SCUTTLEBUTT #452 - December 2, 1999
COMMENTARY -- Rob Mundle
For months I've followed with interest the on-going debate in 'Butt about
increasing the profile and subsequently the popularity of sailing. Finally
Bob Black's piece has flushed me out of the forest and brought me to put
fingers (two) to computer.
I think my background puts me in a positive position to comment - sailing
(a lifetime of racing and cruising), journalism (newspapers in Australia
and magazines internationally plus author of Fatal Storm) and television
(yachting commentary on every AC since '83, 18ft skiff commentary, three
Bob Black is correct - the sport does need heroes. But before you have
heroes in the true sense you need product that can profile them to the
I think everyone agrees that television is the way to go if sailing is to
reach the masses, but sadly what is on offer internationally generally
generates little more than a grunt from television station executives. It
certainly doesn't have the visual impact needed to push other sports out of
strong time slots. Instead sailing is more often than not looked upon as a
nice filler at obscure times. It's a terrible position to be in for a sport
that is truly international in form and which boasts a remarkably high
Keen yachties can appreciate what is happening when they watch sailing on
the rare occasions that it does reach a television screen. The average
punter, however, finds it about as exciting as watching his car rust (hence
the almost always late time slot for the program).
Sadly - and I say this out of no disrespect for my good mate Peter "Splash"
Montgomery and his team doing the AC coverage in Auckland - not even the
America's Cup coverage out of Auckland is delivering any high level of
excitement and entertainment for the mass market. It certainly reinforces
the widely held attitude among TV execs. here in Australia: "No votes in
The big market, the mass market, won't be reached until we are honest
enough, and brutal enough to accept that sailing must be done differently
for TV. We need to look beyond what we now consider the 'norm' for the
sport. The only way we will get the profile we desire is to create sailing
product that is nothing short of high entertainment. If we don't we will
stay in the back row of the theatre of sporting life.
The fact is that TV sports addicts will watch any sport - so long as it is
entertaining. They have the capacity to embrace new sports. Give them
excitement, crash and burn, heroes, speed and you'll have 'em hooked. Kids
will watch it, see it as a great sport and want to be part of it. The
momentum builds, more sponsors get interested - for the TV show in
particular and sailing in general. More media interest is aroused in your
local sailing scene.
Sailing has the potential to achieve all this. What everyone has to realise
is that it doesn't matter what type of sailing it is that appears on
television so long as it is sailing and it works as entertainment. I have
no doubt that it can become global entertainment that is effective and
relatively inexpensive to produce.
The Olympic sailing in Sydney does have the potential to light the wick for
the sport internationally, but we must be ready to follow up that
opportunity with real product.
The one thing for certain is that ISAF is not the group to initiate this.
What is needed is way beyond the capacity of that august body. It must be
totally professional and beyond the influence of committees.
The big results won't come overnight, but given the right backing, the
right boat, the right sailors (the world's best) and the right television
production techniques sailing can get there.
That's when we will have our heroes and be able to talk sailing in everyday
life. -- Rob Mundle
THE ULTIMATE PRESENT
Sharon Green's ULTIMATE SAILING is offering wonderful Christmas gift ideas
for under $20.00. Check them out at http://www.ultimatesailing.com. Get the
Ultimate Sailing Calendar 2000- $15.95 for your office/school walls, try out
the NEW long sleeve T-shirts "Full Throttle" and "Flying Colors" for
$19.50, experience the 2 NEW eye-pleasing screen savers for your laptop or
PC- the Official America's Cup Screen Saver for $19.95 or Ultimate Cruising
Adventures at $19.95. Happy Holidays-- from Sharon Green and the crew at
LOUIS VUITTON CUP
Prada, Nippon and Abracadabra all entered new boats in this round. Team
Dennis Conner, Young America, Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel,
AmericaOne, the Spanish Challenge and FAST 2000 all carried out
modifications to their steeds.
The results of this tinkering were both positive and negative. The three
new boats were all winners. Team Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes seemed to
have better pace upwind in a sound defeat of Young Australia, the only boat
FAST 2000's Be Happy stayed with AmericaOne during the whole race, as if
attached by a tether, before taking its 19th loss. Although it won,
AmericaOne, sporting a squared-off transom that seems to be missing the
last two feet, seems to have lost a little pace on the wind.
The outcomes resulted in large leapfrogs on the leaderboard. Team Dennis
Conner now holds second place after climbing over idle America True, which
slipped to fifth on its bye day. Also leapfrogging Dawn Riley's crew were
AmericaOne and Nippon, which moved into third and fourth respectively.
Abracadabra made the biggest move of the day, supplanting Young America for
the sixth and final semifinal spot. The Hawaiians are one point ahead of
the New Yorkers. -- Quokka Sports: http://www.americascup.org/
LUNA ROSSA BEAT YOUNG AMERICA - DELTA 00:24
One minute after the start the Italian boat tacked and crossed one
boatlength behind the Americans. Baird and his team were comfortable with
the left hand side of the course and pulled out some distance as the pair
progressed up the first weather leg - Young America would eventually round
17 seconds ahead. The first run was even and the pair were only 20 seconds
apart at the start of the second beat. Italian tactician Torben Grael
called for a tack to the right and the Young America team chose not to
cover. The pair separated considerably with Young America again hoping for
the benefit on the left, but it didn't come. Worse, the Italians had found
some better pressure on the right and took control, rounding the second
weather mark with a lead of 25 seconds.
IDATEN BEAT LE DEFI - DELTA 03:06
Bertrand Pace sailing Le Defi (FRA-46) was late entering the start box, and
Peter Gilmour jumped all over him. Sailing Idaten (JPN-52) for the first
time, Gilmour pushed Pace above the line in a dial up. As both boats fell
off to reach back to the line, Gilmour established a leeward position, and
again luffed Pace head to wind. The Japanese were able to fall off first,
and reach around the committee boat to cross the start line two seconds
ahead - a lead Gilmour would never relinquish. Pace fell further behind on
an early left shift and rounded the top mark 31 seconds back. Le Defi
showed speed on the first run and Pace gained five seconds but then gave up
time on each of the following legs. Gilmour collects an important nine
points early in Round Robin Three to cement his position in the top six.
STARS & STRIPES BEAT YOUNG AUSTRALIA - 01:14
Stars & Stripes (USA-55) steered by Ken Read beat Young Australia (AUS-31)
to the start line. Read was to leeward and one second ahead of Spithill
with both boats on starboard tack. One minute and thirty seconds after the
start Stars & Stripes squeezed out the Australians to tack away to port.
The first two shifts went to Stars & Stripes and the Americans went around
the top mark 38 seconds ahead. On the run Spithill sailed smarter and
gained some but the next beat Stars & Stripes extended its lead again and
finally finished more than one minute ahead. On three occasions the Y-flag
went up during the pre-start. Read had to keep clear and Spithill had to
give him room to do so. All three incidents were green flagged by the
ABRACADABRA BEAT BRAVO ESPANA - DELTA 00:28
Spain's Luis Dureste led Abracadabra out of the pre start dial up, before
luffing to let the Americans pass. Abracadabra gybed first but the Spanish
held a windward position as the boats dragged to the start line on
starboard tack. Spain crossed the start line first and the boats looked
even dragging up the first windward leg. At the right layline, near the
first weather mark, the Americans were able to fight off a Spanish luff,
and tacked around the mark just six seconds ahead of the Spanish.
Abracadabra stretched that lead downwind and then pulled away a little more
on the second lap of the course, before giving back 20 seconds on the final
sprint to the finish.
AMERICAONE BEAT BE HAPPY - DELTA 00:33
The twin-foil Swiss boat be hAPpy (SUI-59) made a perfect start in her
first race attempt today, despite a collision with an umpire boat that left
propeller scars down her starboard topsides. But the race was abandoned to
allow the Swiss time to assess the damage. AmericaOne (USA-49) got the
better of the Swiss boat on the second start, leading at the gun by three
seconds and about one and a half boat lengths. American skipper Paul Cayard
claimed the committee boat end of the line at the second start and sailed
into a right hand shift that helped consolidate his lead. The boats were
even in speed and pointing ability on three weather legs. The Swiss gained
on the runs but gave it all away and more in mark roundings and tacking.
Louis Vuitton Cup website, http://www.louisvuittoncup.com
|1. || Prada || 20-1 || 55 points
|2. ||Stars & Stripes || 14-7 || 45.5*
|3. || AmericaOne ||16-5 || 45
|4. ||Nippon || 13-8 || 38.5*
|5. ||America True || 14-6 || 38
|6. ||Abracadabra || 8-13 || 25
|7. ||Young America || 12-9 || 24
|8. ||Spain || 8-13 || 17
|9. ||Le Defi BTT ||5-16 || 14
|10. ||Young Australia || 3-18 || 9
|11. || FAST 2000 || 2-19 || 8
TOMORROW'S LOUIS VUITTON CUP RACES
- Spanish Challenge vs. FAST 2000
- Nippon Challenge vs. Young America
- Prada vs. Le Defi BTT
- America True vs. Team Dennis Conner
- AmericaOne vs. Abracadabra 2000
- Bye -- Young Australia
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 Yeager -- In all professional sports there are elements of
athletic competition and entertainment. Which is dominant?
A second point concerns participation in our sport. Sailing World is
running a big series of articles on improving things in sailing. Different
programs, different committees, etc., all designed to effect something
that's already there. What no one has focused on so far is the most basic
improvement of all. Each of us needs to help this sport grow by simply
inviting more people to sail. Instead of depending on someone else, or a
program, or a committee, or a sanctioning body to solve the problem for us,
each and every one of us needs to be part of the solution instead of part
of the problem. Personally, I consider it a bad week if I don't invite at
least one new person out to sail in that time span. And make no mistake
about it; "Come go sailing with me sometime.", is not an invitation. "Meet
me at the docks at 6:30 Wednesday evening for the beer can race. Here's the
directions.", is an invitation. All the programs in the world to improve
existing conditions don't mean anything if we're not bringing in more
people at the beginning.
If you really want to see more boats on the starting line next year, more
crew available for everyone, or just more people using their boats in
general, do something about it on a personal level. It's easily within your
power to affect a change.
-- From Christy Schisler -- Regarding the big push to enlighten the general
public and get them on the water, I'm not wild about jamming the bays and
lakes with traffic. My income is solely derived from the boating
industry, but that doesn't mean I want to get every doodah into a boat. Of
course I'd like to see increased opportunities for people to get paid while
they are on the water, whether it be crew on a sport fisher or on an AmCup
boat. I think that if we improve public and private junior programs,
we'll develop skilled, lifelong enthusiasts that support the marketing
efforts of race sponsors, without making sailing a stadium event. Tennis
and golf are similar to sailing in that they have had the stigma of "rich
man's" sport, and yet those two sports command a lot of air time. Why
can't sailing follow suit?
-- Mike Milburn -- Just to let Mr. Guccione know that the yachting
community does indeed use wing keels. Most shallow draft offerings of
production sailboats feature wing keels. They allow concentration of
ballast low down while smoothing water disturbance. The Hydokeel used by
O'Day and Schock showed that shortened chord sections are very effective
at keeping a hull lifting to weather and with less drag too. These new AC
boats don't seem to have the same degree of draft restriction as the
Twelves or you would still be seeing wings.
-- From Paul Galvez -- Right On Mike! Skiff Development classes such as the
18 Footer have always made breakthroughs in our sport which make the racing
exciting to watch. These types of classes may not be the most popular, but
everyone benfits from them in the long run. Take the International 14 for
instance; the planing hull, aluminum spars, and boom vang originated from
this class long ago. I don't recall ever seeing any Rivlets, or "Dolly"
Spinnakers in my local fleet.
In realtionship to the AC: As veryone knows, AC boats are rediculously
expensive to build, transport, race and maintian. They are also boring to
watch on TV, and totally useless when the event is over. Let me stress that
there is nothing wrong with big, expensive, and slow boats, but if you want
to generate more public interest in our sport, we need more action for the
viewers. The future of our sport lies in the hands of today's younger
generation. If we want to gain their interest, we need to introduce a more
extreme or radical approach to "Sailings Superbowl."
Now picture the America's Cup raced in Skiffs; campaigns would be a mere
fraction of what they are now, enabling much more competition. Fleet racing
in big wind venues would provide the neccesary thrills and spills for the
audience's appetite and the sponsors would definitely get thier money's
worth. Everyone wins.
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, http://www.northsails.com/graphics/
TELSTRA SYDNEY TO HOBART RACE
A fleet of 84 yachts is expected to line up for the start of the Telstra
55th Sydney to Hobart Race on Boxing Day, December 26, a figure the
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is pleased with, considering the tough
competition from New Year's Eve celebrations on Sydney Harbour.
"The CYCA is really happy with the number of entries considering the
spectacle Sydney is putting on for New Year's Eve," race director Phil
Thompson said today. "This year's race has also attracted an increased
number of interstate yachts, overseas entries have doubled, and the quality
of the fleet is outstanding."
Prominent yacht owners, including those not competing this year, have
thrown their support behind the Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race. "I
personally don't think that any seasoned yachtsman would regard last year's
race as reason not to go this year," said George Snow, owner/skipper of
Australia's fastest maxi yacht Brindabella. "The active sailors know that
the Sydney to Hobart can be tough and they accept this as part of the
challenge - most of those guys are back competing again this year," he
Bruce Gould, crewman off Winston Churchill which sank in last year's Sydney
to Hobart and lost three crewmembers, wasn't planning to compete again this
year but is back for his 32nd race. "The only reason I am going again is to
get back on the horse, but I've promised my wife I'll be back in Sydney for
New Year's Eve."
While for Ed Psaltis, skipper of the overall winner of last year's Telstra
Sydney to Hobart Race, AFR Midnight Rambler, commented: "Last year's
events have not eroded the spirit of myself and the crew to keep doing the
Most Australian states are sending similar numbers to last year although
Victorian entries are up markedly. First time entrants and International
entries are also up on last year because of the Telstra Southern Cross Cup
International Teams Series which begins on December 15, and because of the
increased interest in 'doing a Hobart'. -- Peter Campbell
The 1998 Telstra Sydney to Hobart attracted 115 entries and in the storm
71 retired, leaving 44 boats to finish the 630 nautical mile race.
Curmudgeon's Comment: Although it's been a while since we've mentioned it
here, I still get a lot of email from people asking where to get the
official videotape of the last Sydney-Hobart Race. And for good reason - it
contains some pretty amazing images. The footage from cameras on board the
boats documents the bravery, the terror and the extraordinary rescue
efforts. This videotape is available online, and it's only $29.95 plus
postage and handling: http://www.titanaustralia.com.au/
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Ed Baird why he didn't cover Prada: "When you are just a little bit ahead
of your competitor in a match race, you have to balance between paranoia
and confidence. Today we were overly confident and we should have been more
John Bertrand, tactician on Abracadabra, on afterguard roles: "At the start
Chris Larson drove and John Kolius called tactics. I lost the coin toss
today so I ground up the runner, and then after the start John took over
driving, I slid up to tactician role and Chris was more of a strategist
with his experience here."
Marc Pajot, on money problems in the FAST 2000 syndicate: "It's true that
we had a problem inside the team from the last week because of the problem
of the cash flow. We were not sure to be able to pay the salary by the end
of the last month but finally we find a solution two days ago and
everything went well yesterday."
Ken Read on modifications to Stars & Stripes: "Every time you make a
change, there is an element of risk involved, but what we saw today
certainly validates our thinking. There is no question - the boat is faster
now than it was in Round Two."
Louis Vuitton Cup website: http://www.louisvuittoncup.com
Dennis Conner website: http://www.stars-stripes.com
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.