SCUTTLEBUTT #305 - April 7, 1999
MORE MOUNTAIN 'BUTT
The last time the curmudgeon saw snow was 35 years ago, but that's all
changed. It's a real winter wonderland up here at Lake Arrowhead right now
and there is a two-foot snowdrift blocking the door to the deck outside of
the living room. An unusual spring storm came through Southern California
yesterday and laid down a layer of snow in the San Bernardino Mountains.
And because my Vette does not have four wheel drive or even chains, it
seemed prudent to impose on Mike Campbell's generous hospitality and spend
another day at his newly acquired waterfront home. 'Butt Central has never
been located in such lavish quarters
WESTERN HEMISPHERE STAR SPRING CHAMPIONSHIP
Pass Christian Yacht Club, Pass Christian, Mississippi, USA - Results
through the first four races: 1 .Pickel / Auracher Germany (11) 2. Shiebler
/ Peters USA (24) 3. Reynolds / Liljedahl USA (29) 4. Dane / Bennett USA
(29) 5. MacCausland / Trinter USA (31) 6. Beashel / Giles Australia (33) 7.
Bromby / White, Bermuda (39) 8. Vessella / Dorgan USA (40) 9. Lowe / Higgs
Bahamas (47) 10. Mitchell / George USA (48)
Complete results: http://starclass.org/
AmericaOne concluded an extremely valuable season collecting meteorological
data today from the National Institute of Water & Atmosphere (NIWA) buoy
positioned in the Hauraki Gulf, the venue for the next America's Cup. NIWA
is New Zealand's premier environmental research institute providing
meteorological services for various private and public subscribers. The
NIWA buoy takes wind readings at three different elevations making the data
significantly more sophisticated than anything else available on the race
In early December 1997 NIWA deployed a sophisticated meteorological buoy on
the Hauraki Gulf for the purpose of selling the information to America's
Cup teams. During the first season, AmericaOne was one of a few teams who
subscribed for the data. By June 1998 NIWA informed all America's Cup teams
that their buoy would only be deployed for a second season if they had
sufficient funding from subscribers, however response from teams for this
information was unexpectedly low and AmericaOne was the only subscriber.
"We sent a letter to all competitors in July of 1998 stating the plain and
simple financial facts surrounding the buoy," said Gavin Fisher, manager of
NIWA Auckland. "AmericaOne was the only team that seemed to see the value
in our product at that time. Now everyone wants it. Had AmericaOne not
stepped-up and funded the entire operation to deploy the buoy for the
1998-1999 season, as well as the 1999-2000 season we never would have
captured this data - in fact, the buoy would have been redeployed elsewhere."
Recently there has been a lot of interest in the buoy data. AmericaOne's
ea2ly recognition of the importance of this critical on- the-water
information led them to invest in excess of $100,000 USD in this project.
This contract makes the data exclusive to AmericaOne. However, AmericaOne
and NIWA continue to be interested in finding partners to share fair,
"The NIWA buoy provides our team with the precise information from the
America's Cup race course that we need," commented Bruce Nelson, principal
designer for AmericaOne. "We were astounded when NIWA informed us that we
were the only team interested in maintaining the buoy, but recognizing the
scientific value it represented we decided to invest our resources
maintaining the buoy to gain a competitive advantage for our team. It was
not an easy hit to absorb financially at the time, and we had to make other
modifications in our program budget, but we are pleased with the results."
-- Gina von Esmarch
AmericaOne website: http://www.ac2000.org
BREATHING IS GOOD
If you don't breath you die. If your foul weather gear doesn't breath you
get very uncomfortable. Why would you want to be uncomfortable
participating in something you do for fun? Happily it's no longer
necessary. Douglas Gill's full line of breathable foul weather gear offers
TOTAL protection from the elements while letting the moisture escape.
Obviously, that's just one of the reasons it's soooo comfortable.
NEWPORT TO ENSENADA
Anticipation for the world's largest international yacht race on April 23,
1999 is gaining momentum based on a reported 20 percent increase from last
year's early entries, according to the Newport Ocean Sailing Association
(NOSA) race officials. NOSA is the official governing body of the 52nd
Annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race.
Dubbed "The Last Race of the Century," the annual 125-mile trek from
Newport Beach to Ensenada, Mexico typically attracts more than 500 boats
every year. Last year, favorable winds assisted boats to numerous new
records and personal best times. Along with more corporate sponsors than
ever, Commodore Wallace Cook said any of these factors might be the reason
for the increase.
Additional events related to the race offer the public insight into this
popular race that attracts more than 10,000 participants every year. For
example, the race week kicks off on Saturday, April 17 at Bristol Farms in
Corona del Mar Plaza for an Art Exhibit Ensenada Race Retrospective,
featuring world-renowned painter Scott Kennedy and noted marine
photographer Geri Conser.
Event website: http://www.nosa.org
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
We read all e-mail (except jokes) but simply can't publish every letter.
Those printed here are routinely edited for clarity, space (250 words max)
or to exclude personal attacks.
-- From Peter Huston -- I am not exactly sure of proportional distribution
of USOC money to the various entities within US SAILING, but from
recollection I believe the overwhelming percentage goes directly to the US
Olympic Sailing Team. Perhaps Terry Harper could clarify the relative
distribution percentages of the USOC funds within US SAILING committees.
How is it that Congress came to enact the Amateur Sports Act in the first
place? Was this essentially a request from the IOC?
My point is this - Olympic sailing produces great sailing and great
sailors. But Olympic sailing, even top notch International Class sailing,
in this country is such a small percentage of the total racing population
that this group does not warrent the addition of more (12? - yikes) Board
seats, when in fact the largest group of racing sailors, PHRF, would then
be even more grossly under-represented than they currently are.
I still do not understand how it is that US SAILING can change it's mission
statement, have a strategic review commission, yet not have the ability to
change the structure of governance based on new strategic initiatives. If
you changed the strategy of your business, wouldn't you also then change
the operational structure of your company to compliment your new
objectives? Once again, US SAILING continues to remain in a reactive mode
- if the Board would listen to Tom Ehman and implement a Submissions Policy
as he has been suggesting for years, we wouldn't be reacting every six
months to the latest news item with a band-aid fix.
The San Francisco Ocean Yacht Racing Association is having a meeting /
party on Saturday, April 10, 1999, 2-6 p.m. at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
There will be awards and presentations on local knowledge, playing the
current and a Safety at Sea program from the Coast Guard. Everyone is
welcome. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
(The following are excerpts from DEFENCE 2000, which is available from
John@roake.gen.nz -- US $48 per year.)
* Everyone in town was asked to suggest a new name for the Viaduct Basin.
From 1500 written responses with 92 suggestions, the Auckland City
Council's Parks Committee have adopted something very original - (?) -
Viaduct Harbour. Surely they could have done better than this, but Viaduct
Harbour it is. The viewing island, built in the middle of the former basin,
has been named Te Wero which in Maori means The Challenge! More than 50 per
cent of the suggestions included reference to Sir Peter Blake.
* The Waikato University (at Hamilton) has just completed a survey which
shows that a big majority of New Zealand business people do not foresee a
bonanza emanating from the America's Cup in Auckland. To support this
theory, Pat Booth, the outspoken Editor in Chief of Suburban Newspapers,
who is certainly not a fan of the organisers, has this to say in his
column. "Suggestions have come from everyone up to and including the Prime
Minister, Kevin Roberts (Saatchi & Saatchi), Murray McCully (Minister of
Tourism), Sir Peter Blake etc etc, that their theory of having seen and
heard the racing and become enraptured by split second glimpses of the
venue, New Zealand will see loads of rich Yanks hot-footing it down here to
spend trillions. I've never believed it." says Booth. Time will tell!
* The challenger series will not race when the wind is 18 knots or over.
The defenders have specified no wind limits, although the final decision to
race/not to race will be decided by Harold Bennett, the principal race
officer. He also makes the decision when to quit racing in the interests of
crew safety. Further limiting factors will be tides, swell and the wave
chop. But talking in Auckland before his return to Europe, Bruno Trouble of
Louis Vuitton said "weather is our major concern. It is difficult to make
plans for TV coverage when you don't know if we will need two weeks or
three to stage each round of racing. It does though make it exciting. San
Diego was totally predictable. You knew when the wind would turn on or off.
It will be great in Auckland to have different wind conditions." He just
may live to regret that last sentence!
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A J/24
There is at least one J/24 laid up for the winter in your local boat yard.
It is a common enough sight, not the kind of attraction that most people
notice. You won't find it parked out front next to the Farr 40's, OD35's or
the Melges 24's. It will probably be parked out back quietly sitting on a
partially rusted trailer, neatly tucked between an Alberg 23 and a Catalina
30. It is a lonely sight, a sight that might lead you to believe that the
great racing legacy of the J/24 is over. But you would be wrong.
At the first hint of spring a late model Suburban backs up to the J/24
trailer. The door opens and the owner walks around back and pops open the
gate. He pushes the baby -seat aside and fumbles around looking for a piece
of cloth to wipe the winter grime off his J/24's bottom. His pants are
covered with speckles of latex paint left over from painting the garage
last weekend. As he works he tries to remember where to position his mast
butt. He first wipes down the bow, then the waterline saving the flat spot
just aft of the keel for last. That part always makes his back ache. When
he's done he stands back and admires the smooth fair surfaces. No excuses
there, he thinks to himself as he connects the trailer to the suburban. The
money he spent five years ago on a professional keel, and bottom job was
worth every penny. A quick check of the tie down straps and he's off to the
first event of the season. It's a short drive, but he wants to get there
early so that he and his crew have time to catch up with old friends.
As he drives past the travel lift he slows to avoid a small crowd of boat
people, yard workers, and spectators who have assembled for the
commissioning of the newest of off-shore-one-designs. It is easy to pick
out the owner. He is about ten years older wearing fowl weather gear that
still shows the factory pressed folds from the boutique he bought them at
yesterday. He is trying to feel comfortable with his latest purchase. The
professionals buzz around the boat tightening this and polishing that. The
owner does not want to get in the way. So he stands there and watches, a
little awkward, a little uncertain, not quite smiling. There is a PHRF race
this weekend. He bought this boat because it is a one-design, but the first
of the two one design regattas he will attend this year isn't until next
month, and the boat has to be trucked over a thousand miles away for that.
If things turn out well there will be eight boats.
Our Suburban circumvents the spectacle without attracting so much as a
glance from the crowd. A few hours later it arrives at the regatta site
with its ten-year-old J24 in tow. It is met with the customary waves and
solutes of friends and acquaintances. The crew is there to help untie the
boat. Most of them have been able to sneak out of work early on this Friday
afternoon, but the foredeck person could not. He will arrive much later
this evening. New arrivals and their obligatory welcomes occasionally
interrupt the work. They are always happy to help another team step their
mast because they will need the favor returned later. The topic of
discussion eventually turns towards crew weight. "The scale seems to be a
little heavy" someone mentions. A short silence follows as they size each
other up. "Better skip lunch and diner until the whole crew weights in" the
skipper announces. There is a communal grown.
When the foredeck arrives the boat is rigged and ready to race. They march
as a team toward the registration desk. With hearts full of trepidation
they line up to be weighed. Shirts, belts, wallets, shoes, eyeglasses,
anything that might tip the scale against them is shed before the dreaded
physicians scale. They hold their breath still dressed in nothing but
boxers as the female volunteer tallies the weights. Two pounds to spare!
High fives all round as they make there way quickly towards the free pizza
and beer. Spouses, kids, and baby sitters start to arrive. The atmosphere
is friendly. There is a great shaking of hands. Old timers, newcomers, and
professionals mix with eager anticipation of tomorrow's race. The party
slowly dwindles as most head back to their housing for a full nights rest.
A few of the younger teams remain in a futile attempt to empty the beer
truck of its precious cargo. Eventually even the most dedicated abandon
their task and head off to bed.
The morning is cold with a brisk wind, reminiscent of the season recently
endured. The first crews arrive at daybreak for some last minute tweaking
and tuning. They notice a few more boats have complemented the fleet's
number during the night. Their crews hastily slurping steaming hot
stimulates as they rush to get their boats wet. More and more teams arrive.
The mood is somber, no kidding around now. This is serious business.
Everyone wants to give it their all. Mumbled discussion about current and
forecasts saturate the air. Shrouds are twanged, masts are sighted, and
sails are bent on. "Looks like our old rival bought a new set of sails over
the winter" the tactician notices. The owner looks down shaking his head
and shuffling his feet. A loud bang! Coffee, spills and heads duck as the
harbor start echoes across the parking lot. Thirty-some-odd outboards, new
and old, sputter to life.
The race committee boat at anchor bobs and rolls as each team sails by on
starboard tack to announce their presence. Sail numbers are shouted.
Somebody's mother, in a director's chair, clipboard in hand, answers the
shout with a smile and a slight wave of the hand. The stern faced chairman
stares into the wind talking confidently into a microphone. About a mile or
so to windward the mark-boat drops its load and heads back toward the
gathering. Guns and flags! There is a deafening flutter of sails before the
final report. The first race of the season is underway!
It isn't the new sails, or the custom keel job that determines the day's
heroes, although every little bit helps. It is the strained lifelines, the
groaning bodies, and the finesse of the helmsperson that is tested. Victory
is squeezed slowly and painfully out of every square wave, and every missed
winch. Nylon demons thin the ranks at every opportunity. The race marches
on, cruelly, mercilessly, until the unruly mob finally finds order at the
finish line. The flood of emotion is overwhelming. For some it is the
exhilaration of surviving their first J/24 race, or maybe its the sound and
smell of gunpowder for the victors. Others fight off frustration and
insult, vowing to do better next time.
By late afternoon the wet, and weary throng turn their bows toward the
harbor, bodies draped over the lifelines like laundry. Some huddle in the
cramp spaces below deck for a short snooze, a content expression on
everyone's face. As the fleet enters the harbor and begin to form small
rafts, the rubberized outer layers of clothing are peeled. The sun warms
the steaming bodies as someone arrives with a tray laden with plastic cups
filled to the brims with golden liquid. Wide smiles and laughter is
The pasta dinner is delicious. Young children gather in small groups and
play games that only they understand. Adolescents practice their flirting
skills, and everyone else gestures with hands at improbable angles. In
another part of the club old and new rivals play out emotional dramas in
front of a jury. Scores are posted and there is a great rush to see in
print what they already know to be true. A more organized assault on the
beer truck is underway. Late in the evening just when it seems that victory
is at hand a new keg is tapped and even the heartiest are vanquished.
Early the next afternoon the last boat crosses the line. The fat lady has
sung. The visiting boats are hauled and the awards are dispensed. Photos
are taken. Plans are made, and eventually good byes are shared. Our
suburban returns to the yard. The J/24 is parked next to the Catalina.
Someone has made progress stripping its bottom paint over the weekend, but
there is still a lot more to go. It is hard to concentrate on work Monday
morning. Phone calls and emails carry reciprocal thank-you's.
The sailing magazines don't wrap their contents with color pictures of
J/24s anymore. Their advertisers are happier with more extravagant vessels.
New J/24's are rare. They aren't the fastest, the most comfortable, or the
least expensive of one designs, but most weekends all across North America,
and in many places throughout the world there is a J/24 event with a larger
than average number of entries. So it should come as no surprise that the
greatest sailors on earth have learned their craft from the people who sail
J/24s. -- Geoff Moore
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the
dancers hit each other.