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SCUTTLEBUTT #459 - December 13, 1999

* High winds Monday on the Hauraki Gulf forced the postponement of all races in the Louis Vuitton Cup Series until tomorrow. However, the big news in Auckland came when the America True Syndicate issued the following statement:

"America True, The San Francisco Yacht Club challenge for America's Cup 2000, will not be racing today and will not be racing further in Round Robin 3 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Races for the America's Cup. This decision was based on the fact that the team has achieved all of its objectives in the completed Louis Vuitton Cup races by qualifying for the semi-finals. This decision is strengthened by the marginal weather forecast for today and tomorrow and the need to prepare for modifications to USA-51, which will commence when the "no-change" period ends."

This decision means that if the French syndicate sails around the course tomorrow, it will collect the nine points it needs to assure itself of a place in the semifinals -- eliminating any chance the New York Yacht Club's Young America Syndicate had of qualifying for that series. -- Mr. C.

* We had a meeting this morning and looked at all the options and decided this was the most straight-forward way to do it," Dawn Riley said. "What's best for us, and our project is to get the boat, with the mast down, ready to go to make some changes. I don't feel we'll be painted as the villain."

Riley says it was a difficult decision not to sail and she understands it won't be a popular one in New York. "I hope that I don't make enemies for life," she said. "I think the bottom line is that we're a competitor - it's not a popularity contest, it's a competition." -- Peter Rusch, Louis Vuitton Cup website

Full story:

* Rationally it's finished," John Marshall, CEO of Young America acknowledged. "Divine intervention is always a possibility but I wouldn't rely on that very much. It's pretty devastating. I couldn't be more proud of our team as individuals or as a team. They have sustained incredible setbacks and carried themselves very, very well. I couldn't have asked for more."

Marshall was very statesmanlike with his concession speech. He refused to criticize America True for not sailing against the French - a decision that will effectively knock Young America out of contention when Le Defi collects nine points for sailing around the course alone.

We're obviously disappointed not to have the French have a good tough race that they have to win on its merits," Marshall said. "But we're well aware that the Sailing Rules don't require a team to compete or compete at their best. So we rather anticipated that AmericaOne and America True likely wouldn't beat France. We've known all along that it's up to us to win our races. It's hard to put it in the context of sportsmanship, because as the sport of sailing is played, sportsmanship is what you do that's within the rules - you can't criticize someone for taking advantage of the rules."

"In the case of America True, I wouldn't have put my boat out on the water today and put it at risk of breaking. We have to look at our program - it fell short, and we can't get balled up thinking about what someone else should've done."

Although he is still obviously very close to the programme, and hasn't yet had a chance to fully reflect on what went wrong to a pre-regatta favourite, Marshall says he can already point to some errors in judgement. Errors that will leave Young America on the outside, looking in, as the Louis Vuitton Cup moves on.

"I think that we made one fundamentally bad mistake and that set in motion the possibility of bad things happening," Marshall reflected. "You put yourself at risk and bad things happen. That bad decision was to continue design work for a couple of months longer and cancel our plans to sail in Newport in June and July. A few seconds around the racecourse wouldn't have changed anything. But having debugged these boats and ridding them of the structural problems early would have made a total difference. Out of that would flow a better sail programme, better tactics, better meteorology - everything in the programme is compromised when you don't go sailing to improve it enough."

"The fear of the boat became a factor," Marshall admitted. "The boat could have killed someone. Until the team had built a lot of confidence in USA-58 they were gun-shyI think that's human and understandable."

"It isn't a single episode," he said. "We're not talking about losing one race at a critical point or several races by a consistent pattern. We managed to lose races through breakdowns, through lack of boatspeed, through tactical errors and probably I could make a longer list. This is turning out to be a sailor's regatta, a very tactical regatta, you need a lot of racing experience with your afterguard and if possible within your own programme to control that. This is a tough environment; breakdowns are occurring on a lot of the boats and if you can get all of those behind you early and solve those problems and be reliable on the racecourse, you're way ahead of where we are."

"You might point to the sailor or the designer or the sailmaker or the meteorologist but it all comes from putting your programme at risk. Once we started to have problems here, every day that we lost was a day we couldn't afford to lose. Whatever it is that cost us a day, those days are too precious at this stage of the game."

The immediate future for Young America holds a couple of meaningless races, and then the shutting down of the compound in Auckland at the Viaduct Basin. After that, it all starts again. Fundraising, strategising, designing, boat-building, crew selection, and then the next Louis Vuitton Cup, and hopefully the America's Cup.

"We'll decommission the boats and try to put everything away carefully and conserve the assets, the intellectual property and the physical boats so they're in good shape for the next Cup," he said. "For the next couple of months the programme will be mothballed on the compound here."

"I'm really proud to have been here in New Zealand and participate and push the other competitors as hard as possible," Marshall said. "You don't go out to climb mountains and then do the easy onesthis is the pinnacle of our sport, the value of our participation comes from testing ourselves against the greatest people in our sport. There isn't a cockpit here that doesn't have an Olympic medalist in it, every yacht designer is pre-eminent, every team is a world class team. This is the right place to compete; this is the right event. Only one team is going to emerge as the best. And one month after that they have to start trying to improve, or they won't be the best. I think sailing is the most fabulous sport, and I just wish to hell we'd done better."-- Peter Rusch, Louis Vuitton Cup website

Full story:

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: There are very few people who would have handled this situation with such class. Well done, John Marshall!

1. Prada 26-3 109 points
2. America True 21-8 101
3. AmericaOne 22-8 99
4. Nippon 19-10 92.5
5. Stars & Stripes 18-11 81.5
6. Le Defi BTT 11-17 68
7. Young America 15-13 51
8. Spain 11-18 44
9. Abracadabra 10-19 43
10. Young Australia 4-25 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.

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (December 9, 1999) -- After securing his position as the Mistral Men's Olympic Representative for Sydney's Games with his win at the U.S. Team Trials in mid-October, Mike Gebhardt (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) secured his entry to the Games at the recent Mistral World Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Except for host country Australia, all nations must qualify for entry in each of the nine classes (11 divisions) at the Olympic Regatta, scheduled for September 16-October 1, 2000. A qualification system to determine entrants, set by the International Olympic Committee and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), is based on Olympic class world championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000, qualifying approximately 30% of the entries, with the remaining 10% to be determined by an ISAF committee.

With an entry limit of 36 boards for the Mistral Men's event at the 2000 Games, Gebhardt, a three-time Olympian with two medals ('92 Silver, '88 Bronze), needed to finish as one of the first 11 countries that had not previously qualified. He did so with his placing of 38th overall in the 95-board fleet. The countries qualified to date in the Mistral Men's class are: New Zealand, Israel, Portugal, Greece, Argentina, Austria, Poland, France, Fiji, Italy, Great Britain, The Netherlands, China, Brazil, The Ukraine, Germany, Spain, Japan, Hungary, Sweden, Indonesia, U.S.A. and Canada.

The U.S. has berths now guaranteed to the 2000 Olympic Regatta in 10 of the 11 divisions -- Europe, 470 Men, 470 Women, 49er, Laser, Mistral Men, Mistral Women, Soling, Star and Tornado. American sailors in the Finn class will have their last opportunity to qualify the U.S. slot for Sydney at the 2000 Finn Gold Cup (June 6-18 in Weymouth, England).

In all of the Olympic disciplines, the sailor qualifying the U.S. may not be the ultimate representative at the Olympics. Only the first-place finisher at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in each event earns the coveted spot on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. -- Jan Harley

For additional information:

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 Greg Fisher -- A while back I wrote to the 'Butt about what a great year Carol Newman Cronin has had and that she should be nominated for Yachtswoman of the year. Just recently she was on Betsy Allison's winning team in the Osprey Cup a couple weeks back....what a common denominator she has been for a bunch of winning teams! I bet she has contributed to more winning championship efforts than any other crew out there! She still is my pick for Yachtswoman of the year!

-- From Peter Huston -- Whether or not the ISAF used appropriate legislative procedures when changing the ad code is perhaps open to debate. It is silly to think that the governing body of a sport should behave the same way as a human rights organization like the UN. Seems to me the last thing the UN did was create a "Peace Keeping Force" and help to kill thousands of people in the Blakans. Thank God ISAF doesn't behave like the UN.

However, having discussed this matter at length with ISAF President Paul Henderson, I can tell you that his prime interest is in making things better for the sailors. The process of change will have some degree of pain no doubt, but for the growth of the sport as a commercial activity, fast change must happen - even if it means making mistakes. If you want to hear about radical change in a sport, just watch what the ATP is going to do to mens tennis next year. There was a very long story in USA Today on Thursday December 9 about this subject.

The free market will be the only way that sponsorship and sailing will ever get along. Savvy event organizers who find the appropriate balance for all parties will ultimately prevail. Some smart event organizers will run races where no advertising is allowed at all, and they will draw perhaps the largest number of participants. -- From Eldridge, J.Delaney -- I'm so glad you posted Frank DeFord's piece. I heard it on NPR Wednesday morning as I was driving in to work, and thought it really summed up the gap between the perception of sailing and the reality -- not just in A-cup, but overall. So many times, people are amazed that I have a sailboat -- I actually had an acquaintance ask me, "what does a sailboat cost, about $10,000 a foot?" When I replied that it was more like $1000/ft for a middle aged fiberglass boat like mine, he was amazed. There's a perception out there that sailing requires a lot of money. In fact, while any boatowner knows there's no doubt that one can spend a great deal, but it's not a requirement. I have a safe, fast, well maintained boat, large enough to spend weekends on and take friends sailing with me for the approximate cost of the upfront and monthly (maintenance, parking, insurance, etc.) costs of having an expensive "status" car -- personally, I have more fun with the boat!

-- Ken Guyer -- After reading DeFord's comments regarding the America's Cup in the last Butt, I now know why Sports Illustrated best selling issue is the swimsuit edition. If all the writers for SI are as uninformed as he on the sport they are writing about, almost naked women photographed on a beach is about the best they have to offer!

-- From Arlene Sloan Baxter, Executive Director, NSIA (In response to Keri Shining - 'Butt #457) -- At NSIA, we've focused our marketing efforts in a few different areas, including the Discover Sailing program which has been active on a national scale for over a decade. Free, half-hour introductions to sailing are offered at boat shows, waterfront festivals, and through schools and dealers. The focus of the program is to expose more people to sailing in a friendly, no pressure environment and give them the information they need to take the next step to get more involved.

Other efforts include:
1) Working with Gary Jobson and other prominent sailors (Dawn Riley, Ken Read, Paul Cayard, J.J. & Peter Isler, Betsy Alison and Martha McKechnie have all helped) to elevate awareness of sailing on TV and help promote our heroes.

2) Ongoing support for the Interscholastic Sailing Assn. (ISSA) and public access sailing programs (both of which have been enjoying phenomenal growth);

3) On-going PR to present sailing as fun and accessible, consisting of regular press releases, free sailing lessons for magazine editors, and publication of Sailing News, a compilation of general interest news about our sport that goes to 1,300 media monthly to keep newspaper editors up to date on sailing (in the absence of any dedicated news wire coverage);

4) National research to help industry members better understand sailing consumers; and

4) Running a trio of Strictly Sail boat shows.

Additional information:

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Yes - I know I opened the door a crack on this dead thread, but don't even think about trying to sneak in another letter on the subject. It's over!

-- From Don Becker (Re: Gary Jobson's Olympic piece) -- Wouldn't it be great to see 3 boat team racing in the Olympics? Country against Country.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, December 11, 1999 - Bell & Howell (NYSE: BHW) signed a Premier Partner level sponsorship agreement with the New York Yacht Club/Young America. The sponsorship package includes prominent branding on Young America and extensive corporate hospitality. Bell & Howell also receives title rights to the Young America Education Program. The Program will receive support through online educational resources developed by Bell & Howell Information and Learning. That business unit transforms information contained in periodicals, newspapers and scholarly material into authentic answers that can be accessed easily and safely over the Internet by students, librarians and researchers. -- Jane Eagleson,

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: The value that Bell & Howell hoped to obtain from this sponsorship has undoubted eroded considerably due to Young America's early departure from the America's Cup scene.

In strong breezes gusting above 20 knots today, the Sydney Harbour came alive with over 400 boats competing in this regatta. The conditions, which registered up to 25 knots in the Harbour early in the afternoon, meant that racing had to be abandoned offshore for the Solings, Stars and Tornados.

Australia's Mistral World Champion Lars Kleppich has continued his stunning form during the first day of the Sydney International Regatta on Sydney Harbour today. Kleppich won both today's races, giving him a good lead over last year's World Champion Aaron McIntosh of New Zealand. Full results are available from

John Kolius on not qualifying for semifinals, "Our problem was 100 per cent lack of money," Kolius said. "We spent less than $10 million [US] on a two-boat programme. We ended up cutting off the entire research and sail programme. That's just not the way to go. The unfortunate thing about the way things worked out is that we will never know how fast these boats are. I've spent my entire adult life trying to raise money, trying to sell a very, very difficult product and it takes its toll."

Dennis Conner on qualifying for the semifinals, ""It's hard to believe that exactly one week ago today we were all walking around with long faces after the aft bulkhead ripped out of our boat. That could have been the defining moment that pulled this team together. I think everyone here picked up on what boat builder Johnny Smullen said when asked if the repairs could be completed in time. Without any hesitation Johnny declared, 'Failure is not an option."

"I'll be home for Christmas." In fact I'm jumping on a plane tomorrow to spend the holidays with my family -- something I'm very excited about. Scuttlebutt will be offline tomorrow, but there will be a Wednesday issue.

Being here in Auckland for the three round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup Series has been a fantastic experience. And I've met so many wonderful people. However, after considerable reflection, I've decided to stay in California after the holidays -- I will not return for the semifinals.

Scuttlebutt's continued coverage of the Louis Vuitton Cup, and subsequently the America's Cup, should be seamless. The wonderful sources of information that we've developed these past months will continue to be the basis for our digest. Lord knows how much I appreciate the great copy generating about this event by Suzanne, Rich, Peter, Simon, Larry, Keith, Sean, Marcus, Ivor, Steve and so many others. And all of us can be thankful that someone else is paying for this talent.

In departing, I sincerely wish Team Dennis Conner well in their coming races. DC has put together an extremely dedicated and talented group of people -- both the sailing team and the support team. These are also genuinely nice people with whom I've truly enjoyed working.

Go Stars & Stripes!

Why do they call it 'chili' if it's hot?