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SCUTTLEBUTT #276 - February 10, 1999

IT'S HEATING UP IN AUCKLAND - a special report by John Roberson
While the battle for the America's Cup is still eight months away, war has broken out on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf between spy boats for the challengers, and support boats for the defending New Zealanders. In a series of incidents reminiscent of similar scuffles that have occurred in the built up to America's Cup's for the last twenty years, Japan's Nippon Challenge have accused Team New Zealand of ramming one of their support boats.

General manager of the Nippon Challenge, Terry Newby, says the hull of defenders Team New Zealand's support boat came within 10cm of the head of Chris Main, his boat's driver. "There was foul language and threats from the Team New Zealand chase boat driver," Newby said, "Chris is a tough lad, having been sailing for years, it knocked the stuffing out of him."

"We were out there looking at what other syndicates are doing, observing, taking photographs and trying to get a gauge on what is happening with the America's Cup. We view it as a serious matter conducted by an individual who has taken the law into his own hands," Terry Newby concluded.

The Nippon Challenge said their driver was abiding by syndicate protocols in not venturing within 200 metres of competitors' yachts, claiming they were more than 400 metres away when the larger craft headed toward him.

The incident, which occurred late last week, has been reported to the police maritime unit prompting Sergeant Lloyd McIntosh to comment, "We will not tolerate this sort of thing."

Steve Connett, towboat captain for the New York Yacht Club's Young America syndicate, said a Team New Zealand support vessel had "bumped" his 13m tender in the gulf about two weeks ago. "They cut us off and ran into us but not as extremely as the Japanese," he said, "it is an intimidation thing and a violation of marine safety. We have tried to diffuse the situation, our management have spoken to theirs, there's no justification for this behaviour, you could seriously injure or kill someone doing that sort of stuff."

Sergeant McIntosh said: "We have had a complaint which we are taking seriously, it is more to do with allegations of threatening behaviour and inappropriate use of boats. Having spoken to Team New Zealand representatives about last week's incident, he said: "they denied any such incident took place but they accept that words have been exchanged." -- John Roberson

-- From Ben Mitchell on Roy Disney's new R/P 74 Pyewacket -- The race started in 10-12 knot southerly that became a 6-8 knot southerly as soon as we hit the gulf stream, travelling north at about 4 knots and very smooth seas. Pyewacket jumped to an early lead, clearly liking the higher end of the wind range with RX Sight and Trader close behind. As the wind faded RX Sight began to ease ahead throughout the late afternoon and evening.

After rounding Issacs the fleet encountered little to no wind for the next ten hours. During the light air RX Sight, Trader, and Pyewacket remained close until the Northerly breeze filled in and made for a close fetch down through the Bahamas. With the breeze again up Pyewacket appeared quite a bit faster than the other boats and began to stretch its lead.

Once around the East end of Cuba the big ( and I mean big) A-sail was set and we were greeted with a pleasant 18-22 knot run to Jamaica. With gusts up to 26-28 knots the boat behaved and surfed just like its supposed to. The finish ended up in light air and in the dark around 7:45pm about three hours off the old record set by Windward Passage back in 1971.

All in all, a fun race. Lakota finished about ten hours ahead of Pyewacket to break their own multihull record.

-- From Dee Smith, navigator RX Sight -- RX Sight, is the x-Nicorette, x-Charles Jordan, ten year old Whitbread vet, sailing under the Swedish flag. When the wind was light and forward of the beam, the RX was very fast using a code 0 masthead kite. But in the power reaching the new Pywackett, left us for dead. The light beginning of the race got us the lead for around 100 miles and the needed corrected time to beat Pywacket on PHRF. The new Pyewacket almost broke the record and finished at the best time at 7:30 at night. We were 3.5 hrs behind them at noon but the sea breeze died the last 60 miles, we ended up finishing almost 5 hrs behind. The same with Trader and Rima and I believe we corrected out by less than 1 hr.


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:

Gavin Brady won the Australia Cup last week in Perth and moves into second place on the Open Rankings. Chris Law (GBR) now lies in third place, but is just 58 points behind Brady.

ISAF's decision to delete the third year's results (now only results in the most recent two years will count towards a skipper's rankings score) has resulted in little change overall. Previous top-ten skippers, such as Russell Coutts and Ed Baird, will see that they need to continue competing on the match race circuit in order to keep their ranking points high. Coutts has dropped eight places, and Baird has dropped fourteen places since the 15 December 1998 issue.

Paula Lewin (BER) remains top of the Women's Rankings, with Betsy Alison (USA) in second place but only counting seven events. The two women lie in 13th and 22nd positions respectively on the Open Rankings. The top 8 skippers on the Women's Rankings as issued on 24 August 1999 will receive automatic invitations to the first ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Genoa, Italy from 23-30 October 1999.

As usual the top 10 skippers on the Open Rankings will be invited to compete in the 1999 ISAF Open World Match Racing Championship. The Rankings issued on 30 June 1999 will be used to determine those invitations.

Rankings: 1. Peter GILMOUR (JPN) 2. Gavin BRADY (NZL) 3. Chris LAW (GBR) 4. Bertrand PACE (FRA) 5. Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) 6. Markus WIESER (GER) 7. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) 8. Tomislav BASIC (CRO) 9. Jochen SCHUMANN (GER) 10. Sten MOHR (DEN) 11. Jesper BANK (DEN) 12. Luc PILLOT (FRA) 13. Paula LEWIN (BER) 14. Neville WITTEY (AUS) 15. Francois BRENAC (FRA)

Complete rankings:

We read all of our e-mail, but simply can't publish every submission. Those that are published are routinely edited for clarity, space (250 words max) or to exclude personal attacks.

-- From Ken Haring, Corrective Lateral Righting Moment Specialist -- The Curmudgeon's commentary in 'Butt#264 about the race organizers of the Key West Race Week making things easier for the competitors struck a welcome note. I agree notifying the competitors of course and premature starters (OCS boats), via VHF, would make things easier for the racers. In addition it could remove a lot of hostilities toward a race committee due to misunderstandings, not to mention make my job easier. As a corrective lateral righting moment specialist, part of my job, while moving from side to side, is to confirm the course and start times.

Why is this lack of communications with the racers on the West Coast so prevalent? Is it arrogance on the part of the RC or an "us against them attitude" or what? I know the RC is not required to use radio communication with the competitors but it would be nice. Some committees do notify the over early boats but I have never known one that notified them when they had cleared.

If such a change of policy or attitude could be arranged it would make racing a lot more fun. I know of many times (and so do all who race) where this would be welcomed. (It would have eliminated all the protests against the RC last Saturday when they changed the course and the flag could not be seen due to light wind.)

-- From Craig Speck, owner NM43.2 VIM 3 -- I thought Jon Gundersen's message was right on. The racing at Key West was the most competitive and enjoyable that I have ever participated in. The presence of the European teams and the opportunity to sail against them as well as to interact with them at the evening recognition events was fantastic. It's too bad many of the other US based IMS boats did not attend as they missed an opportunity to participate in one of the Worlds best events this year and meet sailors from other parts of the world.

-- From Mark Mills, MILLS DESIGN -- The mistake with IMS was ever pushing it as a rule which could rate all boats fairly. That's an unreasonable criteria for success, and one which made IMS look like a failure in the early 90's. Over the past few years however, the criteria for IMS has generally been more clearly defined as close racing at Grand Prix or regional level events, which by their nature involve aggressive campaigns willing to field new boats. By this standard IMS has been very successful since as Frank Whitton pointed out with similar, well-optimised designs, IMS provides very close racing.

Look at the Farr ILC 40 Brava, twice world champion, member of one winning Admirals Cup team, very nearly twice, now competitive in the 99 Key West five years after her launch! Or Key West stalwart Infinity, the NM 50 which won her class how many times in her reign starting in 1992 or '93? Sayonara?

Yes, it is for IMS specific designs -- unlike Paul Elys' SC52. How could a cruiser/racer really expect to compete with flat out Grand Prix racers anyway? Yes later designs are more competitive than earlier ones, that's always been part of handicap (and one design) boat racing and won't be changing anytime soon. I wonder if the One-Design camp is really in such a robust state of health as the market becomes clogged with competing designs, and the less excellent sailors discover they are tired of propping up the back half of the fleet forever. The pendulum swings both ways....

--From Frank Whitton -- The IMS rule hasn't changed dramatically since its inception some 25 years ago. What has changed is the boats - with materials and technology leading the way. The rule was originally conceived with funds donated from IOR owners. The MHS (now IMS ) was supposed to "equate" cruisers and racers fairly with a design proof rule. Both of these premises are honorable, but utterly and naively impossible to achieve because what is fair is only in the minds of the users. The National Authority needs to promote IMS as a rule that is fair when racing apples against apples and oranges against oranges.

Skip Ely's SC 52 Elyxir is a beautiful 'apple,' but if he raced in IMS and lost he would be unhappy. More so to the other 'oranges' that did race in IMS. If you had entered and won they would have been equally unhappy. i.e. DON"T race apples against oranges!!! Further more the rule shouldn't be blamed for this mindset. The rule possibly could be fair to both -- albeit in there own separate classes. The problem is that the powers to be don't promote the rule to this end by telling you this.

In my humble opinion, IMS has the ability to be infinitely better than PHRF for many reasons if it is given a chance and properly used within the constraints of the apples /oranges argument. Americap and ORC Club are nothing more than simplified versions of this.

-- From Bruce B. Nairn -- I agree it would be nice for the America's Cup to throw millions at sailing. Unfortunately the money is not there for a multitude of reasons. But more to the point is Laszlo's comment about half-hearted "youth programs". This does not pass muster. I have had the opportunity to be involved with two AC youth programs. Young America's and America True's. A huge amount of time and effort goes into these programs and the results are amazing. Young America's effort is a thoughful conscientious long running program that has reached thousands of kids that never even heard about the America's Cup (and sailing) until YA put it on the map for them. America True's program, while not having the reach of YA's, is also impressive in it's audience of disadvantged youths.

Considering that these syndicates are not chartered to "promote the sport" it's impressive in the extent that they do.

-- From Chris Ericksen (Re Jim Nichols' letter in 'Butt #274) -- Very clever. I really liked the "crying-movie-in-a-firehouse" line. I have no idea what it has to do with anything any of us care about, but it was damned clever. And Ford only purchased the Volvo automotive division, not the marine or heavy-truck divisions--not that that has anything to do with anything, either.

How will Ford's purchase of the Volvo Car Corporation affect the Volvo Ocean Race? "As far as we can see, and it is early days yet, it shouldn't have any impact on the Volvo Ocean Race," said Lizzie Green, a spokesman for Volvo Events Management, which is the race organizer. Her view was echoed elsewhere by the marketing consultants to the Swedish company, AB Volvo, which owns the race. It is expected that Ford will do nothing to the Volvo Ocean Race other than to provide enhancement. - Bob Fisher, Grand Prix Sailor

For the full story:

"It was another great day on the Hauraki Gulf! We had three training races and many practice starts with AmericaTrue today. The breeze as usual was quite shifty and the conditions very tricky. The wind today averaged around 13-15 knots, which made for tight racing all day. I have been very happy with our relationship with AmericaTrue. We are both benefiting from sailing together and our program is advancing rapidly. Our Crew work, boat handling, tactics and strategy is getting tested in race conditions and improving everyday. We will continue to work with AmericaTrue for the remainder of the week.

"Unfortunately our weather man "Clouds" does not expect sailing conditions later this week. He is predicting that a tropical depression will cause strong winds Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which would make these days unsailable...we shall see! The weather changes fast here...A typical Kiwi comment is, "If you don't like the weather wait a minute". -- John Kostecki

Standings (Distance to finish in parenthesis) CLASS I: 1. Thiercelin (5036) 2. Autissier (5083) 3. Hall (5106) 4. Soldini (5108) CLASS II: 1. Garside (5202) 2. Van Liew (5216) 3. Mouligne (5291) 4. Yazykov (5306)

Around Alone website:

Beauty fades - dumb is forever.