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SCUTTLEBUTT #374 - August 6, 1999

In Scuttlebutt #373 Jordan Dobrikin asked for information about 'Ratings Plus.' Jim Teeters, Director of Research for US Sailing and technical developer of Ratings Plus quickly replied with the following:

US Sailing is now developing an enhancement to PHRF which we have termed "Ratings Plus". The system is quite simple and is a service to local PHRF fleets that would like revised ratings for different courses and/or different wind speeds. The procedure is for a PHRF handicapper to send to US Sailing a listing of his fleet with the PHRF certificate data. He will also declare the type of course and wind speed for which those ratings work best, as well as the type of course and wind speed for which he would like revised ratings.

US Sailing will use its proprietary VPP to compute the performance "deltas" for each boat: the sec/mile difference in boat speed between the two course/wind combinations. These deltas are added to the current PHRF ratings to create the Ratings Plus ratings.

This approach combines two strengths: 1) the local empirical (PHRF) knowledge of how fast boats really sail and 2) the technical (VPP) result of how boat speed changes with heading and wind speed. The combination of the two has the potential to provide more equitable handicapping than either by itself.

US Sailing is trying to respond to what local fleets need and want. The local guy is in charge. Ratings Plus is an option that he and his fleet can use for those races where they feel the standard PHRF ratings are inadequate.

The technical side of Rating Plus is nearing completion and we will be double scoring races this summer and fall as "beta" tests.

By the way, AMERICAP was never intended as a direct competitor to PHRF, but as a rule that would appeal to those in PHRF, (ex-IMS users?), who would prefer a more technical approach. AMERICAP mixes VPP results with some empirical common sense and simplified scoring.

Following its intensive spring training camp in Spain, the crew of the illbruck Round the World Challenge is eagerly looking forward to the Fastnet Race, which starts on Saturday, August 7, 1999. This traditional 605 nautical mile offshore race is the next test that the team faces in its preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-2002.

illbruck, an international plastics fabricator headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, last year registered the first entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, the world's premier ocean race. The company will build its own Farr-designed boat.

For the first time since it began training, the illbruck crew will meet and race against other Volvo Ocean 60s preparing for the Volvo Ocean Race. Starters are expected to include the Belgian team 'Yess' with guest skipper Grant Dalton (Merit Cup) and Roger Nilson (Swedish Match), and 'Spirit' (formerly Dennis Conner's 'Winston') skippered by Erik Lindgren.

This spring, 16 sailors from six nations trained together in Sanxenxo, Spain, on the Atlantic shores of Galicia, aboard illbruck's two Volvo Ocean 60 race boats. In addition to preliminary crew selections, the team thoroughly tested all the campaign's gear and sails. Skipper John Kostechi, who led the training camp, noted: "We assessed and compared the performance of 80 sails."

Kostecki will continue crew selection during the Fastnet Race. The starting gun will be fired at around 19.30 PM on Saturday, August 7th, on the Royal Yacht Squadron starting line off The Castle, in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The biennial ocean racing classic takes the fleet from the Isle of Wight off the south shore of England, down the English Channel and across the Irish Sea to the Fastnet Lighthouse and then back to the finish line in Plymouth, England. If the weather conditions are favourable, the Volvo Ocean 60s are expected to take between two and three days.

The crew for the Fastnet includes Kostecki, Sailing Manager Tim Kroger from Hamburg, Germany, who coordinates the boat handling, and New Zealand-born Ross Halcrow, who is responsible for sail development. Each has already been named as Volvo Ocean Race crew.

Besides these three, the crew for the Fastnet Race consist of Ed Adams, USA, Juan Vila, Spain, Jared Hendersen, Mark Christensen, Stu Ballantyne and Stu Bettany, all from New Zealand, and Adam Beashel from Australia. Toni Kolb, boat captain of illbruck no. 2 and Thomas 'Beppo' Michaelsen, Operations Manager of the team, are also on the crew.


After studying the results of the recent Melges 24 Nationals, we seemed to have stumbled onto a pattern. All of the boats in the top five had at least a partial inventory of Ullman Sails, and three of the five boats were wall-to-wall Ullman. Perhaps it's just a coincidence but I don't think so. Neither does Chuck Queen who just won the Olson 30 Nationals will a full Ullman inventory, or Howard Hamlin who did likewise at the 505 Worlds. Find out how affordable it will be to improve your race record:

* AmericaOne, St. Francis Yacht Club's challenger for America's Cup 2000, today launched a new password-protected section for the media on its' website. The AmericaOne Media Center will provide quotes from the team during Louis Vuitton and America's Cup races, as well as high-resolution publication-quality photographs ready for download during both training and racing. All of the images provided are high-resolution and available copyright free for editorial usage, with photographer attribution.

To register, go to the syndicate website and click on the "Media Center" button. Once the registration form has been completed and sent, you will be emailed a password that will enable you to access this area of the website. Media can also register to receive press releases via e-mail and will have access to embargoed press releases when applicable. -- Gina von Esmarch

AmericaOne website:

* Determining how best to navigate an America's Cup course, and detecting and analyzing small changes in boat performance, wind, and tide conditions, require instantaneous and accurate assessments of all elements of location and performance. Sensors to keep track of the positions of, and pressures on, many critical elements of the boat have been installed throughout. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver has been integrated to determine the boat's actual location, speed, and direction relative to the earth and to "correct" the data from the other instruments. And finally, the navigator carries a laser range-finding gun which provides instantaneous distance and magnetic bearing measurements to other boats, allowing a team to determine how two boats are performing relative to each other by watching for changes over time.

AmericaOne has assembled an impressive array of hardware, software, and personnel to make best use of the data provided by these instruments. Onboard instrumentation by Ockam processes and displays current performance as well as "target" boatspeeds which should be achievable in the prevailing conditions. The navigator, using an onboard waterproof laptop computer and a waterproof instrumentation controller, manages what information is displayed and what adjustments should be made to ensure that the crew transits the course as quickly as possible.

In the background, all information on boat performance is transmitted via Visteon telemetry equipment (most commonly used in race cars) to AmericaOne's 60 foot tender where scientists utilize Hewlett-Packard workstations to analyze it and provide immediate feedback to the sailors, boat designers, and sail makers. Watching the data stream in during our two-boat testing and being privy to the conclusions which can be drawn from it is exhilarating! During the America's Cup races, all crews must compete without any outside communication or assistance (and therefore the advantage of this remote, real-time feedback). Until then, AmericaOne will be taking full advantage of its performance analysis tools to prepare the sailing team to navigate the best boat on the course successfully and independently. -- Greg Felton AmericaOne Sailing Team

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

-- From Peter Johnson -- Chris Ericksen writes about the mark dispute in the race won by the schooner America on August 22, 1851, around the Isle of Wight. The Nab Lights (a kind of lightship) was the controversial mark and details are preserved on British Admiralty light lists and charts of 1851. Chris can be reassured that a special buoy will be laid in this old position for the 2001 celebrations. I have written in the past about what happened at the mark and I can supply the old article, but now I am just off on the Fastnet race.

-- From John Roberson (With reference to Steve Ericksen's letter in Butt 373, regarding the America's Cup Jubilee.) At the press conference during the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup, at which the Royal Yact Squadron announced the event, I asked two questions:-

Will the Americans be allowed to leave out the Nab Tower mark? To which the only reply was laughter, rather nervous laughter I might add.

Is there a catamaran on the invitation list? "Only if it stays ashore", was the reply.

-- From Christian Fevrier -- The Nab Tower is not at all at the place the lightship vessel was in 1851. At this time, the light vessel was only 1,6 mile far from the Foreland Point (SE of Wight island). Actually, the Nab Tower, built in 1920, is far from the same point by 4,4 miles.

At the 1851 race time, the current was pushing east. Most of the British schooners had a lot of leeway and couldn't even join the Nab. America was not alone to pass the light vessel upwind. Several British vessels did the same, according to great sailing historians like Sir Peter Johnson, who has carefully worked on that peculiar situation.

The gain could be evaluated between to half a mile and a mile, not much more. The Lawson nice map, often used, shows the Nab in a totally wrong place, much more in the east. The map is often used to support how the America "cheated".

Sorry for the legend, but the facts are like that. So don't use it this wrong story again, printed in hundred of books and magazines, even now! All the several paintings showing America sailing upwind in front of the Needles Point are totally wrong. Only the late French painter Marin Marie painted it correctly in a water colour now owned by a good friend.

The RYS race is slightly different from the 1851 race course. They should moor a mark at the correct position for their scheduled event of 19 August in 2001.

"Never again. We don't want another storm like that." These are the words of Ted Turner, the American billionaire, owner of CNN, and husband of Jane Fonda, who has returned to the Fastnet Race for the first time since his 61-footer Tenacious emerged through the gloom of chaos and tragedy to win the 1979 event. Twenty years later, the statistics still make shocking reading. This was the race in which 15 competitors died. Of the 303 yachts which started, only 85 finished. Savage storms forced 194 boats to retire, 19 were abandoned and later recovered, while five sank completely. Rescuers picked up 136 men and women, but the death toll was the worst the sport has ever known.

Back in 1979, Ted Turner had yet to create CNN. He was a 41-year-old with a fortune built on TV stations beaming pictures of his two Atlanta sports team across the United States, while a passion for yacht racing had taken him to the highest level of the sport. Along with Sir Edward Heath, Britain's former prime minister, he was one of the celebrities caught up in tragedy as a yacht race turned into a world news story. CNN would have covered it rather well had the station then been more than the germ of an idea in Turner's mind. "Sure we were scared," he remembers. "Everybody was scared. It was rough as hell."

Sir Edward recalls events aboard Morning Cloud with great clarity. "The yacht was knocked down and this damaged the steering wheel," he says. "I was down below with my navigator, deciding our course, and both of us were thrown from one side of the boat to the other, which damaged my leg. It's still marked."

The two men will be in Plymouth next week as Sir Edward has been asked to present the prizes for this year's race. Famous or not, their stations in life made no difference to the wind and waves. So when the 1999 race gets under way at seven o'clock tomorrow evening, Turner will be racing Larry Ellison's maxi Sayonara, alongside his oldest son, Teddy Jr, and Gary Jobson, who was his tactician in the 1979 victory.

Turner explained: "We had such a good time in '97 celebrating the 20th anniversary of our America's Cup win, we said, 'Why don't we see if can't get some of the crew together, get a boat and go do the Fastnet Race'."

Turner's original plan was to have the entire Tenacious crew on Sayonara, but this fell through. "They're getting old," explained the irreverent Turner. "Who was gonna set the spinnaker?"

Turner tries to put fear of the '79 Fastnet into perspective. "Of course it was scary. But you know, every time you go up in an airplane you risk your life. Every time you get in a car you risk your life. Every time you get in a boat you risk your life. Who'd have thought the Titanic would have gone down? If you stay ashore, you'll die - eventually."

A man of colourful eloquence, Turner adds: "Storms like that happen. A perfect example of that which worked out to Britain's advantage was the Spanish Armada. If it wasn't for that storm, you'd all be speaking Espanol." -- Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK

For the full story:

Randy Smyth who is considered by many to be the best catamaran sailor in the world will be racing and conducting a clinic and seminar at the upcoming MHRA Fullmoon Regatta at Washoe Lake, Nevada on August 13-15, 1999. Randy's world dominance in Multihull Sailing has been a function of his lifelong focus on excellence. From the Olympics, to world Championships, to Grand prix Circuits in Europe, to 1000 mile Beach Catamaran Races.

For additional information, contact Andrew Brigg:

COWES-Geoff Meek and the crew of the South African yacht Rainbow Magic scored a magnificent victory over a 25 mile double windward/leeward course set in the Western Solent with a start and finish at the Royal Yacht Squadron line. It was the fourth of five races in Cowes Week, the penultimate event of the Adecco World Championship for the Maxi-One-Design class.

Meek is now tied on points in this event with the series leader, Ludde Ingvall in Skandia (EUR); both have two wins and a second place to their credit, so that all will be settled in the final race tomorrow. The day after that, the eight boat fleet of Maxi-One-Designs will set off on the 605 mile Fastnet Race, the final event of the Adecco World Championship.

Meek's victory was a consummate one. He and his crew displayed a complete domination of the opposition - their winning margin was two minutes, a huge amount in the 15-20 knot south-westerly breeze - and they appeared to have speed to spare. Certainly, they came from behind Skandia on the first beat and were never again headed.

It was a day for the Maxi-One-Designs to show their paces and they lost no time in doing so, even when they had to thread their way through the other classes racing in Cowes Week. They presented a magnificent spectacle and were giving their crews a great deal of enjoyment. Jan Carendi, the Chairman of the Skandia Group, who was aboard the yacht he has sponsored, said, 'It was super - all the way.'

He had the opportunity to experience some of the downside of sailing when Skandia grounded. Carendi hit his head on some rigging and he said, 'I did try the ultimate sacrifice of spilling my blood, but we couldn't catch the South Africans.'

Ingvall had found one of the small rock plateaus on the mainland shore off Beaulieu, where the chart does not give too much detail. 'What annoyed me,' Ingvall said, 'was that the South Africans and the Kiwis carried on inshore of where I had gone aground and were in enough water.' It was pointed out to him that it happens all the time, even to those who race here regularly.

It was halfway through the first beat that Rainbow Magic went into the lead and carried on to stretch away from the rest. She was 20 seconds ahead of Skandia at the first mark with Hans Bouscholte's Synphony another five seconds back. Then came Gunnar Krantz' Team Henri-Lloyd (SWE), Le Defi Bouygues Telecom -Transiciel (FRA) skippered by Jimmy Pahun, Ross Field's RF Yachting (NZL), Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghimax (SUI) and Seac Banche (ITA) skippered by Guido Maisto.

After the long run to the East Lepe buoy, the order was still the same and all went to the mainland shore to cheat the foul tidal current, except for the Swiss, who crossed to the Island shore, and lost out as a result. They were last to round the buoy off Yarmouth the second time. Rainbow Magic had increased her lead to 1:30 as she rounded that mark while Skandia was keeping a watching brief on Synphony, Le Defi Bouygues Telecom - Transiciel and RF Yachting.

On the long run back to the finish, RF Yachting overtook the French and Rainbow Magic extended her lead to two minutes. 'It has got to be the grinders,' said Meek when asked to what he attributed his success. 'They never give up and neither do the guys on the runner winches - they have a really hard job each time we tack.' He also pointed to the local talent on board, saying, 'Julian Salter and Neal McDonald are doing a great job with the navigation and tactics, and that helped us greatly.' -- Bob Fisher

Finishing order: Race four: 1. RSA Rainbow Magic Geoff Meek 2. EUR Skandia Ludde Ingvall 3. BEL Synphony Hans Bouscholte 4. NZL RF Yachting Ross Field 5. FRA Le Defi Bouygues Telecom - Transiciel Jimmy Pahun 6. ITA Seac Banche Guido Maisto 7. SWE Team Henri-Lloyd Gunnar Krantz 8. SUI Alinghimax Ernesto Bertarelli

Overall points with one discard: 1. EUR 28 2. RSA 28 3. BEL 19.5 4. NZL 17.3 5. FRA 17 6. SUI 13 7. SWE 8 8. ITA 7

Event website:

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?