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SCUTTLEBUTT #436 - November 9, 1999

While sailing to windward on the third beat of their race against the Nippon Challenge, the side deck of Young America (USA 53) failed in compression. The port and starboard topsides then crumpled incapacitating the yacht. Young America was taking on substantial water so as a precautionary safety measure skipper Ed Baird had the crew abandon the yacht. They were picked up by Young America's support boats. There were no injuries.

When it was clear that everyone was safe, crew members Jerry Kirby and David Tank were able to go aboard to lower the sails and secure a towline. Under the direction of Operations Manager Bob Campbell, pumps were put aboard and buoyancy bags inflated to stabilize the damage. Support craft of the Prada Challenge, other syndicates, the police and the on-the-water jury rendered valuable assistance.

The yacht has been towed to its base in Auckland and hoisted from the water for a full evaluation of the damage. A preliminary inspection has been carried out on the water. It appears that the damage, while very grave, is localized to the deck and the hull shell and that none of the important interior structures has been damaged. Repairs will be undertaken as soon as a full analysis of the damage has been completed. We do not yet have an estimate of the time required to effect repairs.

The team will seek permission from the International Jury to substitute its yacht Young America (USA 58) for the remaining races of Round Robin 2. The New York Yacht Club and Young America wish to extend their most sincere thanks for the valuable assistance rendered by several competing teams on the water and for the many offers of assistance and support which have come in from other teams.

"Our racing yacht was saved from far more serious damage or possible total loss by an incredible display of seamanship by our sailing and support teams. While we are still assessing the damage, we have a team of talented individuals who will work together to overcome this setback," said John Marshall, President of the NYYC/Young America Challenge.

The safety of the crew became the first concern," skipper Ed Baird said. "Once it was clear the crew was safe, the next step was to salvage all we could of the boat, sails and mast. While certainly it is tragic to see this kind of damage to a fine racing yacht, I am proud of how well this team pulled together in a time of crisis. We thank all of our fellow competitors and the local police who stepped forward to assist us. We will assess the damage and evaluate our game plan from here forward. Young America will be working around the clock to get back in the game. -- Jane Eagleson,

The United States A-Class Catamaran Association North American Championship was hosted by Houston YC Nov 3-6. Goran Marstrom won the event. However, since Goran he is a swede, Jay Glaser, who placed 2nd in the event, was crowned the 1999 North American Champion. Rounding out the top five positions were Philip Kinder, Ben Hall and Jeremy Laundergan. -- Jeremy Laundergan

USACA website:


Within a single month Ullman Sails won the 505 NAs in Texas, the J/120 class in Marina del Rey and the Around Alone Race on planet Earth. It doesn't seem to make any difference how big or small the boat is, or what kind a course is being sailed -- the folks at Ullman Sails have 'broken the code.' These same helpful professionals will be happy to help improve the performance of your boat. Check their website for a loft near you:

* The big wins of the day went to Abracadabra and Bravo Espana. Luna Rossa remains unbeaten, and Young Australia is still struggling with just one win.

Peter Gilmour on Asura (JPN-44) forced Young America (USA -53) to windward and to the left of the start line. Baird broke free, bore off, gybed and started at the pin end of the start line with full speed on port tack. Gilmour tried to dip towards the start line but was stalled and lost valuable seconds. Young America rounded the top mark first, 10 seconds in the lead. On the run Nippon lost a few seconds when it had to re-hoist another spinnaker. The delta increased in favour of the Americans to 21 seconds. A big left-hand shift dominated the next beat and run. Delta was 26 seconds at the last bottom mark. Gilmour was catching up. On the third beat near the windward mark Young America was leading Asura by three boat lengths when the hull of Young America experienced catastrophic structural failure and folded at deck level just behind the mast. The boats were one and a half minutes from the last weather mark at the time of the incident. Young America's crew started to get as much gear and as many sails off as possible. Most of the crew were in the chase boat already. After that the crew determined the boat wasn't going to sink immediately, some of them got back on board to set up pumps and flotation bags, and they started towing the severely damaged boat back to the dock. Nippon went on to finish the race alone.

Bravo Espana (ESP-47) sailed by Pedro Campos won this race by a small margin, staying in control after the first half of the first weather leg and staving off a very determined and resilient Le Defi (FRA-46). Campos chased his opponent away from the line before the start, following the French boat and holding in place on Le Defi's starboard hip, before the two boats split for an even start, with the French boat starting at the pin and the Spanish at the committee boat. After one set of tacks, French skipper Bertrand Pace sailed Campos out beyond the port tack layline. But the Spanish skipper was able to convert his small lead into a 15 second advantage at the weather mark and maintained his lead for the rest of the race.

The Swiss be hAPpy (SUI-59) was looking to string together two wins in a row during its race against AmericaOne (USA-49). Paul Cayard however, had other ideas. The two boats started evenly, but AmericaOne pulled away by pointing higher, and this race was won on pointing ability. The Swiss couldn't match the Americans upwind, giving away 10-15 degrees to the wind. The Swiss be hAPpy did look good on the downwind legs, gaining between 15 and 25 seconds when going to leeward. But AmericaOne gained over one minute on each upwind leg and was never threatened in the match.

This match featured the leaders in the standings Luna Rossa (ITA-45) against Young Australia (AUS-31), the team at the bottom of the standings. Australian skipper James Spithill had another good start, forcing Francesco de Angelis to tack around at the committee boat end, and return late to the start line. Young Australia started with a 19 second lead but couldn't match the speed of the Italians. Luna Rossa gained on each split tack, eventually crossing ahead of Young Australia halfway up the leg. The Italians gained time on every leg of the course, and were never threatened.

In the closest racing seen yet on the Hauraki Gulf, Abracadabra (USA-50) beat Stars & Stripes (USA-55), after coming from behind halfway through the race. After that, Abracadabra skipper John Kolius held off a determined challenge by Stars & Stripes to finish just three seconds ahead. The first lap and a half had the two boats never more than a few lengths apart with Abracadabra always trailing. The predicted left-hand shift came through and even though Abracadabra was on the unfavoured side, Kolius remained in touch. On the second run Kolius gybed away early and then gybed back with some separation and began to show better speed. Kolius sailed steadily past his opponent to lead by 19 seconds at the lee mark. This was also the biggest delta of the match as Read fought unsuccessfully to retake the lead. -- Louis Vuitton Cup website,

* AmericaOne's second International America's Cup Class yacht, USA 61 arrived in Auckland on Monday. At 6:50 PM the Air New Zealand chartered 747 Evergreen Cargo plane was greeted by airport security and a small group of onlookers. This is the first time in America's Cup history that an IACC yacht has flown on a 747 air freighter.

Weeks prior to the planned departure, templates were created by the AmericaOne boat building team to replicate the boat's dimensions and girth. The templates enabled the Los Angeles-based cargo team and the AmericaOne shore team to develop the loading and unloading techniques of the yacht. Special consideration had to be taken for the precious cargo as it made its Auckland debut. "The boat could just clear the cargo door," said Peter Ginley, Air New Zealand's Capacity & Yield Manager. A special pallet was built by AmericaOne to transport USA 61 in flight. It took five hours to load the yacht onto the 747. USA 61 is the largest cargo transported in the history of Air New Zealand. USA 61 was specially padded, packed and shrink-wrapped for its 12-hour flight from Los Angeles International Airport, USA to Auckland International Airport, by the U.S.-based AmericaOne shore crew.

The crew was led by Mike Eldridge (San Diego, CA) and Ted Brown (Newport, RI). Initial arrangements were made with Air New Zealand Cargo by AmericaOne COO Bob Billingham. Brad Fitzgerald, AmericaOne Shore Team Manager, arranged all of the logistics for transporting the oversized cargo off of the aircraft and from Auckland International Airport to the AmericaOne compound. "This was a unique project for Air New Zealand Cargo," said Peter Elmsly, Air New Zealand General Manager. As the preferred carrier for AmericaOne, it has given us an opportunity to test our ability to handle such large and delicate cargo." Using two JCPL Highloaders a team of Air New Zealand cargo specialists opened the nose of the plane and unloaded the yacht into a contained area and from there it was loaded onto a flatbed tractor trailer for transport to AmericaOne's compound in the Viaduct Basin in Auckland. -- Gina Von Esmarch

To view photos:

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 don't whine if people disagree.

-- From Mark Michaelsen -- The America's Cup is what it is and LEAVE IT ALONE! As I see it, it is (and always has been) a battle on four fronts- #1 Fund raising, #2 Naval architecture, #3 Match racing ability, and #4 teamwork, not necessarily in that order but that's my value positioning from my armchair quarterback's position. Without the funding it is nearly impossible to design and build the fastest match racing boats in the world (IACC Class). You can be the best match racer in the world and have great crew work but first you must have competitive boatspeed and maneuverability. (Ask the Swiss.)

I can't believe the sniveling I am hearing. The Italians got organized, got funded, learned from the 1995 CUP competition and built skinny boats, absorbed the twisting mast technology and trained very hard with the crew and are kicking everyone's rear ends! We are quick to point fingers and try and make excuses as to why our boys (and girls) on the American Boats are not competitive, but the answer is simple. We didn't get organized and well enough funded early enough to play with the Italians. Forget spending limits you will never enforce them. That would be like the US CONGRESS trying to regulate the Internet, it can't happen. Next time let's study the rules, build better boats, get innovative with technology and bring the BIG TIN CUP home where it belongs. Strike now with marketing for $$$ while irons are hot.

-- From Seth A. Radow (Regarding the spending Cap for the A-Cup) -- As this concept has been done before (baseball, football and basketball come to mind), it would significantly enhance the level of the discussion to consult with the parties that developed and created the salary caps in those sports.

Regarding Walter Siegenthaler, comments about the relatively benign nature of spectating an A-Cup match race. -- There are many who believe that the A-Cup format should be changed. Why, however, stop at three boats? Why not open up the A-Cup to a Fleet Race? The event will certainly have increased television appeal. Think about it... eleven 80 footers on the same start line... the mark rounding would be spectacular. From a TV perspective it would look like boats would be coming into the marks from everywhere. Too Dangerous??? Maybe! But it makes for great spectator appeal. I am sure the boats would have to change... safer, stronger... maybe... more restrictions...certainly. More entertaining to the public at large.... Absolutely!

There are questions that must be asked however. Is this what the A-Cup is all about? Is the A-Cup going to change to attract more spectators. Maybe what I am describing is another event altogether??? Maybe the A-Cup as we know it is "over the hill". Maybe change is good? The fleet race format could be a process of elimination. The slow boats drop out first. As the series progresses, the number of boats racing decline. The final could be a match race with two boats. This event would certainly get the media's attention!

The Sixth Annual 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers Rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas - with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria - attracted 160 entries, including everything from a Coronado 27 to a Swan 65. Many boats had husband and wife crews. The weather was pleasant throughout, with 15 to 30 knot winds on leg one, zero to 10 knots on leg two, and 4 to 12 knots on leg three. Given the calms of leg two, only two of the 125 starters sailed the entire course: Sailors' Run, a Baba 40 ketch sailed by Jeff and Debbie Hartjoy of Longbranch, Washington; and Eletheria, a C&C Landfall 38 sailed by Milo Coldren of Victoria, B.C. However, even those who motored enjoyed the relentless sunshine and blue skies, warm water temperatures and excellent fishing. -- Richard Spindler, Publisher / Executive Editor, Latitude 38

Perhaps you knew that West Marine supports disabled sailing programs, and is a presenting sponsor of the U.S. Sailing Junior Olympic Festivals around the country. And that they sponsor the Pacific Cup Race from San Francisco to Hawaii. But do you know that last year they sponsored over 100 events which raised money for charities, like the 30 Leukemia Cup Regattas and five Hospice Cup Regattas. And they also funded 70 grants totaling more than $50,000 toward the protection and rehabilitation of the marine habitat. Since its inception West Marine has been a socially responsible good neighbor.

* The Young America team face some intense strategy questions tonight as they decide how to approach the rest of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Young America is likely to be allowed to substitute their second boat (USA-58) if it applies to the International Jury and the Jury considers USA-53 to be too damaged to compete. While instinct might dictate that the syndicate ready the new boat, and start racing as soon as possible, that may not be the most sensible decision. Young America's design team will have to look very closely at whether the new boat has the same structural weakness as USA-53.

In 1995, when oneAustralia broke up and sank, that team immediately recommissioned their first boat, and started racing again two days later. Andy Dovell, part of the design team on that campaign said the team was confident in the old boat. 'We had no hesitation in bringing out AUS-31 after the sinking,' he said. 'The two boats were very different in structure, and we were confident there would be no similar problem.'

Dovell is now designing for the Abracadabra team 2000, and he thinks Young America will have to look over their second boat very carefully before taking to the water. 'Being outside their campaign it's hard to know for sure, but we think their boats are pretty similar,' he said. 'Typically this type of failure is very difficult to isolate - it's usually not just one thing. If I were them I would target finding the problem and not worry about sailing again in Round Two,' he said.

Dovell is also concerned that the rules governing the Louis Vuitton Cup are encouraging designers to build weak boats. 'I don't think they should be allowed to substitute this round,' he said. 'All the other teams can't even alter the wings on the keel. Why should they be allowed to sail a different boat? If teams are allowed to change boats mid-round, it sends the wrong message to designers,' said Dovell. 'Sub-consciously, you would build one boat really close to the line, knowing you could use the stronger boat if there was a problem.'

'Bruce Farr (designer for Young America) is the best in the world at this business,' Dovell said. 'For this to happen to his boat shows how complicated these machines really are. They're extreme thoroughbreds.'

If Young America choose not to race again in Round Robin Two, they could still qualify for the Semi-Finals. Nippon skipper Peter Gilmour has estimated a team needs at least 40 points to continue on to the Semi-Finals. Young America already has 16 points, and wins in Round Robin Three are worth nine points. If Young America waits until round three before racing again, they would need four wins to get 52 points. Remember this is a team that has looked very strong, winning eight of 10 starts in round one. Round Robin Three starts on 02 December, giving the team a full three weeks to assess their second boat, and plenty of time to qualify for the semi-finals. -- Peter Rusch, Louis Vuitton Cup website,

* Young America has a choice of one of three options. To request a maximum delay of 48 hours to the start of the next scheduled race. To sail the remainder of the Round Robin series with the substitute yacht (USA-58). Or, they can withdraw from this Round Robin.

Assuming Young America is not entitled to redress, they may continue the remaining races of the Round Robin Two with their other boat (USA-58). This is provided that the International Jury considers the yacht with which they were sailing today (USA-53) so damaged, as to be unable to compete.

Whatever option Young America chooses, they will have to forfeit their next race. Her opponent, the Swiss will win that race provided that they sail and complete the race. - Carmen Pombo, Legal adviser to the Louis Vuitton Cup Editorial Team, ,

Bruno Trouble, Press Conference Moderator: "I'd like to stress that the conditions on the race course today were well within the conditions of the rules. It was about 17 knots of wind with some gusts."

Ed Baird of Young America, on how his boat broke and nearly sank: "We were up near the windward mark and literally on layline to turn for our last tack. We were fairly close to rounding and we were starting into a tack. There were just a couple of very, very big waves, very close together, and as we started turning we started going off one wave, and hit the next, and that's when we stopped being able to race!"

Baird, on rescue support efforts: "I'd like to thank the folks from Prada and the other syndicates as well as the police for standing by and assisting us with additional pumps to the ones that we had. At one point I think we had about four pumps going on the boat. Really that made the difference because there would have been a point if we'd let the boat get too low where we would have lost it. You know it's a credit to the seamanship of everyone out there."

Ken McAlpine, Chief Measurer, on rule limits: "In the case of this particular boat and obviously in the case of oneAustralia, their mathematical models, their fundamental analysis, was found wanting. It still remains that it's their decision, it's not a place for the rule. I don't think its really appropriate to have a scantling rule in there because it just leads to massive amounts of compliance initiatives on our part and is very, very difficult to police."

Baird, on crew remaining aboard the boat: "I think the right thing to do was get the group off the boat and we did, in fact. At one point there was no one on the boat and it appeared to stabilise and stop breaking. We slowly got people back on board and it's at the dock now and we're really happy to have done that with everybody safe and now we're going to start assessing what's next."

Baird, on the possibility of sailing Young America (USA-58) tomorrow: "I don't at this point know how we could possibly sail tomorrow. Clearly some things are similar between the boats, some things are not. Until we learn more about why this failed . . . it may have been something different than a calculation. We have to go and research it."

Baird, on motivating his crew after the accident: "They have to be settled down. They're so fired up about how to get the boat racing again. They did a great job getting the boat ashore. As any of the teams would, they see this as not a setback to the racing for the immediate future, but as a way to pull the team together and be stronger in the end."

Louis Vuitton Cup website:

Anyone interested in team racing will enjoy this website:

If the people who play the piano are called pianists, shouldn't those who sail racing boats be called racists?