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SCUTTLEBUTT #350 - June 28, 1999

GUEST EDITORIAL -- By James R. Teeters, Director of Research for US Sailing; member of the US IMS Committee and the ORC International Technical Committee.

Dan Nowlan has given an overview of Ratings Plus, a service that US Sailing is currently developing and will offer to PHRF authorities as an enhancement to what they are already doing. The idea of Ratings Plus has emerged from the recognition that existing technical rating rules do not always provide appropriate handicapping, and the majority of sailors do not use them.

There is a very broad range of approaches to sailboat racing. At one end there is the guy that wants a rule that is easy to understand, inexpensive, and gives a reasonable rating to his boat. He doesn't want to change his boat to fit "the rule". He wants the rule to change to fit his boat. At the other extreme is the guy that wants to develop a boat that has an advantage over his competitors. I.e., he wants to beat the rule. To do that, he needs a rule that is clearly defined and doesn't change too often. Why invest money in a new boat if you don't know what the "race value" will be when it hits the water?

I believe these are the extremes of what sailors are looking for, and that you can't say one is more valid than the other. Different strokes for different folks? There are also extremes of handicapping approaches. At one end is the observational: keep track of the real performance of boats and assign ratings that work in the real world. This is the essence of PHRF and it works fairly well for its constituents. At the other end is the predictive approach: devise a set of formulas that estimate the speed of a boat. There have been many examples of the predictive including CCA, IOR, IMS, etc. IMS is the latest and, by far, the most scientific.

Although IMS does a reasonable job of handicapping diverse boat types, it is still just a written set of formulas and is open to exploitation (optimization of designs). It is expensive and, to make proper use of its technical power, the scoring system is more complex than most sailors will tolerate.

PHRF, the observational and difficult-to-exploit rule, serves one constituency. IMS, the technical and somewhat exploitable rule, serves another. The US Sailing continues to provide support for those rules but is also developing products or services in the middle ground between the two. Ratings Plus, as Dan has explained, mixes a little bit of science with the observational. We have a pretty good idea of what happens to boat speed, for example, when you go from hard on the wind to reaching. We can provide a delta, in sec/mile, to the local PHRF when they want to adjust their handicaps because a particular race may have more reaching.

AMERICAP mixes a little bit of the observational with science. It uses the secret US Sailing VPP to establish ratings, which can then be modified for boat types that the VPP has trouble with. AMERICAP is technical, relatively inexpensive and only mildly dependent on subjective adjustments.

There will be an article on Ratings Plus later this summer in the US Sailing insert to Sailing World. We are now developing the system that provides performance deltas and will be beta testing this fall.

Lastly, although Ratings Plus is a simple concept, its benefits seem obvious, and the early response is quite enthusiastic, it only works if sailors want it and use it. As Dan said, "The goal is to identify type and form of products and services that fit your needs and help resolve problems facing your fleets." We are committed to working with you to make Ratings Plus work for you.

The final day of the Junior Olympic National Championships saw 10-15 knots from the South, moderate chop and 2 good races in all 3 classes. The 420s and 470s sailed together again on the trapezoid, while the Lasers sailed two old Olympic courses.

Lasers - Andrew Lewis lead wire to wire. His speed downwind was excellent! Going into the final day Andrew was only 3 points a head of 2nd place finisher Kimbal Hall. Kimbal tried hard to push Andrew back in race one, but every time Kimbal got a boat or two between him and Andrew, Andrew passed the boats and finished right behind Kimbal. That left Kimbal only two points behind Andrew. Not quite enough for Kimbal to force he and Andrew to sail throw-outs because Kimbal would loose on a tie-breaker. The two fought it out in the final race, but at the last windward mark Andrew was in second and Kimbal in third. Andrew used his exceptional downwind speed to pass Sean Doyle and open up a 20 boat length lead around the leeward mark and held on to win the race and the regatta. Andrew has already been named to the 1999 US Junior Olympic Sailing Team, but this along with his win at the ISSA Nationals really shows he the top youth single-handed sailor. Amanda Clark won the Leiter Trophy last summer which qualified her for the Youth Worlds and a spot on the Junior Olympic Sailing team as well. Ben Bolz was awarded the Dave Perry Sportsmanship Trophy.

420 - Cardwell Potts and David Taylor sailed consistently and showed great boatspeed downwind. Going into the last day they were ahead by 5 points and clinched the regatta with a second in the 1st race of the day. Chris Ashley and Carl Horrocks had a tough day and dropped to third behind Joey Pasquali and Rory Giffen. Scott Hogan and Amy Halvorsen had the biggest move of the regatta moving from 9th to 5th with finishes of 1st and 3rd today. Matt Megla and John Boyd held onto fourth by winning the last race. Cardwell and David also won the youth world qualifier which had put them on the Junior Olympic Sailing Team. Marin Diskant and Maggie Faught won the Ida Lewis last summer which qualified them for the Youth Worlds and the 1999 Junior Olympic Sailing Team. John Boyd was awarded the Dave Perry Sportsmanship Trophy.

470 - Stu Colie and Zack Maxam also went wire to wire to win the 470 class. The show excellent boatspeed and boathandleing to top the fleet. Ryan Mahoney and Ted Conrads were in the hunt, but could not quite pull it out. Both teams sailed very well. Stu Mcnay and John Storck rounded out the top three. Zack Maxam was also awarded the Dave Perry Sportsmanship trophy. -- James Appel

Hopefully, complete results will be posted soon on the US Sailing website:

LONG BEACH, Calif.-Whitecaps remained as rare as snowflakes in Long Beach Sunday, but the competition was keen in several classes of the 15th North Sails Race Week, final leg of the new Volvo Inshore Championships. Sailmaker Dave Ullman won the Melges 24 class for the fourth consecutive year. He finished with a two-point edge over two 1996 Olympians-Laser sailor Nick Adamson and Soling bronze medalist Jeff Madrigali. Adamson drove Jessica Lord's Twist & Shout while Madrigali steered Chris Collins and Mike Wootten's Trailblazer to third overall on a tiebreaker.

With atypically light winds stuck at 8 knots on the three windward-leeward courses inside and outside the breakwater, talent came to the top-and, occasionally, sank to the bottom.

In the Farr 40 class, John Kilroy's Samba Pa Ti was working on a sweep of the Volvo Inshore Championships after wins at San Diego and Marina del Rey but suddenly missed a turn, finishing seventh and last in the next-to-last race. Then the crew got its act back together for a second place in the last race to hold off Peter Tong's Orient Express.

Dennis and Sharon Case from the San Diego YC sailed Wings to the Schock 35s' Pacific Coast championship, and were awarded the Race Week Trophy for winning what the organizers considered to be the most competitive class. - Rich Roberts

Final standings -- Five races: 50+/- CLASS (7 boats)-1. Margaritaville, Jay Steinbeck, Del Rey YC, 12 points; 2. Wasabi, Dale Williams, St. Francis YC, 14; 3. Xtreme, Ed Rutledge, Coronado YC, 15. FARR 40 (7)-1. Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, California YC, 13; 2. Orient Express, Peter Tong, Long Beach YC, 14; 3. Endurance, Michael Condon, San Francisco YC, 18. PHRF-1 (11)-1. High 5, Ross Ritto, Cortez Racing Assn., 9; 2. Bravura, Ernie Pennell, San Diego YC, 13.5; 3. Impact, Melville/Kieding, Santa Barbara YC, 14.5. MELGES 24 (28)-1. Ullman, Dave Ullman, Balboa YC, 21; 2. Twist & Shout, Jessica Lord/Nick Adamson, StFYC, 23; 3. Trailblazer, Jeff Madrigali/Chris Collins/Mike Wooten, King Harbor YC, 23. SCHOCK 35 (15)-1. Wings, Dennis and Sharon Case, San Diego YC, 14; 2. Outlier, Dick Schmidt/Gwen Gordon, CYC, 18; 3. Whistler, Johnstone/Wainer, Del Rey YC, 23. J/120 (13)-1. Zip-a-Dee-Do0-Dah, Larry Harvey, ABYC, 10; 2. J-Bird, David Janes, Bahia Corinthian YC, 11; 3. Sneakers, Joe Carter, BYC, 17.

Complete results:


A 'cupcake' rating can be a big plus when racing in PHRF, but it won't help a bit in one-design competition. At Long Beach Race Week, the big one-design fleets (the classes with double-digit entries) were the Melgi (28 boats), the Schock 35s (15 boats) and the J/120s (13 boats). Do you suppose it was just a coincidence that boats with Ullman Sails won ALL three of those classes? Also, Dennis and Sharon Cases' Schock 35 Wings (with Ullman Sails) was awarded the Race Week Trophy for winning the most competitive class. To find out why Ullman Sails are faster:

Racing on the final day of competition at the Storm Trysail's Block Island Race Week XVIII wrapped up today in a 12 to 15-knot smokey sou'wester. A few wisps of fog and one or two small fog banks blew briefly across the three racing courses as 223 one-design and handicap ocean racing boats sailed two final races in the 18th odd-year competition at Block Island.

The Farr 40 Class sailed its national championships as part of the week's competition. John Thomson, last year's national champion, successfully defended his title with his Solution from Sands Point, NY. Edgar Cato, with Hissar, from Coconut Grove, FL, led at mid-week, but Solution sailed consistently to overtake Hissar on Thursday. Her second and fourth place finishes today were enough to clinch the National Championship. John Ryan's Swordflounder, from New York, NY, moved into second place today, beating Hissar by half a point.

The IMS big boat victory went to Isam Kabbani, owner of the Farr-designed Carroll Marine 60 Rima from Middletown, RI. "Virago was closest to us, they have beaten us before, so we were happy to be able to beat them," said Kabbani. Rima led Bache Renshaw's Nelson/Marek 48 Virago from South Dartmouth, MA with an impressive seven-point spread.

Logging a very solid performance Steven Loeb's Tripp 43 Sirena of New York, NY, wrapped up first place in the IMS 40 Class. Two Bullets in Friday's races separated Sirena from her closest competitor William Felton's Tripp 41 Montana, from Westport, CT.

James D. Bishop of New York, NY, won the J/44 Class with Gold Digger. "I've been to regattas where each of the other J/44s here has won," noted Bishop, the president of the one-design class. His victory was notable for an evenly-matched class, which competes with one-design sails that are rotated amongst boats. - Keith Taylor

Complete results and photos on the event site:

U. S. sailor John Kostecki won the first of his nine world championships in which class?
A. Soling
B. 470
C. Sunfish
D. J/24

Letters selected to be printed are routinely edited for clarity, space (250 words max) or to exclude personal attacks.

-- From Jeff Borland -- Having just run an event with a fairly large chunk of sponsorship dollars, I have to respond to Glenn McCarthy's comments about clubs lining their pockets with the sponsorship money. I am not sure what clubs Glenn is referring to, but in our event, and within our club in general, every dollar we got in sponsorship money was spent to run the event, or to provide press coverage and advertising for the sponsors. Heck, we were even able to pull off our own TV show (see the 1999 BOAT/U.S. Santa Maria Cup airing on July 3, at 3:30pm EST), to be able to give back as much as possible to our sponsors. The TV production costs were nearly 3 times the costs of my entire budget for the event.

By providing a good forum for the sponsors (TV), we were able to get them what they wanted (exposure), while getting what we wanted (great racing). To all those clubs who are pocketing sponsorship dollars for their own benefit (as Glenn says), a rousing Bronx cheer, as they are not helping the sport they profess to support, or (IMHO) themselves in the long run.

-- From Peter Huston (Re Glenn McCarthy's comments in 'Butt #349) -- The only point of sponsorship is to make money. Sponsorship has virtually nothing to do with "growing the sport". Why is it important that "we need to grow the sport" anyway? As a sailor, how does it benefit me if a regatta is sponsored? Reduced entry fee's? Please - for the amount of money that is spent on sailboat racing, the reduction of entry fee's is a meaningless goal for the event organizer. As an individual sailor, why should I allow a regatta organizer to pimp my participation, with no direct benefit to me?

The only thing that is going to drive the growth of the sport, if that is necessary, are pure commercial forces. The reason that clubs don't have money to plow back into the sport is because virtually every proposal is based on "need", not value delivered. Clubs seem to be in an ego race to say that they acquired this and that name sponsor. The currency is debased because the lowest common denominator prices the market waaaaaay below its true value. I represent enough corporate clients to know what these proposals look like. Proposals that have a liquor company listed as their first sponsor - I toss those without reading further. The sport of sailing has sold its soul for a free drink ticket.

I am not opposed to regatta sponsorship - I am opposed to regatta sponsorship that does virtually nothing of true meaning for the average sailor.

-- John Collins -- Seth Redow says that PHRF get little consideration elsewhere in the world. This is untrue. Almost all countries have an empirical system similar to our PHRF. In France it is called Handicap National. In Sweden, Norway, and others it is LYS. In Argentina it is PHRF. In New Zealand it is PHRF. There are many others. We have found that the systems are very similar.

-- From Russ Wasden -- I'm not an expert, I only do RC once a year or so, but I do race PHRF rather frequently. One thing I notice, is that in nearly every regatta, there are scoring errors. A possible remedy would be a standardized Excel spreadsheet reporting format, perhaps? Drop in course length, times, presto, results. Require a second set of eyes to check and initial each entry on a master printout, to ferret out errors before they become posted. I know that all clubs do something like this, but the lack of standardization seems to allow problems to arise.

Dan Nowlan's suggestions for revisions to PHRF add more complexity (not much, but certainly, a little more) to the scoring process. My feeling is that in light of the problems that already frequently arise with the simple system we have now, your new model's scoring process should be upgraded and standardized to make the task even simpler than it is at this time.

-- From Mark Van Den Driessche -- I would like to receive your e-mail "newsletter". I promise not to whine about PHRF. It's the sailing that's fun - not the $5.00 plaques and $10.00 trophies...

Curmudgeon's comment: Welcome aboard!

(Reprinted with permission from DEFENCE 2000, which is available for US $48 per year from

More than 100 hours of TV coverage are currently being sold world-wide. From October 18, TVNZ will provide daily highlights of the first three round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup, and live coverage of the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals and finals. Live coverage of the America's Cup proper will start on February 19, with three simultaneous live feeds from the Hauraki Gulf, using up to 12 on-board cameras, three helicopters, and three on-the-water cameras. Foreign broadcasters will be able to produce, edit and transmit their coverage from a dedicated International Broadcast centre at TVNZ, Auckland.

CMAC - Report by Peter Campbell
Australia's team for the 1999 Champagne Mumm Admirals Cup starts its lead-up campaign in England late next week when Ron Jones Sledgehammer contests the inaugural World Championship for the Australian designed and built Sydney 40 class. The championship will be sailed from Cowes on The Solent over a seven race series from July 1-4 with all of the eight Admirals Cup challenging teams represented, along with other Sydney 40s.

A week later, on July 9-11, Sledgehammer will join the other two Australian team yachts, Bob Steels Nelson/Marek 46, Quest, and the Mumm 36, Atara chartered by the Atara Syndicate of Cruising Yacht Club members.

Other teams contesting the 1999 Champagne Mumm Admirals Cup are: Europe, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, United States of America and United Kingdom with the Royal Ocean Racing Club predicting one of the closest contests in the history of the Cup. Australian teams have challenged for the Admiral's Cup since 1965, winning the event in 1967 and again in 1979.

For Campbell's full story:

KO OLINA, HAWAII, 27 June 1999 -- With skipper John Kolius at the helm, Abracadabra 2000 USA 50, and her crew took to the waters off Ko Olina, Hawaii just after dawn this morning for her maiden sail. USA 50 will be joined in early August by Abracadabra 2000's second IACC yacht, USA 54, currently under construction at Barber's Pt., Hawaii. -- DJ Cathcart

Abracadabra 2000 website:

John Kostecki won his first world championship in the Sunfish class.

John Kostecki understands what it takes to win, and there seems little doubt that we can all learn from his example. Recently Kostecki said, "Sailing Supply has the best inventory of sailing hardware and rigging." He might also have added that the friendly staff gets enormous pleasure from helping customers make the right decision. Harken, Samson, Yale, Douglas Gill, Forespar, Lewmar, Ronstan, KVH, Spinlock, Marlow and much, much more. Give Sailing Supply a call and learn what winners like John Kostecki already know. (800) 532-3831.

Too many folks go through life running from something that isn't after them.