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SCUTTLEBUTT #458 - December 10, 1999

Yes, sport's oldest world championship is under way once more in New Zealand, and for those of you otherwise occupied with the National Rodeo Finals or the National Football League, it's time to get acquainted with sailboats again.

Now, a word of advice before you get all cynical and say, I don't care about a bunch of rich guys sailing their yachts. Consider this: In today's world of sports, the America's Cup has actually become a very modest, middle-class enterprise. The most expensive boat in the Cup this year is Prada, which is bankrolled to the tune of $70 million. Hey, chicken feed. Stephon Marbury of the New Jersey Nets -- a player you have never heard of on a team you didn't know existed -- has a more expensive contract. For the amount of money the Dodgers pay Kevin Brown, $105 million, you could almost match the total financing for all five United States syndicates. If J.P. Morgan were around today, what he would say is: "If you have to ask how much a shortstop costs to keep, then you can't afford one."

O.K., now that we've established that the America's Cup has become chump change in sports, we get onto your next complaint: It's too complicated. Balderdash. Listen, great American sports fan, do you have the foggiest idea how the college football people choose their championship bowl teams? Of course you don't. By contrast, the America's Cup is as easy as playing a $5 Nassau. First boat home wins.

And I know your next bone to pick: It's too sissy. Hey, there is more neat, violent action going on in the America's Cup than on Monday night TV wrestling. Four years ago, when New Zealand won the Cup from us, the races were sailed in San Diego, where the waters were as still as a schooner of stale beer. It was more boring than a nil-nil soccer game. This America's Cup, though, the boats sail out of Auckland Harbor, through a gorgeous little channel, into the Hauraki Gulf, where, essentially, they run into waves that have been growling since they left Antarctica. Boats have been getting blitzed like so many NFL quarterbacks.

Moreover, Auckland is ga-ga about having such a prestigious event. Not since the Cup was in Newport, R.I., has it been so alive. The boats are docked smack downtown, right off the main drag. American Express has built a fancy floating restaurant opposite the marina, and -- the ultimate in luxury boxes -- a developer has run up a ritzy apartment building with balconies overlooking the docks, these flats going for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Understand, you can't see the races from these apartments -- just the boats drifting into their marina.

Oh, yes, you will also feel comfortable because the America's Cup drags on even longer than the NBA playoffs. It's been two months already, and it won't end 'til March, when the home boat will square off against the top challenger. -- Frank DeFord - Sports Illustrated and CNNsi

Full story:

Sharon Green's Ultimate Sailing group has some wonderful Christmas gift ideas for under $20.00. Check them out at her website 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 Ultimate Sailing

Le Defi BTT played triple leap-frog today, jumping from ninth to sixth after handily beating the Spanish in light and shifty breezes.

On the same course, Young America lost to the first-place AmericaOne and dropped to ninth, its lowest position to date. This combination further juggled the positions at the middle rungs of the standings and increased the pressure on the faltering New York team, which is struggling to make the semifinal round in January.

Meanwhile America True and the Prada Challenge won again, padding their leads over the fourth-place Nippon Challenge. Team Dennis Conner got a critical nine points with a solo sail around the track to further cushion its fifth place spot in the standings.

For the fourth day running, the inner Hauraki Gulf challenged the tacticians' attempts to predict what the fluky winds would do next. Although wind speeds were greater today -- in the 8- to 12-knot range -- the southwesterly to westerly flow comes off the shore and bends around the headlands and islands bordering the Gulf, making the conditions very tricky. Quokka Sports,

Bertrand Pace on Le Defi (FRA-46) was looking for his fourth win a row, and Luis Doreste on Bravo Espana (ESP-56) needed a win to hold on to a Semi-Finals berth. Clearly, this was an important match for both. Pace was sharp at the start, the Frenchman holding his opponent well above the start line before diving back first to lead by an impressive 22 seconds at the start. Doreste would never recover. Pace pressed the early advantage to pick his way up the windward leg, finding favourable shifts and pressure, and stretching to one minute, 46 seconds at the top mark. The Spanish gained a little on the first downwind, but Pace was never threatened. The win keeps French hopes alive, but really hurts the Spanish. Bravo Espana only has two races left, and will need to win them both to have a chance. Their fate is no longer in their own hands.

AmericaOne (USA-49) controlled the start and wanted the left side of Young America (USA-58). To get there, Cayard left enough room for Baird to start to windward and ahead of him. With both boats on starboard tack AmericaOne bounced Young America to the right. The wind went to the right even further strengthening Young America's lead. When Baird tacked back to starboard, Cayard tacked to leeward, also on starboard. Cayard was patient and waited for the next left hander to come along. He tacked to port on that lift and could have crossed ahead but Baird opted to tack to leeward of AmericaOne. With both boats on port tack and the wind going even further to the left, Cayard pulled away. AmericaOne's lead was one minute and 25 seconds at the top mark. The delta stayed in between one and two minutes for the remainder of the race. AmericaOne defended its lead with success, until it gave Young America hope again ripping its spinnaker just before the finish. AmericaOne did not bother to hoist a new kite and slowly sailed across the finish line under mainsail only.

In a race of changing fortunes where the lead changed four times, John Cutler steered America True (USA-51) to a nail-biter victory over Peter Gilmour's Idaten (JPN-52). Previously, Japan won by one second when they raced in Round Robin One, while America True won by 12 seconds in Round Robin Two. Today Gilmour dialed down as he entered the start box on port and showed a liking for the right hand side until he crossed Cutler's bow just before the gun to start three seconds ahead on starboard. America True split away and started on port. The American boat led at the first cross, tacking and pushing Idaten back to the left. Later Cutler applied a loose cover, keeping his options open. Gilmour got back into the game just before the weather mark, forcing Cutler back to the right and an extra set of tacks, only to sag into a flat patch and have America True on starboard come back to take control and lead around the mark. Gilmour overtook half way down the run but trailed by 14 seconds at the leeward mark. Cutler extended his lead on the second windward leg, only to lose it on the second run when he sailed into light air near the end of the run, giving Gilmour the chance to overtake. The tables were turned halfway down the last run. Idaten, with a handy lead, turned a routine gybe peel into a circus act. Stalled, with both spinnakers flogging, and two crewmen hanging over the bow clutching frantically at rigging to stop themselves from going over the side, Idaten watched America True sail past win.

Francesco de Angelis on Luna Rossa (ITA-48) controlled the pre-start leading James Spithill on Young Australia (AUS-31) around the starting box and finally forcing the Australians off onto port. But a penalty on Prada for gybing too close to Young Australia in the pre-start gave the Australians motivation to stay close. Luna Rossa crossed to the right, but the left was favoured, so de Angelis kept the game close. By using Luna Rossa's superior speed, and a 23-tack tacking duel, the Young Australian's left position could not be fully exploited. At the first mark, Prada was one minute and ten seconds ahead and continued to gain. With a handy lead at the second mark, the Italians elected to take their penalty turn midway up the second beat. On the next two downwind legs, Young Australia actually gained back some time, but it was never enough to really threaten Luna Rossa.

Stars & Stripes sailed the Atlantic Course alone, be hAPpy has withdrawn from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Compiled by Peter Rusch, Simon Keijzer, Keith Taylor, Marcus Hutchinson, Louis Vuitton Cup website:

1. AmericaOne 22-6 99 points
2. America True 20-7 92
3. Prada 24-3 91
4. Nippon 17-10 74.5
5. Stars & Stripes 16-11 63.5
6. Le Defi BTT 9-17 50
7. Spain 11-17 44
8. Abracadabra 10-17 43
9. Young America 14-12 42
10. Young Australia 4-23 18
11. FAST 2000 2-26 8

Victories are worth one point each in Round One, four points in Round Two and nine points in Round Three.

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 Allan Johnson (Regarding Doogie's advertising commentary) -- For those of you who do not know Doogie....he is imho the pre-eminent expert on "Effective Sponsorship Opportunities in Dinghy Sailing". He can write and prove how sponsorship can benefit a company and the sailor. His practical expertise closely mirrors the message Peter Harken wrote in this forum previously. The Couvreux brothers have proved that you do not have to be the #1 ranked team to win the sponsorship game. This all coming from a wise 19 year old! Maybe it is his French Ancestry.

-- From Geoff Lynch - Vice Captain, Junior Offshore Group UK -- The recent posting concerning Cat C sponsorship from a 49er racer shows just how slipshod ISAF have been in pushing these changes through without sufficient consultation.

ISAF apparently voted the principles through council last May (May 1999) and hoped to get them set in concrete last month, for use from Jan 2000. I am not aware of any government run on democratic lines that would have tried to draft, consult on and then implement any form of legislation in such a hasty manner, unless it was an emergency measure. While I applaud the concept of what ISAF is trying to do, it has been ill thought out, and badly drafted.

ISAF is a world governing body - not a national government. Look how long it takes for the UN to get changes implemented. ISAF has the same problems, and it has to work through a number of different levels of representation. This inevitably takes time, and should take time to be effective.

At the end of the day this legislation needs to be broadly discussed at all levels of our sport, from the young aspirants such as your 49er, to the old fogies who potter around on the occasional Thursday evening 'beer can' race, before it goes into effect. I am sure that the 'average' racer has not one inkling of the likely effect this may have on him, as there has been little effective discussion.

-- From Dick Lemke (Re sponsorship) -- While racing 18 Square Meter catamarans, whose class rules allowed and encouraged sponsorships, I was fortunate enough to see some sponsorship money from Michelob Beer and from Fujitsu Business Communications. It wasn't a "ton" of money, but made it much easier to sell the wife on the idea of "goin' racin' for the week" - as I didn't have to "raid" the already thin household budget.

Racing AND sailing association memberships ended when I was told that a local regatta sponsor would require a portion of my boat on which to paste "their" advertising. Of course that was in addition to all of the beach, printed materials, race flyers, etc. that already had the regatta sponsor's name on it and was posted around the regatta site and in the local hotel.

While I understand a desire for an "event" sponsor to recoup their donated dollars for advertising, let's face the fact that the entire promotional support can (and probably is) written off as a legitimate advertising expense on their corporate books. Those who work hardest to attract what little sponsorships they can, are left in the cold. I also note where issues (legal challenges??) are floating regarding "ownership" of photos, videos, and other such documentation from big events. Perhaps there will come a time when all spectator boats are banned from near the course, because someone on board "may" make a living selling their photos, without any dollars going back to the sponsors and/or the national authorities.

-- From Robert Bethune, , Editor, Freshwater Seas (re Keri Shining's question) -- Discover Sailing is alive and well. I covered it on my website a while back; the article is at Just take a quick browse through the "current contents" list and you'll see it.

-- From Tony Griffin -- With regard to your trivia question of a couple of days ago. Indeed Kialoa may have been the first of your group of 4 to be built in fibreglass. The list was missing a prior maxi that was built in Vancouver in 1969 of a fibreglass sandwich foam construction. At 73 feet GRAYBEARD was in the same league with Windward Passage, Blackfin, and Ragtime. She was built with glass skins separated by about three inches of foam and fibreglass box beams, about three inches to the side. these box beams acted as stringers and frames and resulted in a very stiff hull. Graybeard was unusual for her deep draft fin keel with a large bulb at the bottom. She had the VIC/Maui record for years. won the Capetown to Rio Race, and Swiftsure a couple of times. She competed in the '71 Transpac and the '72 Hobart race and cruised around the world twice with entirely amateur crew. Designed by Peter Hatfield she is currently for charter here in the Pacific Northwest.

-- From Vernon Stratton -- The answer to TV coverage and a future Olympic class is a single handed Keel boat that is self righting, with a main, self tacking jib and a screacher on a retracting pole. Having sailed a Finn for 27 years and an Illusion for 18 I know the thrill. Keep the boat length to 13 feet draft to 2 feet so that it is small enough for spectators and even wind machinesif required. The tv cameras can be on board and arial shots from a crane. Races should last 20 minutes, the same lenght as a break at snooker.

For the Olympics - the Star Laser and Finn should stay The 49er is spectacular and the Tornado is like sailing a missile. They should all stay and then let's have the new singlehanded Mini keel boat that does 20 knots with plenty of wipe-outs and a dry crew.

Kevin Harrap, tactician on America True, on coming from behind: "To be honest, at the top mark I didn't think we had much hope. But half way down the run we brought up some breeze . . . it really started the race again half way down the last run. A little bit lucky, but we'll take the nine points."

Ed Baird, on the possibility of a talent reshuffle on board: "I think that is something we talk about every day, and have since the first day of the event. Are we completely satisfied that we are doing everything we can to maximise our performance on the racecourse? . . . I had a friend with a great expression: 'Dance with the one that brung ya!' If you are working hard at improving every day, just making a change for the sake of change is rarely going to be the right move

Kasuhiko Sofuku, pit on Idaten, on their spinnaker problems: "We came around the last top mark one minute 42 seconds in front of America True and the breeze getting lighter and lighter. So, we decided to change to a light condition gennaker. We did a gybe peel and hoisted our new gennaker. At that time our double Sparcraft snapshackle broke, so we had two gennakers but none of them setting. It was a very difficult situation and took a long time to recover."

Paul Cayard, skipper of AmericaOne, on the advantages of narrow boats: "I think narrower boats are better in light air. Might be better in heavier air too. I think we are all just fishing around out there. A few of the two-boat teams have boats that have different dimensions and we are finding out what works in what conditions and I'm sure between Round Robin Three and the Semi-Finals there will be a lot of people optimising their boats for the conditions they expect."

Ed Baird, skipper of Young America, on his syndicate's problems: "We are struggling to get the points that we need. It is very clear. We are disappointed that we have lost a couple of races that we would have hoped to have won this week but it has been a very challenging week . . . We still have four races to go that we can win and we know need to win them, so that's what we're looking forward to."

Quotes courtesy of the Louis Vuitton Cup website. For even more quotes:

This will be a big weekend in Auckland. Those of you who are into the Louis Vuitton Cup action will want to check in regularly to the cup websites listed in this issue of 'Butt.

If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?