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SCUTTLEBUTT #443 - November 17, 1999

* There was just one complete race today, but it was one for the books. Team Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes narrowly defeated Paul Cayard's AmericaOne in a race that had all the riveting drama a match-race can offer: strong wind, tight racing, luffing match, two lead changes, a blown spinnaker and a seemingly miraculous recovery. As if this wasn't enough, there was also a near collision, a sail-handling snafu and, ultimately, a penalty that took AmericaOne out of the race just 500 metres from the finish.

"When you're a little kid and you dream of what the America's Cup is all about, this is the type of race you always imagine it's going to be," said Stars & Stripes helmsman Ken Read. "The two of us proved that you can have a pretty darned good race and turn it into a sport that people outside of sailing can watch."

"It was one of those races you love to be in but hate to lose," added Josh Belsky, who works the pit aboard AmericaOne. "It was a classic yacht race."

The remaining four races ended in walkovers as gear failures played a leading role today in the stiff northerly breeze and lumpy seas that swept across the inner Hauraki Gulf. Young Australia logged its first victory over a boat other than the Swiss when Young America pulled out during the pre-start with an undisclosed problem. Young America had requested a postponement, but the race committee denied it. The New Yorkers subsequently filed a protest.

Similarly, America True notched its sixth win of the round by simply sailing around the course alone after the Swiss withdrew because their aft keel fin had cracked. The Swiss have also withdrawn from their remaining races this round, but plan to sail in Round 3.

In the remaining two matches the competitors got off the line in tandem, but the races ended as solo efforts. The Nippon Challenge's Asura recorded its fourth win this round after the Spanish pulled out, apparently with a mainsail halyard problem.

The match between Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel's 6eme Sens and Abracadabra had the hallmarks of a good race -- tight racing and a lead change -- until Abracadabra's boom snapped just after rounding the second windward mark. This is the third race this round in which the struggling Hawaiian team have not finished because of equipment failures. In two earlier races, the mainsail blew out.

That carnage left just AmericaOne and Stars & Stripes locked in an epic battle -- a race in which the boats were never separated by more than 19 seconds until the final dramatic moments. Stars & Stripes led across the starting line, but the speed of the two boats in today's conditions was very similar and they reached the first windward mark side by side, AmericaOne to leeward.
Cayard then went head-to-wind and luffed Stars & Stripes, forcing helmsman Ken Read far above the mark. When Stars & Stripes was dead in the water, Cayard slowly bore away, set the kite and started the run with a three to four boat length lead. The tenacious comeback crew aboard Stars & Stripes reclaimed the lead on the final weather leg, leveraging a port bias in wind direction and a torn jib on AmericaOne to lead by three boat lengths as they turned for home.

Cayard used his trailing position to maintain a tight cover on Stars & Stripes, surfing off the one-and-a-half metre seas to close the gap. Then, in a scene reminiscent of AmericaOne's loss to the Prada Challenge in Round 1, the belly of the kiwifruit-green spinnaker exploded. The race appeared over. But the same gust that blew out AmericaOne's spinnaker broke Stars & Stripes' boom vang, which is used to control the leech of the boat's massive mainsail.

Back aboard AmericaOne, the crack foredeck crew had a replacement kite snaking skyward within one minute and the grey boat was back in the race. AmericaOne, reaching speeds of 13 knots and burying its bow in the waves ahead -- the tattered remains of the blown sail flogging in the breeze -- quickly caught up with the crippled Stars & Stripes. Cayard narrowed the gap to one boat length and the boats simultaneously gybed to port, the bow of AmericaOne almost grazing Stars & Stripes' transom; the spinnaker touched Stars & Stripes' backstay. The Stars & Stripes crew raised the "Y" flag and the umpires ruled in their favour, penalising AmericaOne for what technically was a collision.

In the process, Cayard had to momentarily abort his gybe to keep the hulls from colliding, and that set his foredeck crew scrambling. The spinnaker collapsed and there was trouble with the spinnaker pole. "With the penalty, it was basically race over, so we dropped the spinnaker to limit the damage," explained AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki. "We were thinking big picture; we didn't want to lose our mast."

Stars & Stripes' seemingly large 2-minute, 46-second victory was a result of AmericaOne continuing on without a headsail and taking the penalty turn before crossing the finish line. Stars & Stripes' win, the fifth in the last six matches, solidified the blue boat's hold on third place, just a point and a half behind second placeholder America True. AmericaOne remained in a fourth-place tie with Young America as the series-leading Prada Challenge was idle. -- by Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports,

* In rough seas and high winds, Jochen Schumann and Marc Pajot of the Swiss Fast 2000 syndicate returned to port after hearing a noise from the area around the aft fin keel. The decision was made two minutes before the start of today's race against America True. It was apparent that they had made a sensible decision. As soon as the boat was lifted from the water, the technical team found a serious crack in the carbon fibre of the aft keel.

The experts are now considering the possibilities of repairing or replacing the keel. With the assistance of local yards we will soon be in a position to begin repairs. In the meantime, 'be hAPpy' will not race in the remaining two matches of Round Robin 2. After discussing details of the damage, the whole team at FAST 2000 showed their commitment to overcome this set back and work together to ensure that 'be hAPpy' is on the line for the first race in Round Robin 3. . -- Fast 2000

* AmericaOne, St. Francis Yacht Club's challenger for America's Cup 2000, christened and launched its second International America's Cup Class (IACC) boat, USA 61, today. AmericaOne's second boat is the beneficiary of six additional months of research and design. The event was attended by 120+ guests composed of sponsors, private donors and media, as well as Louis Vuitton and America's Cup Association VIPs. "Now we have both barrels of our gun loaded."

USA 61 is the second of two boats to be built by Westerly Marine Inc. of Costa Mesa, California. It was designed by two-time Cup winner and AmericaOne principal designer, Bruce Nelson and his 45-member design team including representatives from Ford, Hewlett-Packard, SAIC and United Technologies. The design team completed USA 61 with Nelson providing coordination from AmericaOne's headquarters in Auckland. -- Gina Von Esmarch,

All of your rigging needs are right at your fingertips, with experts standing by to make sure you don't make a mistake. Harken, Samson, Yale, Douglas Gill, Forespar, Lewmar, Ronstan, KVH, Spinlock, Marlow -- Sailing Supply not only has it, they'll ship it on the same day you call. You get the right stuff and the price is also right. They'll even pay for the call (800) 532-3831.

A new requirement for participation in the Newport Bermuda Race 2000 Race (which starts June 16, 2000) is that now 25% of the racing crew- including at least two of the captain, navigator, and port and starboard watch captains- must attend a sanctioned Safety at Sea Seminar within three years prior to the start of the Race. The next seminar is scheduled for December 5th, 1999 at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Bermuda. The Bermuda seminar is sanctioned by the Safety at Sea Institute and is sponsored by US Sailing, Cruising World Magazine and West Marine. Members of the Newport Bermuda Race Organizing Committee who will be in Bermuda that weekend for a meeting will participate in this seminar.

A session on Sydney-Hobart "Lessons Learned" will be one topic of particular interest to all offshore racers and cruisers. Limited space is available for the Bermuda Seminar and reservations are suggested. Contact Kevin Blee at (441) 295-2214 or 295-6361 fax or e-mail to

The next opportunity to meet this requirement, and learn useful information about the Newport Bermuda Race, is the Safety at Sea Weekend offered by the Cruising Club of America in Newport, RI on the weekend of March 11-12 2000. -- Talbot Wilson

For information about the Newport Bermuda Race and Onion Patch Series:

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 about bringing the finest technology to the event. It is NOT about the "fairness of obtaining financial backing" or "trying to make sure all the boats are the same" and NEVER has been. It does not hurt sailing to have corporate sponsorship involved in fact it helps to allow people who could not afford to play the game get involved on some level. This is the premier "around the buoys" match racing event and is intended as a "CHECK BOOK CLASS" where advancements in design and equipment allow for faster and faster boat speed and maneuverability and in turn an advantage for the team who figures that out. You know that going into the event before you start fundraising.

It was hard for me to watch AmericaOne get a nice start against PRADA only to have the Italians sail out of a controlled position but that is what it is all about, advantage. Again folks, get organized and go get PRADA-like funding if you want to play with the BIG BOYS. When America owned the CUP we had the right to interpret the rules much to other country's frustration. Now it's New Zealand's turn and if you want play it's their field and their rules. If the rules are so unfair, how is it that a much smaller country (NZ) came and took it away in 1995 in convincing fashion? If you want the CUP it is STILL available to ANYONE worthy of bringing it home...

-- From Russ Lenarz -- I believe that Mr. Vandervort (Butt #442) assessment of what might have happend to the recent hull failure of Young America is very close to being correct as there seems to be some eveidence to support that there might have been certian areas of the hull / deck where cracks had developed due to compression from squared off corners. A large radii conner would help distribute the load more evenly and reduce the ammount of compreesion load in that area. However there are other factors that also could have played a role in the failure as well. I am shure that the design team and Eric Geotz (the builder) have taken a close look at there second boat to see if the same senario could occur on US 58 also.

-- From Gary Ohst -- I think it's a sign that the designers have things pretty well figured out. In that league, ALL the hardware is on the table, including the hull. The races are short duration, they are close to shore, the world is watching, and there is plenty of safety and support close at hand.

Blue water racing is a whole different design game. If a rouge wave can take out your AC boat, then don't tack into rogue waves! Tell me a wave that big could not be "read" on the water. When the design margins are that thin, it opens another tactical dimension and you have to pay attention to that stuff. Pinned outside layline is one thing, tacking into the jaws of a monster is another.

Keep the committees and political influences to a minimum. Let the designers design, the racers race, and the bets begin. IMHO, of course.

I just heard this 2nd hand: Monday, first scheduled day of racing, two races were completed. Winds were strong at the end of two and they were sent in. Puerto Rico government on Tuesday ordered the battening of hatches and will be terminating electric power Tuesday afternoon. Buildings are covered in corrugated medal over the windows. The Sunfish were put back inside their shipping boxes and secured. Sailors who intended to stay aboard private boats in the harbor were moved to hotels shoreside and the private boats have been pulled out and put on the hard and anchored down.

Racing is to resume as soon as Hurrican Lenny passes, it takes 5 races in order to ordain a champion, so the pressure will be on to get racing complete. There will be no racing on Wednesday. -- Glenn McCarthy

Lots of owners have been ordering the quick drying Camet sailing shorts for their crews to take advantage of the big discounts that apply when you buy them for the whole team. For next season, the curmudgeon is looking for is a boat that is buying them in red, which is the only color I don't have. A pair of red Camet shorts (with the optional foam pads, of course) is a pretty good inducement to make a season-long commitment. Check them out:

After two days of racing in Lake Pontchartrain's light and shifty winds, Berkeley Prep(Belleaire, FL)'s team of David Phillips and Scott Ashbaugh won decisively in their first major schools regatta, followed by a one-point spread between second-place Community School of Naples(FL)'s Ryan Shaughnessy and Meredith Pelton and New Orleans' Newman High in third, with brothers Ben and Scott Montgomery racing.

This was the inaugural of a new Interscholastic Sailing Association regatta for school teams which have been organized for less than three years, and teams from Hawaii to Connecticut, 16 in all, responded eagerly to the challenge. For many sailors, it was their first national-level event in doublehanded boats. The Southeast District of ISSA (SEISA) hosted the new Great Oaks Invitational at Southern YC in Club 420s loaned for the regatta by Southern YC, Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. Lawrence A. White,

Ken Read of Stars & Stripes, on today's race: "When you're a little kid and you dream about what the America's Cup is all about, that's the type of race you are always going to imagine it's going to be."

Josh Belsky, pit on AmericaOne, on surfing: "It's a pretty weird feeling because one moment you're super-excited that you're going that fast but these boats as we all know, and have seen, are super delicate. The boats tend to load up when you dig the bow in a wave and you get two feet of green water coming back into the cockpit. You try to put that out of your mind about everything that you're doing and try to put out of your mind that the boat's loading up even more and just hope that you're going to come through OK in the end. But it's pretty exciting, especially when you are that close to another boat and you are surfing down his stern wave and just ploughing into his quarter wake all the time. It's an awesome feeling."

Ken Read of Stars & Stripes, on racing in heavy conditions: "Well nothing's safe, but I think that's what they [the boats] are built for. Two of us proved that you can have a pretty good race and turn this into a sport that people outside of sailing can watch. Not only do I think you have to be able to race in that stuff, I think as far as our sport is concerned it is imperative. That's the only time Joe Schmoe sitting back in Providence, RI, is going to take any interest in the sport of sailing. So it's critical that we sail in breeze like that today."

Bruce Nelson, on breakages and breakdowns: "These boats have ballast-to-displacement ratios that are enormous, they have very tall, large sail plans. It's physically hard to handle the sails and manoeuvre these boats and they are really loaded up and they have a lot of inertial loads with those big massive lead bulbs swinging around down there especially in the steep waves out here. The forces are not only large, but a bit difficult to predict and manage. I think it's only [through] good seamanship that we prevent more breakage from occurring - especially when we have a class that was developed for San Diego wind speeds. Now we're pushing them in the higher scale wind speeds without really making any changes appropriate to the class rule. Its tough on the sailors to manage the boats in these conditions."

Ken Read of Stars & Stripes, on today's race: "Peter Isler said from the back of our boat 'There's a really big puff coming,' and sure enough about two seconds later their chute broke and our vang broke."


Sailors from around the world have targeted their racing calendars for January 17--when hotly contested battles begin at the 13th GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week, held January 17-21 off Key West (Florida). "The depth of the fleet will double this year," says Mumm 30 World Champion Ed Collins, of the battles expected in his one-design class. That trend is likely to be mirrored in many classes, including a 30-boat Farr 40 class and 22-boat 1D35 class, as top sailors from around the world make their way to this sailing mecca.

In 1999, Race Week moved its base of operation to the Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight, and the new Official Site has had a significant impact on the event: It has helped make more transient berths available to racers and brought regatta headquarters into the heart of Old Town Key West. The elegant Ocean Key, the Official Hotel, is situated only three blocks from Race Headquarters.

GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week is open to entries in IMS, PHRF, and One-Design classes. Racing begins Monday, January 17 and concludes Friday, January 21. Registration opens at 1300 on Sunday, January 16. -- Cynthia Goss,

Four starting lines daily, two on the ocean and two in Biscayne Bay and your pick of Miami Beach or Coconut Grove. The 59th SORC regatta kicks off at the skippers meeting Tuesday, February 29th 2000 and runs through the weekend.

This year the regatta has been converted to an invitational format. Entries will be limited to 200 boats opening the door for us to meet our goal to be known as the best 200-boat regatta in America. We've kept the racing format from last year with two venues, the Atlantic Ocean venue and the Biscayne Bay venue. Each of these venues has two separate racecourses assuring a reasonable

The mind is like a parachute - it works much better when it's open.