SCUTTLEBUTT #407 - September 29, 1999
MINI-TRANSAT -- Here we go again
Crazy seas, big winds, tiny open boats... it doesn't get tougher than this.
The seas and winds have been building as the depression much feared by the
skippers heads towards the UK and northern France. With a third of the
fleet back in harbour or on their way back, news came through that one of
the favourites for the race had broken his rudder and was heading back to
Concarneau - Andrew Cape (Aberdeen Asset Management) broke his steering
system during the early hours of today. At this stage there are no more
details on the incident, other than the position reports showing his steady
but slow progress back to port. He is reportedly in good health, if
extremely disappointed. Even though overall line honours will have been
lost, the race should not be over, with it likely that at least half the
fleet will not be on their way again until after this next system goes
through - but this will of course depend on the damage sustained.
Progress has been slow for everyone in the past 24 hours as these brave
guys and girls have probably been wondering just why they are doing it - 16
haven't - they are back in Concarneau sitting it out, including one of the
favourites in the POGO class Scotland's Yann Jameson with a totally
destroyed mainsail. 7 other boats are making their way back to the start
with everything from broken masts, broken bones and rudder problems. 20
boats are already in port. Britain's Peter Heppel left this afternoon to
rejoin the race after fixing his pilot problems, and taking his chances as
the wind moderated for a few hours to allow him to clear the rocky
coastline. Cape's fellow Whitbread and America's Cup crewmate Nick Moloney,
after restarting 6 hours late due to the pre-start collision, is now up in
35th position and toughing it out - a fantastic comeback.
If you want some idea of what it is like out there at the moment, put
yourself inside a washing machine, with the washing machine sitting on a
bumper car at the fairground. The motion will be impossible, to move will
be difficult and dangerous, to sleep in more than 3 or 4 minute spells very
hard, and to eat whilst very important will take a lot of effort. This is
survival mode. Survival suits (obligatory in the fleet) will certainly be
on, and bits of the boat will probably be popping off here and
there...needing constant attention to keep the boat going in the right
direction, albeit slowly. It will be freezing cold due to the sheer volume
of the Atlantic hitting you every time you venture on deck. For anyone with
autopilots not set up properly (undoubtedly quite a few), they will have to
sit on deck or stop to rest.
Forecasts show a new peak in the wind and sea conditions on Thursday...its
only going to get tougher. -- Mark Turner, http://www.offshorechallenges.com
WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL MATCH RACE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Reed & Barton Women's International Match Race Championship opens today
in Marblehead, Massachusetts (USA). Hosted by Eastern Yacht Club, the event
is the longest running Grade 1 event for women in North America.
The entry list is loaded with talent. Skippers include the winner of the
1997 & 1998 event, Paula Lewin (BER, ranked 2nd on the ISAF Women's World
Match Race Ranking List ), Whitbread helmsperson Christine Briand (FRA,
ranked 12th), World Champion Betsy Allison (USA, ranked 6th), and current
number one seed Shirley Robertson (GBR, ranked 1) In all, eleven teams from
eight countries will compete.
Eastern has been fortunate to attract some of the finest competitors from
around the world. This year is no exception. The acceptance rate for this
Invitational event was extremely high filling the available slots a month
or two sooner than usual. This meant the caliber of competitors turned away
was nearly as high as those attending.
Eastern Yacht Club has hosted the Women's International Match Race
Championship since 1994. Said Event Chairman Rogina Jeffries "Eastern takes
pride in the fact that it's sponsorship of this event has helped to foster
the development of a women's international match race circuit." Reed &
Barton signed on as a title sponsor for this second year.
The schedule calls for practice racing Wednesday, a double round robin on
Thursday September 30 through Saturday October 2, and semi-finals and
finals on Sunday October 3. The event is sailed in Sonars with teams of
four including skipper.
It's now possible for race organizers to provide really smart looking, high
quality regatta apparel, and be absolutely sure they won't lose a dime. It
fact, Pacific Yacht Embroidery will guarantee they'll make money. Call
Frank Whitton (619-226-8033) for details on how to offset regatta costs
while supplying high quality, affordable apparel to the racers. No event is
too small to qualify for this program.
MATT JONES TRIVIA QUESTION
In 1937 the J Boat Ranger was the first boat to race with?
A. a mast made of aluminum
B. sails of a man-made fiber (rayon)
C, the rudder separated from the keel
D. a spinnaker
Answer at the end of this issue of 'Butt
* John Cutler knows the Hauraki Gulf like the back of his hand, and the
hand is cold when he greets a visitor after coming off the water from
another day of driving America True, the San Francisco Yacht Club entry for
the America's Cup.
It's early spring in Auckland, where Cutler, 35, has lived and sailed from
age 12, but the weather and the competition are certain to warm up in the
weeks ahead. "We've probably spent more time out there than anybody, apart
from Prada and Team New Zealand," Cutler says. "Four months [last summer]
and then three months now. Having the two-boat testing for the last three
months helped a lot. Just sailing one boat on your own very quickly gets
extremely boring. You can't learn a whole lot. We've got some practice
racing coming up at the beginning of next month."
There is even the possibility of a fleet race on 4 October. The notion
isn't popular with some of the teams, but Cutler's face lights up at the
chance to measure America True's performance. "That would be good," he
says. "If we come out and we're not quicker than everybody else, does that
mean anything? And is there much we can do about it in such a little time?"
Others would rather not face these questions so soon, but Cutler feels
right at home -- he is at home. His wife Caroline, mother Stella and father
Earl came to America True's recent media day when the compound was opened
to visitors. After sailing America's Cups in San Diego in 1992 and '95,
Cutler gets to sail one at home -- albeit with a foreign challenger.
Cutler studied to become a chemical and materials engineer, but his career
would be sailing. In his late teens he graduated into a Finn -- still the
solo sailor -- and launched an Olympic campaign alongside a peer named
Russell Coutts, who won the New Zealand trials and ultimately the gold
medal in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
"Once Russell had won, that was the standard," Cutler says. "He showed it
could be done. I put together a four-year programme and achieved most of
what I set out to do." He won the bronze medal at Pusan, South Korea, in
'88, behind Spain's Jose Doreste (gold) and the U.S. Virgin Islands' Peter
Holmberg (silver). Small world: Doreste's younger brother Luis is now a
rival helmsman for Desafio Espanol, the Spanish challenge; Holmberg is the
tactician on Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes.
Soon Cutler expanded his horizon to larger boats. He was Chris Dickson's
tactician with Nippon Challenge in '92. In '95, with Dickson waging his own
campaign, Cutler became the Japanese team's helmsman and matched Nippon's
'92 feat of reaching the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger semifinals with what
was generally regarded as a mediocre boat.
"Sailing on your own all those years, you don't have to say too much
because you know what you can do," he says. "To make that change to
communicating with a group is tough. Chris Dickson is extremely good at
communicating what he wants. I got on well with Chris. He taught me a lot."
Cutler hopes that his knowledge and years of experience on the Gulf will be
an unbeatable combination. -- Rich Roberts, Quokka Sports
Full the story: http://www.americascup.org/
* On a blustery and rainy Spring day here in Auckland Le Defi Bouygues
Telecom-Transiciel took their boat Sixieme Sens (FRA-46) out of the harbour
for a sail on the waters she was designed to win on. The brilliantly
painted hull made it only 100 metres beyond the harbour entrance before
getting stuck in the mud.
Instead of making a sharp right-hand turn, as all of the Cup syndicates
have been instructed to do when leaving the America's Cup Harbour, the
French went straight ahead and hit a mud shelf that has not yet been
French sailors seem to be attracted to this spot - it is the same mud-bank
that lone French round-the-world sailor Isabelle Autissier stuck her yacht
on earlier this year. Channel lights will soon be installed on deep piles
to keep boats away from the danger area.
In an effort to work the boat free, most of Le Defi Francais' crew piled on
to the bow of their boat once they knew they were aground. But it was
ultimately a helpful shove from their tender that finally got them free.
The French aren't the only syndicate to have run aground just metres from
home. The Spanish boat Bravo Espana suffered the same embarrassment last
week. The Spaniards, forgetting protocol, had omitted to radio the harbour
master at the Viaduct Basin entrance to inform him that they were on their
way out to sea.
The Japanese syndicate's pair were on their way in and the Spanish had to
swerve away hitting a mud shelf known as Harry's Hump. Only the boat's keel
suffered, and then only minor scratches.
Once past North Head and under mainsail only, the French were hit by a 30+
knot gust breaking their gooseneck in the process. But the French were
nevertheless unfazed by their first day out. They will make repairs to the
boat before making their first real assault on the Hauraki Gulf tomorrow. -
Louis Vuitton Cup website, http://www.louisvuittoncup.com
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Letters selected to be printed are routinely edited for clarity, space (250
words max) or to exclude personal attacks.
-- From Pat Healy -- The Sydney Harbour Regatta, the Olympic dress
rehearsal, looked like a great success. The regatta management on-shore and
on the water worked so well that the Australians could probably do the
Olympics tomorrow. However getting results was painfully slow. With IBM as
the responsible vendor and the wonders of the Internet, I was hoping for
mark roundings and expecting same day race results. (The ISAF website beat
IBM by twelve hours in posting the final results.) I know it is not easy,
but I hope IBM takes up the Olympic challenge and gets straight bullets
-- From Seth A. Radow -- The R&D performed for the sake of racing has made
many cruising boats faster, stronger, safer, more comfortable, etc.
Developments in lamination technology, composites, and equipment HAVE
worked their way down to cruising applications. The comment that many
cruisers are disinterested in racing does not mean that cruisers should be
disinterested in the benefits that racing produces for the cruising sailor.
To say that these people are ignored by the media is untrue. There are
numerous journals dedicated to the cruising sailor. The multitude of
advertising in those journals is a testament to the fact that these
cruising sailors are marketed to aggressively... maybe more so than the
racers! I can name only hand small handful of dedicated racing journals
the world over yet every time I visit foreign country I find new and
interesting cruising journals to peruse.
Sailing may be destined to remain second class spectator sports in the US
while it flourishes elsewhere. European athletes in these sports are
revered for their talents by the population at large. In the States the
athletes remain relatively unknown entities. Why is this the case?
As racing campaigns continue to grow more expensive, racers will have to
increase the relevance of the sport to a larger audience. The professional
campaigns need the dollars from Corporate America's marketing budgets.
Should the cruisers care? ABSOLUTELY! So long as developments in racing
make their way down to cruising, racing will continue to add value to the
sport as a whole (i.e. skiing and cycling).
You'll be able to catch Abracadabra 2000 and her America's Cup crew on
television... even before the start of racing! The Baywatch episode
featuring Abracadabra 2000 will air on October 7th, on Fox Network, at
5:00pm Hawaii time. Check your local listings for air times in your area.
-- From Andy Besheer-- I've found the discussions on getting juniors
involved in big boat racing quite interesting. When I got my X-99 back in
'91, I didn't have nearly a large enough crew base from my old 24 footer.
One of the first things I discovered was that with the fractional rig, many
loads were not that great and there were alot of jobs that could be handled
by teenagers and pre-teens. Runners were one of the first, bow, mast and
pitt were some of the others. We've reached the stage where almost any job
can be handled by a youngster (except trimming main in a breeze).
Over the years we've had quite a number of great kids sailing as part of
the team, one is now a varsity sailor at St. Mary's, another is on the
dinghy team at the Naval Academy, another has carved himself a niche as the
bn on one of the top mid-size programs on Long Island Sound, and still
another was in demand as a bow man before going off to college.
Of course the down side of all of this is that I've gotten to feel alittle
like the farm team, I give the kids an opportunity and when they get good,
the big boys steal 'em away. Still it is clearly as satisfying as winning
on the racecourse to watch what these young people have achieved and I'm
looking forward to starting the same process with my own daughters over the
next couple of years as they get old enough.
-- From Shipwreck Schupak -- Thanks again to Scott Mason for helping to
bring back a little reality to the sport of sailing. You're right, exposure
is the name of the game, giving kids the opportunity to explore different
aspects of the sport is critical to a lasting impression and continued
involvement. I was fortunate to have a varied and diverse sailing
experience growing up, and I've continued this with my son. From the age
of 5 weeks my wife and I have been bringing him out sailing and powerboating.
Now at the ripe old age of 20 months, he's a veteran of two summer seasons
of Harbor 20 racing. I will admit there was probably few lasting
impressions from the first season since he was usually in his car seat in
The comfort gained around the water and quality time together in a
recreational activity is priceless. I'd like to commend and applaud all
the parents out there exposing their kids to all facets and levels of boating.
-- From Tom Weaver -- The backbone of the sport of sailing is the next
generation, I myself will retire with a small gunkhole cruiser but the
kids need a sport left in good order. Racing keelboats is losing out to
many other sports in this country ... referring to Cam Lewis' thread, I
see a higher percentage of kids spectating at a NASCAR event than I do
hanging around any yacht club or boatyard. If one percent of these kids end
up racing cars the growth will be tremendous. It IS all about marketing
and I think the US sailing community does a lousy job of it!
Other sports have heroes, Michael Jordan, Dale Earnheart, Cal Ripken Jr,
Brandi (the girl without the shirt) etc. Yet I have never seen a close-up
photograph of a basketball on the front of Basketball Weekly!! When was the
last time a US sailing magazine had a front cover of Paul Cayard
(helmsman), Curtis Blewitt (bowman), Katie Pettiebone (trimmer) etc.
(Editors take note)
Dennis Conner appears on the front cover of foreign magazines. Very few
advertisers use a hero to promote their product. Lets promote the hero's
and not have yet another boring picture of a sailing boat on the front
cover of the national sailing magazine's, the sport is about people!!
Kids are essential, encourage them to be bowmen or trimmers and hang out in
the boatyard, then we will all be hero's.
(Newport, RI)-J Boats, Inc. has selected USWatercraft to be the United
States builder of the J/24. USWatercraft is a division of Waterline
Systems, Inc., a marine repair company located in Bristol, Rhode Island.
According to Jeff Johnstone, president of J Boats, "USWatercraft's
knowledge of boat construction, maintenance, and the optimum set up and
tuning of race boats made them the logical choice to construct a race-ready
J/24 out of the box. With the Worlds coming to Newport in 2000, and the
class experiencing new growth in many parts of the country, the timing
couldn't be better to reintroduce the J/24."
US J/24 production was halted in 1996 when the new SCRIMP molding
technology developed and incorporated by TPI Composites, Inc., made it
impossible for them to construct the J/24 without changing the official
class hull laminates. TPI, who built over 3,000 J/24s, will provide
ongoing training and consulting. An advisory board has been formed to
oversee the builder transition. Members include J/24 designer, Rod
Johnstone, TPI Marine Manager, Mark Pearson, J/24 Technical Chairman, John
Peck, International J/24 Chairman, Geoff Evelyn and J Boats President, Jeff
More than 5,200 J/24s are currently sailing worldwide, under strict
one-design class rules which allow very little deviation in the
construction of the boat. Each boat is built to exacting specifications,
with strong and lasting construction scantlings that allow new J/24s to
remain highly competitive year after year. The majority of J/24s racing
now are over fifteen years old.
USWatercraft's owner and president, Randall H. Borges, has been actively
involved with the restoration, repair, and sailing of J/24s for 20 years.
The first 2000 model J/24 is expected to complete in December 1999, with
the 2000 J/24 Mid-Winter Championship in Tampa, Florida, slated as the
boat's inaugural regatta.
To celebrate the announcement, a special offer was announced by J Boats for
a Model 2000 J/24 with optimized Harken deck layout, lightweight alloy
traveler bar and outboard bracket, dyform standing rigging, Waterline
Systems faired keel and rudder, and carbon spinnaker pole for $29,950.
This special pricing is available for boats ordered by December 31, 1999
with a limited number of slots available prior to the 2000 Worlds. -- Jeff
MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD?
For many of us it's 'the Bible.' It's more colorful than Fall in New
England; more informative than the Wall Street Journal; and more helpful
than Dr. Laura. While it may not read like a novel, you'll go back to it
again and again and again. And each time it give you something you need,
something you want, something that will be very satisfying. It has nearly
900 pages of crisp illustrations and useful descriptions, and you can get
one right now without leaving your computer. Just go the website to order
your very own West Marine catalog: http://www.westmarine.com/
TIP O' THE WEEK
Get into the Rhythm -- The dynamics on the starting line are quite unique:
Lots of information feeding into your decisions, lots of positioning,
slowing and going, etc.. These are all things most sailors do not warm up
with when milling about the starting area. We all go upwind and check the
shifts and get tuned, however, rarely do sailors do stop and go's, or
circles, just prior to starting. Doing these moves creates a rhythm that
can really affect one's timing on the line. Try it the next race you are
in. Set up right on the line and go through the motions of the last minute
of a sequence. It's a little like a skier doing mental imagery, if you get
the rhythm just before the real deal your timing will be improved and so
will your start. -- The Coach, http://www.sailweb.net
TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER
Reportedly, Ranger was the first boat to race with sails of a man-made
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
The Old Pro: Often Wrong -- Never In Doubt.