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SCUTTLEBUTT #432 - November 3, 1999

When umpiring was first introduced for Match Racing in the America's Cup, the argument was that it would be great for TV and it would effectively simplify the rules. No more three hour protest hearings with sea lawyers presenting arcane rules and picayune interpretations. Well, it's certainly better for TV, but over time the rules have become even more complicated by the umpires' call book. The only difference is now they have the picayune arguments and twisted interpretations in advance, and then publish them in a book. This creates a tremendous barrier for entry into the game, and makes the players and umpires self-perpetuating. And most calls on the water are incomprehensible to even knowledgeable sailors who are not experienced match racers.

What if we changed the umpiring rules so that every protest was a mandatory penalty to one boat or the other? No green flags! When a red flag is waved, someone is penalized. If the umpires have no idea what the protesting boat is complaining about, they penalize the protestor. If they didn't see the incident, they penalize the protestor. If both boats protest, they penalize one or the other, guessing if they have to.

Gee whiz, no more whining, and no more frivolous protests. In fact, there may be no protests at all, from the fear of getting a self-inflicted penalty. The rules get simplified, and the winner is the boat that sails better. The umpires can still have their call book and twisted interpretations, but my bet is that good skippers would not take the risk of protesting for a complicated situation. Ironically, the quality of the sailing might just vary inversely with the quality of the umpiring!

And while I'm fixing match racing, what could be more boring than the current match racing starts? Boats enter from both ends and then promptly go head to wind and sit there luffing for four minutes, occasionally interrupted by protest flags for who knows what. What if the length of the line was the distance it takes the boats to sail in forty-five seconds, and the starting period was just one minute from the entry? Dial em up, luff for ten seconds, and then tack, dip or bear away and go.

Fast Track Yacht Management of Newport, Rhode Island announces their agreement with Premiere Racing to manage a hauling and launching facility at GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week 2000. "In recent years there has been a real need for professionally run launch, haul, and mast stepping operation for the single pick-point boats that compete in Key West," said Event Director Peter Craig of Premiere Racing. "We're delighted to be working with Fast Track Yacht Management to ensure that Race Week yacht owners have this first-rate service available at reasonable cost."

Fast Track will provide professional, affordable services for single point one-design and PHRF boats. Centrally located at the Truman Annex Navy Basin, Fast Track will be operating a 30-Ton Crane to provide launching, hauling and mast-stepping. To make preparations easier, there will be a pre-regatta staging area and trailer storage as well. Convenient Launch and Haul times will be scheduled. All prices for services will be predetermined.

Fast Track's team of experienced boatwrights will also be on site through out the week to provide mast stepping, boat set-up and repairs before, during and after Key West Race Week. Fast Track's team can provide their successful "Step-on, Step-off" boat set-up and breakdown, saving time for busy crews.

They will have Mumm 30 and 1D35 Charters available, in addition to hardware and replacement parts. Fast Track will also be providing boat trucking, winter storage and regular repair/maintenance work. Fast Track carries insurance to cover liability, trucking and yard services. Contact: Terence Glackin, 401-845-0871 --Amy Gross-Kehoe

I don't care what kind of sailing you do -- Douglas Gill's line of foul weather gear and gloves is soooo huge they'll have EXACTLY what you want. And their gear is the most comfortable you can buy. The stuff is so good that Gill guarantees all of it against defects in material and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. You can shop online, and one look at their website will make you a believer, just like the curmudgeon. Now tell me again - what are you waiting for?

* Young Australia could be sailing a different, faster America's Cup boat in the second round of the challenger series this weekend. The Australians are negotiating to take possession of OneAustralia - the only boat to have beaten Team New Zealand in the 1995 America's Cup - to sail through the rest of the Louis Vuitton Cup series.

OneAustralia - the one which did not sink off San Diego - has been used by Paul Cayard's AmericaOne syndicate as a trial horse for the new USA49 in Auckland. But last night there were legal matters being checked out with the America's Cup arbitration panel to make sure that the handover would not breach rules stopping the transfer of technology between syndicates.

Young Australia battled through the first round with AUS29, Syd Fischer's boat which finished last in 1995, using a mast from 1992. They won one race of 10. Under the rules, the team would be able to sail OneAustralia because it was designed and built in Australia. It is understood that AmericaOne have made no changes to the boat while they have had it, and yesterday it passed a measurer's inspection.

OneAustralia has been described as the second-fastest boat in San Diego four years ago - it was at least one minute faster than Fischer's boat. But Young Australia will still have the oldest boat in the fleet.

The young crew have a bye on the opening day of round two on Saturday, but would race their new boat against Le Defi France on Sunday. If the Young Australians fail to acquire OneAustralia, they have made alterations to AUS29, among them moving the mast forward. -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald,

* With three days remaining to the start of Round Robin Two of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the French challenger Le Defi went sailing today on the Hauraki Gulf in her new configuration. While her new fin keel, bulb and rudder were hidden underwater, Le Defi's new white-coloured sugar-scoop transom stood out boldly against her bright orange hull. As part of the underwater changes, the French boat got new long, slender wings on the new bulb, replacing the stubby fences on the old bulb. The boat was measured overnight, and passed measurement, along with three other challengers.

Today, the French boat joined other teams, including New Zealand, which went training in a fresh northeaster. Gale force conditions forecast for tomorrow, Thursday, may prevent trials and training for the remainder of the week.

Even before the end of racing in Round Robin One, the French challenger was pulled from the water in preparation for the changes. Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel forfeited one point in its scheduled race against the Italian Prada Challenge to begin preparing the boat, but waited until the end of racing, and the consequent end of the "no change" period, before workers began removing the keel. Three technicians from the Multiplast Yard joined crew and shore team members in France for the optimisation project.

The new keel has a thinner cross-section and less wetted surface. While the old keel placed the onus on manoeuvrability during circling, the new one is predicted to increase the sheer speed of Le Defi. Although the keel and bulb were made in New Zealand, the team called upon Multiplast to install it. Yann Penfornis from the Multiplast design office said: "We undertake all of the work that requires a high degree of precision. In this particular instance, the keel has to be exactly vertical and lie on the boat's centreline. Besides, removing the old keel is not that easy because it is held in place not only by bolts but also by watertight glues." - -Keith Taylor, Louis Vuitton website,

* Ninety-one-year-old Olin Stephens, a true legend of the America's Cup, stepped off a plane from the east coast of America yesterday and went out on the Hauraki Gulf for eight hours. The man who designed the first of his six winning Cup boats more than 60 years ago, wanted to see the two black Young America yachts, which he also helped to create. He liked what he saw - but he isn't totally sold on these very light, very fast America's Cup boats.

Stephens is one of the great men of America's Cup history. From Harold Vanderbilt's Ranger in 1937 through to Dennis Conner's Freedom in 1980, he ruled the 12-metre era. And he still has wisdom to offer. Young America skipper Ed Baird said Stephens had sat in on design meetings for the new boats and "thrown out a couple of little design pearls."

From the comfort of Young America's tender, Stephens watched the boats practise on the gulf until just before dark yesterday. "They are so different from the boats I knew best. I was apparently always able to make a rather heavy boat perform well," he said. "The boats today are so much lighter and, by virtue, that much faster. I wouldn't want to go very far out to sea in one.

"Frankly I expected the boats designed for New Zealand to be built stronger than the ones which raced in San Diego. "But from what I have heard, these Cup boats are pretty fragile. It's very much against the tradition of the America's Cup."

Stephens is still sprightly, sailing on Young America's trial horse yachts off Newport, Rhode Island, earlier this year. "But at 91, I'm not so quick around the boat these days. I enjoyed it, but I had to hang on tight," he said. "There's much less to hold on to these days, and further to fall."

Although he gave up full-time designing 20 years ago, Stephens today works on computerised design programmes. "I'm still figuring out what a computer can do - a 10-year-old knows more than me," he laughed. His passion nowadays is rating rules for offshore boats - he is on his way to Sydney this weekend to discuss the worldwide rules, especially in the wake of the Sydney-Hobart race disaster.

And Stephens has definite opinions about the Cup today. "I'm just a dinosaur, but I don't like sponsorship. I think TV has made the America's Cup, but it has spoiled sailing," he said. Yet Stephens has to admit that he may be watching the Cup match on the box at home in New Hampshire. "To be perfectly candid, you learn more about the racing on TV than you do out on the water." -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald,

Letters selected to be printed are routinely edited for clarity, space (250 words max) or to exclude personal attacks. But only one letter per subject, so give it your best shot and then stand back without whining if someone disagrees.

-- From Steve Dashew -- All of the press about the wind speed limits and reliability, or lack thereof, with the IAAC boats reminds me of the olden days when we started to push the performance envelope on catamarans. The "engineering" we used was quite sophisticated. We'd eyeball or calculate to what we thought was about a 75/80% load factor. If something broke, we'd make it a little stronger. If it didn't break, we'd lighten it up. Looks like the super computers and strain gauges are doing about the same job.

-- From Julia Widstrand (Regarding Seth A. Radow's comment about putting spending limits on Cup campaigns) -- One must remember that a strong percentage of Cup campaigns are "funded" by in-kind support from tech companies (ie. computers, software, consultants, etc.) thus cutting dollars from the budget. This would make the controlling or monitoring of campaign spending extremely difficult, if possible at all.

-- From Randy Smith (Re: Tom Ehman's Article on the A Cup) -- I nominate Tom as the commissioner of the "league". What a well thought out, forward thinking concept. I hope it happens!

-- From International yachting journalist, John Roberson -- No, I'm sorry, but Tom Ehman has got it wrong. The America's Cup is what it is, because it's so bloody hard to win. Is Mount Everest any easier to climb now than it was when Sir Edmund Hilary did it? Well maybe with modern technology it isn't quite so dangerous, but it is just as high as it has always been. So perhaps now that it is quicker and easier to transport boats and crews around the world, it is a little easier to win the America's Cup, it is still a trophy for which you have to challenge, which is very different from just competing.

To run the America's Cup every year would be detrimental to the event, and to the rest of the sport. There just isn't the money, and there aren't the sailors to run campaigns at this level every year, as well as still run Volvo Races, Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cups etc. The Volvo Race is struggling to get their entries into double figures, imagine taking out all the people who do the America's Cup from the Volvo Race, and the circuit in general.

Tom says, "The prestige, popularity, and perhaps viability of the America's Cup are at stake." I see no signs of this in Auckland at the moment! Lets face it, when the Cup comes to the Southern Hemisphere it is a huge success, when it is in America, nobody takes any notice of it. Need I say more?

-- From Stan Witt -- The elusive success of the America's Cup is no different than another sporting event. The complex matrix of marketing, fund raising, etc. ultimately has to achieve public awareness, interest, and participation. Fremantle somehow did this. Regardless of what sport we are talking about, at the core there must be the "sport" itself carrying a % of the burden. If there is no sailing/racing, there is no event.

The recently completed round robin one was essentially the fabled "first impression" for the world to see. It was a poor showing, and like it or no, we all know the value of first impressions. I feel that some are expecting that the speed, power and flash of the "AC" boats is going to offer the spectacle that they are looking for. It will not happen if the boats never get off the tow line. Speed is relative,. especially with most mono hulls on TV.

The success of the event does not lie within the boat itself. The boat is merely a vehicle or tool for which people, an event, or a class can focus and center. Good boats help but I believe people over emphisize this. Remember, a fleet of "AC" boats sitting in their repair sheds go equally nowhere, and so does the America's Cup.

-- From Bill Riker -- Wonder if you can provide some insight into best ways to view the action while visiting Auckland. I will be there for the challenger semis (we are chartering a large motor yacht) and want to figure out what we may need to obtain the best viewing venue. I would imagine there are a few other readers who will be making the trek as well who might be interested in a sailor's insight on how to get the most out of the visit.

Curmudgeon's comment: Having 'watched' all of the races on Virtual Spectator at the Media Center, I may be the worst informed person in Auckland to offer advice on this subject. But perhaps some of the 'Buttheads have some ideas

The year was 1992 and J.J. Isler was the person to beat going into the United States Olympic Trials in the Women's 470 sailing class. Fresh from winning the 470 Worlds, Isler was the top-ranked American in the class and had campaigned for more than a year for the Olympic berth. She was not to be denied. Isler won the '92 trials with two races to spare and went on to claim a bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain.

Fast forward seven years. Isler is not quite the driven competitor she once was. Two children -- daughters Marly (6) and Megan (14 months) -- have altered her schedule as well as her priorities.
And, at 35, she is no longer the new kid on the block. Indeed, when the 470 class gathered in St. Petersburg, Fla., two weeks ago for the trials to select the United States entry in the 2000 Olympics, Isler was the oldest skipper in the fleet. And she was also the skipper with the least time on the water leading up to the trials.

"When I looked at the competition, I felt a little strange," Isler admitted yesterday. "I was the underdog. Maybe that's what makes this so special. Pease (Glaser) and I went into the trials thinking, 'Let's do our best and see what happens,' " Isler said of herself and crew. What happened is they won.

Actually, Isler had planned to launch an Olympic campaign with Glaser at the start of 1998. "Then I discovered the flu I was having wasn't the flu," said Isler, who didn't sail again until Megan was 4 months old.

But the best the Isler-Glaser team did approaching the Olympic trials was a seventh in the 470 European Championships. "We were really the underdogs," said Isler, a three-time world champion and a three-time winner of the U.S. Yachtswoman of the Year award. But she and Glaser responded with eight wins in the 15-race series with no finish worse than fourth. Still, Isler needed a win in the final race to claim the berth from former America3 America's Cup teammate Courtney Becker-Dey.

The United States plans to train for the Olympics on the courses to be used in Sydney, Australia. But Isler won't have a very long commute. Next week she plans to join husband Peter in New Zealand where he is serving as tactician on Dennis Conner's America's Cup challenger. -- Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune,

So you want to put a design on your sail, but who can you trust to do the job properly? For starters, you want someone who has the skill and experience to do either an electostatic heat transfer, a fabric inlays, vinyl graphics, Insignia cloth or inking and can explain which method will work best for your application. But who do you call? North Graphics is the leading supplier of custom sail and boat graphics in the US. Why don't call Whitney Gladstone and find out why they're #1: (619) 224-8667,

Peeter Must of Lakewood High School (Lakewood, NJ) and Spencer Weber of Southern Regional High School(Manahawkin, NJ) each won his division in the 2000 ISSA National High School Singlehanded Championship for the Cressy Trophy in a two-day regatta sailed October 30-31 in Newport, RI.

The 32-school fleet was divided into two divisions, one in full-rig Lasers and the other in Radial-rig Lasers, the latter having less sail area to appeal to lighterweight sailors. The dual fleet is a new departure for the championship which since 1986 has been sailed in a single division. The two winners share the championship and both names will be engraved on the trophy.

Both Weber, who sailed in the full-rig fleet, and Must faced a wide range of conditions, from light to moderate winds the first day to hard gusts over 25 knots the second. Both, however, maintained remarkable consistency. Weber had five firsts in the 15-race series and Must had four as each increased his lead in the wind and sloppy seas the second day. Runner-up to Weber was Andrew Lewis of The Assets School, Hawaii. Lewis was the 1999 Interscholastic Singlehanded Champion and reveled in the challenging conditions the second day but could not overcome his results in the light and shifty conditions of the first day. -- Larry White

Results: 2000 Cressy Trophy - 30-31 October 1999, Newport, RI Laser Radial Fleet 1. Peeter Must, Lakewood HS (NJ) 56, 2. Anthony Hudson, Archbishop Rummel HS (LA) 73, 3. Stuart McNay, Roxbury Latin (MA) 80, 4.Chris Ashley, Pt. Pleasant Boro (NJ) 83, 5. Michael Anderson, Coronado HS (CA) 94.

Laser Full-rig Fleet 1. Spencer Weber, Southern Regional HS (NJ) 57, 2. Andrew Lewis, The Assets School (HI) 69, 3. Andrew Campbell, The Bishop's School (CA) 69, 4. Bryan Lake, Univ. of San Diego HS (CA) 82, 5. Zach Railey, Clearwater HS (FL) 100.

ISSA website:

OK, who stopped payment on my reality check?