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SCUTTLEBUTT #405 - September 27, 1999

The IBM Sydney Harbour Regatta 1999, SOCOG's final test event for sailing before the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, with the unique sight of all 11 Olympic sailing classes racing on the one day. And fortunately, after Saturday's frustrating day of seeing International Code Flags N over A being hoisted to abandon racing through lack of wind, a light north-easterly seabreeze filled in at noon to provide a grand finale to a great regatta.

While there were several postponements and delays caused by general recalls, each of the 11 classes completed its full schedule of races, with the Mistral men's sailboard just getting a start in before the time limit and the Solings finishing the match racing Gold Medal final with about 30 minutes to spare.

Sixteen nations shared the medals, with Australian winning three gold medals, Great Britain and Italy each winning two gold medals. Australians won the Tornado catamaran class, Star keelboats and the Mistral men's sailboards, Great Britain the Finn and Laser single-handed dinghy classes, while Italy collected gold in the 49er high performance dinghy class and in the 470 double-handed dinghy class for women. Other Gold Medal winning nations were the Netherlands (Europe), Portugal (470 men), New Zealand (Mistral women) and Sweden in the Soling match racing.

Other medal winning nations were the USA, Denmark, France, Poland, Austria, Brazil, the Ukraine, Germany and Greece.

Australian repeated its success of last year's first test event, winning three Gold and two Bronze medals to be top-ranked nation for the third time at major international regattas this year - the '99 World Championships in Melbourne, Kiel Week in Germany and now the IBM Sydney Harbour Regatta 1999. The USA finished second top ranking nation with three silver and two bronze medals, Great Britain third in rankings with two gold and one bronze medal.

Soling -- Jeff MADRIGALI, Craig HEALY, Hartwell JORDAN (Silver)
470 Men -- Paul FOERSTER & Bob MERRICK (Silver)
470 Women -- Tracy HAYLEY & Louis VAN VOORHIS (Silver)
Star -- Mark REYNOLDS and Philip TRANTER (Bronze)
49er -- Jonathan McKEE and Charlie McKEE (Bronze)

Complete results:

NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 25, 1999) - Rhode Island sailor Pat Connerney (Middletown) and her all-Rhode Island team of Louisa Holt Boatwright (Newport), Melissa Ferdinandi (Jamestown), Meghan Kehew (Middletown), Kim Hapgood (Newport) and Carol Newman (Jamestown) have won US SAILING's 1999 Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship. By yesterday, the team had posted four victories in six races for a low point score of eight and the lead over 28 teams from five nations. When today's racing was abandoned, Connerney and crew were crowned champions in what has become one of the world's most prestigious women's sailing regattas.

"I don't think I've ever had such a low score in a regatta," said Connerney, who has crewed in this event three times, winning in 1987 aboard Californian JJ Isler's boat, and steered twice, claiming a sixth as best finish. "It feels good, especially being in the skipper's position."

The winning team's plan to sail two races today was foiled when the race committee could not get a race off before the one o'clock time limit. Victory was assured when 11:30 rolled around and a race had not yet started due to too-light air.

Massachusetts skipper Elaine Parshall (Charlestown), in second place with 12 points, had a mathematical chance to catch Connerney's team only if two races were completed. "At that point, we new if we got a race off, there wouldn't be time to start a second one by one o'clock," said Connerney's tactician Carol Newman.

"If Elaine won the race and we finished last, we'd have tied scores of 13, with our team winning on the tiebreaker." Three back-to-back starts, starting at 12:25, resulted in general recalls. "I think everyone was anxious to get going," said third-place finisher Karen Lynch (Scituate, Mass.), "and that's why more than half the fleet kept jumping the gun.

It was pretty amazing considering there had been mid-line sags all week long." Parshall chose not to dwell on today's misfortune. "I blew it yesterday when I didn't finish in the top five," she said, contrasting her sixth and seventh in the 20-25 knot breezes to victories in both races the prior day.

"We hadn't sailed in that kind of wind in two years, and Pat had been sailing in those conditions a lot." Connerney, who switches out with her husband steering the family J/24 in regional regattas, agreed that lately it has been her turn at the helm in only heavy air. "We've also practiced in high winds, so I guess that has worked out," Connerney said after winning both of yesterday's heavy-air races. -- Barby MacGowan

Final Results: 1. Pat Connerney, Middletown, R.I., U.S.A., 1, 1, 4, (5), 1, 1; 8. 2. Elaine Parshall, Charlestown, Mass., U.S.A,. 2, 2, 1, 1, 6, (7); 12. 3. Karen Lynch, Scituate, Mass., U.S.A., 5, 3, (7), 3, 4, 2; 17. 4. Christine Briand, La Rochelle, FRANCE, 9, (14), 3, 2, 3, 3;20. 5. Felicity Clarke, Toronto, Ontario, CAN, (13), 5, 9, 4, 2, 6; 26. 6. Vicki Sodaro, Tiburon, Calif., U.S.A., 7, 4, 6, (8), 5, 5; 27. 7. Liz Hjorth, Marina del Ray, Calif., U.S.A., (16), 8, 2, 10, 7, 14; 41. 8. Susan Reddaway, Flowery Branch, Ga., U.S.A., 4, (15), 5, 7, 14, 11; 41. 9. Amanda Clark, Shelter Island, N.Y., U.S.A., 6, 11(P05), (13), 11, 11, 8; 47. 10. Judy Woellner, Minnetonka, Minn., U.S.A., 14, 7, 14, (16), 8, 9 (PO5); 52.

Event website:

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In proud, sports-loving New Zealand, Dennis Conner was the man everyone loved to hate. During the 1987 America's Cup trials in Australia, Conner, the four-time cup winner, cast aspersions on the Kiwi team's sportsmanship. He fanned the flames in 1988 by calling the New Zealand designer Bruce Farr a loser during the contentious United States catamaran defense off San Diego.

Down under, Conner's nickname was Dirty Dennis.

But now the 57-year-old sailor is undergoing a public makeover in, of all places, Auckland, New Zealand. That's the site of the Louis Vuitton Cup series, a round-robin tournament beginning Oct. 18 to determine which of 11 challenging syndicates will face the defender, Team New Zealand, next February for the America's Cup.

Conner's popularity was evident earlier this month when his new Stars & Stripes was christened at his Auckland compound. Before a packed house, the boat was unveiled with keel and rudder in full view -- a radical departure from the usual cup practice of shrouding the underbody and appendages when the boat is out of the water.

"This is my gift back to the people," Conner told a cheering crowd.

Back in San Diego last week, Conner admitted that his reputation in New Zealand had been dicey. "But now they love me," he said in a telephone interview. "They're pulling for me to be the challenger. But I'm under no delusions. If I am the challenger, they won't be rooting for me to beat the home team."

Conner has bolstered his image with frequent visits to New Zealand and with his participation in two Whitbread Round the World Race campaigns. But good feelings won't win yacht races, and many cup observers believe Conner's odds on challenging are long.

The relevant issue is cash, or lack thereof, which is restricting Conner to a one-boat campaign. Although he won't reveal his budget, Conner can't compete fiscally with the flush two-boat programs from United States syndicates Young America and AmericaOne, Italy's Prada Challenge, and Japan's Nippon Challenge. Conner ranks these groups as his top competition.

The two-boat theory calls for contrasting designs, one for use during the early stages of the round-robin, when the breeze is fresh, and a second for the later, light-air rounds. "I don't think that's going to work like everyone's dreamed," Conner said. "There's going to be some light-air days and heavy-air days throughout. You can only change boats at the beginning of each round robin."

So Conner, who pioneered the two-boat concept in the 80's but is now banking on a boat for all seasons, won't concede that he's at a drastic disadvantage.

"For some of these programs, the second boat isn't in the water yet," he said. "It's really full-scale design experimentation as opposed to a two-boat program to optimize sails and crew work and appendages. It would be good to have two bites of the apple as long as both could be optimized, but it's yet to be proven how valuable that will be this time."

In fact, Conner believes the Auckland site will play to his strengths. "The sailing is generally going to be in winds like those on like Long Island Sound," he said. "Very shifty. There's going to be more of a premium on the sailing than we've seen for a long time. Lately, the premium's been on the faster boat."

Here, Conner feels he has an advantage. In girth and demeanor, he is sailing's version of Bill Parcells. Like the coach, he attracts veteran talent. With experience at every position and an afterguard including a six-time J/24 world champion, Ken Read, as helmsman, a two-time America's Cup winner, Peter Isler, navigating, and a match-racing master, Peter Holmberg, calling tactics, Conner has an elite team.

"It would be hard for anyone to say they have a better crew than mine," the skipper said.

Where does that leave Conner, who will be on board but has relegated the bulk of steering duties to Read?

"I really don't know; we'll have to see," he said. "Ultimately, I'll be making all the final decisions and I'll take the credit or the blame. As always."

Even though Conner insists he's still as competitive as ever, he says he accepts his secondary role on the racecourse. "How could I do my best job at fund-raising if I was out practicing in Auckland today like Kenny?" he said. "And if I went out and steered now without practicing, would I be letting my guys down? I would. It's hard to be the best at what you do and do it part time."

So is this a kinder, gentler Conner? "I'm probably still feisty if people try to take advantage of me," he said. "But I've always been very straightforward and told the truth as best I could. Sometimes that gets me in trouble."

And it's interesting to note that Conner calls all of his one-design sailboats Menace. For, despite the new image, before all is said and done Conner, who is approaching his eighth America's Cup campaign, will most likely be menacing someone on or off the water. Still, the pressing question isn't whether the old tiger is sporting fresh stripes. What everyone wants to know is if Mr. America's Cup has another one in him. -- Herb McCormick, NY Times,

* Bright yellow team jackets reflected the brilliant morning sunshine Saturday when America True opened its doors -- and almost got trampled. Some people throw a party and nobody comes. For this, everybody came. "Shocked!" was how CEO and captain Dawn Riley described the turnout of 150 people for the first media day organised by any of the America's Cup teams along syndicate row. Reporters, photographers, family and friends descended on the team's Halsey Street compound like a discount sale at Tiffany's.

Riley said, "We were talking about whether we should do it in the morning or do a barbecue in the afternoon, and should we include families." She expected, oh, 30 or 40 to show up.
"Then [marketing communications manager] Grace [Kim] came into town and said, 'This is what's happening,'" Riley explained. "We got the facilities painted, the sponsor signs up, and last night she said, 'There are a hundred people coming.' I said, 'I have to sit down.'"

Riley arranged some potted plants in her "secret garden" behind the chalet-style office building as the crowd squeezed through the front door into the souvenir shop. Armed with a microphone, she led a rare tour of the facilities behind the scenes, ending with the introduction of team members and one possible team member. Then the guests boarded a power cruiser out to the Hauraki Gulf where the boats test and train daily. There were so many people that the boat had to make two trips.

DEE SMITH, a veteran professional sailor from America True's hometown of San Francisco, had been out sailing the previous two days with the team, which is looking for a fourth member of the afterguard to join helmsman John Cutler, navigator Leslie Egnot and Kelvin Harrap. They are checking him out; he is checking them out. Smith was wearing team apparel, perhaps just trying it on for size.

"No decision yet," he said. This year Smith has helped boats win the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup, Tour de France a la Voile, and the IMS Worlds. -- Rich Roberts, Quokka Sports,

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

-- From Blake MacDiarmid -- Cam Lewis is right on. Think of the potential exploded performance envelope if sanctioning bodies and course rating rules really moved outside the box like The Race is. Since modesty (!) probably prevented Cam from referring Explorer's Jules Verne record run in 93, I will mention the fact that in 6 short years the " record" for the around the world run dropped from 79 days to close to 70, and the targets for The Race is 63-65 days. Not only is this far beyond a 1% improvement, but we're talking day in, day out non-stop for over two months -- beat that, NASCAR!

-- From Robert Bethune, Editor, Freshwater Seas - I'm tired of the constant drumbeat that sailing has to become a big-bucks, big-money, big-TV, big-media sport. Why can't sailing continue to be a participant activity? Why does it have to become a spectator activity? There are lots of very healthy recreational activities out there focused on participants. These activities don't need big-time media. In the US in 1996, people spent almost 30 billion dollars on "wildlife watching," and they did that without benefit of TV cameras mounted on their binoculars!

Also, it seems to me that the drive toward making sailing a big-media spectator sport has very little to do with ordinary people who enjoy sailing, and a lot to do with a very small number of people and organizations who want to make big bucks off the sport.

This sport includes thousands of sailors who don't race, don't want to race, never have raced, never want to race, never will race, and don't give a rat's ass about racing. These people and their interests are totally ignored by most sailing organizations and media. However, they buy most of the boats and gear, support most of the yacht clubs and cruising clubs, and in general provide the backbone that keeps sailing going.

-- From Jerry Kaye -- It was interesting to note comments on both USSA's silly proposal for Judge's fees AND Corporate involvement in sailing (including Pepsico buying market share in San Diego) in 'butt #404.

USSA shouldn't need to hire a Rocket Scientist to add 2 + 2. SELL USSA SPONSORSHIP. Judges might not be terribly repulsed by having to wear stylish apparal with the sponsor's logo(s) on it if there are no fees, beer and foulies provided, hotel and air fare covered for certification, etc. Cars can be loaned, free meals, official toothpaste & free deodorant distributed! Old Spice anyone?

Once we get past the initial shock of a bunch of logos in USSA publications, Sailing World and on Judges jackets, sponsorship can become self-perpetuating with inflation built-in for each years rates! Sounds like NASCAR but without decals on the cars. Sponsors would need to get their money's worth, but sailing has a lot to offer. And every three or four years there is the added exposure of the A-Cup. An independent sales force working on commission can be retained for this purpose.

The option of raising dues for members and surcharges for non-members is, I feel, a distasteful alternative to sponsorship.

-- From Niels Kisling -- I'm glad to see that some sailors out there are still thinking about the purest reasons we go sailing...full moons at anchor in an un-crowded anchorage while the rest of the world decides on Jeopardy or re-runs of Seinfeld, the looks on your 8-year old's face when he/she catches their first fish or the joy of your first "single-handed" sail as your own skipper in command of the family El Toro. Racing is a blast, but the basics of sailing are where it all begins. My fondest memories aboard Merlin are "camping out" on the backside of Santa Cruz Island with the Magma strapped to the stern pulpit, 22 dive tanks in the sail locker and fresh lobster tails in the ice box. Surfing down a wave at 25 knots with the big kite up is really cool too, but no shower is ever better, or more appreciated than the one at the yacht club after three days at sea...Sailing to me is a great reality check that takes you back to the basics.

-- From Scott Mason -- Thanks for publishing my "kids" letter. The responses in Scuttlebutt and inquiries from media indicate to me that there is a void in our sport. I am convinced that exposing kids to more aspects of any sport than just the competition increases the likelihood that they will remain connected to the particular sport. Kids today have more activities competing for their attention than we did 30+ years ago. I want an opportunity to sail Transpac with my son in 15-20 years like Roy Disney did with Roy Pat, like the Ayres, etc, etc. No way its going to happen if my kid can't wind a winch or steer by the stars, and that doesn't happen in Sabots or FJ's. Thanks to you and your willingness to introduce this idea, perhaps we can extend our kids involvement in sailing. This is not meant as a knock on junior programs, they do a magnificent job teaching our kids how to handle a boat, race, increase their confidence, etc. However, teachers don't replace parents, and it is our responsibility to engage our children in the activities we enjoy if we expect them to continue in our footsteps.

-- From George Bauer -- To set the record straight, re the history of the Newport Bermuda Race, the first "races to Bermuda" were in 1906-1910, with starts in Gravesend Bay (NY) and Marblehead (MA) Revived by YACHTING MAGAZINE in 1923, with starts in New London (CT) and Montauk (NY), the start was moved to Newport (RI) in 1936 where it has been since. The Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club have run the race since 1923, and will start it next on June 16, 2000.

With just two races completed in Saturday's lighter air, the pressure was on to get in two races on Sunday to complete the full seven-race schedule. Twenty-five teams were there for the 10:00AM sharp warning signal (which meant launching by 8:30 AM).

Conditions were slightly windier than Saturday, ranging from marginal trapezing to sitting in the boat on the upwind legs; most of the reaches were trapezing.

Defending champions Collins/Smith had sailed an outstanding series and won easily with 9 points (after dropping a fourth!). The next six places were within 4 points (23 to 27). Boyd /tenHove were 2nd overall with 23 points, Fowler/Dyson were 3rd overall with 24 points, Meller/ Lockwood won the three way tie breaker at 26 points for 4th, with Amthor /Amthor 5th at 26 points, Harris /Falsone 6th at 26 points and Nelson/ Gleason 7th at 27 points. - Ali Meller, VP International 505 Class Yacht Racing Association

Complete results:

Most everyone I know grumbles about the continuing lack of TV coverage of sailing events at the Olympic games. Well -- It appears the draught is over. Gary Jobson just told the curmudgeon he's signed a deal (with the permission of ESPN) to cover sailing at the Olympics for NBC. YES!

Also, Jobson's first America's Cup show will air this ESPN tonight in prime time (on the East Coast). -- 8:00 PM EDT and 5:00 PDT. It covers the 1983 and '87 campaigns. "Good stuff," Jobson assured me.

Doing business with people who have their stuff together and truly enjoy what they're doing can make all of the difference in the world. And when those professionals have a full range of products from which to choose; and when they have great prices; and when they ship the same day -- it's hard to find a reason to go elsewhere. Call Sailing Supply the next time you need help with rigging or sailing equipment. You'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. (800) 532-3831 /

Last Friday afternoon Scuttlebutt added its 2000th subscriber. And we're now geared up to handle lots more, so tell your friends. Subscriptions are free, and they're going to stay that way.

When you do a good deed, get a receipt--just in case heaven is like the IRS.