Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT #411 - October 5, 1999

Chicago Yacht Club held the Vanguard 15 Nationals and the Jimmy Talbot Memorial Laser regatta over the weekend. Chicago served up typical October weather (albeit colder than normal with the coldest recorded high on Sunday of 46 degrees beating the previous coldest temperature by 6 degrees). We had consistent 14-20 knot breezes and 4-8 foot seas, making it tough going on the race committee (which ran two circles for the events and had 28 total people involved). 12 safety boats were busy before the first race as the windiest weather of the regattas came through and encouraged those who were marginal in their boats and those who underestimated the cold temperatures to retire.

The Vanguards started the first race with 39 starters of the 59 registered. The Lasers had 21 competitors with comparable fallout. Boats came from Florida (to win the Lasers) and California as well as the east coast and Midwest. The Vanguards were won by a newer Vanguard sailor from Houston, Kevin Funsch. Team Texas came together with 6 boats on one trailer. The courses were mostly triangles with windward leewards encouraging as much surfing (and ooching in the Vanguards) as possible. Competitors went home saying they had the best rides of their lives on the reaches. -- Betsy Altman

Complete results:

On October 1, the ISAF updated the 'official' world rankings for Olympic Classes:

49er: 1 Adam BEASHEL /Teague CZISLOWSKI (AUS) 2 Marc AUDINEAU /Julien FARNARIER (FRA) 3 Chris NICHOLSON /Daniel PHILLIPS (AUS) 5 Jonathan McKEE /Charlie McKEE (USA) 6 Morgan LARSON /Kevin HALL (USA)

Laser: 1 Ben AINSLIE (GBR) 2 Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) 3 Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) 23 Mark MENDELBLATT (USA) 33 Bill HARDESTY (USA) 34 Brett DAVIS (USA)

470 men: 1 Gildas PHILIPPE /Tanguy CARIOU (FRA) 2 Alvaro MARINHO /Miguel NUNES (POR) 3 Johan MOLUND /Mattias RAHM (SWE) 6 Paul FOERSTER/ Bob MERRICK (USA) 29 Steven HUNT /Michael MILLER (USA)

470 Women: 1 Ruslana TARAN /Olena PAHOLCHYK (UKR) 2 Susanne WARD /Michaela WARD (DEN) 3 Sofia BEKATOROU /Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) 15 Whitney CONNOR /Elizabeth KRATZIG (USA) 18 Tracy HAYLEY /Louise VAN VOORHIS (USA)


Mistral Men: 1 Aaron MCINTOSH (NZL) 2 Joao RODRIGUES (POR) 3 Nicolas HUGUET (FRA) 31 Mike GEBHARDT (USA) 56 Peter WELLS (USA)

Mistral Women: 1 Faustine MERRET (FRA) 2 Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) 3 Lai Shan LEE (HKG) 14 Lanee BUTLER (USA) 52 Cara REID (USA)

Finn: 1 Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) 2 Iain PERCY (GBR) 3 Fredrik LOOF (SWE) 38 Darrell PECK (USA) 46 Eric OETGEN (USA)

Europe: 1 Margriet MATTHIJSSE (NED) 2 Sari MULTALA (FIN) 3 Shirley ROBERTSON (GBR) 29 Meg GAILLARD (USA) 52 Hannah SWETT (USA)

Star: 1 Colin BEASHEL /David GILES (AUS) 2 Mark REYNOLDS /Magnus LILJEDAHL (USA) 3 Alexander HAGEN /Carsten WITT (GER) 5 John MACCAUSLAND /George IVERSON (USA) 8 Peter VESSELLA /Kevin MURPHY (USA) 9 Eric DOYLE /Tom OLSON (USA)

Tornado: 1 Darren BUNDOCK /John FORBES (AUS) 2 Roland GAEBLER /Rene SCHWALL (GER) 3 Mitch BOOTH /Andrew LANDENBERGER (AUS) 12 John LOVELL /Charlie OGLETREE (USA) 22 Robbie DANIEL /Jacques BERNIER (USA)

Complete rankings:

I think it's a mistake. The Douglas Gill website lists hiking boots on the Dinghy / One-design page. While everyone knows they're perfect for small boat sailing, they are also the curmudgeon's choice for offshore races. In fact, Gill hiking boots are the only boots I've taken offshore for more than a decade -- years before Gill started advertising in Scuttlebutt. They're 100% natural rubber with a quick drying lining and a razor cut, soft compound non-slip sole that gives great traction every kind of deck. And they're really waterproof. Check them out -- you can order online:

Which Star fleet has won the most World Championships?
A. Kieler
B. Western Long Island Sound
C. Stockholm
D. San Diego Bay

Answer at the end of this issue of 'Butt.

Dennis Conner is to the America's Cup what William Webb Ellis is to the rugby World Cup: a mixture of mystery, myth, legend and history have made both these enigmatic characters the subjects of rumour, innuendo, speculation and lies. Conner is larger than life. A complex character, his moods can fluctuate from charming to uncouth, shy to arrogant and even-tempered to darn right nasty faster than a windshift on the Waitemata.

One thing that doesn't change is his passion for sailing and his obsession with the America's Cup. No matter what you think of him, Conner is the world's best-known yachtsman. He has won four America's Cups, three Etchells 22 championships, two Star Word championships, an Olympic medal and dozens of national championships in the United States.

This sailor understands better than anyone else that tragically, the America's Cup is not won only on the water, but equally importantly, it is a business planned in distant boardrooms and often decided in committee rooms where appeals are finalized hours after the event. Conner knows the America's Cup game, plays it to perfection but at times leaves you in no doubt that he hates the corporate crawling he has to do to keep his campaign afloat.

I first met Dennis three or four years ago. He had done a deal (Dennis is always doing deals) with the Sheraton Hotel to speak at a business luncheon there. I was approached to be the master of ceremonies, and not being backward about doing the odd deal myself, I accepted on the condition that Dennis grant me a television interview immediately after he'd spoken.

The deal was done. The audience was packed with Armani suits, Aldo Brue Italian shoes, Pierre Cardin ties and starched Hugo Boss shirts. Dennis was more nervous than you or I would be sailing through icebergs in the Antarctic in 30m seas.

Conner fronts because he has to. It is all part of the game. Even before he started to speak, he was sweating profusely and anxiously seeking assurance from anyone within earshot that this audience wouldn't attack him. Attack him? What a joke. There is more likelihood of Tonga beating the All Blacks than that happening. The moment he got to the microphone and steadied himself on the lectern, Conner was in charge.

He is a master showman, an entertainer, decked out in his Stars and Stripes tie, playing the audience like a concert pianist. He knows what they want and he gives it to them, cliches tried and tested over time.

As soon as it was over we headed for the next room for the television interview but not before the usual Conner confrontation. "How long is this interview?" Dennis asks. "Half-an-hour," I reply. "That's not what I was told. Ten minutes was the word I was given," he snapped back.

" Well, Dennis, It's over you. It has always been half-an-hour and the cameras will roll for that long. I know you're not in the habit of sitting through the entire interview on New Zealand television but I'd like to think you'd made it through this one," I answered.

He did. He was magic. The moment the cameras stopped and the lights went down, he was off. No niceties, no pleasantries, the job was done and he was out of it. We packed the gear and 20 minutes later I was standing on my own in front of the hotel musing about what made Conner tick.

Suddenly, from behind, there was a gentle poke in the back. I turned and there in front of me was a different Dennis Conner. He had on a baseball hat, old sailing shirt, and a pair of shorts, boat-shoes and a huge grin. Dennis Conner was going sailing and was at peace with his world.

At the end of the day Conner is a sailor. He would be happy sailing in a P-class around the viaduct basin against Coutts, Cayard and Co for the America's Cup.

One thing remains clear: without Dennis Conner, we simply would not have a real America's Cup event. -- Murray Deake, Weekend Herald, NZ

* Today, Abracadabra 2000 welcomed one of sailing's premier families, the DeVos', as major supporters of their America's Cup Challenge. The DeVos' are one of the original founding families of Amway Corporation, and a Michigan sailing icon. As Doug DeVos notes, the DeVos family's association with Abracadabra 2000 is the result of a long-term relationship with sailing, and with racing competitor, Dr. James R. Andrews. "We've raced against Jim Andrews and his Abracadabra crew for more than a decade, as far back as the 50-foot class, and most recently in 1D48s. He's an intensely focused professional and one tough competitor. The opportunity to join forces with Jim and his family to compete in America's Cup 2000 is something we are all looking forward to."

The DeVos' participation in all areas of the campaign will be extensive, with family members Rich, Doug and Dick taking active roles on the Aloha Racing Foundation Board of Directors. Rich DeVos joins Richard Scrushy, (Chairman of the Board and CEO of HealthSouth Corporation), as honorary co-chairman. Doug DeVos joins Dr. James R. Andrews as co-chairman, and Dick DeVos joins the campaign as a board member. --DJ Cathcart,

* Dawn Riley was a smiling skipper as her America's Cup boat won its first race on the Hauraki Gulf yesterday. Don't panic - racing hasn't started without you. Five boats turned out for a fleet race on the Cup course yesterday, complete with marker buoys, patrol boats and the starter's gun.

It was the start of a shakedown for the Louis Vuitton Cup race committee and their volunteers who will control the race course during the challenger series, which kicks off in 12 days. All the 11 challenger syndicates were invited to front up at the start-line, and four took up the offer.

America True, Riley's co-ed campaign, brought their new boat, USA51, and their trial horse, NZL39, for a day's outing. "The race committee cheered and clapped when we turned up first," Riley said. They were joined by the French Le Defi, the Spanish Challenge and Young Australia, making their first real jaunt out on the gulf.

The syndicates who accepted the race invitation are all one-race-boat campaigns. It is unlikely that any two-boat teams will bother to get into an inter-syndicate duel before real racing starts. In contrast to what the challengers had been warned to expect - wild winds in October - the race start was postponed when there was not enough breeze. But when the gun went off early in the afternoon, the French boat Sixieme Sens led the small fleet across the line.

America True headed out to the right side of the diamond-shaped course and picked up a windshift which put them comfortably ahead for the rest of the race. "It was a great way to get everyone into race mode mentally," Riley said. "It was a very gentle introduction in a light breeze." The second True boat, with Kiwi Leslie Egnot at the wheel, finished third behind the Spanish Bravo Espanol, and ahead of the French.

The young Australian crew had a day of extremes in their 1995 boat, AUS29. As experienced crewman Rob Brown explained: "We wobbled our way around the track. "It was our first sail for a while and the boys were just so happy to get out there after six weeks in boatbuilding mode." Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald,

* AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, Oct. 5, 1999 - The NYYC/Young America Challenge took stablemates USA 53 and USA 58, both named Young America, sailing on the Hauraki Gulf together today for the first time. The culmination of an intensive four-year research and development program, the two new IACC racing yachts were sailed side-by-side on the America's Cup course just 13 days from the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Races for the America's Cup.

Under brilliant sunny skies and in light to moderate breeze on the Hauraki Gulf, the team lined the two boats up to begin testing between the new hulls and rigs. Over the next two weeks, the team will also practice starts and maneuvers in preparation for Round Robin One of racing.

"Today was incredible," said skipper Ed Baird. "We've waited a long time for this day. To have both our two boats sailing together is a huge step in our program. We can race and test the boats against each other and push our crew to learn more and be race ready. Now we will begin to reap the benefits of our two-boat campaign," Baird said.

An ecstatic Kimo Worthington declared the day "perfect" as the boats were hoisted from the water at dusk. "It was a perfect day. Flat water, sunny skies, nine to 12 knots of wind and the Hauraki Gulf had America's Cup boats dotting the horizon in all directions. It was the ideal day at the office," declared the Young America Sailing Team Manager. -- Jane Eagleson,

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

-- From Ali Meller, VP International 505 Class Yacht Racing Association -- I believe that anytime the boat and owner or skipper are named, the entire crew should be as well... so if you list the top ten boats and skippers or owners, you should list the top ten crews as well. As we are fond of noting in the 505 class, the crew beats the skipper across the finish line in every race! We frequently list the crew first in the results.

-- From Ken Guyer (In response to Joe Ozelis comments in Butt #410 regarding media coverage) -- I would have to say that I have met quite a few people who took up sailing as a direct result of the '87 Cup and the events held in San Diego. I had the privilege of skippering Stars & Stripes '86 for more than three years here in San Diego. Invariably I encountered people from all over the U.S. who came down to look at the 12 meter. The most reoccurring comment I heard, "I stayed up till all hours just to watch the races in Australia. Got so excited about what I saw, I tried sailing and fell in love with it".

This demonstrates that positive media coverage about sailing does sell the sport to new enthusiasts. What needs to be done is a better job of media relations within the sport on the local levels. The media needs to be educated about the sport. Local yacht clubs need to build a relationship with local media and push for coverage. Understanding how both electronic and print media operate will result in better coverage of local events.

Joe is correct, it is our job to promote the sport. One of the most effective tools of promotion for any endeavor is media. But, it is not easy and quite often the effort seems to be way beyond what little coverage you get, but it is an avenue to grow both the recreation and the sport. It takes time and patience, but it is worth the effort.

-- From Don McDougall -- I still remember my 1st "Cup" party, we drank and sat up and waited to watch the races back in Austrailia. Mostly cruisers and club racers. Many were turned on and became more active in racing. Anything that promotes the sport is good, and there are more folks watching then we may think.

-- From Bill Carey, San Diego, CA -- For my money, working the bow on the Mumm 30 is harder than any boat I've sailed on. The bow's duties include: hoisting a huge masthead kite that fills as soon as it is hoisted past the hounds; dump the jib; end-for-end the extra-long pole in a jibe; hoist the jib and stow the pole for the douse; single-handedly douse the enormous spinnaker through one of the smallest forward hatches in sailing (without stuffing the jib sheets with it); and get to the rail and hike with enough breath to start calling waves, puffs, and relative boatspeed. In one-design racing you have to do all these jobs at the last minute to protect or obtain overlaps. Also, your the only person on the crew who has to dive through the boom-vang during the tack, and your working with significant loads on a pretty unstable platform.

I'm sure other people think that bigger boats have tougher bow positions, but I think that with bigger boats come bigger crews. The bow is split into bow, mid-bow, and mast positions making everyone's responsibilities easier to manage. I just wanted to know what other Scuttlebutt readers thought.

(Note: The Mini Transat is a single-handed 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.)

Neither the Bay of Biscay nor the Mini-Transat needed its dangerous reputation restated, but that happened last week when big seas and gales tore the 70-boat fleet to shreds just days after 70 solo sailors set off from the Breton port of Concarneau.

Amid broken masts, fractured limbs and damaged yachts, 20 have abandoned the race, 10 are resting ashore and another clutch are simply unaccounted for because the yachts carry only short-range VHF radios and unreliable ARGOS position beacons. A passing cargo ship happened upon one dismasted competitor yesterday, the first the organisers knew of it.

Estimates put the singlehanders still in the race between 19 and 31, though the numbers back at sea have been boosted by the Pogo class competitors, 18 of whom have restarted as an unofficial race-within-a-race to complete the Concarneau to Canaries first leg.

Originally created by Bob Salmon, the Mini-Transat has been a singularly French pursuit for two decades. But Mark Tuner's fifth and Ellen MacArthur's 17th place in the 1997 event helped make the race more international. Bennett and Paul Peggs (the Briton rescued last week) are seeking to emulate MacArthur and French sailors Isabelle Autissier, Yves Parlier and Laurent Bourgnon, who launched their professional careers with the Mini-Transat.

So why would Cape, who is already at the top of the sport having navigated Dennis Conner's Whitbread boat twice and raced in the 1995 America's Cup on oneAustralia, trade down to a yacht small enough to fit into his living room? "The simplicity attracted me and I was tired of the problems in the big projects," he said. "Basically I just wanted to do something for myself." -- Tim Jeffery, Daily Telegraph, UK,

Reports & photography can be found on:

The annual Aldo Alessio Memorial Race out of St. Francis Yacht Club which started on October 1st was attended by only three sleds this year, Taxi Dancer, Mongoose and Grand Illusion. The race has sometimes been under wild conditions with the finish at the infamous Pt. Conception. Although it was blowing 25 knots at the point, racers were plagued by light air and 50 degree wind shifts on the way down and all three boats quit and went into Monterey after 24 hours of unexciting conditions.

The only real excitment in the race was the fact that an intercontinental unarmed ballistic missle was shot out of Vandenberg on Saturday night and the boats would be subject to forced course change and/or boarding by the Coast Guard if they were in the area.

Much like the race, the missle was blown out of the sky by another missle launched from the Marshall Islands. The boat most affected by this race result is Taxi Dancer which needed only a second place to take the ULDB 70 Championship Series for the year.

With a DNF by Taxi the trophy will go to Brack Duker's Evolution, unless a substitute race is put in place by the end of the year. The sleds have two throw outs in their series. -- Jane Watkins, ULDB 70 Class Director

It's just a phone call away. You can get Harken, Samson, Yale, Douglas Gill, Forespar, Lewmar, Ronstan, KVH, Spinlock, Marlow and lots more by phone - at the right price, shipped the same day. And you don't have to worry about making a mistake -- the knowledgeable and helpful staff at Sailing Supply will insure you always get the right stuff. Give them a call, or stop by their San Diego retail store, the Boat Shop: (800) 532-3831.

The World Blind Sailing Championships are scheduled for October 16-22, 1999 at Shake-A-Leg Miami in Coconut Grove. Fourteen countries have registered for the races. They are Argentina, Canada, England, Finland, France, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the USA. The schedule of events is as follows: October 16-17 is Practice racing; October 16 is the Italian Blind Sailing Demonstration, October 17 is the Opening Ceremonies at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club; October 18-22 is Racing; October 20 is International Night; October 22 is the Awards Banquet. -- Glen Brandenburg,

Shame on you if you didn't know that the powerful San Diego Star Fleet has claimed the most Star class World Championships.

You can't have everything; where would you put it?