Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT #285 - March 9, 1999

CONGRESSIONAL CUP - Report by Rich Roberts...
With three former winners, three America's Cup skippers, the current U.S. male and female Rolex Award winners and competitors from six countries, the Long Beach Yacht Club's Congressional Cup has perhaps the strongest field of its 35 years.

Competition starts Tuesday in the outer harbor off Belmont Pier, where conditions are expected to be ideal with a prevailing southwesterly breeze. The 10 entries will sail Catalina 37s in a double round-robin schedule through Saturday. Contrary to most world-class match racing events, there will be no sailoffs, except to settle a tie for first place. There is $15,000 in prize money.

Gavin Brady, a 25-year-old New Zealand native living in Annapolis, won in 1996 and '97 but was unable to compete in '98, when Peter Holmberg of the U.S. Virgin Islands claimed the traditional Crimson Blazer that goes to the champion. Brady is ranked second in the world, Holmberg fifth. Brady recently resigned from Dawn Riley's America True America's Cup Team after winning the Australia Cup, citing a difference in policy about whether he should compete on the match-racing circuit with his usual hand-picked crew or less experienced hands from America True. "It wouldn't have worked with me taking them on the circuit," Brady said. "We wouldn't have won in Australia, and it would have reflected [negatively] on America True."

Holmberg scuttled his underfunded Team Caribbean campaign to join Team Dennis Conner. Ken Read, Conner's designated helmsman for the America's Cup, will sail as Holmberg's tactician this week. Read is coming off a dominant IMS win for the Nelson/Marek 50 Idler in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference last week and will sail that boat this summer in defense of the Admiral's Cup that he helped the U.S. win in '97.

The strongest competition for Brady and Holmberg would be expected from Paul Cayard, who in 1997-98 became the first American to win the Whitbread Round the World Race, collected the men's Rolex. Cayard is now driving his AmericaOne team toward America's Cup 2000 in New Zealand.

If one of those three doesn't win, it could be Francesco de Angelis, skipper for Italy's powerful Prada syndicate, who missed by only a meter of winning a best-of-three final from Team New Zealand in the Road to America's Cup prelude event at Auckland last Sunday. De Angelis has been on a steep learning curve as a match racer, with four-time Congressional winner Rod Davis as his mentor.

The other former winner competing is Dave Perry, who gave up the game after winning in 1983 and '84 to become a full-time schoolteacher and serve the sport as a rules expert. In the "Legends" Congressional of '95 featuring former winners from Ted Turner to Bill Ficker, Perry showed he was still competitive in a close second to Harold Cudmore.

The rest of the field:
-- Scott Dickson, the host club representative who finished second to Holmberg last year with his brother Chris calling tactics. This year he has Long Beach sailor Steve Flam, who has been tactician for two Congressional winners.
-- Betsy Alison of Newport, R.I., who won the women's Rolex for her match-racing success, and will be sailing with an all-woman crew.
-- Markus Wieser of Germany, who seldom misses an event anywhere and carries the world's No. 6 ranking.
-- Neville Wittey of Australia, a popular and skilled regular whose rivals say he might be more successful if he took himself more seriously.
-- Luc Pillot of France, who is ranked 12th.

Brady is only 680 points behind Australia's top-ranked Peter Gilmour, who isn't competing, and could claim as many as 1,800 points by winning. But the International Sailing Federation's ranking formula is so complex that not even Brady knows whether he would pass Gilmour if he wins. "I never thought after we won in Australia that we would got to number two," he said. "We'll just try to sail our best and see what happens." - Rich Roberts

Event website:

-- Last weekend, Congressional Cup participants Dave Perry, Gavin Brady and Scott Dickson borrowed Cal 20s and practiced match race starts on Alamitos Bay in front of the home of Farr 40 sailor Peter Tong. Obviously, all three could not sail at once so the 'odd man' sat on Tong's dock observing...and learning. Brady was the first to bailout. Observers agreed he really did not need much practice.

-- When five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the year Betsy Alison's 7 person team go racing this week in the Congressional Cup regatta, they will all be wearing their new Gill breathable Dinghy Smock Tops and Tradewinds trousers. "Breathable clothing is key," says Alison, "Match racing is very fast paced and performance clothing that is comfortable is a must. If you want to "get dressed for it" like the top sailors do, check out the 1999 line of Douglas Gill foul weather gear:

The international teams in the 73rd Annual Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta flexed their sailing muscles in day two of the prestigious race held at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami. Ross Macdonald, 34, from English Bay, Canada, and Kai Bjorn 30, of Montreal, Canada, finished first, followed by Mats Johansson, and Leif Moller from Sweden, currently not on the top ten overall.

Macdonald and Bjorn now lead the 94-team field, followed by Alexander Hagen, 44, and Thorsten Helmert, 21, second overall after a sixth-place finish on Monday.

The six-day historic sailing regatta began Sunday attracting the world's best sailors, representing North America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean. While the mild conditions on the first day of the regatta forced the delay of the race for almost three hours, mother nature gave the sailors a tougher ride on Monday. Light winds turned into high NE to E winds at 20 to 25 knots. The waters of Biscayne Bay were moderately choppy, making the 10.5 mile course much more challenging for the Bacardi Cup sailors. On day two, 24 teams opted not to sail due to high winds and rough conditions, leaving the day1s count at 70.

Bacardi Cup Standings (after two races):
1. Ross Macdonald/Kai Bjorn
(English Bay, Canada/Montreal, Canada), 3-1, 4 points.
2. Alexander Hagen/Thorsten Helmert
(Hamburg,Germany/Hamburg, Germany), 4-6, 10.
3. Mark Reynolds/Magnus Liljedahl
(San Diego, CA/Coral Gables, FL), 2-9, 11.
4. Peter Vessella/Mike Dorgan
(San Francisco, CA/San Diego, CA), 11-3, 14.
5. John MacCausland/Phil Trinter
(Medford, NJ/Lorain, OH), 1-15, 16.
6. Eric Doyle/ Brian Terhaar
(San Diego, CA/ San Diego, CA), 7-10, 17.
7. Cuyler Morris/Tom Olsen
(Southwest Harbor, ME/East Dennis, MA), 9-8, 17.
8. Vincent Hoesch/Florian Fendt
(Germany/Germany), 5-13, 18.
9. Mark Neeleman/Jos Schier
(Holland/Holland), 13-7, 20.
10. Vince Brun / Rick Peter
(San Diego, CA/San Diego, CA), 19-4, 23.

Event website:

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 John Mooney -- Entertaining as discussion of pagers, GPS, and other electronic whiz-bang may be, it strikes me that if they're anything like any of the other electronic equipment I spend my entire day with, they're too cranky to be successfully operated by amateurs in a marine (read: hostile) environment. They also sound like pretty high-ticket items for RCs and competitors to be required to purchase in order to go racing, and like most sailors, I'm cheap. Finally, I'd hate to get to the end of a hard-fought buoy race and discover that I didn't start properly, and didn't know it because the batteries in my pager died.

That said, I hasten to add that I don't have the same reservations about promptly hailing OCS boats on a radio which is designed for use on the water. In fact, I think RCs should communicate with their fleets liberally by radio - the most smoothly run regattas I've participated in all shared this characteristic.

The "order of hail" concern is, I think, a red herring. If the proper visual and sound signals are made in a timely manner, the radio hail is not required anyway - it's just a courtesy and it's not prejudicial because the other requirements have been met. If there's no rule change and RCs simply hail on a VHF in addition to making those other signals, it seems to me they're pretty bulletproof.

-- From Peter Huston (regarding Dobbs Davis comments in 'Butt #283) -- Dobbs Davis - Unfortunately you have read far more into the meaning of one word, "innocence", than is necessary. I'm not implying anything about "guilt" when discussing issues related to Group 2 & 3.

I do not agree at all with the manner in which this list is administered. And I would never support any more intrusion or regulation into the sport by US SAILING than we already experience. I think the entire subject of Group 2 & 3 placement should be left to each sailor - just plain declare in which Group you belong. If anyone wants to challenge your group ranking, then that should be handled through normal protest procedure. The very competitive foundation of our sport is based on competitors behaving in an ethical, self-policing manner. Why should this subject be any different?

Of course, this would imply that everyone would have a clear understanding of the Group ranking parameters - and under the current Appendix, those meanings are open to fairly wide interpretation. Therefore, for this system to truly succeed, we need a more clear, concise Appendix.

A better solution would lie in a worldwide, commonly understood ability-based personal handicap system. Then event/class organizers would have a better system to more fairly equate talent levels on each boat according to the free market forces for that event or class.

The evidence is clear - there are large segments of participation within the sport that wish to sail against people with similar motivations. The leadership of the sport needs to address this market desire in a proactive manner.

-- From Terry Harper, Executive Director, US Sailing -- Mr. Huston does not speak for US SAILING. US SAILING does not consider any of the eligibility groups "guilty" or anything similar.

-- From Ciff Thompson -- I vote yes on all of your Mexico race suggestions.

-- From Tom Redler -- I must take exception to your idea of "finishing at Cabo Falso." One of the highlights of my racing career was capturing a "Clean Sweep" on the old Santa Cruz 70 Citius in the '87 P.V. Race. The absolute highlight of that race was the 4-boat dogfight between Citius, Prima, Sorcery and Christine that took place in the fickle winds of Banderas Bay for four hours before the finish. Anybody can finish on a broad reach at Cabo, but it took real sailing skills to engineer a 4 boat virtual dead heat finish! (Just 2 minutes separated the first and fourth place finishers after 1125 miles of racing.)

Curmudgeon comment - For the record, finishing all Mexican races at the Cabo Falso lighthouse was not my idea. As reported in 'Butt #283, "After talking with many of the racers in PV there was almost universal agreement about certain factsÉ" And it was Jeff Madrigali who suggested picking up wives and significant others at the Cape and making the trip across the Sea of Cortez a sailing-powering-fishing leg.

Dawn Riley's America True syndicate will have its own boat--but only one--in defiance of the fact that since 1983 when the Cup left Newport, R.I., nobody has won the Cup with fewer than two boats. "You have to make a decision at some point about whether to do a second boat on a shoestring or put the little extra into the first boat, and we decided to do that," Riley said.

Unlike Paul Cayard's AmericaOne, its rival for the hearts of San Francisco, America True has no major sponsors. It certainly doesn't even have a billionaire like Bill Koch, who was Riley's employer in the last two Cups. What it has is Chris Coffin, its 40-year-old chief operating officer who is only modestly wealthy by modern Cup standards. On his stake in America True, Coffin said, "I was instrumental in the seed funding." And it's apparent he isn't prepared to go it alone. "That's not an issue," he said. "We have major sponsors that will be coming around. We're very close. Let me put it this way: We're gonna be on the starting line." - Rich Roberts, Grand Prix Sailor

For the full story:

I thought it was interesting that half the crew I sailed with to Puerto Vallarta on Bushwacker only brought along one pair of sailing shorts - their Camet sailing shorts. I don't think it was the good looks of the Camet shorts that influenced that decision. More likely the comfort, or the fast drying Supplex, or the reinforced Cordura seat patch, or the two deep side pockets were more important as the crewmembers packed their bags. But for two of us 'seasoned' sailors (with bony butts), the foam pads were defnately the most important factor. Check them out for yourself:

The Storm Trysail Club announces the return of the Original American Sailboat Race Week, scheduled to be based on scenic Block Island, Rhode Island from June 20-25th, 1999. "We are proud of the fact that Block Island Race Week is the oldest event of its type in the United States," explains Commodore John Storck, Jr. Setting the standard for Big Boat Sailing Race Weeks, the biennial regatta draws over 200 racing sailboats from across the United States and around the world. America's Cup Skippers, Olympic Medalists, Whitbread Around the World Racers and other seasoned sailboat racers will test their skills in boats ranging from 24 feet to 80 feet.

Organizers expect to see tough competition in both the traditional PHRF Classes, and the popular one-designs (Mumm 30 & 36, 1D35, 1D48, J44, J105, J80, J29). The popular International Farr 40 Class will be competing for their National Championship at this year's BIRW XVIII. In addition, International Swan and 12 Meter Classes have added Block Island Race Week XVIII to their 1999 World Calendars.

"Increased popularity for Block Island Race Week has allowed us to bring more racing to the waters of Block Island Sound this year," says Vice Commodore and Event Chairman John Osmond, "we have been able to add a third racing circle to allow more racing by all competitors."

Event website:

Elliott Marine North America, Ltd., the sole North American di3tributor of New Zealander Greg Elliott's Yacht Designs, announced the formation of the Elliott 770 North American Class Association. The E770 Class Rules from New Zealand are expected to be accepted at the first meeting to be held in mid February.

The Elliott 770 is a 25 foot, trailerable yacht, sporting a retractable bulb keel, four adult berths, five feet of headroom, and options for a sink, stove and toilet. Its sizable interior and accommodations differentiate the E770 from other high-performance yachts in this category; neither room nor performance is compromised. The E770 can fly a standard spinnaker or an asymmetrical spinnaker on a retractable bowsprit. Construction is from fully molded, closed-cell PVC foam core for lightweight, durability, easy maintenance and long life. The Elliott 770 is priced at $34,490, which includes a kevlar main and jib.

Based in Duluth GA, Elliott Marine North America, Ltd. produces the high-tech line of performance yachts from New Zealand designer, Greg Elliott. Elliott yachts, please contact Elliott Marine website:

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

-- Paul Cayard gave Auckland businessmen the low-down on how to sign sponsorship deals recently. The AmericaOne skipper and CEO told the luncheon meeting how syndicate sponsors like Hewlett-Packard are leveraging sponsorship benefits, and why they see the America's Cup as a viable sport marketing tool for their USA and New Zealand markets.

-- We have made much of the number of Kiwis that have joined overseas challengers, but Team New Zealand has some solid support from two Americans who are members of the New Zealand organisation. They are Clay Oliver and Rob Rice. Clay Oliver is a boat designer from Annapolis Maryland who had to make a decision on whether to support the New York Yacht Club or join Team New Zealand; he elected the latter.

Rice is not new to our scene, and was an advisor to Team New Zealand on winds and waves at San Diego. The 67 year old says he forecasts anywhere (with the aid of a battery powered notebook) and input observations from the crews. Rice has been working with Sir Peter Blake for the past five years, and has previously been involved in round the world balloon attempts and the scaling of Mt Everest. Oliver is a specialist in velocity prediction programmes and is heavily involved with Team New Zealand's design group. Two very important members of New Zealand's defence organisation.

-- Sydney 95, Syd Fischer's previous America's Cup challenger, will be used for crew training on Sydney Harbour; that is, until the new boat is launched mid-year. According to Syd, they are not rushing into team selection. "There are" he says "plenty of good sailors around and we don't want to involve them too early." Meanwhile, the Australian directors have announced through the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, that they well advanced with a major sponsorship deal on the funding of Australia's only challenger.

West Marine is sponsoring a series of seminars by a world-class sailor, television commentator and author Gary Jobson. Jobson's topics will provide insight into the Whitbread Round the World Race, a preview of the Americas Cup 2000 and the Expedition Antartica.

Jobson, based in Annapolis, MD, raced in the Americas Cup with Ted Turner in 1977, the infamous Fastnet Race and many of the world's ocean races. In college he was named an All-American sailor three times, and was twice named College Sailor of the year at Hampton University. In addition, Jobson has been ESPN's sailing commentator since 1985 and produces over 30 shows per year. He has produced or narrated 40 home videos and authored eleven books.

These West Marine seminars run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM and are $10 in advance: March 18 Annapolis, Md - MD Hall (Tickets at all local West Marine & E&B Stores) March 25 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - PA Center (Tickets at all local WM & E&B Stores) March 31 Huntington Beach Library (Tickets at Southern California West Marine stores) April 1 Tiberon CA - Corinthian Yacht Club (This is NOT an April fools joke! Tickets at most Northern California Yacht Clubs)

Mike Garside and Brad Van Liew sailed into Punta today to close their epic Leg 3 journeys from New Zealand via Cape Horn. Garside steered his 50-foot Magellan Alpha across the line at 0637 GMT (3:37 a.m. local time) to take second for the leg with a time of 30d 07h 37m 57s. Van Liew and his 50-footer, BALANCE BAR, arrived just shy of eight hours later at 1430 GMT (11:30 a.m. local time) to record a passage of 30d 15h 30m 45s. Both skippers wore weary expressions that conveyed equal measures of elation and relief. With one leg to go, for now Van Liew trails Garside by roughly nine-and-half hours in their race for second place in Class II (division leader J.P. Mouligne's elapsed-time lead is just short of eight days). But Van Liew is expected to receive a time allowance for the hours he spent diverting towards Josh Hall's position when the British skipper was dismasted on 11 February.

Garside, whose previous arrivals have sometimes seemed as joyous as a wake, was in a decidedly upbeat mood early today. "Three things really came out of [the voyage]," he said. "Finally we've got the boat right. Every single thing worked, the pilots worked, the keel was utterly reliable, I had no problems and that was terrific. Secondly, I finally learned to sail it. Despite what I've said about swing keels not being able to go to windward, I finally managed to do it. You need to finesse the keel inch by inch and tweak things little by little. You need much less sail altogether. So my sailing skills have improved. But I'm still crap at tactics. I have no idea what to do. I'm still a bloody novice." - Herb McCormick

Event website:

Tight slacks