SCUTTLEBUTT #446 - November 22, 1999
COMMENTARY - John Roake
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE EVENT TO DATE - The New York Yacht Club (Young
America syndicate) continues to astound all observers. Despite all their
supposed money, they have arrived in New Zealand with boats totally
unsuited to the conditions and to add insult to injury, not only did boat
number one fail and bend like a banana, their second boat has now shown to
have cracks in the deck, again seemingly produced by stress from the mast.
Press releases from the Club over the past three years told the world how
much trialing they had done, the mammoth amount of hours they have spent on
the water, and the expertise they had gathered around them to show the
world they were number one. The realities are that they have had to admit
that their performance is second class, their crewing leaves a lot to be
desired, and they are plagued with boat design problems. Management,
designers, their boat builders, crew and public relations team all have egg
on their face and they have an uphill battle to get back into contention.
Skipper Baird has had to finally admit that, "We came into this event
lacking quite a bit of boat-handling time and we are learning under fire.
We need more practice. We are learning." It must have taken some courage to
acknowledge all this. Meanwhile, their number one boat (a banana split with
chocolate), has been moved to an Auckland boat builder's yard, where they
are furiously trying to get it ready to go back in the water before the
The New York builder and his team, as well as designer Bruce Farr, are in
New Zealand in survival mode. Meantime, the team's attention must have been
diverted from the banana to their number two boat to ensure that there is
no repeat of the earlier disaster. One must also assume that the repairs
will not come cheap. It is now freely known that their total required
funding has not yet been found, and certainly it will be even harder to get
money from supporters in the light of their bizarre overall track record. A
very disappointing performance from all involved. -- Reprinted with
permission from DEFENCE 2000, which is available for US $48 per year from
MISTRAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA - Defending world champion Barbara Kendall reigns
supreme in women's Olympic boardsailing, finishing at the top of the
leaderboard of the 1999 Mistral World Championships with a race to spare.
Kendall did not sail the last race.
Australia's pre-Olympic champion Lars Kleppich crossed the line
significantly ahead of the rest of the fleet, in doing so claiming his
first Olympic class world championship title. Consistent sailing in the
predominantly light airs allowed Kleppich to build a solid points
differential over the rest of the fleet having wrested the lead from
McIntosh on Day 3 of the regatta. -- Virginia Stracey-Clitherow
MEN'S GOLD FLEET - Provisional only (11 races, 1 discard, 48 entries)
1. Lars KLEPPICH (Australia): 37pts, 2. Tony PHILP (Fiji): 51pts, 3. Marcos
GALVAN (Argentina): 76pts.
WOMEN'S FLEET - Final (11 races, 1 discard, 57 entries) 1. Barbara KENDALL
(NZL): 26pts, 2. Faustine MERRET (France): 64pts, 3. Lise VIDAL (France)
For more details: http://www.acpv.com/eng/index.htm
SERIOUS WET GEAR
Gill North America recently introduced new breathable foul weather gear
designed specifically for coastal cruising and offshore sailing. The new
Key West Jacket and coordinating Key West Trousers feature the comforts of
"O2," Gill's hydrophilic, waterproof, breathable fabric system. Gill's Key
West Jacket features an internal harness channel, a high fleece-lined
collar, self-draining cargo pockets with fleece-lined hand-warmers, and an
adjustable face visor. The Key West Trousers have a high-cut back for
maximum protection from the elements. The seat and knees are reinforced
with Cordura. If you need serious wet gear, you've got to look this over:
LOUIS VUITTON CUP
* Viaduct Basin looks quiet today. No one's sailing. Some boats sit in
their cradles with masts stepped. Others hide behind closed doors,
shielding the world from the sound of power tools. Racing in redux.
The Louis Vuitton Cup Round 2 marathon ended yesterday, 15 days after it
began, in spectacular fashion. Abracadabra 2000 and Bravo Espana staged a
match that had all the makings of a breathtaking action movie. Violent
luffs. Thrilling side-by-side chase scenes. Blown halyards and sails. Crew
blunders. A thrilling 17-second final delta. In all, it was a perfect
summation of Round 2.
The second round robin featured a plethora of close races. Fourteen of the
55 matches, 25 percent, had deltas of 60 seconds or less. Six had deltas of
23 seconds or less
Phenomenal, aggressive racing highlighted by Abracadabra's three-second win
over Stars & Stripes, the closest match of the round, and America True's
12-second win over Nippon's Asura, the most penalised (five) match of the
round. The standard of competition has rarely been higher, and it is
stressing the boats.
The Round 2 carnage sheet includes two broken booms, a broken spinnaker
pole, a broken mast, no fewer than six blown sails, failed halyards,
cracked keel fins and, of course, one broken boat: Young America, USA-53.
On 9 November, Young America's first race boat split open and nearly sank
in 80 feet of New Zealand's finest salt water. Sailing upwind in 18 knots
and choppy seas, USA-53 reared up in one nasty set of waves and violently
The next thing skipper Ed Baird realised was the transom rising to meet the
boom. Soon after, he and the crew abandoned ship, and only a superb act of
seamanship kept the nearly US$4 million racing machine from sinking. Down
but not out, the team rebounded and hurriedly prepped its No. 2 boat,
USA-58, for racing conditions two months earlier than planned. Still
shocked by the dramatic experience, the team had to add stiffeners to the
boat, presumably designed for lighter conditions expected during January's
semifinal round. Race ready, USA-58 went out and won its first two races
before troubles resumed last Wednesday.
Within a 48-hour period, Young America went from a 14-second delta at the
second windward mark against Prada in an enthralling match, to a 1:14 loss
after a blown spinnaker takedown. The next day the team withdrew from its
match against Young Australia with cracking noises coming from the
gooseneck. The team also discovered deck delamination near the chainplates.
Then, when lining up to race Stars & Stripes, a problematic mainsail luff
track forced USA-58 to retire again.
Young America finished the round at 4-6, and fell to sixth on the
leaderboard with 24 points. It trails Italy's series leader Prada, which
has totalled 46 of a possible 50 points on a 19-1 race record.
The Italians had a few bumps this round, a few poor starts, and suffered
their first loss at the hands of Team Dennis Conner. But they showed the
ability to brawl when necessary, winning back-to-back slugfests against
AmericaOne and Young America by a combined 2:14, positive foreboding for
America True, 38 points, and Team Dennis Conner, 36.5 points, were the big
movers and shakers of the round. They supplanted Young America and
AmericaOne as members of the Big Three, along with Prada, after posting 8-2
records and leaping into second and third overall. The powerful one-boat
teams excited their supporters with steady character and solid crew work,
not to mention adequate boat speed. This is a must to be competitive at
AmericaOne finished the round 7-3, which included losses to Team DC,
America True and Prada. It lies fourth with 36 points. Don't fret for
AmericaOne, however. Skipper Paul Cayard has his team steadily progressing
through the round robins while furthering its evaluation programme.
AmericaOne used multiple crew combinations, and who knows how many
different sail shapes. Plus, it launched its new boat, USA-61, four days
ago, and Monday begins full-scale two-boat tuning.
Peter Gilmour and the Nippon Challenge posted a 6-4 record, like Round 1,
and lie fifth with 29.5 points. Young America aside, Nippon had an eventful
round. Its scorecard includes a broken mast, broken mainsail clew ring and
a slew of penalties incurred in a thrilling half-mile of racing against
These six teams -- Prada, America True, Team DC, AmericaOne, Nippon and
Young America -- seem certain to advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals.
Seventh-placed Spain, 17 points, and eighth-placed Abracadabra, 16 points,
are knocking at the door. If any one of the top six falter, one of these
two would be most likely to advance.
Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel, Young Australia and FAST 2000 simply
lack the boat speed to advance.
One of the top six faltering, however, seems unlikely. This competition
demands boat speed. The top six have it, and likely have more to unveil.
The order of advancement doesn't matter. The top six teams' points are
thrown out after they advance. Wins in the semifinals are worth one point
each, and the top two teams advance to the Louis Vuitton finals.
Nippon, America True and Team DC all have their masts pulled and their
boats in the shed. Young America has its keel off, presumably being
prepared for some major bonding work. AmericaOne and Prada both have masts
stepped and their machines ready to resume tomorrow two-boat testing.
Racing on the water may be in redux, but the relentless race to find boat
speed remains at full pace. -- by Sean McNeill, Quokka Sports,
* Bowsprits are back! Hawaii's Abracadabra 2000 team launched its other
boat USA-50 today, complete with bowsprit jutting jauntily over its
straight stem. It's the first time that a bowsprit has been seen around the
America's Cup since Paul Cayard effectively attacked the 1992 New Zealand
Challenge for its use of a 'sprit in the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup.
Skipper John Kolius and his team have sailed their newest boat, USA-54, in
the first two round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Their first and older
USA-50, which they sailed for a month in Hawaii, has remained in the
compound, with its underbody shrouded. The bottom might have been hidden,
but another difference in the two boats was there for all to see. The new
boat has a metre-boat bow with a long overhang. The older boat is shorter
overall, with an almost vertical, cut-off destroyer-style bow.
"Today is the first time we have sailed with the bowsprit," said DJ
Cathcart, spokeswoman for Abracadabra 2000. "We'll spend as much time as
possible in two-boat testing before we have to go back and race again."
The need for the bowsprit springs from the choice of bow configuration. The
destroyer bow type results in a finer entry and no overhang but the
trade-off is that the forestay terminates right on the stem of the boat and
there is no way to downhaul the forward end of the overlength spinnaker
pole. Most importantly, without a bowsprit, there would be nowhere to
momentarily tack down the asymmetrical spinnaker whilst the pole is removed
for a gybe.
This boat is expected to handle flat water and light air conditions better
than its metre-bow cousins. The trade-off is that it won't pick up added
waterline length when heeled and it might prove more skittish when running
in a seaway. We did considerable tank testing and the destroyer bow proved
better in the tank," said Andy Dovell, the Australian-resident American
designer, who with his partner Ian Burns designed the two Abracadabras. The
pair also played a major role as designers for Fluid Thinking, the design
team for the oneAustralia challenge for the last America's Cup. "Based on
our testing we have every reason to have faith, but I must say I'm
beginning to feel a little alone right now." -- Keith Taylor, Louis Vuitton
Cup website, http://www.louisvuittoncup.com/
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.com)
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 Peter Huston -- Why is it that Young America has been essentially
allowed to use and abuse the Request for Redress process - and with the
evidence that was eventually presented against them there was no penality
for doing so?
What sort of message does this send to sailors around the world - to say
nothing of youth sailors? You can try anything you like in the Protest
Room, and if it doesn't work to your advantage, there are no consequences.
Who within Young America was responsible for this attempt to hijack a
couple of points? Who signed the Request for Redress form? Why have these
people not been taken out to the woodshed?
Winning at all costs used to meaning sailing hard, and preparing for
everything. Now it seems that you check your integrity at the door and
sell your soul for the sake of a tin cup.
-- From Chris Welsh --The difference between what was said in the protest
regarding the extent of the breakdown on Young America and the TV quotes of
the actual breakdown that occurred is startling. Probably the single most
challenging (and annoying) factor I see on the race course today is a lack
of sportsmanship - the attitude that anything you can get away with, you
should - ignore 720's you owe, etc. It is really disappointing to see what
appears to be poor sportsmanship at such a high level within sailing. I am
glad the Jury agreed and reversed the point awarded. A public apology to
their competitors and the sport is deserved if the reporting is accurate.
-- From Scott Murray, New England Boatworks -- Maybe I'm missing something
here. In RR1 Stars and Stripes and Nippon were assessed a penalty of 50% of
a win for contact. Two days ago America True evidently took out Nippon's
masthead gear in the start sequence and later in the race the boats rafted
up for an impromptu get together. To date I have not heard of either team
being assessed a points penalty for contact. If the rigs were close enough
to break off masthead gear then surely some penalty surely should be
assessed, likewise when the boats made full contact on the last leg. Again
it seems like the rules change from round to round.
-- From Giles Anderson -- If you are as bored as I am at watching dog
races, fireman challenges, paint ball wars, etc. on ESPN and ESPN2 instead
of watching the AC, which is only available at 2AM a month after the actual
race took place, then write an email to ESPN and tell them what you think.
If you don't tell them, they won't know. Here's the URL for ESPN feedback:
-- From John Rousmaniere -- Trying to prove their points about
commercialism and the America's Cup, Chris Ericksen and lan Capellin
oversimplify the issue and make it and the Cup's people too static. All
this is more complicated and interesting than mere greed (Capellin) or a
rich man's hobby (Ericksen).
Lipton first offered to challenge for the cup in 1887, three years before
he went into the tea business (he had made money in grocery stores).
Lipton's motives were mixed with the blend of appeals surrounding the
America's Cup -- challenge, nationalism, spectacle. We all know people who
enjoy every type of challenge. Many of them also are patriots, and not a
few of them enjoy being part of a spectacle.
For participants and spectators alike, these three appeals, I think, are
key to the long history of the America's Cup. If the cynical view that it
has always been nothing more than a commercial enterprise were accurate,
the event would have died out long ago. Surely there are easier, more
cost-effective places to sell tea or real estate or high fashion. While he
liked boats in principle, Lipton knew nothing about sailing but used it and
the America's Cup to gently -- that's the key word here, "gently" --
promote himself and, through him, his business. The important point is not
THAT he was commercial but HOW he was commercial. He understood that his
reputation depended on the cup's reputation. He helped the cup, the cup
helped him. That's a nice model to follow, isn't it?
-- From Ray Pendleton Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- There are two Lipton Cups
in Hawaii as well!
-- From Seth Radow -- This past Friday, a good friend and great Southern
California sailor passed away. The man, Kelly Ward drowned in Newport
Beach. No excuses can be made for this tragedy. Kelly was in impeccable
physical condition, he was a strong swimmer and a great sailor who made his
living working on the water as a Sailmaker. All this meant nothing when he
fell overboard while working on a boat, Friday, November 19, 1999.
Although a detailed investigation is underway, it was apparent to the
authorities on the scene that Kelly somehow, lost his balance, fell
overboard, knocked his head and became unconscious, landed in the water and
drowned. His body was discovered about 5 hours later, 20 feet under the
surface, directly under the boat he was working on. Had Kelly been wearing
a PFD, he might be here today. He was to race with us aboard Glama! next
weekend as we begin training for Kenwood Cup next summer. He was a good man
and will be missed. I wrote a few weeks ago about the PFD issue and that I
frequently wear a Gill floatation vest. As a result of this tragedy, I will
be purchasing floatation vests, as team gear, for my entire crew. They look
good, are quite functional and they are comfortable. I will not have a
tragedy of this magnitude aboard my boat.
Curmudgeon's comment - The fact that I printed this one letter does NOT
mean that I've reopened the PFD thread. It's still officially closed.
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
John Kolius, skipper of Abracadabra on breakages: "I feel pissed off. We
broke the main, repaired it and then broke the same main. That main has
since been retired. Then we broke the boom. That was a pilot error. We
dragged it in the water around the mark. That is a no-no. Today we did
break a different boom in the exact same location without any load on it.
So we have problem there."
Bertrand Pace, skipper of the Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel on
modifications: "We make some little modifications. We have a new rudder
coming and we will change that and we will change the position of the
rudder. We will change the winglets and try to get a better aerodynamic
from our mast and we will get a complete new set of sails."
Gavin Brady, co-tactician on AmericaOne on USA 61, AmericaOne's second boat
sailing in the stiff breeze: "No problem at all. They had a maximum wind
speed, at one point, of 27 knots and they were going upwind, sheeted on,
and heard no noises. So we are pretty happy."
On racing each other, or the defender between rounds:
Gavin Brady: "We will stick with our two boats."
John Kolius: "We will have our hands full getting our two boats lined up
against each other for six or seven days."
Bertrand Pace: "We will be pleased to sail with everybody."
Louis Vuitton Cup website: http://www.louisvuittoncup.com
JUST LIKE THE BIG GUYS
If you follow racing the names, Sagamore, Bravo, Sleigh ride, Timonner,
Sayonara, Samba Pa Ti Playstation and Stars and Stripes will have a
familiar ring. And the Whitbread boats -- Toshiba, Chessie Racing and Silk
Cut. What do they all have in common? They all entrusted their sail
graphics to North Graphics. Well guess what -- the same skillful folks will
happily work on the spinnaker design for your Catalina 27, 1D35 or J/105.
Why don't you call Whitney Gladstone and find out how affordable it is to
put custom sail graphics on your boat: (619) 224-8667,
Skipper Steve Fossett of PlayStation - the world's fastest ocean sailing
yacht - is still planning a November assault on the TransAtlantic sailing
record (6 days, 13 hrs, 3 minutes, 32 secs) but he has advised that that a
suitable 'weather window' is unlikely to open over the next week. Steve
elaborated on the weather patterns facing the attempt on the 9-year old
record. "We considered a departure possibility for Wednesday Nov 17 at
daybreak. Ultimately we decided the opportunity was too thin and could
easily leave us with too little wind in mid-Atlantic and again on the
approach to Ireland.We're still holding out for record conditions.
The European Block is forecast to break down in a week to ten days, giving
hope of a solid possibility in that time period. I sure hope so, because
the days are becoming progressively shorter and it's not going to be easy
driving PlayStation in the dark." -- Steve Fossett,
HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN
The curmudgeon had a new hard drive installed in his 10-month old notebook
computer this morning, and concerns about a catastrophic terminal failure
have faded completely. It wasn't cheap, and warranty claims are a joke when
you're half way around the world from the place of purchase but it sure
removed a huge load from my sagging shoulders. Isn't it amazing how
technology simply taken control of our lives?
THE CURMUDGEON'S COUNCIL
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark.
Professionals built the Titanic.