Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT #438 - November 11, 1999

For the past four days, delegates from around the World have participated in the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Annual Conference. Decisions made at the conference will affect sailors throughout the United States, from evening club racers, to one-design sailors, Olympic aspirants and America's Cup participants. US SAILING's delegates have been working hard presenting the views of its members and working to find solutions to challenges and opportunities confronting the sport.

This is an interim report on some of the more significant issues discussed so far. Readers should bear in mind that the Sailing Committee and the Executive Committee meet tomorrow, and the Council (the body that approves policy and rule changes) meets the following two days. So, any of the decisions reported below are subject to change.

OLYMPIC EVENTS: The Events Committee voted to recommend retaining three keelboat classes in the 2004 Olympic Regatta. It also voted to recommend match racing for women (as did the Women's and Match Racing Committees), a men's keelboat fleet racing event and an open keelboat fleet racing event. These recommendations must be approved by Council.

Number of Boats at 2000 Olympic Regatta: President Henderson reported that the number of Stars and Tornados permitted to compete has been increased by two each, and Solings by one.

ADVERTISING CODE: At the Saturday meeting of Council, it was voted to reaffirm the January 1, 2000 implementation date. Representatives of US SAILING and the ISAF Executive Committee have had very constructive discussions regarding several of US SAILING's concerns. We believe that the Executive Committee at its meeting tomorrow will propose changes to address many of these concerns. There are other changes that have been recommended by the International Classes Committee and several member national authorities.

SONAR AND J/80 CLASSES: The Keelboat Committee has recommended approval of the Sonar and J/80 classes for recognised status. This must be approved by the Sailing Committee and Council (no problems expected). Both classes will need to work further on their class rules, and obtain class approval of the proposed changes, before recognised status takes effect. The classes will then be permitted to host a World Championship.

ANTI-HUNTING: On the recommendation of Council, the Racing Rules Committee has been asked to prepare a proposed change to Rule 16 which would discourage hunting in fleet racing.

A final report will be provided shortly after the Annual Conference concludes. -- Charley Cook,

Doing business with people who have their stuff together and enjoy what they're doing can make all of the difference in the world. And when those professionals have a full range of products from which to choose; and when they have great prices; and when they ship the same day -- it's hard to find a reason to go elsewhere. Call Sailing Supply the next time you need help with rigging or sailing equipment. You'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. (800) 532-3831 /

Race Four of the Louis Vuitton Cup took place in extremely challenging conditions on the Hauraki Gulf. The wind was very shifty on both courses, and several squalls blew across the Gulf bringing rain and wind gusts of up to 30 knots, blowing out sails, breaking battens and bringing down a mast. The Young Australia team has lodged a protest against the Race Committee claiming the wind was too strong.

A crew mistake made for an expensive day for the Nippon Challenge. Leading midway through its race against AmericaOne the Japanese boat Asura snapped its mast moments after a gybe. The line controlling a runner slipped off the winch and with no support, the mast snapped about halfway down. No one was hurt as the rig toppled into the water. The crew scrambled to salvage sails and rigging.

Asura had been leading for the entire race up to that point, but had just been assessed a penalty for gybing too close to AmericaOne. At that point, the mast came down. It's an expensive mistake for Nippon. It doesn't collect the four points it could have earned for winning the race. And a mast is worth over $200 000 US. The team will be working through the night to be ready for races Friday.

Stars & Stripes (USA-55) was the first boat to beat Luna Rossa (ITA-45). The Italians won the start and crossed the start line on starboard tack one second ahead with Stars & Stripes on port. The first shift went to the right in favour of the Americans. Next shift went to the left and Prada lifted straight to the mark to go around the top mark 31 seconds ahead. On the run the pair sailed underneath a big squall with a huge wind shift. Luna Rossa was caught on the wrong side of that shift and had to sail almost dead downwind towards the mark while Stars & Stripes reached in at speed to round ahead by 11 seconds. The big wind shifts continued and Stars & Stripes defended successfully, extending its lead to 24 seconds after the second beat. The next run was actually a reach and the beat nearly turned into a fetch. Prada could only follow the leader.

Bertand Pace on Le Defi (FRA-46) won the favoured left side of the course at the start, and was unlucky when the expected shift proved to be bigger than expected. That shift allowed John Cutler in America True (USA-51) to lay the weather mark and avoid two extra tacks, rounding ahead by 24 seconds. The wind continued to shift and Le Defi suffered downwind as well, getting on the wrong side of the shift and breaking a spinnaker pole to give up a full two minutes. The French lost more time on the next three legs before scaring the Americans on the final downwind, gaining over three minutes, but it was too little too late.

Peter Gilmour skippering Asura (JPN-44) took the fight to Paul Cayard steering AmericaOne (USA-49) in the pre-start. Gilmour claimed and protected the left-hand side and started at the pin a full boat length ahead of Cayard. AmericaOne held briefly on the Japanese starboard hip and then tacked clear before coming back on starboard. A short starboard tack as the breeze went left and then Gilmour enjoyed the inside position as he led to the first windward mark on a long port tack. Cayard stayed in contact for four legs and was within three lengths of Asura and closing on the second leeward mark when the Japanese boat's mast snapped like a carrot just after a gybe. As the breeze built to 25 knots, Cayard finished the last beat under a small jib and the last run bareheaded.

John Kolius seemed aggressive in the pre-start today but failed in the end to beat James Spithill in the battle for the left side at the start. The pair split at the start with Kolius coming back onto starboard less than a minute later. Spithill valiantly bounced Kolius back to the right and then a minute later followed. Although Young Australia was on the favoured left hand side, Abracadabra showed better speed and eventually pulled forward enough to cross ahead and take control of the race 15 minutes after the start. Kolius led at the first weather mark by 27 seconds and continued to pull out time all the way round. In extremely shifty winds Kolius and his crew managed to read it all well and never let the Australians separate too far. On the last leg Abracadabra initially set a spinnaker, but then dropped it when they saw that there were problems on the Australian boat, maybe linked to a 25 knot gust of wind.

The Swiss boat sailed the course alone to collect four points in its match against Young America.
-- Louis Vuitton Cup website,

STANDINGS - Victories are worth one point each in Round One and four points in Round Two.

1. Prada 13-1 22
2. AmericaOne 11-3 20
3. Young America 10-4 16
4. America True 8-5 14
5. Nippon 8-6 13.5*
6. Stars & Stripes 7-6 12.5*
7. Abracadabra 6-8 12
8. Spain 6-7 9
9. FAST 2000 2-12 8
10. Le Defi BTT 3-11 6
11. Young Australia 1-12 1

* 1/2 point penalty imposed for contact

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 -- For the first time this year I saw footage from the CUP! The down side is that it only was on was because Young America's boat was broken in half. The sailing has obviously been covered on ESPN but not on the BIG 4 television networks or local stations...

What's my point? As I noted yesterday in BUTT Nov 9, 1999: "If it is bigger, faster, brighter, or someone can die...American's will watch it". The news people seemed to revel in the thought that these "YACHTIES" had to jump off their boats into the water in their team uniforms...we need some professional marketing for sailing and quick.

From Peter Huston -- I have heard several responsible comments from various engineering types about what led to Young America breaking in half - but no facts. It will be interesting to hear the real scientific analysis, which I would not expect Young America to release until after the Cup, if even then.

But I have heard disappointing criticism of the builder, well before anyone should lay blame. My gut instinct suggests that the boat didn't break because Eric Geotz built it, rather that it didn't sink because he built it. The fundamental integrity of the hull form is a testimonial to the total build quality of Goetz. Somebody else screwed up the stress analysis of the support structure more likely.

This America's Cup will not necessarily be won by the fastest boat. It is more likely the winner will be the team which can put its boat back together the fastest.

-- From AL Lambert -- To compare the Americas Cup to Formula 1 Auto Racing, as Chris Welch does in Butt #437, is silly. The only thing the two have in common the word RACING. Extreme high speed (loss of control), high RPM's (engine failure) and excessive vibration (computer failure) bring Formula 1 car back to the pits.

An IACC boat going around the course at a blistering 10 knots is not the same. A SC70 built 10 years ago will go around the same course for allot less money and are allot more reliable. The blistering speed might only be 9 knots (up-wind) but they could sail in 25 knots of breeze.

Curmudgeon's comment: While mixing apples and oranges has become a Scuttlebutt trademark, we shouldn't overlook the fact that the SC 70 was designed as an offshore racer to win the Transpac Race -- very different from the mission of an IACC yacht.

-- From Jon Rogers -- I keep reading about how America's Cup racing should return to 12 meters. Although 12 meter's didn't break in half, they did have their share of damage such as torn sails, broken hydraulics, steering problems, collisions. I have worked extensively with AmericaOne this campaign and I''m astonished at the enormity of these campaigns. 24 hours a day 7 days a week. These teams are not just sailing. They have to account for hundreds of variables everyday, and the goal of the round robin racing is to insure that the challenger is at the top of their game in the end. We could just race the finals next week, but that would be like the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks playing for the NBA Championship next week.

-- From Lew Tomeck -- Isn't it interesting that we are required to wear PFDs on Cal 20s at local regattas, but Nippon's bowman got hit in the face by an out of control spinnaker pole and the Young America crew had to abandon ship -- all without the benefit of flotation gear.

-- From Tucker Thompson, America True -- I have to agree with Seth Radow's suggestion (Butt 436) that the America's Cup would be a fantastic spectator and sailing event if it were a fleet race. I have raced in the only scheduled practice fleet races held here in Auckland prior to Round Robin One. To be honest, it was much more exciting than a match race. That's not to say that the actual America's Cup could not retain it's match race format, and I think the actual Cup should remain a match race. But perhaps the Challenger series could be sailed just like the Olympic Soling format which starts as a fleet race with the top boats going on to a match race semi finals and finals. The winner could then go on to race the America's Cup Defender in a match race.

Think of the TV coverage and spectator viewing. It would still be clear who was winning or losing, however, even the battle for last place would remain interesting and crowded starting lines and mark roundings are what the America's Cup currently needs to attract an excited audience. This would also make it much more attractive to Sponsors who would now be guaranteed coverage in every race rather than just a few, and it would not matter what place the boat was in. I can also tell you from a sailor's point of view, it was much more exciting to be racing seven of these boats on the same course last month.

-- From Lt. Cmdr. Ed Sherman, USPS -- Maybe a dumb query to some but we, in the hinterland, are not around Cup boats at all so we follow your commentary religiously. I enjoy it so much that after reading it wonder where to send my money. Guess I'll simply patronize your supply-house suggestions. So--it seems the boats have no permanent backstay but a multi-cable runner system instead. How in the world do they handle the runners in tacking duals? Also, it looks like there is no running rigging lines for the traveler car and it looks as if it (the traveler car) is controlled with the main sheet by some cool, new system.

-- From Craig Fletcher -- Is the CMAC becoming an amateur event? NOT! I wonder if the Farr 40 owner's had any vote on becoming members of the CMAC? The amateur owner's should be very happy with their all-pro class.

Esteemed boatbuilder Eric Goetz has come to the rescue of Young America for a second time. Goetz and two of his colleagues from Bristol, Rhode Island, flew into Auckland early this morning on an emergency mission to rebuild the crumpled USA53, which almost sank on the America's Cup course two days ago.

The man who has built seven America's Cup yachts in the past eight years will also help to restrengthen sister ship USA58 to make sure it does not suffer the same fate when it takes over the racing role, possibly this weekend. Goetz will go straight from the airport to the compound this morning to assess the damage to USA53, a boat designed by arguably the world's most successful racing yacht designer, Kiwi Bruce Farr.

There was overwhelming confidence in the Young American camp yesterday that the boat, which has a caved-in deck and torn sides, would be back sailing by Christmas. It is a brave call, with no one yet knowing how extensive the damage is, or why it happened. It may never race again, but the reason for rebuilding the salvaged boat is to keep USA58 honest before the January 2 semifinals. Said skipper Ed Baird: "Having that second boat there is our stopwatch."

Young America head John Marshall, back in the United States, said the boat would be strengthened today, whether it needs it or not. The structure of the two boats is very similar, and the camp are concerned about it. If the new boat comes out with a clean bill of health, they will take the reinforcing out later. -- Suzzane McFadden, NZ Herald,

The lads at the top end of our sport got to where they are by insuring nothing was left to chance. And Laser champ John Torgenson recently summed up the feelings of a lot of top sailors with this observation, "It's the best thing I own for sailing. It's awesome." Awesome indeed -it's Camet's new breathable Neoprene Neo-Thermal top. This breakthrough technology senses how hard you're working to insure that trapped vapors (like sweat) disappear quickly. Just one look at this hot new item will sent it directly to the top of your wish list:

John Kolius of Abracadabra on beating Young Australia 2000: "We haven't sailed enough and we're still kind of running hot and cold. Sometimes we're going okay and sometimes we're not but we did get the beast going pretty good down the last run. We got it over 17 knots before we looked back and saw the other guy had broken down and said we thought we should take the spinnaker down before it takes something else down"

Ken Read of Stars & Stripes on passing Luna Rossa in a rain squall: "The MVP was our navigator, Peter Isler. There was a huge rain squall on the first run, and there was no way to get a visual bearing on the leeward mark. However Pedro kept us right on the fast track to the mark, which was the key to passing Prada."

Francesco de Angelis of Luna Rossa on his team's first race loss: "None of us thought you could sail all the races without losing one race.

Ken Read of Stars & Stripes on weather conditions: ". Somebody told me Auckland was going to be tough. Nobody said it was going to be this tough."


If you scramble the sail numbers of AUS 35 [One Australia] that sank on March 7th 1995, you end up with USA 53 [Young America]!

When you say, "I'm sorry" look the other person in the eye.