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SCUTTLEBUTT #441 - November 15, 1999

US SAILING's Olympic Sailing Committee has recognized four athletes as the sport's U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Athletes of the Year. Recipients of the honor in the Team category are Star skipper Eric Doyle (San Diego, Calif.) and crew Tom Olsen (E. Dennis, Mass.). Laser sailor Mark Mendelblatt (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and boardsailor Lanee Butler (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) are Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively.

As US SAILING's USOC Athletes of the Year, these sailors will be considered for the overall USOC Team of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year Awards. Slated for announcement on January 8, 2000, the USOC award winners will be selected from the Athletes of the Year recognized by each Olympic sport's national governing body.

TEAM OF THE YEAR: Sailing in the oldest Olympic class, a newly formed team has turned in remarkable results in just a few short months. Eric Doyle and Tom Olsen earned themselves international recognition this year for victories at the Star North Americans and the Star World Championships. As long-time veterans of the class, both Doyle and Olsen have launched previous Olympic campaigns and, with different partners, finished third and second, respectively, at the '96 Olympic Trials.

Their first major coup came in August when Doyle and Olsen competed in a fleet of 36 boats at the Star North American Championship in Boston, Massachusetts. Going into the last day of the event, Doyle and Olsen were tied for first place with '92 Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Reynolds, which led to a match race between the two teams in the sixth and final race. Doyle and Olsen finished that race in second to count 12 points for the series, while Reynolds finished seventh to post 14. At the Star World Championships in Italy last September, the duo competed in a fleet of 129 boats and posted four top-five finishes over the six-race series. With a two-point margin, their final score of 24 points won them the championship title and bragging rights over several Olympic medalists and world champions.

In claiming their World title, Doyle and Olsen also qualified the U.S. its Star berth to the Sydney Olympic Games. Also in September, Doyle and Olsen were recognized as USOC's Team of the Month, sharing the spotlight with tennis stars Serena Williams and Andre Agassi who were named USOC's Athletes of the Month.

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR Mark Mendelblatt, three-time Collegiate All-American and member of the US Sailing Team since 1996, earned recognition for his steady rise up the ranks of the Laser class during 1999. Since last January at the '99 Laser World Championships, held in Melbourne, Australia, Mendelblatt has made his presence known internationally. His eighth-place finish in the 142-boat fleet, earned him attention as the top American. Later that month, he topped the 41-boat Laser fleet at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta with seven first-place finishes in the 12-race series.

Mendelblatt also posted wins at the Elvstrom-Zellerbach Regatta and the Laser Olympic Pre-Trials and was third out of 90 Lasers at the Danish Olympic Regatta. Mendelblatt's best performance was at this summer's Pan Am Games in Canada, where he battled Brazil's '96 Olympic Gold Medalist Robert Scheidt constantly throughout the series. Competing in a fleet of 15 boats, Mendelblatt dropped his two worst scores -- a sixth and a fourth-- while posting two first-place finishes in the 11-race series, a performance that was strong enough to earn him the silver medal to Scheidt's gold.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR Already a three-time Athlete of the Year ('94, '93, '91), Lanee Butler was recognized this year for her dominance of women's boardsailing in the U.S. This summer she won the Mistral Women's gold medal at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Canada where her toughest competition came from long-time rival and defending Pan Am Games Gold Medalist Caroll-Ann Alie of Canada. The two went head-to-head trading the lead back and forth throughout the early part of the 11-race series, with Butler finally breaking the tie on the fourth day of racing. Ultimately, both sat out the final race of the series when their gold and silver medal positions were mathematically secured, Butler with 10 points to Alie's 13.

The win secured Butler her third Pan Am Games medal. Having won gold in '91 and bronze in '95, she established a new record for U.S. medals won at the Pan Am Games (in sailing) by a woman. At the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in October, Butler's flawless performance in the 10-board Mistral Women's division enabled her to sit out one heat of the 14-race series and still win the event. A two-time Olympian ('96, '92), Butler will now become the first woman sailor to represent the U.S.A. at three consecutive Olympics. -- Jan Harley,


Four bullets in five races. Not too bad. And when you consider that this was the Big Boat Series, and that this was the only class of REAL big boats, it becomes even more impressive. Don Hughes and RP Richards simply decimated the ULDB 70 fleet in this year's BBS and they did it with a full inventory of Ullman Sails. Big boats - little boats - real little boat-- it just doesn't seem to make much difference. Ullman Sails are just plain fast. Isn't it time you got a price quote?

* Excellent racing conditions returned to Auckland on Monday. After a short postponement on both courses, races were sailed in North-East winds building from 5 to 12 knots under warm sunshine. This was the first example of the classic sea breeze scenario that we can expect to dominate during the summer months on the Hauraki Gulf, with the wind gradually shifting to the left as the afternoon wore on.

James Spithill on Young Australia (AUS-31) controlled the final stages of the pre-start taking Luis Doreste in Bravo Espana (ESP-47) across the start line early at the committee boat end. But when the gun went, Spithill who was also over early, dipped back a little too far allowing the Spanish to regain half of their deficit. Young Australia, on the left side of the course, sailed out on starboard tack whilst the Spanish split tacks straight away to get clear. The Australians tacked to cover and the pair sailed parallel for half of the first beat with the Australians showing equal speed. Spithill demonstrated great confidence when the Spanish initiated a tacking duel at the end of the first beat. The Australians managed to stay in phase with the shifting sea breeze and rounded the first mark with a lead of ten seconds. On the next two legs Young Australia gained a bit - both boats showed equal speed but the better tactical situation went to Spithill. That was soon to end. On the second downwind leg he allowed the Spanish to gybe away and gain some useful separation. When the next shift came, the advantage was to the Spanish allowing them to dictate the approach to the starboard gybe layline. Spithill gybed too early, maybe hoping to get the inside advantage on the rounding, but his boat was a length too far back to gain the overlap and his crew weren't ready either. The Australians sailed past the leeward mark with the spinnaker still set and no genoa in sight. By the time they had it all cleaned up the Spanish had a lead of over a minute and were never threatened the rest of the way home.

America True (USA-51) steered by John Cutler seized control of the left at the start, after one dial up and a long chase from above the line and around the bow of the committee boat. Cutler started at the pin end but the start went to Ken Read, steering Stars & Stripes (USA-55). The first leg could have gone either way but Cutler's control of the left let him carry Read beyond the starboard tack layline. Read stayed relatively close but never really threatened, ending a good winning streak for Team Dennis Conner.

Nippon Challenge (JPN-44) came back on the third leg after a premature start to pass Le Defi (FRA-46), winning for the third time in Round Robin Two. Two match racing masters met today and gave an amazing demonstration of pre-start manoeuvres using all of the start box area. Pace eventually gained the upper hand and forced Gilmour over the line early at the committee boat end. By the time the Japanese had restarted correctly they trailed by more than 30 seconds. When the wind was shifty the French were able to stay in phase, but as soon as the wind stayed steady for a few minutes in the middle of the leg the Japanese boat showed its superior speed and made up most of the early deficit. Early on the second beat Pace gave up the left hand side of the course and Gilmour began to enjoy the kind of freedom that a slight speed edge and the sea breeze shifts to the left gave him. Asura passed Le Defi three quarters of the way up the second beat and extended its lead from there. Although the final delta was less than a minute when the start line deficit is added in, the win looks more impressive.

Ed Baird with Young America (USA-58) was on top of his game during the pre-start. He forced John Kolius on Abracadabra (USA-54) to the left and to windward of the start line. After that Baird prevented Kolius from getting back to the line. Young America bore off and timed it well. Baird gybed and dipped the line to continue on starboard tack. Kolius tried to follow closely but wasn't on top of maintaining his speed and Abracadabra stalled - the Hawaiians eventually crossed 28 seconds later. Their lead extended to two minutes and 15 seconds at the top mark and on the first run Young America shifted gears again and extended its advantage. The rest of the race saw Young America sail on undisturbed.

Francesco de Angelis and Luna Rossa (ITA-45) continue to dominate the Louis Vuitton Cup. Today, the Italians beat Paul Cayard and AmericaOne (USA-49) to remain atop the points table. This was a good race with both boats hitting the start line as the gun fired, the Italians with better speed and both boats right at the pin end. As Luna Rossa accelerated to a lee bow position, Cayard was forced to tack off. After a short separation both tacked and de Angelis crossed three boat lengths ahead. Italy held a 44-second lead at the top mark, gave away a little time downwind, but was never again threatened in the race. The Italian skipper de Angelis was bold on the final legs, not always covering the Americans, but it didn't hurt him as Luna Rossa held its lead and won handily.

* For three hours Sunday, Chuck Brown sat 30m above the ocean painfully searching for the slightest sniff of a breeze. The Stars & Stripes man-up-the-mast did an admirable job, guiding his crew to victory over the Swiss America's Cup boat on the most torturous day yet in this Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series. At the end of the 2m 36s win, 39-year-old Brown could hardly walk - his legs were in agony. "It's tough sitting in a rock climbing harness all day, resting on your legs at the top of the jumpers," he said. "It's not the most comfortable seat in the house - but it's great fun. It's like watching a virtual race and being in it." -- Suzanne McFadden,


1. Prada 16-1 34 points
2. Young America 12-4 24 points
3. America True 10-6 22 points
4. Stars & Stripes 9-7 20.5* points
5. AmericaOne 11-4 20 points
6. Nippon 9-7 17.5* points
7. Spain 7-8 13 points
8. Abracadabra 6-10 12 points
9. FAST 2000 2-14 8 points
10. Le Defi BTT 3-13 6 points
11. Young Australia 2-13 5 points

* 1/2 point penalty imposed for contact

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

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 Andy Green (re: TAB betting on the Americas Cup) -- One minute the powers that be are asking how we can make the sport more popular and more marketable and the next they take the rather haughty view that betting should be outlawed. Why this sudden moral high-ground? Didn't it all start with a bet?

-- From Douglas Johnstone -- I was stunned to see another major hull failure in this event. This is the second since the inception of the IACC class. Basically rigging, steering and sail failures are to be expected. Hull failures are not. This is not formula 1 racing. This is the elite level of yacht racing. The best of the best, be they naval architects, sail designers/engineers, rigging engineers or sailors. There is no constant track to race on, there is no repetitive schedule of tarmac courses.

It is my opinion, that the IACC rule is not suitable to withstand the variety of conditions that are imposed on the hull and equipment. There should be a scantlings rule, there should be a way of enforcing it. If engineers and architects can get high performance boats around the world, they should be able to do the same on an around the buoys race. Olympic level boats do not fall to bits at the end of racing, why should IACC boats be expected to fail. Formula 1 cars do not fall to bits at the end of racing, why should IACC boats be expected to fail.

I hope at the end of this Americas Cup they will convene another committee to analyze and resolve the problems with this design rule. The only other arena in yacht racing that I can think of with this type of failure is the open 60 class. And frankly they have problems of their own to which there is no comparison.

-- From Robert Bethune, Editor, Freshwater Seas -- I really wouldn't get too excited about contact, gear failures and broken boats in the America's Cup. Heck, there were two dismastings in the most recent Port Huron to Mackinac, one of them less than a kilometer from the starting line! I've seen a number of equipment breaks in club races, causing competitors to drop out. One of the well-known yachts on Lake St. Clair got T-boned last year and nearly sank.

The A-cup boats are trying to do what everyone else does--walk that fine line between light enough and too light. They have more money to do it with, but they have a lot more at stake as well, so the ratio between risk-taking, success and failure probably isn't going to be that much different.

From Doug McIntosh -- I think what makes something a spectator sport that people will watch is a) something that people can understand, b) something where things go wrong and break or blow up. Car racing is something most people can understand. Blown engines, crash pileups, pit timing, are all things easily understood because it's just like driving your own car.

Sailboat racing, to the non-sailor, takes place in vehicles that work in ways that are hard to grasp, with strange rules, and on a playing field that makes no sense. The Americas Cup has become a full on spectacle-media $$$ event. It has become this way because in order to be better than the other guy, it takes things like technology, boats, logistics, and people, which all cost a lot of money. In order to get corporate sponsors to give you lots of money, they need some media exposure in return. Media exposure requires an audience. Sure, every racing sailor is watching, but the average non-sailor on the street only wants to know who won, and to see broken boats and people diving in the water. Making it a fleet race would appeal to the racers, and the racer-spectators, but would really not do anything to increase the appeal to the non-racer. Having Gary and Pedro on the scene to explain things really helped alot, but watching boats go 10, or 6, or 20 knots around a boring course 3 times while doing loopdeloops and protesting race commitees go beyond explaining.

-- From Seth Radow -- I have sailed/ raced for 28 years. As a junior racing in the north eastern US, in the Sunfish Class, it was mandatory to wear a PFD (mind you , this was approx. 20 years ago). I can't remember anyone complaining about the restriction. Certainly the parents weren't complaining.

Now, in my mid 30's, I can't believe I have outgrown the necessity to wear a PFD! Many sailing youth today appear to be better swimmers than their parents, yet it remains the parents who refuse to wear the PFD's. Interesting that the parent is responsible for the child yet it's the child who is wearing the life insurance! I wear an inflatable PFD from time to time although it is not my favorite.

I am a huge fan of the Gill Floatation Vest. Although it only has 11 lbs. of floatation, it is a huge benefit in the water, adding much needed buoyancy when wearing clothing. It is extremely comfortable and inexpensive. It can be worn under foulies acting as an extra layer of insulation and never is a burden. Musto also makes a vest (red) that is worn by one of my crew and the entire crew of Sayonara. I believe the Musto vest is designed to be worn over the top of foulies.

Any PFD is better than none. Find one that is comfortable and wear it. So much has been discussed about developing the youth of sailing. If anything, lead by example for your children, especially offshore.

-- From Chris Welsh -- Since the life jacket thread is open again, my two bits: to everyone who wants to wear them, do so. Leave me to make my own decision, or come up with some darn good statistical evidence that correlates the mandatory use of PFD's with lives saved by mandatory requirements. Mark Gaudio's comments highlight 'feel good' rule making vs. real risks.

Do you really want this thread open again?

Curmudgeon's comment: Absolutely not! Chris - you've had the final word.

-- From Peter Huston -- If allowed, a free market will quickly settle all debate regarding advertising logos and sailing. Might be then that TV cameras follow.

-- From Skip Dieball -- I came across this article and wondered if this is really what the world thinks for Yacht Racing:.

Curmudgeon's comment: Several people sent me this URL. It's definitely worth reading. Many of you will think it's hilarious and some will have very different thoughts.

THE PREZ SAYS -- Paul Henderson, ISAF President
I am now on my way to Noumea for the Mistral Worlds and will endeavor to put the Ad. Code back on track. To again have several MNA's to again demean the classes and try to reverse the Vancouver decision was not acceptable without proposing a solution. The Int. Classes also did not live with the Vancouver agreement and expanded their position which was also unacceptable, which left me with no other choice but to delay till Cyprus, thus giving those who wished to delay the satisfaction of winning although for different reasons. After the meeting many came to me and wondered how I kept my "Cool" as much as I did. So if I was rather sharp with any of you, it was well deserved and I make no apology whatsoever.

Now to the Solution for allocation of space on hulls, sails and equipment. Accept what has been passed: 1) Agreed: Windsurfers as agreed. Match Racing as agreed for supplied equipment but expand that to all events where the equipment is supplied which means the Event Organizer controls all advertizing. The position above also includes Olympic Classes where supplied at an event. Now we are left with the rest including the Olympic Classes which is the real problem:

Overview: Cat"A" remains as now defined. The Cat"C" proposal is that ISAF reserves parts of the boat as designated below and the rest is left to be allocated as all jurisdictions wish with no restrictions from ISAF under Cat"C".

2) Events Sponsor: 25% of the Hull is reserved as a minimum. Events can put banners on backstays, marks, race management boats and any other place they can find and additional areas the class and sailor agrees to on the boats and equipment;. Observation: A class could negotiate the use of the 25% bow area with the event but it is up to the event to agree as it is reserved for the Event.

3) Sails: These are 100% in the domain of the INDIVIDUAL sailor. (exceptions in #1) No jurisdiction can demand a sailor put advertizing on their Sails unless the individual sailor agrees. The sailor has the right to assign advertizing in his sails to whomever they wish. The amount allowed is up to the Class under Cat "C" and in the Olympic Classes must be full Cat"C".

Observations of #3 Sails: If a sailor is contracted to a MNA for financial support the MNA should demand that the sailor assigns the right to Sail Advertizing to the MNA. But that is between the sailor and their MNA. If the Class has a Grand Prix Circuit the sailor could assign part of their sail to the Class. The sailor could give the spinnaker to the MNA, Jib to the class and the mainsail for himself. MNA should only have the right to sails if they fund the sailor. The complete option is left to the sailor to work out their own deals on sails.

4) Booms, Masts, Dodgers, Hulls (75%) Can be a collective option. A Class could use these areas for a class sponsor. An Event could ask for additional space. MNA could ask their sailors to put on a sponsors logo.. This up to the collective arrangement worked out and nothing to do with ISAF. If a class has a class sponsor like the Farr 40 and the Farr 40 class says that the sailor must carry the sponsors logo on his boom then the sailor must go by the class wish. (But they can not force the sailor to put it on his sail unless the sailor agrees.)

Well that is it!! Conflicts: There is absolutely no way that in an open event that you can stop conflicts in fact it is in most countries illegal. Events have the right to call it an invitational but that is in very restrictive cases. If Denmark shows up in a Soling Regatta with Tuborg on their sails and the European Event sponsor is Whitbread you can not force a sailor to remove their individual sponsors. -- Paul Henderson, President, International Sailing Federation

There is a lot of stuff you need (and really should have) when sailing offshore. And that list grows when you're racing under ORC 0-4. But not to worry -- you can do all of your shopping online at the West Marine website. It's all there -- charts, flares, communications gear and even the life raft(s). You probably will also want to look at the personal strobes, EPIRBs, harnesses, jack lines and maybe even a survival suit. They even have a small, portable, manual watermaker in the section with other safety gear:

* "Very small changes in these boats can make quite dramatic differences in the speed of them. We've found that the change we've made from the First Round Robin to the Second is something very, very, small and subtle that we did. It has made a big speed improvement, so we've got quite a big change planned for between Round Robin Two and Three." -- Peter Gilmour, Louis Vuitton Cup website,

* "I think sometimes James' (Spithill) mind might be ahead of the capabilities of the crew. That is what usually happens when you come up from sailing in smaller boats. These guys have only been sailing together for three months, they expect these problems." -- Rob Brown, Coach and tactician for Young Australia,

* "We wanted the right; we won the right on the starting line; we took the right and we were wrong!" Ken Read, Stars & Stripes website,

"I think most of these boats almost every day seem to have some small feature or some small part go wrong. It's just a matter of being able to deal with that throughout the day and keep on fighting." -- Peter Gilmour, Quokka Website,

Apparently it's going to happen today -- the Scuttlebutt distribution list will officially pass the 3000 mark. I'm sure that none of the 42 people who received issue #1 in September, 1997 ever would have guessed

Gravity... It's Not Just a Good Idea. It's the Law.