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SCUTTLEBUTT #446 - November 22, 1999

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 semi-finals.

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

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

Final Results:
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) (points unavailable)

For more details:

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:

* 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 slammed down.

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 future races.

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 this game.

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 America True.

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,

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.

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:

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,

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?

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.