not to be. We ripped the lower leech of our main on the twing block at the jibe mark in the last race and it looked like it might blow in half, but it held up for two beats and a run - we were lucky about that. We sailed in with it and right as we were about to drop it, it blew up across the clew. We are all very tired and are happy there is only one race scheduled for Tuesday.

Top 10....(there will be a throwout after 5 races....) 38 boats....
1. DEN120: Westergaard/Moller/Westergaard: 2, 3, 3 = 8 pts.
2. GER311: Schuemann/Bahr/Borkowski: 3, 7, 2 = 12 pts.
3. USA823: Jeff Madrigali/Craig Healy/Hartwell Jordan: 7, 1, 11 = 19 pts.
4. NOR131: Johannessen/Davis/Stokkeland: 8,4,8 = 20 pts.
5. AUS180: Walker/Drennan/Jackson: 22, 6, 7 = 35 pts.
6. RUS44: Shaiduko/Volchkov/Komarov: 6,12,17 = 35 pts.
7. ITA239: Cian/Colaninno/Fornelli: 5,19,12 = 36 pts.
8. FRA33: Presti/Rambeau/Dauris: 16,9,14 = 39 pts.
9. NED35: Heiner/VanNiekerkDeRidder: OCS, 2, 1 = 42 pts.
10. NZL28: Davis/Cowie/Smith: 18, 5, 19 = 42 pts.

Other Americans:
11. USA831: Tony Rey/Tom Burnham/Dean Brenner: 4, 30, 9 = 43 pts.
22. USA830: David Curtis/Karl Anderson/Jeff Thorpe: 20, 13, 29 = 62 pts.
34. USA839: John Gochberg/Greg Enos/Chad Atkins: 29, 33, 34 = 96 pts.

As organizers roll out their best bib and tucker finalizing celebratory plans for the 12th anniversary GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week, a record-size fleet of more than 270 boats prepares for levels of competition unparalleled in the event's history.

Competitors' bows are aimed squarely at the Yachting Magazine Trophy, Race Week's ultimate prize awarded to the overall Boat of the Week, but the year's first major international regatta also features three-boat team competition for the Yukon Cup, presented by title sponsor GMC Yukon. The Yukon Cup format loosely resembles England's famous Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup, but is intended as a fun sidelight to the individual class competition of Race Week, which schedules eight windward-leeward races over five days with no discards allowed.

The impressive field of 10 teams includes Europe, Far East, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA Red, USA White and USA Blue. Teams are composed of an IMS-rated design, a Mumm 30 and a Melges 24. These classes account for 35 percent of Race Week's fleet and distinguish the regatta with strong international representation, counting 25 of the 38 foreign entries.

International teams' helmsmen boast well rounded resumes and include New Zealand's Russell Coutts (1995 America's Cup winning skipper) and Germany's Karol Jablonski (a four-time International DN Iceboat World Champion).

Not to be outdone, American teams' helmsmen include Vince Brun (1998 Melges 24 World Champion skipper), Peter Holmberg (the world's No. 5-ranked match-racer) and Peter Isler (1987 America's Cup winning navigator).

In order to generate broad interest, team composition may be one country or regional when there aren't a sufficient number of boats from a single country. Two of the three boats on each team must hail from the country or region represented, with at least 30 percent of the crew on those two boats citizens or legal residents of the particular country.

The competition for the Yachting Magazine Trophy and the Yukon Cup will be features of a television special on GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week, scheduled to air on the all-sports network ESPN2 February 21 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time (10:00 AM Pacific Time). America's Cup personality Gary Jobson, who'll compete at Race Week, hosts the show. Joining Jobson and the ESPN production team is cameraman Laurie Gilbert, a specialist sailing cinematographer from Singapore. Gilbert and Jobson have worked together on events in the past, including the America's Cup, Olympics, Kenwood Cup and Transpac Regattas.

After its premiere showing, the special is scheduled to re-air on April 2 at 1:30 AM Eastern Time (April 1, 10:30 PM Pacific Time). ESPN2 reaches 63.1 million households.

Racing at GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week takes place Monday to Friday, January 18 to 22.

Yukon Cup Teams
Boat (design) Owner/Entrant, Helmsman (Flag)

Europe -- Exposure (Castro 50) Niek Lamm, Niek Lamm (NED)
Yauguru (Mumm 30) W. Scott Perry, Federico Grunwalt (URU)
Mad Cap (Melges 24) Henri Samuel, Henri Samuel (FRA)

Far East
Beau Geste (Farr 49) Karl Kwok, Gavin Brady (CHN)
Esmeralda (Mumm 30) Makoto Uematsu, Makoto Uematsu (JPN)
Whiteloaf (Melges 24) Scott Elliott, Scott Elliott (USA)

Rubin XV (J/V 49) Hans-Otto Schumann, Karol Jablonski (GER)
Rainbow (Mumm 30) B.B. Dietrich, B.B. Dietrich (GER)
Monsoon (Melges 24) Bruce Ayres, Bruce Ayres (USA)

Breeze (Farr 49) Paolo Gaia, Tommaso Chieffi (ITA)
Sector (Mumm 30) Carla Silva, Claudio Recchi (ITA)
Planet Loaf (Melges 24) Charlie Ogletree, Georgio Zuccoli (USA)

New Zealand
Numbers (Taylor 49) John Risley, Russell Coutts (NZL)
Wai wera Naturally Hot (Mumm 30) John St. Clair Brown, St. Clair Brown (NZL)
Full Throttle (Melges 24) Brian Porter, Brian Porter (USA)

Heatwave (Corel 45) Sal Giordano, Ken Read (USA)
Illusion (Mumm 30) Ocean Race Club, Edi Roetlisberger (SUI)
FRA 382 (Melges 24) Christian Roman, Sebastien Col (SUI)

United Kingdom
Hi Fling (CM60) Irvine Laidlaw, Irvine Laidlaw (GBR)
Phoenix (Mumm 30) E.DeSouza Ramos, DeSouza Ramos (BRA)
Snickers Workwear (Melges 24) Tony Wetherell, Tony Wetherell (GBR)

Nitemare (Corel 45) Thomas Neill, Peter Isler (USA)
USA 48 (Mumm 30) B. Allardice/E. Collins, Ed Collins (USA)
Moen "Pure Touch" (Melges 24) Harry Melges, Harry Melges (USA)

USA White
Idler (N/M 50) George David, George David (USA)
Trouble (Mumm 30) P. Garland/R. Shulman, Philip Garland (USA)
Rush (Melges 24) Vince Brun, Vince Brun (USA)

USA BLUE -- Vim III (N/M 43) J. Craig Speck, Peter Holmberg (USA); Moxie (Mumm 30) George Collins, G. Collins & J. Allsop (USA); Rock & Roll (Melges 24) Argyle Campbel, Argyle Campbell (USA)

Event web site:

They are absolutely everywhere. They're in Norway, Spain, the UK and Canada. There are two each in Japan, Australia and Mexico. Italy has three and there are 10 in the USA. San Francisco even has one now. And every one of these Ullman sail lofts will give an email quote on a new sail to show you just how affordable improved performance can be for your boats:

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

-- From Fred Jones -- About the strange lack of urgency on US Sailing's part on the Hal Haenel announcement: Always remember, in order to have a communication problem, one must first have communication. No communication--no problem.

-- Jana Madrigali -- I realize you picked up the news brief from the 1999 Worlds website, but Jeff Madrigali was the bronze medallist in the 1996 Olympic Games. He'd be happy to take the Silver medal if someone insists....

-- From Rich Hazelton -- I agree people get caught up in not "wimping out". But that's supposed to be the difference between the skipper and crew. Hopefully the position as skipper is because of experience and know-how (not just the boat owner). He makes the hard, as well as the easy decisions on the boat. Otherwise, how high up the chain do you want to go before someone is responsible: racers raced because the skipper said OK - because the RC said OK - because the weatherman said go ahead... Of course racers push things for competition, but it's the skipper's ultimate decision to race or not.

-- From Jack Tallman -- My comments are not meant to disregard or demean the losses that have occurred during the Sydney Hobart race or Fastnet '79 or....

While Harvey Loomis (Scuttlebutt #253) may be correct about the lack of maturity of some of the participants, it should NOT be the responsibility of the race committee to decide whether or not the scheduled race should be conducted. If it is deemed the race committee's responsibility to decide on running the race, they are at risk of becoming the object of attention of the legal crowd. The tendency is that the pendulum would swing to the conservative extreme (probably even without the legal threat). Further that decision is not really the race committee's territory.

The RULE I was taught when I first stepped onto a boat was and still is (I hope) - "It is the skipper who is responsible for the safety of his/her vessel and all who are aboard". This really has to be the guiding principle for racing just as it is for cruising! When you are out there and the going gets tough, it is not going to be the race committee who will aid you.

When we leave the dock, my expectation is that we will be on our own and we plan accordingly. That is just the way it is and I have no problem with that.

-- From Chris Ericksen -- I violently disagree with Harvey Loomis who suggested in 'Butt #253 that skippers cannot be trusted to make hard decisions and it should fall to the RC to take prudent action. Good God! Is society and sailing so far gone that no one is responsible for their own personal decisions? The "stop me before I sail again" mentality has no place in our conversations, let alone our sport!

If the Race Committee is expected to "have a realistic understanding of how individual decisions are made or not made" and make them for sailors, where will it stop? In a buoy race, even, where weather is a factor (in dinghies, for example), will a RC be expected to say, "You are qualified, but you are not."? And if an excluded sailor disagrees with the RC, what then? I promise you that this is a slippery slope where Race Committees will fear second guessing in a legal sense and just cancel races where they fear that someone may be under-qualified; and that will reduce sailboat racing to the level of the lowest common denominator of skill levels

Please, no more drivel about Race Committees making decisions on behalf of the sailors who cannot be trusted to make their own decisions.

-- From John Baxter -- As we are all saddened by what happened in the Hobart race, it is a bit unfair to claim the New " Cracker Jack Box" boats are not fit for going offshore. After many trips to numerous builders, and considerable experience sailing these new boats, I can assure you as to which I would prefer to be on in a big blow, especially with large waves. Not to say the new boats didn't break, but even a Whitbread-60 would have had some breakage.

There are many boats of older vintage (IOR) that might be said to be true offshore boats. While the new boats are built lighter and in many cases considerably stronger, they have the huge benefit of a more sea-worthy hull shape. Their concentration of weight low makes them even more seaworthy in big waves. It is for this reason that rules such as IMS have had such a task of trying to figure out exactly how fast these boats are especially in waves.

Some Swans, Older C&C's, and the older IOR boats would have dificulty sailing in the conditions experienced in the Hobart race and from the looks of things they did. If you loose a mast in those conditions, it will not matter if the boat is new, old, or extremely seaworthy. A flailing rig can punch through anything in those conditions. I am sure the investigation into the Hobart Race will include what vintage of boat had the most problems.

-- Chuck Skewes -- It appears that our fears of the press finding a scapegoat for the Sydney Hobart disaster were unfounded. 20/20 did a great job showing that no one but mother nature was to blame and that all of the sailors in the race were deeply sorrowed by the loss of life and destruction that the storm and conditions caused. I would like to commend 20/20 for the great job showing the sailors views of the event and bringing it to the attention of general public.

-- From Eric Steinberg -- I give ABC a C+ on 20/20 segment.

-- From Craig Leweck -- Regarding the comments in "Butt" about the Sydney-Hobart race, there have been many differing opinions but there are two things that I think we can all agree on: 1) the deaths and destruction were tragic, and 2) the race has been a huge wake-up call for offshore racers and administrators.

As is often displayed in 'Butt, it is difficult to arrive at a single solution. Or opinion. Or decision. And to those who think that race administrators should decide when to go or not to go, do you think they are going to have any easier of a time? Weather data includes projections and assumptions...not the kind of information you want if your finger is on "the button."

In that we all have our own idea of how we would handled the administration of the Sydney-Hobart race, it gives credibility to the current method of letting us decide as individuals whether or not to participate. The responsibilities of the Skipper have always been there, and incidents like this remind us of the decisions they must make.

The system will inevitably be improved through tweaks and turns in many areas. And we should all hope that the memories of this race and that of the Fastnet will serve us well when we are out on the ocean, taking responsibility for our own actions, and making decisions for ourselves.

Curmudgeon's comment - Well done Son, you've said it all! So with Craig's concise and well-stated summary, I now declare this thread OFFICIALLY DEAD.

British skipper Mike Golding, who was the overall leader in the Around Alone race until a grounding off Cape Reinga in the latter part of the race's second stage forced him to retire from the leg, has announced that he has officially withdrawn from the race. In a statement he said, "Since our arrival in Auckland, we have investigated every alternative to allow us to continue to race. However, following the advice of the yacht designer Pascal Conq [along with] my own Project Manager Merfyn Owen [and] a qualified naval architect as well as the insurance company surveyor we believe we cannot justify the risks involved.

"The keel has sustained a severe blow which judging by the collateral damage to the bearings was in excess of its designed capacity. This means that it is impossible for anyone to be sure of its structural integrity. It is not possible to replace the keel blade in time for the start of leg three of the Around Alone [race] from Auckland on Saturday 6 February. -- Dan McConnell

Event website:

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat with a line over the side and drink beer all day.