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SCUTTLEBUTT #449 - November 29, 1999

The America's Cup has suddenly assumed a far greater importance to New Zealanders. Having been cleaned out in rugby, netball, league, cricket and just about everything else this year, and having to survive on such meagre crumbs as a win by Michael Campbell in a golf tournament of middling importance, we really do need this one. But it is hard work trying to sustain interest over month after month of jockeying for the right to take on Team New Zealand by all these other pretenders. A veritable eternity by way of limbering up has to be endured before the business end of the cup begins to finally loom over the horizon.

The only people who seem to benefit from such a marathon are the boat repairers, the restaurateurs and the local landlords. For the average non-yachtie the elimination process is a rather dreary and seemingly endless succession of races between boats that all look exactly the same, distinguishable only by the logos of their sponsors daubed on every available flat space. How Louis Vuitton ever got talked into offering a cup for the winner of what is only an elongated series of heats before the real glamour of the final is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps they thought they were getting the main event and the small matter of this not being the main event got lost in the translation into French.

The scoring system looks like it has been devised by somebody with a passion for advanced mathematics. Mildly interested viewers who find themselves trapped by a couple of late night televised hours of these races haven't a clue what it all means. There is no explanation of the scoring system as far as one can tell, unless it is buried in something as obscure as the Listener.
Nobody offers much in the way of explanation and Peter Montgomery - clearly the only person in the country apart from those out on the water who understands how it all works - is obviously far too busy to bring the rest of us up to speed.

Things brightened up temporarily when the Young America boat began to come apart and one of the others broke a mast. The media and all the rest of us suddenly began to take some notice of it all. It looked as if we might be in for a minor re-run of the Battle of Trafalgar with bits of boat scattered all round the Hauraki Gulf. Alas, the drama was short-lived. The action has now shifted on-shore where the more familar contest of litigation over the fine print of the rules has taken over.

Apart from the inconvenience of a few hundred thousand dollars here or there, which sponsors with long arms and short pockets will cheerfully pick up, it doesn't seem to matter if bits are lost overboard. The Young America syndicate conjured up another boat before you could say "ahoy there" and whoever it was who lost their mast had another one slotted in before the sun hit the yardarm.

Sooner or later, presumably before Christmas, a winner will emerge and begin the real business of squaring up to the big black boat. Rumour has it that the likeliest challenger might be the Italian boat, Prada. If we have to get beaten, heaven forbid, in this as well as everything else it will be a pleasant change to be beaten by someone other than an Australian. -- Chris Laidlaw, NZ Herald,

The Offshore Racing Council, the governing body of racing under the International Measurement System (IMS) and the ORC Club Rule, met in Sydney, Australia during the International Sailing Federation's annual meetings. The ORC's International Technical Committee (ITC) produced several significant improvements to the IMS for the year 2000. IMS handicaps, which are predicted according to extensive model test data, were made more accurate by adding several new models and re-analyzing earlier ones.

Helped the most are lighter displacement yachts and those of more moderate characteristics, such as J-Boats. The handicaps of grand-prix yachts and other well-optimized designs have been sped up appropriately by the improved model database. IMS 2000 is also assessing righting moment more accurately. Continuing from last year's revision of the underlying effects of sail forces on heeled stability, IMS model data has now been re-analyzed for better prediction of the dynamic loss of righting moment due to wave making. IMS 2000 also assesses more favorably the downwind performance of asymmetric spinnakers tacked on centerline. -- David Pedrick, Grand Prix Sailor

Full story:


Durability counts -- particularly when you're sailing around the world by yourself. Just ask Giovanni Soldini, the winner of the Around Alone Race. His boat Fila was the only boat to finish the Around Alone race without major sail problems. Of course winning sails have to be more than just durable -- they must be fast. Soldini had plenty of speed -- he knocked more than five days off the previous record for the 27,000-mile course. Giovanni Soldini had a full inventory of Ullman Sails. Isn't it time you learned more about Ullman Sails?

To avoid further confusion and potential protest hearings in the remaining portion of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series, the skippers, or their representatives, and Regatta Operations Director Vince Cooke have agreed to a specific procedure for handling requests for postponement. At the 25 November meeting, they decided that if a yacht initiates a request for a postponement at any time prior to the preparatory signal (five-minute gun) for its match, the yacht will be given up to a 45-minute postponement.

Cooke was adamant in pointing out that this was not an amendment of the race conditions, which, in fact, can't be amended at such a meeting. The skippers can only propose changes and then request their challenger representatives to adopt those proposed changes at a subsequent meeting. "This is a refinement of the procedures, not a change in the rules," Cooke said. "The race conditions went through nine drafts before they were adopted, but as you start into the races, people have second thoughts on how to do things.

Another procedural refinement agreed to at the skippers' meeting pertained to how the wind is measured by the Race Committee. Up to now, the wind has been measured in five-second blocks of time. By a vote of 6 to 5, it was decided that the Race Committee will measure the breeze as a "running cumulative five-second average." The software used to calculate windspeed averages is being modified accordingly, Cooke wrote in a memorandum issued following the meeting.

During the meeting it was also agreed that race officials should avoid starting a race in the light and variable conditions encountered on 14 November -- when one race was abandoned and two races were never started -- even if the breeze is above the minimum for starting a race.

In addition, proposals were advanced to either change the race conditions to permit an earlier start during Round 3 or to permit the Race Committee to extend the time allowed for a warning signal beyond 1500. However, neither proposal obtained sufficient support to be sent to the challenger representatives for a formal vote. -- Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports

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* Three quarters of the challenger fleet are on the water today training, running trials and testing. The moderate to strong winds of the last few days have been exploited to the max as syndicates continue to come to grips with the fact that a light weather third Round Robin is pretty unlikely. Nothing in the New Zealand weather points to an early summer and most of the Challengers have come to realise that. Today the wind, measured by the Endeco buoy in the Hauraki Gulf, reached a peak of 27 knots and forecasters predict winds in excess of 40 knots for tomorrow and the day after.

Stars & Stripes has occasionally lined up with other one-boat Syndicates. Tom Leweck, Team Dennis Conner's Press Officer is also a bit surprised by the conditions. "Every morning I see on the Internet how warm and calm it is in sunny California and here we are with torrential rain and big winds. It should be winter there and summer here."

Spain's Pedro Campos and Luis Doreste left their big boat in the shed for a few days last week to be fine-tuned for Round Robin Three. The Spanish can still make it in to the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup but need to improve performance. With Bravo Espana being relatively fast the Spanish chose to take time to also improve match race skills. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron agreed to hire out two Farr MRXs.

Abracadabra had three days of intensive two-boat testing last week. After those lessons learned it decided to improve USA-50 even more. Abracadabra is out on the water again testing the latest modifications. It is likely that Kolius will chose to sail USA-50 in Round Robin Three.

America True is currently repairing the topsides of USA-51 from the damage incurred during the match against Nippon at the end of their close match. With the wind picking up this sounds like the time to be in the shed. Good call from the America True camp.

Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel changed to a bigger rudder and also changed the position of the rudder. The French are testing it and sometimes line up against the Spanish and Young America. When asked about the outcome of these short and unorganised matches the sailors and the official spokesmen avoid giving answers. Something must be going on.

[Peter Gilmour and his Nippon Challenge were two-boat testing for three days last week. In between testing it was time for maintenance work. The work list after Round Robin Two was huge and the Japanese also made some structural modifications to the boats to make them stronger for the heavier wind conditions. Nippon Challenge will wait until the eve of the first race of round three to make a decision on which boat to use. -- Simon Keijzer, Louis Vuitton Cup website

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* Dennis Conner was a winner on and off the water yesterday. On land, the America's Cup legend had his syndicate coffers boosted by almost $200,000 when an anonymous bidder bought a one-race ride on Stars & Stripes. Then Conner showed he still has what it takes under sail, winning the Auckland Etchells championship at Pine Harbour yesterday.

Conner put the 17th man spot on board Stars & Stripes up for auction through the Internet as a fundraising gimmick for the challenger syndicate. When business closed on Friday, the highest bid was $US98,100. The successful bidder, if it is proven he or she has the funds, will fly to Auckland business class, stay three nights in a top hotel and spend one day with the Team Dennis Conner crew.

Bidding began at $US75,000, and two enthusiasts battled for the top spot. The money goes towards the Cup campaign and is enough to buy Stars & Stripes a new mainsail.

Eight-time Cup veteran Conner may not be on the boat - he did not sail any of the races during round robin two. But he still hasn't lost his touch, comfortably defending his Etchells title from a fleet of 17. Sailing with two Stars & Stripes sailmakers, Artie Means and George Gregory, Conner won three races and had two seconds. His nearest rival was Stars & Stripes weatherman, Kiwi Murray Ross. -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald

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* Is Abracadabra 2000 sleeping with the enemy? That was the conclusion some people jumped to last Friday when Russell Coutts, skipper for America's Cup defender Team New Zealand, was spotted aboard the tender belonging to challenger Abracadabra 2000. The challengers have an unwritten pact that they will not do any sparring with the defender, which could help the Kiwis successfully defend the Cup.

When asked about it, Abracadabra skipper John Kolius sighed, shaking his head in disgust. These people are taking all of this waaaaaay to seriously," he said. Then, grinning, Kolius explained the real story.

It seems that Coutts, who is notorious for running behind schedule, was left at the dock that morning. His crew had become tired of waiting for him, and the two black boats went out to the Gulf to begin their scheduled practice without their skipper. Along comes Abracadabra, headed out to the racecourse. Coutts was standing on his dock with his thumb out, in hitchhiker pose.

The Hawaiians, being the good blokes they are, stopped and picked him up. But the Hawaiians -- being the fun-loving blokes they are -- exacted something of a price out of Coutts. They didn't take him directly to his boat. Instead, they took him to the challenger racecourse and let him stew for a while. "It was pretty funny," Kolius said with a sardonic chuckle.

Eventually, Coutts was ferried to his own boat. But not before the America's Cup rumour mill had shifted into high gear. Coutts did not return phone calls regarding the matter. -- Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports

Full story:

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 Mike Guccione -- I see these TV programs that talk about what is the most important invention in the last 100 years. Well the America's Cup has always been about new technology to me. The race's outcome, although exciting to watch as it happens, has pretty well been known long before the Louis Vuitton cup is won. My question to your readers is. What are the top ten things that we use today in racing that were developed for and by an America's cup boat? Wing keels sure did not make the top ten list, what does? Over a hundred years of yachting global technology race and what is there to show for it?

-- From Don McDougall -- You know there is an opportunity with all of the protests being filed, and that is for the various syndicates to now go to law firms, looking for both sponsorship and help in the hearings. Who has more money then lawyers, and as they are prohibited from advertising in many states their corporate logo painted on the side a IACC would sure look nice! With all if the hearing many of the syndicates could use a few good legal minds! PLUS you know how lawyers love bragging right! (Yhea, your boat may be fast, but can you argue an appeal of rule 34.2a and make it stick!) Races could be decided in the protest room, like they are now for so many club sailors!

-- From Marc Herrmann -- Having read the Scutt over the past few months, there seems to be a repeated pattern of concern regarding the lack of the public's exposure to racing or sailing in general. I don't know about you, but when I talk to "non-sailing" types they still envision (and believe) the white pants, blue blazer, cap and drink in hand standing on their pristine "Yacht" at the 'Club'. To some extent, that's true. However, as most of you know, the majority of sailor's are white or blue collar types that hold jobs just like Joe Blocks down the road. When reading the Scutt on discussions of how to improve the exposure to the general public, not once have I read that its a cross-cut of people and how they got involved in the sport, not just the sport itself. (I won't even mention the ACup) When non-sailor Joe Blocks says to himself..."Wow, I too can sail with those people", then and only then are you on the road to success in terms of "public awareness".

Curmudgeon's comment: Here's a quote I think you'll enjoy: "I like Jim Kilroy's remark: someone asked him if this isn't a rich man's sport, and he said, 'No it isn't: there's one rich man on board and there's 25 poor men and they enjoy it more than the rich man does!" --Bill Koch, from "Maxi" by Preben Nyeland

-- From Jan Visser -- Regarding Glenn McCarthy's comment of joining US Sailing, while you are joining US Sailing you could also send a check for $25 to The Sailing Foundation, P.O. Box 4213, Tumwater, WA 98501 for membership - Why? The Sailing Foundation made this study possible. These are a super group of people, 100% volunteer, NO PAID STAFF. With the Safety at Sea Committee of The Foundation as our model of success we are setting new goals and that is " keeping kids off the street and on the water". 2000 will see us under the direction of our President Lisa Washington raising funds to assist in start up programs for kids throughout the Northwest. High School sailing is a major focus, boat purchases for these programs a priority. Seeking Corporate donations is extremely hard, they have other priorities. A grass roots response from all the Buttheads would put us well on our way. These kids are the future of sailing as well as the country.

Overall Results: 1 Roy Heiner (HOL) 2 Magnus Holmberg (SWE) 3 Sten Mohr (DEN) 4 Andy Beadsworth (GBR) 5 Philippe Presti (FRA) 6 Markus Wieser (GER) 7 Tomislav Basic (CRO) 8 Sebastien Destremau (AUS) 9 Maxim Taranov (RUS) 10 Hamdan Yahya (MAL)

Event website:

November 24,1999 -- The Young America Challenge and their Principle Designers, Farr Yacht Design, Ltd. today announced that the evidence presented to date in the investigation of the damage to USA 53 conclude that the deck failure was not a result of a fault in the engineering or design of the boat. USA 53 was damaged and nearly sank following an encounter with large seas while racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup on Tuesday November 9, in Auckland, New Zealand. The Young America design team has been carrying out investigations and reviewing design work over the past two weeks to determine and understand the causes.

Work continues on the investigation both within the Young America camp and by Insurers of Young America. The design team and the builders have worked together since the accident to seek an understanding of the causes and to use this knowledge to diminish the risk of similar event during the rest of their campaign.

Precautions have been taken with USA 58, Young America's second boat, to prevent a similar sequence of events. This has included mechanically fastening areas where the skin to core bonds are suspect, and secondary stiffening to support primary load bearing members. The repair work to USA 53 is proceeding in Auckland with the Young America design team and the builder Eric Goetz. -- Amy Fazekas, Farr Yacht Design Limited.

Millions of people turn to Dr. Laura each day for advice. She's good, but she really doesn't know much about smart battery chargers, selecting an auto-pilot, hydraulic steering, antifouling bottom paint, EPIRBs, or how to select a radar. And I don't think you should look to her for tips on propeller selection or headsail controls. However, there is information on all of these subjects and much much more in the West Advisor section of the West Marine website. It's an incredible resource that can save you a lot of pain and money:

In a departure from past years, the Acura Southern Ocean Racing Conference regatta at Miami Beach, FL, has limited entries to 200 boats. With Acura returning as name sponsor for the second year, the 59th annual regatta will be raced off Miami's South Beach and on Biscayne Bay, February 29 to March 5, 2000. "Racers have told us they don't like starting lines that look like the entrance to the Holland Tunnel at rush hour," said event chairman, Dennis "Buck" Gillette, of Fort Lauderdale. "So we have converted this year to an invitational format. Entries to this 59th annual regatta will be limited to 200 boats."

Long renowned as one of the country's premier winter regattas, the Acura SORC last year attracted an outstanding field of entrants, with more than 85 percent of the boats coming from outside Florida and 17 per cent from outside the United States. "We have a commitment to our competitors to continue to grow the Acura SORC as a world class event,"said Gillette. "Sailors told us they liked two races a day on short courses. They also like our split venue, with great offshore racing in classic windy and sunny Miami conditions, as well as inshore racing where they can they can test their prowess against the currents on Biscayne Bay."

Classes expected to compete on the Atlantic Ocean courses are IMS Racing, IMS Cruiser/Racer, PHRF (with handicaps 90 sec/mi. or less), and Ocean Racing One Design, or Level Rated Classes with five or more entries (1D48, Farr 40, 1D35, J/105, Henderson 30, Mumm 30, etc.). Six classes are expected to compete on the Biscayne Bay Courses, including PHRF (with handicaps 91 to 175 sec/mi), Multihulls, MORC, One-design or Level Rated classes with five or more entries (Hobie 33, J/24, Etchells, etc.

Race headquarters and the home base for the ocean courses will be located at the Miami Beach Marina, while Biscayne Bay racing will be coordinated out of the Coral Reef Yacht Club. A new marina in Coconut Grove will host berthing for visiting PHRF, MORC, Hobie 33, Melges 24, and other monohull courses racing on the Biscayne Bay courses. A number of berths at the new marina have been reserved for competitors by the SORC. Interested skippers should contact the SORC office as soon as possible to make berthing arrangements. -- Keith Taylor

The Notice of Race can also be found on the regatta web site: Ocean course race entrants can make their berth reservations at the Miami Beach Marina:

Host club Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's skipper Katie Spithill(17) and her crew of Dan Corlett(16) and Emma Bullough(18), have successfully defended the title won by Katie's brother, America's Cup skipper James, last year. Katie who is currently Australia's top ranked woman match racer, is the first female skipper to win this U20 event in its 8 year history.

The Alfreds trio caused somewhat of an upset defeating the highly fancied Royal Yachting Association team of Mark Campbell-James, David Carr and James Ward 2 - 0 in the best of three final. Though Katie's team was undefeated through the double round robin series, they did not meet the English, who had come up with only one loss through the other pool, until the final. -- David Tallis

Event website:

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" - Ghandi