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SCUTTLEBUTT #442 - November 16, 1999

Virgin Gorda, BVI; -- The Bitter End YC's 13th annual Pro-Am Regatta, held earlier this month in splendid sailing conditions on Virgin Gorda's North Sound, had a decidedly different feel in '99 as compared to years past. With the current cast of Pro-Am rockstars all holding court down in Auckland, regatta organizer John Glynn set the 'wayback machine' for the late '60s, assembling a half dozen America's Cup and sailmaking icons from that era to sail a match race series in the resort's fleet of Freedom 30s. As usual, the Bitter End's paying guests (the 'Ams') made up the 5-man crews which pulled the strings for these legendary skippers (the 'Pros').

The format was different this year, too. Rather than straight match racing - which can be fairly painful in Freedom 30s once one boat lumbers into the lead - Paul Elvstrom's new 'triple match racing' system was employed. This fun new game debuted as an exhibition class at the recent Cottenfield Match Racing World Championship, and the Bitter End's three-day, 20-race experiment was believed to be only the second time that triple match racing has been featured in a big regatta.

With rabbit starts and both windward and leeward gates, the lead changed hands often among the three boats, especially on the first of the two sausages. On the whole, the racing was quite civilized - only one penalty turn assessed - and seemed more like (extremely small) fleet racing than match racing. Ulmer wrapped the event up mathematically well before the racing was completed, collecting a bunch of trophies as well as the 'real' prize - an invitation back to the Bitter End YC. -- Rob Moore

'99 Pro-Am - 1) Butch Ulmer, 7 wins; 2) Robbie Doyle, 4; 3) Keith Musto, 3; 4) Lowell North, 3: 5) Ted Hood, 2; 6) John Bertrand, 1.

Past Pro-Am winners - Scott MacLeod ('87), Ken Read ('88 & '89), Jim Brady ('90), Ed Baird ('91 & '94), Paul Cayard ('92 & '98), Peter Holmberg ('93 & '97), Russell Coutts ('95 & '96).

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Today both the weather and the match-ups conspired to show how entertaining the Louis Vuitton Cup can be. The weather was spectacular for racing today. The boats enjoyed Northerly winds building from eight to nearly 15 knots throughout the afternoon, the sun smiling on the race course all day.

An initial dial up, seconds after the five-minute gun saw Bertrand Pace steering Le Defi (FRA-46) to leeward of be hAPpy (SUI-59) and forcing Swiss helmsman Jochen Schumann away from the line. With 1:30 remaining in the pre-start, the French boat broke back for the line, starting 14 seconds late. The Swiss boat could only follow, starting 23 seconds after that. France extended on every leg, except the first run and the last, when the Swiss gained 51 seconds and seven seconds respectively.

A downspeed luffing contest above the line before the start, was the precursor to Ken Read of Stars & Stripes (USA-55) holding Pedro Campos of Bravo Espana (ESP- 47) outside the box until both boats got below the committee and fought for the left hand-side at the gun. Read was first back to the line, at the pin on starboard. Campos started ten seconds later, splitting onto port. At the first cross, it was Stars & Stripes crossing on port, by three boat lengths. One more tack and Read chose to defend the right hand side, using the starboard tack right-of-way advantage to stave off the equally fast Spanish boat in a 17-tack duel. Bravo Espana took the fight to Stars & Stripes again on the first run, getting within one boat-length half way down the run and pressing all the way to the leeward mark. Read rounded only nine seconds ahead but then extended for the rest of the race.

James Spithill sailing Young Australia 2000 (AUS-31) and John Cutler sailing America True (USA-51) circled violently just downwind of the committee boat in an effort to gain the potentially favoured left-hand side. The Americans eventually won the left but Spithill was close to weather of the yellow boat and managed to accelerate over the top of the stalled USA-51. America True flew a protest flag and the Umpires awarded a penalty to Young Australia for a windward boat failing to keep clear (Rule 11). Spithill took his boat over the start line with a 14 second lead and sailed out to the left of the course. America True recovered and tacked away to the right to gain some lateral separation, then tacked back. A speed chase followed and America True demonstrated why it is lying near the top of the points table. Speed overcame the early disadvantage and the unfavoured side of the course. Spithill came back to bounce the Americans away to the right on several occasions, but the speed advantage was too much. The last time they came together Spithill tried a lee bow tack but they were a little bit too far back to make it stick and America True managed to live with it and carry the Australians most of the way to the port tack layline. From here on America True drew out more and more distance and in spite of endless attacks by the Young Australia crew, Cutler never looked threatened again.

The first start was abandoned when a big left-hand shift hit the race course just as AmericaOne (USA-49) and Abracadabra (USA-54) were crossing the start line. Chris Larson, replacing John Kolius on the helm today, was steering Abracadabra for the first time in the Louis Vuitton Cup. In the second pre-start period Abracadabra got a penalty for not keeping clear (Rule 10) when the boats met for the first time, Abracadabra was on port tack entering from the pin end and AmericaOne on starboard. As the pair hit the line for the second time Cayard was to windward of Abracadabra with more speed. AmericaOne wanted to be on the right side and defended that side for the first part of the beat. Cayard and his tactician John Kostecki slowly gained in the oscillating breeze. AmericaOne changed sides frequently to be positioned on the inside of the next wind shift. After 17 tacks AmericaOne rounded the top mark 41 seconds ahead. Abracadabra delayed taking its penalty but could not threaten AmericaOne again.

For most of the afternoon, this heavyweight battle lived up to its promise, Luna Rossa (ITA-45) battling tooth and nail against Young America (USA-58). American skipper Ed Baird threw all he had at Francesco de Angelis, Young America initiating tacking duels upwind and gybing duels downwind. Luna Rossa led throughout the race, after a split tack start with Young America. The pair engaged in the traditional dial up before Baird turned downwind of the line, Luna Rossa trailing close. As they turned up for the line Young America, to leeward, forced the Italians to tack away with a hard luff. Luna Rossa started on port tack slightly ahead and with better speed, building that advantage with a layline push to the left. Baird resisted, throwing 23 tacks at de Angelis but the Italian skipper held firm. The next three legs were much the same, de Angelis at times covering hard, at times letting Baird go, but never holding more than a three boat-length lead. Nearing the bottom mark for the second time, with Young America charging hard on the outside, the boats neck and neck, the Americans lost their spinnaker over the foredeck on the drop. With the sail in the water, the black boat almost came to a stop as the crew frantically tried to bring it back on board. After a few moments they cut it free for the chase boat to pick up, but had already lost nearly two minutes to the opposition. Luna Rossa marched on to victory, proving their mettle under pressure.

Louis Vuitton Cup website,

1. Prada 17-1 38 points
2. America True 11-6 26 points
3. Stars & Stripes 10-7 24.5* points
4. AmericaOne 12-4 24 points
5. Young America 12-5 24 points
6. Nippon 9-7 17.5* points
7. Spain 7-9 13 points
8. Abracadabra 6-11 12 points
9. Le Defi BTT 4-13 10 points
10. FAST 2000 2-15 8 points
11. Young Australia 2-14 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 Chris Welsh -- A writer questions the Formula 1/AC Cup comparison. Understand that typically 14 out of 22 cars do not finish a F1 race - and most of the failures are equipment breakdown rather than collisions. And many of the breakdowns are material/design failures of parts intentionally designed to be the lightest parts possible.

The best example of this is rear wings, which have collapsed and/or flown off regularly this season. The concern is the designers are thought to be designing wings that flex to shed load at high speed (on the straight), yet provide downforce at lower (cornering) speeds, and the resulting parts are weaker. Some cars are designed to compete in the Baja 1000; F1 cars wouldn't last 10 seconds there. Same for IAC boats - they have become highly specialized thoroughbreds - and no, don't try and take one on the Cabo race.

It amazes me to see narrow 7,000 pound hulls carrying 40,000 pounds plus of ballast - and the righting moment to carry their full main through the whole wind range. Now if they would just allow swing keels (a la the Schock 40) we would see another leap forward in performance - same rig & sail plan with maybe 35% of the ballast...

-- From Mark Turner (in response to Doug Johnstone in 'Butt 441) -- Open 60s also race around the globe, through the world's roughest and windy waters, with a single person onboard - the boats take huge amounts of abuse. Just what was this guy trying to say?

-- From John Celick -- Doug Johnstone makes a valid point on the hull failure at Am. Cup. Two thoughts ... Is the current problem in specific rules or in lack of rules? Could the inevitable marketplace pressure sort the problem out without more rules? That broken boats don't come home with the Cup should be incentive enough to fix the problems. Second thought... How about that Star rig?

-- From Rob Vandervort -- Bit of History and with reference to Paul Miller's commentary: In addition to some of the design disasters mentioned, the Liberty Ships of World War II had a very similar problem to that of Young America. The Liberty Ships were built by the hundreds in an effort to get war supplies to Europe quickly.

The second largest cause of damage to the Liberty ships was the design, (first of course being sinkings by German U-boats). In the seas encountered during transatlantic crossings, the designers found that the decks were failing in compression. The location of all failures was at the fore and/or aft sides of the cargo hatches on the decks. Perhaps similarities could be drawn to the forward side of Y.A.'s cockpit.

The failures were eventually diagnosed, after a long while, as small cracks emanating from the corners of the square cargo hatches (stress riser). It was solved simply by adding large radii to the corners on the cargo hatches.

This is only a similar instance in marine design - not an explanation for Y.A. Hopefully we will all learn what happened in Y.A.'s case.

-- From Helen Johnstone Falk -- Thank-you, Don McDougall for making a very valid point; has the America's Cup boiled down to nothing but politics and sponsorship dollars - who has the most dollars will win? I know, am friends with and have raced with and against many of the top "afterguard" of the American Teams and I KNOW it is not in their nature or will to have the "stuff" going on that is going on. As individuals and as team-players, I have seen them all in "good-sportsmanship" form in other highly competitive regattas.

What is GOING ON??? That is the question. What is the answer???

I believe the politics of Corporate America are interfering with a healthy and what is normally a very team-oriented sport called yacht racing. If ANY RULES are going to be imposed, the sport of sailing should put a "cap" on the corporate sponsorship and take a good look at the kind of pressure "corporate" puts on their teams to perform and win and how that begins to affect the ENTIRE cycle of the teams and their camraderie not only physically but psychologically.

This is not a stab at Corporate America -- it is simply a question of finding a "happy medium" between the pressures of Corporate America and the sport of sailing. Maybe a separate "entitiy" should be created to oversee this issue before it gets out of hand, which it seems to be doing in New Zealand.

-- From Bryan Willis -- The Americas Cup Jury Chairman/Chief Umpire Bryan Willis was in Sydney last week for the ISAF Conference. He's working on his laptop in the IT room when someone on the Quokka site exclaims 'Young America is breaking up'. Not one to take anything at face value, Willis logs on to the Virtual Spectator site to find Young America's speed is zero and she's obviously in trouble.

Mobile to mobile, he phones his deputy Henry Menin on the AC racecourse on the Hauraki Gulf: 'What's happened to Young America?' 'What do you mean?' 'Young America - isn't she sinking?' 'You're having me on' 'Not at all. Please check it out' [Pause while deputy gets on the radio] 'My God, you're right!' 'OK. Phone me back when you've got some details' An hour later Menin phones back: 'I've got the details, but you're 1300 miles away and I'm finding it difficult to get over the fact that you knew before I did...'.

-- From Ann Christiansen -- I must say, I'm confused by the ISAF/IOC objectives listed under "Broad Policy Matters" from the 11/13/99 Scuttlebutt. Objective #1 aims to encourage participation from athletes around the world, of different sizes weights and genders. Objective #2, directly from the IOC, presents the goal of 30% women's participation.

Firstly, I don't understand how these two ideas mesh. Secondly, I think aiming for 30% female participation 4+ years from now is shooting too low. Am I missing something here?

I know, there are major politics involved here with boat types, class strength, etc., but, cutting out 20% of the population simply on the basis of their sex seems a little out-dated. It seems as if other Olympic events (with both sexes competing) have equal oportunities to compete (mens and womens skating, skiing, swimming, track and field, etc).

I'm not attempting to start a re-hashing of the ongoing debate over Olympic boats, I'm simply trying desparately to understand these "goals"...

The US Sailing Association One Design Class Council is starting a listserver for US one design sailors. I expect this to be a forum for topics of interest to US one design sailors. More details on this listserver will be available on the ODCC pages within the US Sailing Association web site, but in the meantime, instructions on subscribing follow. -- Ali Meller,

If you like photos of sailboats you should double-click on this link: You'll see some neat boats and some really neat custom sail graphics. Little boats, big boats -- it doesn't make any difference. When you deal with Whitney Gladstone, the work is done right, and it's affordable. So what are you waiting for? Call Whitney and talk about custom graphics for your boat or sails: (619) 224-8667

The most sophisticated Search and Rescue helicopter in Australia and a highly trained crew will fly south with the fleet in the 1999 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race as part of an extended safety coverage of the 1999 race. In a joint initiative of the Lloyd Helicopter Group, Australia's largest provider of SAR helicopter services, and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the purpose-built Sikorsky S76A++ helicopter will be positioned to ensure a rapid response to any emergency situation, 24 hours a day throughout the five to six day race.

The Lloyd helicopter will follow the fleet from the start by staging the aircraft at various locations between Sydney and Hobart to enable a rapid response to any emergency situation requirement that may eventuate during the course of the race, whether that be a search, a rescue or a medivac.

The purpose-built Sikorsky S-76 A++ is auto-hover capable and equipped for all-weather, day/night, over-water operation. The auto-hover is a dual digital, automatic flight control system incorporating a 4-axis auto-pilot approach to and hover over water at night in all weather conditions In addition to auto-hover, the helicopter is equipped with the latest technology homing system, thermal imaging device (ideal for searching for a person(s) in the water), a high-speed rescue hoist, and all associated rescue and survival equipment including a 30 million candle power nightsun search light. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 155 knots (290 kmn/h) and a cruise speed of 130 knots (250 km/h). The crew will comprise two highly qualified and experienced SAR pilots, a qualified and experience hoist/FLIR operator and a rescue (down the wire) crewman.

Two highly qualified paramedics may accompany the helicopter. Communications will include 2-30 MHz, 30-950 Mhz AM/FM VHF/UHF and satellite phone fit. Homing capable on all VHF/UHF frequencies, with 121.5, 243.0 anmd 406.025 MHz being scanned continuously. Throughout the race, the Lloyd helicopter crew will liaise closely with AusSAR who will monitor the aircraft's progress and have the ability to call on their services as short notice. Lloyd, a company with more than 30 years experience in the Australian aviation industry, currently operates a fleet of 33 helicopters from 14 fixed bases throughout Australia and South East Asia. -- Peter Campbell

Elliott / Pattison Sailmakers are now hosting live on-line seminars and chat sessions. We will be holding seminars are various sailing subjects once or twice a month from 5:00 to 7:00 pm PST. We will also be live on-line every Tuesday from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST for general chat. Anyone wanting to join in can go to our web site at and go to the "Live On-Line" page. There they will find a calendar of dates and topics, instructions for logging on, and button to click to join the chat. -- Harry Pattison,

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano-at 370 feet, one of the world's largest tall ships--has confirmed that she will participate in next summer's Tall Ships Newport Salute 2000, scheduled for June 29-July 2. Built in 1927 in Cadiz, Spain, the four-masted topsail schooner is used today as the training ship for the midshipmen and ensigns of the Spanish navy. She is named in honor of Juan Sebastian de Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan's last exploratory fleet, and aptly bears a coat of arms comprised of an image of a globe and the latin motto "Primus Circumdedisti Me" (first to circumnavigate me).

Newport has been designated an official cruise port for participating ships, which will have a month-long layover between finishing the race's first leg in Bermuda and starting their next leg, which takes them from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is expected that 50-60 ships will eventually confirm their participation in the Newport event, where, among other things, a Parade of Sail and public tours of the vessels are planned. To date, 42 vessels have accepted invitations to join in the Tall Ships Newport Salute 2000. -- Barby MacGowan,

Ed Baird of Young America, on dropping the spinnaker in the water: "We just made a mistake and lost a little bit of the sail in the water. These boats have so much power, so much speed . . . as soon as you get some of the sail in the water, it's very difficult to retrieve it again. We are learning. We came into this event lacking quite a bit of boat-handling time and we are learning under fire. So, that was a mistake that we have not had, and we need more practice."

Marc Pajot of be hAPpy, his boat's speed potential: "For sure with the Swiss team, we need to practice more and we need to learn our boat which is maybe a too special boat for the start."

Chris Larsen of Abracadabra, on steering today: "John Kolius, the skipper of our programme, made a decision that he wanted to switch things around a little bit. He wanted to be tactician today and just get an overall perspective of the race-course and see how we're going against the competition."

Ken Read on Stars & Stripes' victory: "Today's satisfying win shows you can indeed teach old dogs new tricks. After yesterday's loss to America True, the members of our afterguard had a long discussion. We pinpointed all the things that went wrong, and why they went wrong. We went to school on those mistakes and didn't make them today."

Ed Baird, on rebuilding Young America (USA 53): "Its going to take substantial work to get this thing back together. However its very encouraging to have the designers and builders come and look, and say 'Yep. We can fix that'."


It's easier to get older than it is to get wiser.