Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

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 gun.

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,

* 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 Herald,

* 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,

All of your rigging needs are right at your fingertips, with experts standing by to make sure you don't make a mistake. Harken, Samson, Yale, Douglas Gill, Forespar, Lewmar, Ronstan, KVH, Spinlock, Marlow -- Sailing Supply not only has it, they'll ship it on the same day you call. You get the right stuff and the price is also right. They'll even pay for the call (800) 532-3831.

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 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 work.

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, too slow!

-- 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 failure.

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.

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,

What comes in Red, Navy Blue, Khaki and Grey, and can make a world of difference to your disposition when you're spending a day on the water? 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: --

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 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

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.