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SCUTTLEBUTT #301 - April 1, 1999

In a surprise announcement, Russell Coutts acknowledged that he has resigned from Team New Zealand's America's Cup syndicate. "Russell just decided that he had more to lose than win, so he left" said Peter Blake. "I guess I can't blame him, he's already won the thing for us, he's rich enough, and if we lose, he will be the goat. Besides, he has a really great offer that he asked me not to mention, so I won't. Fortunately however, Chris Dickson has agreed to take Russell's place at the back of the boat. I know Chris and I have almost always historically been at odds with each other, but he has one specific strength that no one else has, he worked with Bruce Farr in the last Cup campaign, so he has the best idea what our most serious competitor, New York YC, probably has up their sleeve. While we've had our differences in the past, I do respect his sailing talent," Blake concluded.

In a prepareed statement, Dickson said, "I am thrilled with the opportunity to represent my homeland and retain for them the America's Cup. I look forward to working with Peter Blake, whose talent I respect immensely".

In other Cup news, Young America skipper Ed Baird has been "promoted" to head the syndicate's sail evaluation team, with Jim Brady assuming the helmsman's duties.

For more information:

In an effort to impress the stopover selection committee for the Volvo Ocean Race, Chesapeake Bay sailors have organized the first annual "Bridge-to-Bridge Classic" which starts today at noon at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just north of Annapolis. The "sail-driven drag race" takes an exotic and diverse fleet more than 100 miles south to a finish at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the mouth of the Bay. No handicap system will be used and a Line Honors trophy will be the only award presented.

. Confirmed participants are:
. Whitbread 60
. IACC boat
. 49er
. Hobie 18
. traditional Chesapeake Bay log canoe
. The Pride of Baltimore II
. Santa Cruz 72, Donnybrook
. Canting keel Dynaflyer, Sundog (nee: Red Hornet)
. ICE .522, Muskrat
. Bay sailing legend John White, who will singlehand a Penguin.

Cam "Shred the Blue Planet" Lewis is reportedly pulling together a crew which will sail either a 5o5 or a 32 meter catamaran. A Naval Academy crew is awaiting permission to participate aboard one of the school's Navy 44s.

The fleet will cross the same starting line used 11 months ago by the Whitbread race fleet and will battle a full moon driven tide along with the typically bizarre spring Chesapeake conditions. Rain showers and a gusty southerly are anticipated.

Plans for a race web site have been abandoned due to the "Melissa" e-mail virus. -- Dave Gendell/SpinSheet Magazine

Event website:

Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman of global media giant News Corp, parent of the US based Fox Network, announced from his New York office that his company, and all of his global TV subsidiaries, have acquired the exclusive world wide TV rights to all sailing events run under the auspices of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

"ISAF is pleased to formalize an association with the preeminent media company in the world" said ISAF President Paul Henderson, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. "Finally, the sport of sailing now has one unified TV platform for all of its major events.

During an Executive session last week, ISAF tied the rules of the sport for all Catagory C events to this deal. ISAF owns the rules of sailing, and there will never be a race conducted anywhere in the world that is broadcast on any TV station unless it is done so by News Corp. "We simply can no longer have this fragmentation of TV distribution if the sport is to become mainstream. ISAF and News Corp have formed a joint legal entity which will aggressively pursue any regatta organizer who uses any TV distribution other than News Corp." said Henderson.

Terms of the deal are as yet unannounced. However, speculation is that News Corp paid ISAF a non-refundable deposit of USD$10,000,000, with a 50-50 split on all net revenue. ISAF will retain 25% of their proceeds for their own administration costs, with another 25% being paid the host country for each particular televised event. The remaining half of ISAF's share will be used for the purposes of payments to professional sailors, and the Professional Sailor Pension Fund.

In a related development, ISAF has created the Professional Sailors License (PSL), and the World Sailing League (WSL). "I have watched with utter amusement as US SAILING as tried to work with their Group 1, 2, 3 system" said Henderson. "Clearly, they can't make it work, and further, their system has no standing in any other country. By what measure are they going to monitor and uphold the ranking of a sailor from another country? This is something that the sailors want and need. After all, I am strongly in favor of sailors rights, and the PSL and WSL will give sailors a clear direction, a strong voice, in all matters that concern their professional livelihood, whether it's match racing, offshore sailing, or professional windsurfing".

"We are taking the first $7,500,000 of the News Corp money and setting it aside for the PSL Pension Fund. This is a very simple license to obtain, any sailor will be able to declare themselves as a member of PSL by paying a $5000 yearly fee. As part of this fee, PSL will offer a global health care plan for the sailor and their family, along with life insurance. All teams who sail an WSL event will do so under contact to WSL. All payments by the team owner shall be directed through the WSL office. Without this contract, that boat will not be allowed to participate in any event televised by News Corp. News Corp will in turn send 7.5% of their net revenue to the PSL Pension Fund. PSL members will receive Pension Fund payments commensurate with their contributions to the Fund - very simply, sail in an WSL licensed race, contribute 7.5% of your earnings to the fund, which is matched by News Corp and ISAF, withdraw the money after 10 years or longer.

Clearly, this is going to create intense competition for spots on board boats that participate in News Corp broadcast events. ISAF umpires will monitor the behavior of all contestants, with appropriate financial penalties for anything that resembles cheating or inappropriate behavior. We will have full details of this plan available within two months".


"It is with great regret that we have cancelled this years running of the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup" the RORC announced today. "Simply told the event has clearly been diminished in stature to the point that there seems to not be enough interest to warrant conducting the event any longer.

"The change in measurement handicap systems over the years has caused far too much confusion for the amateur owners to continue to buy expensive boats that lose much of their value after one regatta. The move to a boat branded by a liquor company has probably also caused us to limit the other types of sponsors who will be involved in our event. It's been hard to find an automotive manufacturer who wants to sponsor a team that sails a boat named after a bottle of champagne. Likely there are other categories of sponsors who have been self limiting because they do not enjoy the high profile association with alcoholic beverage companies.

"Indeed, with very limited interest from around the world this year, we see little reason to have what will be in essence nothing more than another payday for professional sailors. There is almost no worthwhile media value attached to this event any longer. Given that we have moved to a new venue where the sailing will be better as it is away from the influence of Cowes Week, by making that change we effectively took away the substantial built-in large participatory crowd which was very much the target audience of Champagne Mumm," the RORC statement concluded.

For the full story:

Whether you're a serious competitive sailor or you just like to cruise, there is a universal need to stay dry and warm. Douglas Gill's three-layer system 'wicks away' perspiration while it traps in air to keep you warm. To learn how Gill's layering system can make your sailing more comfortable-much more comfortable--check into their website:

America's Cup winner Bill Koch yesterday unveiled his plans for entering The Race. Speaking from Guangzhou, China (near Hong Kong) the mercurial billionaire businessman made some stunning revelations.

"Two years ago I became fascinated with the idea of entering The Race. I concluded that much of the design technology that I created through my America's Cup Defense teams could be better applied in this no holds barred event. I entered into a partnership with the Chinese government, and together we have built the most state of the composite construction facility in the world. We have the ability to create single piece structures 300 feet in length and oven cure them. Our first such structure will be our entry in The Race. Ultimately we will build single piece composite structures for the aircraft industry."

Specific details of this boat are as yet unavailable. However Koch did admit this much. "Generally, the hull is 275 feet, with a 240 foot waterline. We don't have a mast and sail, we have airfoil systems. Maximum depth of the boat is 28 feet, beam on deck is 75 feet, and it does carry water ballast. The boat will weight a modest 225,000 pounds.

The maximum airfoil system height is 150 feet off the water. The theoretical hull speed is in excess of 20 knots. It is a monohull. I believed that while very exciting in a breeze, a multihull of this magnitude would be very burdened in light air. The last Whitbread race proved to me that events like this are really won and lost in the light air areas. We expect routine 400-mile days, even in the lightest air, and likely near 700-mile days in a reasonable breeze. The crew will total 50, and be a very multi-national mix. The name of the boat is "Peace Prosperity Progress".

When asked about his working relationship with the Chinese, Koch said "with a talent pool of over 1.3 billion people, it is natural to conclude that there are some very bright people here. I have not been wrong in this assessment. The combination of our design research through A-cubed, the ever forward thinking Jerry Milgram, and the can-do attitude of the entire nation of China have resulted in a first rate boat, a first rate construction facility, and very bright prospect for future air travel. I have also enjoyed the benefit of the security and secrecy which are available in this country. To the Chinese, this facility is just another construction project, which I never could have gotten built in America because of our countless governmental regulations."

Again, as was his dictum during his Cup days, the boat will not be overloaded with rock stars. "I'm sure that ultimately I will select some sailors who have significant open ocean racing credentials, but they will not be members of the Association of Sailing Hero's and Legends (ASHLs). Basically, to operate this boat one will need a significant amount of technical know-how. Airplane pilots come to mind as those who will be capable of understanding what it takes to make this boat sail to it's potential," he concluded.

Event website: Check out:

April Fool (Don't believe everything you read!)

Editor's note: Thanks Peter!