SCUTTLEBUTT #429 - October 29, 1999
* Representatives from the 11 challengers agreed on Friday to amend the
notorious rule 14.4 to prohibit repeats of last Wednesday's absurd
spectacle that saw more boats sailing alone than racing. If the America's
Cup Challengers Association approves the amendment, as is expected,
starting from Round Robin Two no boat may request a postponement to repair
a breakdown after the preparatory signal five minutes before the starting
Rule 14.4 is unique to the Louis Vuitton Cup. There's no such provision for
any other major regatta, and there certainly won't be in the Cup Match next
February when defender Team New Zealand is calling the shots. Ironically,
the rule's purpose was to allow crippled boats time to fix their problems.
Instead, it backfired into comical chaos last Wednesday when six boats
asked for postponements, including America True twice. Three were granted
by regatta operations director Vince Cooke and three were denied. America
True won one and lost one. In all, only Prada and Stars & Stripes among the
11 challengers finished every race of the first round intact.
Stars & Stripes navigator Peter Isler said, "When this starts going live
[on television] it's gonna look awful."
Friday's proposal, if approved, also would prevent a boat in tactical
difficulty moments before the start from bailing itself out by claiming a
disabling breakdown. The second round robin starts on 6 November. -- Rich
Roberts, Quokka Sports, http://www.americascup.org/
* Robin Robin One of the America's Cup has ended, so it's reasonable to
ask, what have we learned? From my perspective, there were not a lot of big
surprises, but there were some small ones.
Peter Gilmour's Nippon program was not quite as "together" as many
expected, and Dawn Riley's America True was more ready than the critics
predicted. And the "Big Three -- the well-funded, long-running programs of
Prada, AmericaOne and Young America -- were clearly the Big Three. In Round
One, it was easy to see the payback produced by time on the water and money.
By 9:30 AM this morning, many of the syndicates had pulled their rigs and
had their boats in the sheds with the door closed so curious eye could only
guess what was taking place inside. But not Prada. The Round One leaders
from Italy had both boats in the water and by mid-morning were on their way
out to the Hauraki Gulf for more two-boat testing. Although they were 10-0
in Round One, they have yet to decide which boat to race in Round Two.
Many are questioning if there enough time left and money available for the
late starters to catch up. But that's what Rounds Two and Three are all
about. - The Curmudgeon
* The opening scene of the America's Cup was short on drama and long on
farce. The disasters of the last week - no sailing, boats failing to turn
up at the startline, one-yacht races and other races being annulled - have
left puzzled Kiwis asking: is this is good as it gets?
The challengers were responsible for writing the rules. Today they have to
sit down with Cooke and decide if they need to change the words - that's if
they want to keep their followers following. One of the first questions
that has to be asked is: when is a yacht "disabled"? Is a broken batten
reason enough to delay the start of a race? And should the race be stopped
when the boats are in their pre-start ballet?
It was obvious that when the wind lifted to a moderate strength, bits of
these brand new, hi-tech boats began to break and few wanted to sail. Wind
limits have been set to ensure the fleet does not fall apart before they
find the strongest challenger to race Team New Zealand in February next
year. But they have to harden up to sail against the defenders, who want to
race in any breeze that's blowing - and they showed that as they blazed
through the middle of a challenger fleet who were pleading for time.
Team New Zealand will be giggling in their black boats right now as the
challengers whack themselves on the heads with a wet newspaper. Toughen up,
guys and girls - there's still a long way to go. And as far as Auckland's
winds are concerned - you ain't seen nothin' yet. -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ
* Bertrand Pace's Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel pulled out of the
competition, with Pace saying, "It is official that we are going to have a
new keel, new rudder and new bulb. We will also make the boat a bit longer,
a lot longer..." Designer Juan Koumoumdjian confirmed this saying, "The
back of the boat resembles an IMS boat and we would like to take advantage
of its potential by making it longer."
* FAST 2000's be hAPpy, was the "dog" of the round, hardly strong enough
to be let off its chain. It was retired early from the round so that
remedial treatment could be started on the hull and appendages. The latter
are fascinating in their denial of known approach to excellence, with twin
ballast bulbs on rudders fore and aft and no central keel at all, thereby
putting weight towards the "ends" of the boat. Certainly, FAST 2000 could
be renamed "SLOW 1999," as was suggested by a noted yachting writer. -- Bob
Fisher, Grand Prix Sailor, http://www.sailingworld.com
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PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS
Each May as the U.S. East Coast comes alive with the promise of summer,
some of the world's best high performance sailors gather on the beach in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the start of one of sailing's most grueling
races - the Worrell 1000. More like a nautical Tour de France than a
sailboat race, it is a unique, one-of-a-kind challenge that will take the
sailors north for 1,000 miles through 5 states, 13 oceanfront cities and a
special passage through the mind before finishing almost two weeks later in
Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Jam-packed with human drama, excitement, action and color, Barbara Lloyd of
the New York Times put it best when she wrote, "The Worrell 1000 tends to
be unlike any other sailboat competition on the planet." Indeed, there is
no other sporting event like the Worrell 1000 - anywhere in the world. And
for the sailor/athletes and shore crews who do the race most are drawn back
year after year for reasons even they find hard to articulate. These are
not thrill seekers looking for a quick fix, but world class athletes
pursuing the black belt of catamaran sailing. In fact, Worrell 1000
veterans hold 5 Olympic Silver Medals, 2 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year
Awards, 30 World Championship Titles in 10 different classes of sailboats,
8 Tornado World Championship Titles, and 11 Hobie World Championship Titles.
For more about the most competitive field ever for the 2000 event and a
major television deal see the Worrell 1000 web site:
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. But you only get one letter per
subject, so think it through carefully, and be ready to take any flack it
generates without whining.
-- From Chris Welsh -- Coming off a presentation by Bob Billingham, I
started to comprehend again the immenseness of these boats, their rigs, and
the effort going into each campaign. Sophisticated engineering and computer
analysis, workout regimens started 2 and 3 years ago - extreme dedication
to one goal! Simple tasks too are part of the critical path to winning -
like feeding and housing 100+ people in a land thousands of miles away.
Foibles like collisions, men overboard, etc, happen in sports which are
pushed to the limit. Tasks which seem simple - attaching a shackle to a
chute, clearing a fouled afterguy that is misled after a takedown - turn
challenging when the race is on and time is short.
How many people stop to contemplate that the enormous jibs on these boats
are dropped at the weather mark to a deck without hanks or lifelines to
catch the sail? In 20 knots of breeze? As a bowman, I am in awe of their
Formula One teams have $150 million dollar budgets and up to 600 employees.
Yet cars collide and/or fail frequently, and teams make brilliant and
stupid strategy calls. This is the essence of the event - the unexpected
turns taken in pursuit of excellence, and the dependence on every member of
the team and every part of the machine to work properly in order to win.
The AC campaigns are parallel - but still accessible to all of us, unlike
F1. Now if we could just get decent TV coverage.
-- From Al Lambert -- It is hard to believe that any race committee would
give redress for gear failure. The point of racing is to push the gear to
its design limits. There seems to be a lack of designed safety factors
built into the challenger boats that would prevent gear failure. Everyone
knows how hard the wind might blow there. There is no excuse for breakage!
Sailing might become a TV Sport if all of the gear failures happened in 25
Knots of wind, big seas, surfing overlapped into the leeward mark! (not
putting around before the start) Now that would be great to watch...
-- From Jeffrey Littell -- Can you imagine what would happen to today's AC
boats if they were sailed off Fremantle? The carnage would be worthy of a
pay per view television program! I'm quickly losing interest in the Cup for
the reason that boats that come apart in 15 knots of breeze are not of much
interest to me.
-- From Peter Huston -- Fast 2000 - two keels, too bulbs, too wierd - no,
-- From Larry Law -- In following the events leading up to and the recent
competition of the Louis Vitton series, I am left a bit dismayed at the
entire process and the event. What is troubling is best illustrated by the
comments of Paul Cayard in his report (published in 'Butt #428) concerning
his decision not to ask for redress in his last race after experiencing
troubles hoisting his main. "No problem caused by a competitor, no
advantage given by anyone to one competitor over another" - just equipment
The reports of the Louis Vitton over past couple weeks has read like a
Tanya Harding saga -- Oh! "but my skate came untied". Either you are ready
to race or you're not. My hat is off to Mr. Cayard. Your comments are a
great role model for us all.
I love the "look" and all the "hype" surrounding the new boats, but what
happened to having a boat that you could sail in the vagaries of Newport,
RI and San Diego as well as the bashing seas of the Indian Ocean off
Austrailia? Am I missing something here - or have we technologied and
narrowed ourselves to a point that we limit some of the excitement and
challenge right out of an event that was designed to pit man and machine
against the elements and each other? Gentlemen, I think we have lost sight
of the entire thing that made this the special event what it has
represented for a century and a half.
MORE AMERICA'S CUP
New Zealand sailor Gavin Brady has had to bite the bullet in his new job as
deputy to America's Cup master Paul Cayard. Brady, ranked No 2 in world
match racing for a time this year, is Cayard's back-up helmsman on
AmericaOne. Sounds like a glamour job, but one of Brady's main roles is to
stay upbeat as he "gets his butt kicked" every time he drives the practice
boat on the water. Yesterday, however, Brady evened the scores a little.
The master and his apprentice went sailing in three-man Etchells -
miniature cup boats - on the Waitemata Harbour, waiting for their raceboat
USA49 to be repaired. While Brady said the victories were 50-50 between him
and Cayard yesterday, it was obvious from shore that Brady's match racing
skills were a little more finely tuned.
Cayard convinced the boy from Timaru to join his crew after Brady had left
rival syndicate America True last summer to pursue his world match racing
career. At that stage Brady had vowed not to race in the America's Cup.
"Paul changed my mind. He said they had an opening in the team for me,"
Brady said. "It's one of those decisions in your life where you have to go
by your gut feeling. "And most of my match racing crew were already in the
team, so it was either join up or go and find another crew of guys. "Paul
has really allowed me to get into the heart of the team - he is the next
cup legend, today's competitive version of Mr America's Cup, Dennis Conner."
Brady is also thrilled to work alongside Kostecki again - the pair have won
two world Mumm 36 championships and sailed halfway around the world
together on Chessie Racing in the last Whitbread.
"The America's Cup is different," Brady said. "It can be long and tedious,
and there's only one reward - and that doesn't come until March next year.
-- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
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It's the Camet 3000 Sailing Shorts. They're made of fast drying Supplex and
are reinforced with a Cordura seat patch. Take the curmudgeon's advice and
use the optional 1/4 inch foam seat pads -- your butt will thank you. Check
it out the full line of high performance sailing gear: -- http://www.camet.com
On Saturday, 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 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,
sails 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. Demo
tables will address Radio Communications, the Crew List and the Role and
Responsibility of your Medical Person.
The Canadian Coast Guard will be present to answer questions, as will a
representative of a boat return company. Race Committee members will
provide information on events, containers, a flight info hotline and
spectator boats. There will be logo wear for sale. A light lunch of soup
and sandwiches will be served. If you have any questions regarding this
event please contact: Alex Adams, at (604) 730-2541 or by email at
Alex_Adams@ScottPaper.ca or Ron Ogilvy, Race Chairman at (604) 551-9608 or
When & Where: November 7, 1999 10:30am to 3:30pm Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
(main floor) 3811 Point Grey Road, Vancouver, BC (604) 224-1344
THE CURMUDGEON'S COUNSEL
If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.