SCUTTLEBUTT #409 - October 1, 1999
Philadelphia 30 September 1999: The world's fastest ocean sailing yacht
arrives today at the port of Philadelphia. World record setting yachtsman
and balloonist Steve Fossett's giant maxi-catamaran PlayStation has been
shipped from New Zealand to begin preparations for a late-October NY-UK
attack on the classic TransAtlantic record of 6 days 13 hours 3 minutes,
held since 1990 by Frenchman Serge Madec on Jet Services V. (In addition to
the international acclaim on offer, Jet Services - now a part of TNT -
have put up a FFr 200,000 prize to the boat that beats their record!).
The delivery sail from Philadelphia to New York City is scheduled for
October 6th- 7th (weather permitting). PlayStation will undergo two weeks
of further tests before setting off on approximately October 25th on the
standard 2888 mile course from Ambrose Light in New York Harbor to the
Lizard in Cornwall, UK. Joining Fossett's crew for the record attempt will
be the American former balloon rival - and latterly partner - Britain's
Richard Branson, the latest addition to the eleven man squad required to
handle the giant all-carbon fibre cat - and its 10,000+ square feet of
sail and 40 knot top speed.
"Richard invited me to fly with him on his Round the World balloon attempt
in December (1998); now I'm glad to be able to return the favour and invite
him to sail with me. He will be a PlayStation crew member with full
responsibilities" according to Skipper Fossett.
The Atlantic has been Branson's target before - both at sea and in the air.
He held the Blue Riband for the fastest powerboat crossing (June 1986) and
achieved the first hot air balloon crossing (July 1987).
Commenting on his confirmation, Richard Branson said: "When Steve asked me
to join the PlayStation crew I felt very privileged and fortunate. It is a
great challenge and will probably be the last classic sporting record to be
broken this century. The largest catamaran I have sailed is an 18 foot
Hobie, so PlayStation at 105 feet long could be called an exciting step up!"
PlayStation at 32m (105ft) overall length, was designed by Americans Gino
Morrelli and Pete Melvin (who are also on the crew) and was constructed in
New Zealand. She was launched only 9 months ago in Auckland and is already
officially the world's fastest sailboat, smashing the 24 Hour Record with
an extraordinary 580.23 nautical mile day between New Zealand and Norfolk
Island in March, 1999.
The TransAtlantic Crew: Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper, Stan Honey (USA)
Navigator, Brian Thompson (GB) Watch Leader, Ben Wright (AUS) Watch Leader,
Richard Branson (GB) Crew, Mark Callahan (AUS) Crew, Peter Hogg (NZ) Crew,
Pete Melvin (USA) Crew, Gino Morrelli (USA) Crew, Andrew Preece (GB)
Crew/camera David Scully (USA) Crew.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE
British company, Peters & May Ltd, have been appointed Official Freight
Co-ordinator for the Volvo Ocean Race, working in partnership with the
Volvo Transport Corporation. Peters & May will work closely with the Volvo
Transport Corporation, utilizing the global purchasing power of the Volvo
Group, to develop a world-class transport solution individually structured
to fulfil the needs of syndicates, sponsors and event organisers of the
Volvo Ocean Race Round the World 2001-2002.
This appointment underlines the importance that Volvo Ocean Race organisers
place on the logistical activities of the race. Peters & May together with
Volvo Transport will offer a cost effective and streamlined freight
management system which will be of benefit to all. In each port the Volvo
Ocean Race visits, there will be a dedicated team working within the
Freightnet system of specially selected local agencies Peters & May as
developed over the last thirty years. Each team has an intimate knowledge
in customs and immigration in their country as well as an excellent
understanding of the Volvo Ocean Race and will work under the guidance of
Peters & May. This already established network of specialists will
integrate with Volvo Transport, to form a world-class transportation
activity especially developed for the Volvo Ocean Race. -- Lizzie Green,
When you're hosting a regatta for a collection of seasoned campaigners that
includes Lowell North, Roy Dickson, Bill Buchan, Don Trask, Dick Deaver,
Malin Burnham, Bruce Kirby, Bob Johnstone and the curmudgeon -- you won't
dare offer anything but the very best regatta apparel. And that's exactly
why St. Francis YC asked Frank Whitton's Pacific Yacht Emboidary to do the
shirts and jackets for their Masters Invitational Regatta. If you call
Frank, you'll quickly learn what so many regatta organizers already know --
high quality crew apparel can be affordable. Pacyacht@aol.com / 619-226-8033
* From a sailor's perspective, the only downfall to a beautiful sunny day
in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf is lack of wind. Which is exactly what Friday,
September 24 brought to the America's Cup training ground. Although sun and
cloudless skies were a relief from the rain and hail that the past two
weeks have delivered, no wind on the water means no sailing for anyone.
We left the dock at 9:30am yesterday morning with a full practice day ahead
of us. After all, this is the America's Cup and every day on the water -
wind or no wind - counts! After our tender, the Daintry II, towed us around
the Gulf for a few hours searching for breeze, Skipper Dennis Conner asked
team member (and native New Zealander) Erle Williams if there were any
local spots that would be a good place to bring the crew ashore for lunch.
"Absolutely," Erle replied, "we should swing over to Waiheke Island and eat
lunch at the Onetangi Hotel." And the rest is "no wind history."
Although the hotel's restaurant was closed for the afternoon, a call from
our team's strategist (and local sailing legend) Murray Ross, was enough
for the hotel's staff to kick into gear and create a spectacular lunch for
The locals on Waiheke were ecstatic to see our tender drop anchor off the
beach, with the Stars & Stripes tied to her and the crew heading in for an
unexpected afternoon lunch stop. One surfer running up the beach asked our
sponsor relations expert Jerry LaDow to autograph his surfboard and
everyone at the Onetangi Hotel was genuinely thrilled to see Dennis in
So although training for an America's Cup can be strenuous and draining,
the generosity and eminence of Skipper Dennis Conner is appreciated by his
crew and recognized by New Zealanders more and more each day. Perhaps the
afternoon was best described by bowman Geordie Shaver, "I though I'd died
and gone to America's Cup heaven." Stars & Stripes website,
* If the wind gods are kind today, the Hauraki Gulf will become a very
busy place. Three more boats are ready to join the fleet of challengers on
the gulf course in the countdown to Race One of the Louis Vuitton Cup on
Prada's first Luna Rossa (ITA 45) boat was dipped into the water outside
its base for the first time yesterday since arriving in New Zealand. The
Italian crew had worked late into the night on Wednesday, stepping the
mast, but ran out of time yesterday to sail the boat.
Young America's second boat (USA-58), will make its debut today if the
winds lighten from the 20-plus knots the New Yorkers shied away from
yesterday. And Paul Cayard's AmericaOne has now put the rig in their only
completed boat in Auckland, USA-49. The Swiss and Hawaiians are still busy
working behind closed doors in their sheds in the America's Cup village,
while the Young Australian boat, AUS-29, remains high and dry on its
Tension is rising out on the Hauraki Gulf as the challengers check each
other out. Young America's first boat, USA-53, was dogged by chase boats
from eight different syndicates one day earlier this week. Non-Stop Action
in Auckland. -- Susan McFadden, Louis Vuitton Website:
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.com)
Letters selected to be printed are routinely edited for clarity, space (250
words max) or to exclude personal attacks.
-- From Helen Johnstone Falk -- In response to Robert Bethune's comment:
"I'm tired of the constant drumbeat that sailing has to become a big-bucks,
big-money, big-t.v., big-media sport and why can't sailing continue to be a
participant activity and why does it have to become a spectator activity".
Sailing does not "HAVE" to become all of the above mentioned; it has simply
EVOLVED into a" big media sport", like any sport does, when the "big media"
discovers how lucrative it can be for them to focus on a sport like sailing
that has all of the elements the media looks for in a sport: the
excitement; the thrill; the risk; the ever evolving and changing high
technology; the simple enjoyment; the competitiveness and the list goes
on and on.
And, what great free advertising for the sport of sailing that the media
has caught on; it is excellent exposure for the "spectators" who may become
"participants". I am sure a survey of "spectators" turned "participants"
would confirm this.
-- From Jim Puckett -- In 'Butt 408, you mentioned that in the upcoming
America's cup, "According to the rules, races will not be run in steady
winds above 23 knots." I think it's interesting that people wonder why
yacht racing, and the Americas' Cup in particular, seem to have such
trouble attracting sponsors and TV coverage when there are rules like this
Here we have millions of dollars being spent on boats that in most
conditions can't even exceed their own hull speed, and are therefore slower
downwind than even a modest sportboat. Then they make a rule that they
won't race in perhaps the only conditions that would make them truly
exciting to watch even to the non-sailor. Imagine leeward mark roundings
with two IACC boats converging in 25 knot winds- now that would be fun!
Alas, thanks to the rules, it's something we'll probably never see.
-- From Jan Visser, PIYA Youth Coordinator -- Re Butt 408, you have just
tickeled my fancy when you talk about kids and their hero's. In past years
'92, '93, '94 and some of '95 the winners of the US Sailing Youth
Championships, Sears-Bemis-Smythe and others were treated to the masterful
coverage of Media Pro. American Sailor bristled with the smiling faces,
charging for the finish, Beuhler & Ames, the dynamic duo of the
doublehanded circuit, they won everything in sight. These were just kids,
the Battle of the Best in '94 Sears, a team of youngsters, not rolling in
money, just average kids having a great time, the coverage was incredible,
what do we see now? Not much!
In '98 that '94 Sears Team got together to talk over old times and
discovered that the Men's Championships were being held in their home town
area, could they do it, well they went to the elims and won, shortly there
after the ventured into Victoria, B.C., and the rest is history. The Team
of Bergan, Visser and Oliverio-Guitron, Sears '94 became the '98 Men's
Champion's, a great story, the only team to do it as far as we could tell.
Sailing World agreed, great story. Did they ever write it? No!
Look at the coverage these days, not much, sponsorship gone, costs through
the roof. Not much inspiration here.
-- From Kathy McKenzie (In response to Pat Healy's letter) -- When the IBM
server went down at the beginning of the Sydney Harbour Regatta I put up
the provisional results for the first five placings by about 6pm (Sydney
time) on Boating OZ at http://www.boatingoz.com.au. I continued to do this
throughout the regatta as results were not on the official website or the
ISAF site until much later in the evening. I will do the same next year if
I have to.
PS to Mark Reynolds -- Information on the MTS and DGTS systems are on
Boating OZ at http://www.boatingoz.com.au/news2000rm.htm This page also
gives a break down of the boats and volunteers used in the Sydney Harbour
Regatta and to be used in the Olympics.
On November 7th the Vic-Maui Race Committee will be hosting an Information
and Safety Seminar Day. Similar to last year's format, this daylong
activity will consist of a series of speakers on several pertinent issues
related to race strategy and safety. Subjects covered will include:
rigging and gear, use of flares and life rafts, crewing anecdotes,
navigation and tactics, sail maintenance and provisioning.
In addition to the seminars there will be several vendors present who will
present information on their equipment, including radios, satellite
telephones, liferafts, beacons and alarms. The Canadian Coast Guard will
be present to answer questions, as will a representative of a boat return
company. Of course, the Race Committee members will be present to answer
questions. If you know of relevant vendors who would like to participate,
please contact one of the undersigned.
This "don't miss it" event will be hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht
Club, on the Main floor, from 10:30 am until approximately 3:30 pm. A
light lunch of soup and sandwiches will be served. -- Peter Bennett
WHEN & WHERE November 7, 1999 10:30am to 3:30pm Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
3811 Point Grey Road, Vancouver, BC (604) 224-1344
Questions: Ron Ogilvy (604) 551-9608 / firstname.lastname@example.org
I think my favorite part is the deep pockets. Sure, I like the great look
of my Camet sailing shorts; and the fact that Supplex really dries quickly;
and the way the Cordura seat patch stands up to course non-skid patterns.
And Lord knows I love the 1/4-inch foam pads that can be inserted into the
seat patch to eliminate fanny fatigue. But I still think I like the deep
pockets best. They hold lots of stuff, but more importantly -- nothing ever
falls out. NEVER. Take a look for yourself - they come in four great colors
(Red, Navy Blue, Khaki, Grey): http://www.camet.com/
Gary Jobson's Transpac Special on ESPN is scheduled for Saturday, October 2
at 1:30 PDT. As always, check your local listings for the time in your area.
(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.)
Conditions are starting to improve as the wind starts to swing to the
North, and even the sun is out. There is still a great deal of concern over
a number of competitors beating their way across the Bay of Biscay. Last
night the skippers saw the peak in conditions, and the sea-state ferocious
especially near to the northern western tip of Spain.
Early this morning Frenchman Xavier More was airlifted from his Mini after
abandoning his boat during the height of the storm. This was followed a few
hours later the activation of the distress beacon of Brit Paul Peggs. A
spotter plane was sent to the area to verify the status of a number of
competitors including Paul. Nothing was seen, and a second plane plus an
RAF Nimrod were dispatched late morning, as well as a SNSM lifeboat to the
scene of the EPIRB signal. The Nimrod reported seeing the hull of a Mini
Transat boat in a position that corresponded with the EPIRB, and the colour
of Blue One. A commercial ship in the sector was diverted to the position
to verify the situation. The Nimrod then located the yacht again, and this
time ascertained that it was indeed Paul Peggs, but that the boat was the
right way up, and had been dismasted. Relief for the Peggs Team and the
rescue services who had done an excellent job.
In the meantime two more competitors were picked up by helicopter after
activating their safety beacons - Herve Gourdon and Radolphe Jacq. No more
details are known at this time. All skippers are now accounted for and safe.
These boats, whilst just 6.5metres, are fitted out to extremely high safety
levels - with both 406MHz EPIRBS and backup ARGOS beacon, full ocean
liferafts and full survival suits obligatory.
In the race, Sebastian Magnen continues to stretch his lead, as he makes
his way down the Portuguese coast, but he is closely followed by two
non-french youngsters making very good progress in the past hard 24 hours.
Kiwi Chris Sayer (Navman) is now in second place according to the satellite
positioning system, with Britain's Alex Bennett (English Braids) in 4th
place. Alex is sailing my own ex-Carphone Warehouse, a boat which has
always been known for its solid upwind performance. He has covered the most
miles in the fleet since the last positions, 77 miles - doesn't seem much,
but if you can imagine what they have been sailing in to, its very good
going! Chris and Alex have something in common, with Seb as well - they
have sailed many miles on their well proven boats - and are tough guys
capable of just pushing on through the last couple of very hard and
uncomfortable days at sea. -- Offshore Challenges, www.offshorechallenges.com
Full positions and charts at http://www.mini-transat.org
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
You know you are getting old when you bend down to do up your shoelaces and
ask yourself "what else can I do while I'm down here."