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SCUTTLEBUTT #408 - September 30, 1999

(Note: The Mini Transat is a singlehanded race for boats of 6.5 meters (21 feet) in length. The fleet is currently sailing the first of two legs from France to the Canary Islands.)

At 0757 this morning, Francesco Pelizza (182 Vulcangas) set off his distress beacons. At 0801 the emergency services decided to activate the full rescue procedure and the safety vessels following the race were immediately directed to the area, and a helicopter from the Spanish coastguard prepared for take-off. At 1107, he was successfully lifted off and has been taken to La Corogne. No further details at present. At the time Francesco was in 3rd place, and there had been no previous warning of any problems onboard.

Andrew Cape (Aberdeen Asset Management) arrived in the early hours of this morning in La Trinite, after taking 36 hours hand steering the boat back after his rudder system failure Cape intends to repair the damage and set out again as soon as possible...disappointed to be out of the top rankings, but raring to go again..."I was smokin' along when the rudder box broke, caused by a problem I had mended earlier in the day. It's my own fault, I'm the designer! The weather out there was atrocious and anyone who is still battling it out is a hero to me."

He hopes to get back out in the race by Thursday midday.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there again for some proper sailing. I had a hard time coming into the harbour here (La Trinite) having to steer by hand for 12 hours and each time I needed to leave the helm and go down below to navigate I had to lift the jury-rigged rudder out which turned the boat beam on to the waves."

Cape anchored just outside the harbour walls due to the inclement weather and was woken by three customs officers requesting his papers. After two hours of questioning and a search for exit papers, Cape was let off with a 1000ff fine...just what you need after 3 hard days in the Bay of Biscay!

The latest positions at 1130 French time show 3 non-french boats in the top ten...with KIWI Chris Sayer (Navman) in 5th place, Australian resident Chris Vanek (Spike) in 7th and Italian Stefan Pelizza (Toscangas) in 8th. Top Brit is Alex Bennett (English Braids) back to 12th place. Seb Magnen continues to lead, althouth Sebastian Josse' has not be shown on the position polling for the last two sets...previously he was winning. Nick Moloney (Wild Colonial Boy) continues his march back up the fleet and is currently 31st position.

Conditions are very bad out in the Bay of Biscay, with a number of the fleet getting close to Cape Finisterre and the acceleration of both sea and wind at this will be pretty hellish out there

More details at

For those who may be arm-chair bound for several long, wintry months, consider that there's another fraternity of sailboat racers out there, doing the same thing, but at a fraction of the cost! Radio Control Yacht Racing is BIG - in the U.S. - in Europe - and Down Under!

Finally, you can quit having to be a crew, and now you can own your own "off-shore", high-tech yacht...albeit on a much smaller scale.

Various classes - one-design and developmental, mono-hull and multihull offer similar design, racing and tactics employed by our "Big Brothers". Lengths vary from just under 1 Meter (39 inches) to the monster multihulls at 2 Meters (6 feet) - pick what fits your trunk, station wagon, or van - and give it a try. None of our classes lack competition!

Following are several web sites where more information can be obtained, or where spirited discussion on tactics, boat setup and trim, and general building questions are often asked and answered. You are cordially invited to access, view, and participate in "our" end of the sport. -- Dick Lemke

Whether you're a serious competitive sailor or you just like to cruise, there is a universal need to stay dry and warm. Douglas Gill's three-layer system 'wicks away' perspiration while it traps in air to keep you warm. To learn how Gill's layering system can make your sailing more comfortable-much more comfortable--check into their website:

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, 30 September, 1999 - Abracadabra 2000 confirmed members of its sailing and shore crews today as the team makes final preparations for the resumption of sail training later this week. The Abracadabra 2000 sailing crew trained daily aboard the team's first IACC yacht, USA50, throughout the summer months in Hawaii. Since arriving in Auckland on 11 September, the team has been preparing both USA50 and its second yacht USA54 for sailing in New Zealand waters.

The arrival of both IACC yachts and team members at the compound in the American Express New Zealand Cup Village marks a significant milestone for Abracadabra 2000. As skipper John Kolius notes, corporate sponsorship and private donor support have been the driving force behind the team's progress to this point. "This is the team that is going to carry the ball for Abracadabra 2000 in New Zealand. However, there are a lot of people that helped us get this far-from building our boats and sails, to supplying custom parts and specialized services. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters for the incredible commitment they have made to our Challenge. I hope we can make them proud."

RACING TEAM: Per Andersson, By Baldridge, David Blanchfield, Caleb Borchers, Jeff Brock, Ian Burns, Marco Constant, Cameron Dunn, Greg Gendell, Brett Jones, John Kolius, Chris Larson, Brian MacInnes, Dave Musgrove, Curt Oetking, Mark Strube, Jonathan Swain, Paul van Dyke,

SUPPORT TEAM (Administration, sail loft, tender and support boat crew, training yacht sailing crew and yacht maintenance crew): Jason Akers, Sandra Baldridge, Mike Beasley, DJ Cathcart, Mike Christie, Neil Cox, Sean Fuller, Andy Green, Matt Gregory, Dean Harper, Paul Heads, Joe Ierna, Jacob Kimbrough, Brandon Linton, Danielle MacInnes, Karen Meiselbach, Tony Mutter, Tim Rhea, Justin Strickland, Cary Swain, Tom Swift.

Eager to resume sail training with his Abracadabra 2000 crew, Kolius noted, "It's great to finally get the team together in Auckland. It'll be even better when the racing starts in a few weeks, and we can see how our boats stack up to the competition." -- DJ Cathcart,

* While their powerhouse rivals remained in seclusion, Nippon Challenge became the first two-boat team to break out both of its new vessels for a brief run around the Hauraki Gulf on Monday. Only four days after the all-white Asura (JPN-44) and Idaten (JPN-52) arrived in Auckland, they were fully rigged and under way -- an impressive demonstration of assembly-line efficiency by the Japanese syndicate.

Italy's Prada, San Francisco's AmericaOne and Hawaii's Abracadabra all arrived earlier than the Japanese, but have not yet sailed their new boats in Auckland. Apparently, they feel less of a sense of urgency because racing doesn't start until 18 October. The New York Yacht Club's Young America has had its first new boat out only intermittently.

The Japanese did all of their training and testing at their home base off Gamagori, subsequently for most of the team it was their first look at the area northeast of Auckland where the racing will be. It made an impression. "It was pretty fresh out there," said Peter Gilmour, the syndicate's Australian skipper and sailing director. "A few little [rain] squalls came through."

After last-minute preparations, the boats didn't leave Viaduct Basin until after 2 p.m., and were back in shortly after 5, but Gilmour said they got a good idea of what to expect. He said the winds were a "constant 26 to 27 knots, [with a] couple of gusts to 31. It was a good first-sail shake-out in a breeze, although we probably wouldn't be racing in those conditions." According to the rules, races will not be run in steady winds above 23 knots.

Gilmour said they flew spinnakers only briefly. "It was too fresh for them for very long, so we went to jibs," he said. They had planned to sail longer, but "one of the boats damaged a bit of gear," Gilmour said, without elaborating. "Just normal stuff." No serious damage was evident when the boats returned.

Gilmour noted that the blustery conditions followed a few days of winds so light that some boats abandoned practice sails. "It's interesting that this weather is going to be like this up to the semifinals," he said. "You're going to need to have boats that can handle a wide range of conditions."

One of the Nippon boats, Asura, is built wider for the generally heavier winds expected in the first few months. The other, Idaten, is built for lighter winds. One boat has a white mast, the other black, but the names aren't on the hulls. Gilmour sailed on the boat with the white mast but wouldn't say which one it was. -- Rich Roberts, Quokka Sports,

* Spring has sprung down here in the Southern Hemisphere - and it is displaying its temperamental nature in fine style. The week began with a blustery westerly - 25 - 35 knots and rain. "Fortunately" for the Stars & Stripes team, this was during a non-sailing break period as we prepared for and underwent our official pre-regatta measurement (which we passed with flying colors).

So a few of us headed across Auckland Harbor to beautiful Pine Harbor where we had arranged to take out a couple of Etchells (a three man 30 foot sailboat) to do some match race practice. As we left the dock on Monday morning amidst a blustery squall the raindrops turned hard and we found ourselves being pelted by hail. The temperature for the day couldn't have been much above 40 degrees and with the wind and the rain, it felt like I was back in Connecticut frostbiting! Needless to say, 25 - 35 knots of wind is not the ideal condition for refining your pre-start moves in match racing, but we had a great time and the good news is that Kenny Read and I didn't crash into each other in the borrowed boats!

The prefrontal Northwester shifted to a Southwester (the S. Hemisphere's equivalent of the good ol' Nor'wester from up north of the equator) and began to die as the week went on. By the end of the week (when Stars & Stripes was back in action after measurement) the sun was out and we were treated to our first two days of Auckland's NE seabreeze. Its still pretty gentle (under 10 knots) but as the air warms up - it should increase in punch. -- Peter Isler, Sailing World Editor at Large, Navigator - Team Dennis Conner,

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

-- From Mark Reynolds -- Pat Healy commented on the excellent management of the Sydney Harbour Regatta (which was certainly the case) but the lack of quick results. They were working on that. We were testing GPS based position transmitters on the boats during the regatta that will presumably in the future show positions of the boats as they go around the race course. We had them on all the Stars a few days (I got my hiking stick caught on the box a few times). They also had them on some of the other classes during the regatta including the Tornado, Soling and 49er. I didn't see any of the output but maybe someone else out there has more information on exactly how it will be used. They were also working on placing self contained video transmitters on the boats as well.

-- From Todd C Hedin -- San Francisco YC has a junior sailing program. The instructors are all collegiate dingy racers. For the past two summers, club members Glenn and Gaby Isaacson have made their Express 37, ReQuest, an "open boat" for the junior instructors to crew on in Friday night PHRF beer can races. It's been a great program for everybody all the way around -- lots of enthusiasm from the junior instructors, a nice opportunity to share knowledge (in both directions, at least for me as crew), fun sailing, a summer's worth of extra fleet start practices for Glenn, and good friendships for everybody. This year, toward the end of summer, the instructors put together a team of their own to sail a couple of Express 27 regattas. Glenn and Gaby found rides for two of their "Friday night crew" on another Express 37 in Big Boat Series. Glenn and Gaby occasionally filled in their crew for a race when one of their "regulars" couldn't make it for a "counter" fleet race during the season. All those juniors now have bigger boat experience on their sailing resumes.

>> From Niels Kisling -- Kids and sailing heroes. Great point about the lack of our sailing hereos appearing on the covers of the magazines. They all (the media) seem stuck on the "cruising-boat-at-tropical anchorage" theme or the "dinghy coming at you with sailors-hiking-out" theme. Being in the marine industry myself and finding that media advertising dollars are not as well spent as they were a decade ago, I encourage the magazines to try something new to boost their circulation and promote our sport/hobby/addiction/lifestyle/recreation.

Cruising kids...actaully boat delivery kids. Cristopher and Evan Wallace, 12 and 9, live in Laguna Beach and have about 14,000 and 6000 miles under them already. I sailed back from Cabo with Cristopher when he was less than two years old. Any other kids out there doing boat deliveries?

(I will remember to wear a target at The Annapolis International Boat Show next week for all you media people out there!)

Sunny, warm but testing conditions greeted the 51 competitors for the 1999 US Laser Masters Championships hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club at Oyster Bay on the north shore of Long Island, New York. Six races were sailed over the two days in mostly light conditions. Courses were all windward-leeward with the start/finish line being placed in the middle of the windward leg. The spring tides meant that the current played a big part bringing out the black flag on many of the starts and penalizing those who chose the wrong side of the first beat.

On the first day two light wind races were sailed before the disappeared for an hour. Patience brought in a northwesterly breeze which strengthened towards the end of the day with the fourth race allowing the sailors to stretch their legs in the in a 15-20 mph. Only two races were sailed on Sunday. Back flag starts and shortish first beats made a good start vital.

Handicapped results with one discard (Apprentices 35-44 = +3, Masters 45-54=+2, Grand Masters 55-64=+1, Great Grand Masters - over 65=0)

Final Results: 1. Chris Raab (A) 28 pts, 2. Peter "Seitech" Seidenberg (GM) 31 pts, 3. Peter Branning (M) 31 pts, 4. Rudy Ratsup (A) 38 pts, 5. Alden Shattuck (M) 42 pts,

First three in each category: APPRENTICES - 1 Chris Raab, 2 Rudy Ratsup; 3 Hank Thorburn, 4 Charles Willamson, 5 Ken "Over" Early, MASTERS - 1 Peter Branning, 2 Alden Shattuck, 3 David Frazier, 4 Ted Moore, 5 Eric Robbins. GRAND MASTERS - 1 Peter Seidenberg, 2 Joe van Rossem, 3 Lindsay Hewitt, 4 Tony Goeters, 5 Robin Jones, GREAT GRAND MASTERS - 1 Henry DeWolf jr, 2 Andy Schoettle, 3 Bob Spillman, 4 Robert Saltmarsh, 5 Don Acker, WOMEN 1. Sally Sharp, 2 Jean Field.

The North American Laser Masters series wraps up next weekend at Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport Connecticut with the North American Championships on October 1-3.

If you're into comparison shopping, you won't even have to leave your computer to make sure you're getting the very best deal. Just go to the new Sailing Supply webpage and you'll quickly learn that a Davis Hand Bearing Compass is $29.96; Douglas Gill 427 Dinghy Trousers are $109.65; a Schaefer Spinnaker Pole Slider Eye 1 1/4" track is $43.18 and Davis Air-Flow Tell Tails are $4.68. Obviously, they have lots of other stuff that you can shop for online and you can buy online as well. Check it out -- it's fun.

At 0930 the curmudgeon will be on a United Shuttle heading for the Masters Regatta (OFR) at St Francis YC. The plan is to issue 'Butt tomorrow morning from San Francisco but you never know. Just in case that doesn't happen, don't forget to watch Gary Jobson's Transpac Special on ESPN this Saturday, October 2 at 1:30 PDT. Onboard footage from the top boats tells the story of this record breaking run. Three boats were in it until the last 100 miles. Learn which strategy prevailed. As always, check your local listings for the time in your area.

Flatulence - n., the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.