Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT #278 - February 12, 1999

Negotiations over the television coverage of the America's Cup, which once seemed set to be the province, in the United States at least, of ESPN, have reached a delicate stage, according to sources close to the syndicates, the America's Cup Challengers Association (ACCA) and the television companies involved. No one is willing to be quoted on the matter until it is fully settled, but their off-the-record comments point towards a successful conclusion for all the parties involved.

ESPN had not signed the final agreement to televise the races for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup, but had issued a letter of intent to do so, when Young America announced in January, their first Premier Partner. As it was none other than Fox Sports Net, there was a rumble of discontent from the Bristol, Conn., headquarters of ESPN and a general stand-off occurred. Clearly, Young America had been unaware that the deal was incomplete, although any reference to the timing with their spokesman brings a stiff "no comment." What the NYYC's group has confirmed however, is that their deal with Fox Sports does not include an option to televise the defense in 2003, if Young America is successful in beating the Kiwis' Black Magic successor. -- Bob Fisher, Grand Prix Sailor

The full story will be posted after 9:00 PST:

PRESIDENTIAL UPDATE - Paul Henderson, ISAF President This is to inform you all that I am alive and well and my brain is back to Sailing after the very difficult Olympic Scandals. You all may or may not know that ten years ago I led the Toronto Bid for the 1996 Olympics. All cities have been under extreme scrutiny and especially the Chairmen of the various winning and losing cities. The worst thing they found wrong with Toronto was for me to have Peter Tallberg's son living in my house. The press said this would unduly influence an IOC member. Mon Dieu!! I thought Tallberg was a sailor. The son did eat a lot but totally rebuilt an old plumbing truck which then was used by Richard Clarke for four years in his quest to represent Canada in the FINN Class in Savannah.

It is a very difficult time for the Olympic Movement and I am sure that the IOC will come out of it stronger. The olde Sailing saying applies here to the IOC: "The only lessons ever learned in Sailing are through the Eyes of Disaster."

The first meeting of new ISAF Executive took place in Paris last week and it was very productive. The FFV and President Champion were excellent hosts. Danielle and Jean-Louis Monneron gave us a lovely evening on the Seine and Michel Barbier as usual did most of the work after returning from helping in Melbourne.

Melbourne: What a great success! It proved what we all already knew: "Given good winds, open water and fine Yacht Clubs with their volunteers Sailing is the finest sport in the World." Thanks to Kevin Woods, Tom Stephenson, The Pascoes, and all the volunteers and staff for a great job well done. The Government of Victoria and especially the Premier gave great support and we all are looking forward to returning. The greatest compliment I heard from the sailors to Melbourne was that the ISAF Joint Worlds could only be done there. Well we have 9 regions bidding for 2003 so lets go for it. Melbourne will be the standard by which all other events in the future will be measured. The negative was that Australia won the first President of the IOC Cup. The only lack of hospitality shown.

Asian Games: Along with Hal Wagstaff and Teresa Lara we attended the Asian Games in Thailand. It was very well run in two beautiful bays. It will be a challenge to Teresa and Ajay Balram with the support of VP Ryan to support all Regional Games ensuring that Sailing is included and run to the highest possible standard.

Doping: VP Nucci (like Madonna no other name required) attended with Dr. Frank Newton and Luissa the IOC Doping Congress in Lausanne. Sailing supported the IOC leadership but there is still major work to be done by all sports in this area. All sailors must realize their obligations in this area especially if they have health problems and must take prescribed medicines as without informing their MNA's they leave themselves open for positive testing and the unfortunate consequences.

Match Racing Rules: There has been great concern over the Match Racing Rules due to the pressure of the fast approaching Kiwi's America's Cup Defense in Auckland. Patrick Bergmans along with his dedicated committee with the always firm guidance of Goran Petersson, I am sure, will address the needs and ensure this area of the sport is properly served. - Paul Henderson

Race Organizers: Here's a way to help offset your regatta costs. Pacific Yacht Embroidery has a program to supply race organizers with regatta apparel at a guaranteed profit. There is no risk to the race organizer. Call Frank Whitton(619-226-8033) for details on how to offset regatta costs while supplying quality apparel for the racers. No event is too small to qualify for this program.

Team Dennis Conner announced today the signing of Jack Sutphen as the head coach. Sutphen has been involved in the America's Cup since the 1958 event. His experience in all major aspects of America's Cup campaigns from sailmaking to tactitian and helmsman is unique and this will be his 12th America's Cup.

Jack has won championships in dinghies racing Interclubs against Arthur Knapp and Corny Shields in Larchmont. He is also an experienced ocean racer, having sailed 7 Bermuda Races, a veteran of dozens of SORC's, including a big win in the Miami Nassau Race, and a world champion one design sailor winning his last Worlds in the 1995 PC Class.

"It's an honor and privilege to have Jack aboard again," commented Dennis Conner. "He adds a dimension to our team not available to any other syndicate. His judgement and experience are unparalleled." - Bill Trenkle

If you're still looking for something romantic to do for Valentine's Day this Sunday, your quest is over. Simply grab your loved one, sit down on the couch, turn on the TV and tune to ESPN2.

This Sunday, 14 February, ESPN2 will broadcast a half-hour program on Leg 2 of Around Alone 1998-99. The show begins at 1200 EST (1700 GMT and 0900 PST). The ESPN2 program is the second in a series of four shows being broadcast on the longest race on earth for an individual in any sport. - Dan Miller

We read all of your 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 Mort Weintraub -- Perhaps we've been in racer's paradise and didn't know it. Here in the staid, tradition-bound East, race committees have been notifying early starters of the infraction and clearing by VHF as long as I can remember.

I will say that Peter Craig's Premier Racing organization is the tops. American, Manhasset, Storm Trisail, and New York race committees are really knowledgeable and racer friendly. Those of us who race seriously know that we can expect first rate administration and on-the-water work from these guys.

-- From Scott Gordon -- How can you hail OCS boats without introducing a prejudice? Even in the most perfect of situations, big boats, no radio interference, etc. there is still the "order of hail" issue to resolve. How can you hail more than one boat without prejudicing the later ones in favor of the first ones? Technology may someday give us an indicator light which appears on each boat and which can be tripped by the RC, all OCS boat lights being tripped simultaneously. But for now, if I'm hailed fifth, I'm getting a bad deal. And I could protest the race committee.

Curmudgeon's Comment: -- Huh? If I'm reading this correctly, Scott would prefer to be scored OCS than be hailed fifth? And perhaps someday he'll learn that you can't protest the race committee. He may ask for redress, but if the Sailing Instructions are written properly and there is a competent jury, he'll lose that one every time.

-- From Jeff Borland -- Here in Annapolis, many of the RCs are trying to use radio hails to make it more fun for the racers. We have some clubs who are even doing informational hails, telling the racers what course is going to be used, and about when the next signal will be. We have gotten great positive responses to these efforts at the club racer level.

The problems we see are as we get to the higher echelons of the sport. We see many top level sailors using everything they can to win an event, even cheesy requests for redress, trying to blame the RC for their mistakes. I have seen a number of top level competitors try to say that these radio hails were not timely enough, or were garbled, or something of that nature, just to get out of the fact that they screwed up and were OCS.

This unfortunately is why many RCs do not like to try the radio hail. Many people feel that if the competitors are going to be nasty with us when we try to help them, then they get what we have to give them.

Racers should remember that most of the people that are out there providing them with the framework of their pastime are VOLUNTEERS. They are out there for the fun of it, so whining at them isn't going to help your cause.

-- From Don Becker -- It always intrigues me when I read or hear someone advocating sailing the America's Cup in one-designs to make the event more fair, economical, spectator friendly, (add your own reason). Besides, I don't think it costs any more to win the America's Cup than to win the Indianapolis 500, the Super Bowl or the World Series.

If Laszlo had followed or read anything about the history of the America's cup he would know that it is not a race between sailors or sailboats. It is a competition between countries and their technology. Which country can build the fastest boat? If a syndicate does its job well, the resulting America's Cup finals will be a blow out as was the case in 1995. It may make it more "interesting", "fair" or whatever if the boats are nearly equal, but it gets really interesting when the slower boat is well sailed as happened in 1934 in the match between Endeavor and Rainbow or 1983 between Australia II and Liberty.

It would be simple to make the event more "affordable" or "fair". It could be sailed in West Wight Potters.

-- From Jay Price -- Question: How well do boats with sprits do against those with standard spinnakers on windward-leeward courses in PHRF, and what are the weaknesses and strength associated with running each type against the other?

I think the sprit phenomenon has put enough boats out there now that folks should be getting a good sense of how this is working out, what the problems are for raters and so on. I think it's far and away the most interesting thing going on in PHRF, and yet the magazines haven't really dealt with it.

ON THE OLYMPIC TRAIL - Peter Wells, Mistral campaign I've just returned from Miami, Florida, site of the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. This was a most important event for me because it was the sole ranking event for determining members of the 1999 U.S. Sailing Team in the men's Mistral Windsurfing Class. With six weeks of training and competitions in Australia under my belt I was able to perform well in the unusually windy conditions on Biscayne Bay and I qualified for the U.S. Team ranked 3rd for the second consecutive year.

I flew to Sydney, Australia on December 7 to join top sailors from England, Italy, Germany, France, New Zealand, Greece and Japan for training "down under." The experience of racing and practicing every day against the worlds best was invaluable. Fellow American Mike Gebhardt and I spent most of our time practicing with the Australian and French teams who had coaches on the water daily to run drills. Australia is a windy place and the past two months were no exception. It was rare to find wind under 15 knots, with most days in the 20-30 knot range. While I was not as fast as the heavier competitors in the strong breeze, my speed and boardhandling improved dramatically.

The first major event was the Sydney International Regatta, just before Christmas. The Mistral fleet raced for five days on two different courses, one inside the mouth of the harbor (large swells and backwash) and the other adjacent to the opera house well inside the harbor (choppy!). One constant on both courses were gusty, shifty winds. Sydney Harbor is made up of winding peninsulas and large cliffs one hundred feet high. The geography creates wind that is much different from the steady sea breeze of California. This took a little getting used to and I finished the regatta in a disappointing 17th place out of 30 competitors. My upwind performance was good, but I was being passed on the downwind legs, so I knew what I had to work on.

We then began preparing for the Sail Melbourne Regatta January 12-16. Twenty more international competitors arrived to make the Men's fleet 55 strong. All but two of the races over 5 days were sailed in 18-25 knots of wind. The training in high winds had paid off. My heavy air speed was much better and I finished 22nd overall after an OCS disqualification in one race and a DSQ in another.

It was now time to return for the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta. There were 50 competitors, including many from Europe, Canada and South America. We had four days of great racing in 12-15 knots of wind. I was fortunate to have my training partner Caroll-Ann Alie to tune with before each start as well as her husband Steve Rosenberg who coached both of us. Having Steve on the water made quite a difference. He was able to fix boatspeed problems before each race and help decipher the shifty winds. Twelve races were scheduled with only one throwout so my strategy was to stay consistent.

My "strategy" was dealt a potentially devastating blow when the first day results were posted. I received an OCS disqualification which made four regattas in a row with the same costly mistake! However this time I was certain that I had started correctly. Nine people were disqualified along with me (that is a lot). I believed I had started correctly and decided to protest the ruling. The odds of winning were extremely slim. After a nail biting 2 hour hearing, the five member international jury reinstated me! The rest of the regatta went very well with an 11th as my worst race. I finished 8th overall and 3rd American out of a strong international fleet of 50. The result places me 3rd on the 1999 US Sailing Team. Only the top American finisher in the US trials will go to the Olympics so I still have work to do. However, I am confident that my full time training efforts will allow me to rise to the challenge over the coming months.

I arrived in New Zealand yesterday for more sailing. I will be competing in the Sail Auckland Olympic Classes Regatta and training with Bruce Kendall for five days. Bruce is recognized as the best coach in the world for Olympic class windsurfing. With two days to go before the start of the race, the international field is out daily training on the waters off Auckland. There is no better opportunity than to practice against this strong field just before a major competition, so I am lucky to be here. - Peter Wells

It was a lonely trip for Chris Dickson and Jeremy Stephenson around the Tornado course on the first day of racing in the Royal SunAlliance Regatta on Aucklands Waitemata Harbour. Confusion over the start time of the 2nd race saw the rest of the Tornado fleet, including Australias world champion John Forbes & Darren Bundock, take off before, leaving Dickson as the only boat to start correctly. As a result, the NZer was the only official finisher. The result is currently under protest.

Says Dickson with a wry smile, my sentiment was divided between starting incorrectly with the rest of the fleet and gaining valuable race practice with the world champions, or waiting for the official start. But the part of me that likes winning boat races was stronger, so we started as we should, and we won the race.

Conditions were typically fresh on Waitemata Harbour today, forcing race officials to postpone the first days racing until 2.30pm. A 20 25 knot easterly kicked up short, steep 1.5m waves that saw plenty of capsizes and some gear breakages on all courses.

NZs Aaron McIntosh and Kiwi team-mate Shayne Bright got tangled up at the pin end of the start on the Mistral course, leaving the World Champion to take a mouthful of Auckland Harbour before being able to start the first race of the regatta. Although losing vital places as a result, McIntosh did not waste time in making up ground and finished 5th. The race was won by Nicolas Huguet (France) followed home by Fijis Tony Philip and Britains Dominic Tidey. McIntosh won the 2nd race easily, cruising home almost a minute ahead of Tidey who currently leads the mens fleet, 1 point ahead of McIntosh.

On other courses, New Zealands Abby Mason proved that she is up amongst the worlds best Europe sailors, finishing 2nd overall (2, 3) behind her Dutch training partner and World Champion Margriet Matthijsse (1,1). Top ranked Australian Melanie Dennison finished 3rd (8,3) with ISAF Sailor of the Year and ex-world champ Carolijn Brouwer (NED) 4th (5, 4).

It was a day for the Australians on the Laser course with Michael Blackburn (4th at the 1999 Laser World Champs) won both races easily ahead of the rest of the fleet. Team mate Brendan Casey and Brett Bayer tussled for 2nd and 3rd behind Blackburn, eventually managing a 2, 3 (2nd overall) and 3, 4 (4th overall) respectively. Hollands Serge Kats finished 3rd overall.

The forecast for tomorrow is for similar conditions. A 20 25 knot easterly will test the Northern Hemisphere sailors more used to lighter winds and flatter seas. Race officials are keen to get in all three scheduled races tomorrow, starting at 12.30pm. -- Ivor Wilkins

Event website:

A New Lehman sailor was born at 1:17am Thursday morning. Wells Andrew Drayton. 8lbs 9 oz's. Mom and baby are doing great The new father (John) is exhausted.

Harken Yacht Equipment and McGee Industries, makers of McLube products have joined forces to market Team McLube Sailkote - the only truly dry lubricant currently available specifically designed for marine use. Harken will use its worldwide distribution system to distribute Sailkote, and will work with McGee Industries to promote Sailkote in the United States.

Team McLube Sailkote is an environmentally friendly, translucent liquid that sprays or wipes on and completely dries in seconds. Unlike oils, silicones and waxes, it will never attract dirt, salt, and contaminants that eventually degrade lubrication performance. Sailkote can be used on all hardware, rigging screws, sails, hatches, mast and boom tracks, slides, telltales and hull bottoms. It is more effective and lasts much longer than wax, oil, silicone, or teflon based lubricants.

Harken management and engineering tested Sailkote for more than a year. This product was significantly superior to others that had been tested, and exceeded expectations. For the first time in company history, Harken will endorse a product and recommend Team McLube Sailkote for use on all Harken equipment (except deck shoes). -- Brownie Lewis

For more info:

Truly Alone -- Forced to withdraw from the race or face disqualification, Russian adventurer Fedor Konioukhov is continuing on anyway. The Around Alone website will soon have a special 'renegade' page to follow his exploits.

Standings (Miles behind leaders in parenthesis) CLASS I: 1. Thiercelin (0.0) 2. Autissier (39.0) 4.Soldini (77.4) CLASS II: 1. Garside (0.0) 2. Van Liew (7.9) 3. Mouligne (62.3)

Around Alone website:

When it seems like people are trying to piss you off, remember it takes 42 muscles to frown but only 4 to extend your finger and flip them off.