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SCUTTLEBUTT #460 - December 15, 1999

Five weeks before the 13th annual GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week event (January 17-21) begins, 240 boats from 13 nations have plans to be on the starting line of this North American regatta that has become a sailor's mecca. Entries will be accepted until December 17th.

Warm sunshine in January is a nice bonus, but racers come to Key West to make their mark in a global fleet that defines the leading edge of the sport. At week's end, one boat will be crowned the overall winner by capturing the prestigious Yachting Magazine Trophy.

*One-design fleets have burgeoned to new levels: The 28-boat Farr 40 division is the largest fleet this class has yet seen. Farr 40 World Champions from 1998 and 1999--Jim Richardson (Boston, Mass.) and John Kilroy, Jr. (Malibu, Calif.), respectively--will be on the starting line. Owner-drivers are the rule and tacticians are world-class: Bouwe Bekking, Vince Brun, Steve Benjamin, Robbie Haines, and Jeff Madrigali. This will be a true multinational fleet--with entries from Brazil, Canada, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States--for the stakes in this fleet recently acquired new weight. The Farr 40 was selected as the 'small boat' for the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup: Key West will be a major stage to see where CMAC aspirations will surface.

*After the 1999 Worlds in England, the Mumm 30 class moves its 2000 Worlds to this side of the Atlantic: With entries from the U.S. France, Italy, and the U.K., the Key West fleet includes those who play on the world stage. But, as current World Champion Ed Collins says, "Everyone will be stepping their programs up this year, in preparation for the 2000 Worlds." The current count of 24 boats is likely to reach 30. Collins, top-10 1999 Worlds finisher Kismet of Italy, owned by Massimo Leporati; and 1999 North American champion Trouble will be among the ranks.

*Irvine Laidlaw's CM 60 Highland Fling (Isle of Man, U.K.), 1999 Yachting Magazine Trophy winner, will defend its 1999 fleet win in an IMS class that will include sistership CM 60 Rima, the just-launched Farr 52 campaigned by Geoff Stagg, George David's N/M 50 Admiral's Cupper Idler, and others ranging from 43 to 60 feet LOA.

*Based on current entries, seven defending class champions are returning from Race Week 1999. But in Key West, past crowns don't translate to a leading edge. "Racing at Key West is not defending last year's win," said 1999 One Design 35 (1D35) winner Pete du Pont (Rockland, Del.). "It's starting over again." 1D35 skippers wipe the slate clean to begin their six-event 2000 Season Championship in Key West; 1999 Season Champion Kip Meadows (Rocky Mount, N.C.) and roXanne are a crew to look for on the frontlines. Twenty-one 1D35s are currently entered.

*Returning J/105 winner Bob Swirbalus (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and his crew on Phenix know that the J/105 competition, will be tougher this year. This class has more than doubled in size from its 1999 fleet, and those who lack consistency will pay a high price, expects Swirbalus. The 18-boat fleet will have players from the East and West coasts, Great Lakes, Canada, and the U.K. Two-time North American champion Bob Taylor (New Milford, Conn.) will race as part of the crew on Wet Leopard.

*The PHRF ranks have a steady core of players who return each year to Key West. But this January, some new designs will appear on the PHRF startling lines. Look for sailing legend Buddy Melges on the Melges 32, a speed modification of the Melges 30. Schock 40 Cincos owned by Californian Mike Campbell, a design developed from the twin-foil, canting-keel prototype Red Hornet, makes her East Coast debut at Race Week. Race Week veteran Bill Allcott returns after a one-year hiatus, this time with his sled Equation, which will do battle with George Collins' record-setting Chessie Racing (ex-Pyewacket). WOW--winner of the 1999 Key West Trophy, which recognizes the top PHRF Boat of the Week--arrives this year with a proven pedigree and a new skipper, Peter Davidson (Rochester, N.Y.). The J/29s will have their own class with a slight six-second-a-mile adjustment for masthead/fractional, inboard/outboard configurations. Three other one-designs classes that come with numbers, but perhaps not enough for their own start, are the Henderson 30, Tartan 10 and Antrim 27. These boats will likely compete in the PHRF ranks but receive their own class trophies. The J/80s are expected to have their own class, for the third year in a row.

*The Melges 24 class again promises to be the largest at Race Week, with four of the top-five finishers from last year returning. Class winner Brian Porter (Winnetka, Ill.) and the second-place team of Dave Chapin and Scott Elliott (Charlotte, N.C.) entered the eighth and final race of Race Week '99 tied in points. Porter edged Elliott out in the final standings, but this January, things could be different. Although two-time World Champion Vince Brun will be racing on a Farr 40, Argyle Campbell (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Harry Melges (Zenda, Wisc.) round out the top-five players returning to Key West for a shot at the Melges 24 class title. With the class' 2000 Worlds in La Rochelle, France), a contingent of French Melges sailors will compete in one of the toughest classes at Race Week. -- Cynthia Goss

Complete entry list:

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* It's either feast or famine on the inner Hauraki Gulf these days. The wind is either blowing the dogs off their chains, or it's just barely enough to race. Today it was the latter, but at least it was strong enough to complete Race 10.

The last full day of racing in the round robin series proved anticlimactic, however, with only two live matches. Two others were walkovers, and a fifth was never conducted after the two teams backed out. In the end, France's Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel clinched its berth in the semifinals -- the sixth and final berth -- with a walkover victory over America True.

Young America also got a walkover win today, when Young Australia failed to show, but Le Defi BTT remained 17 points ahead of Young America with one race to sail, sealing both teams' fate.

In live racing, the Spanish Challenge closed out its run in the Louis Vuitton Cup with a 25-second win over Team Dennis Conner, which will advance to the semifinals while Spain eyes another challenge in three years. Another semifinalist, Nippon, closed out Abracadabra's regatta with a 42-second victory. -- Quokka Sports,

Bravo Espana (ESP-47) finished the Louis Vuitton Cup in style, with a win over Stars & Stripes (USA-55). Luis Doreste on the Spanish boat held Dennis Conner, steering Stars & Stripes, above the line after the pre-start dial up. But Conner tacked away, and Doreste couldn't hook in to leeward, so both hit the start line on port tack with Spain to windward. Doreste tacked away after the start and held the right all the way up the first beat. It was a close leg, neither boat able to cross ahead until near the mark, when Spain gained on the last shift to round ahead. Bravo Espana showed speed downwind, stretching away from Stars & Stripes, but Conner closed on the second upwind leg and held tight until the final top mark when Spain again gained on the last shift, and held the lead across the finish line.

Sailing in its last race in the Louis Vuitton Cup, Abracadabra (USA-50) steered by Chris Larson, won the start but lost the lead twice to Peter Gilmour steering Idaten (JPN-52) in the race that followed. Larson made a nicely-timed start at the pin, with Gilmour ahead on his starboard bow. In danger of starting early, Gilmour tacked away on port and dipped momentarily just below the line before starting two seconds behind Abracadabra. The Americans led on the first cross and chose to go right on a right-hand shift, only to see their lead evaporate as the breeze kicked back more than 30 degrees to the left. Idaten led around the top mark but Abracadabra pulled level again on the first run to take over and show the way, nine seconds in front, round the leeward mark. The Japanese went right again on the second beat, pressing hard until another right shift gave them the edge to overtake and lead again. They extended gradually on the last three legs.

Le Defi sailed the course alone, the win confirming a place in the Semi-Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup for the French.

Young America sailed the Atlantic course alone. Young Australia has withdrawn from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Luna Rossa did not start its match against be hAPpy. The Swiss be hAPpy has withdrawn from the Louis Vuitton Cup. -- - Peter Rusch, Louis Vuitton Cup website,

* Network Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: NSOL), the world's leading Registrar of Web address registrations, today announced that it is sponsoring AmericaOne, the San Francisco-based challenger for the 2000 America's Cup. To help AmericaOne meet the challenges of winning the America's Cup, Network Solutions will infuse the team with strong financial support, and in turn gain brand-name visibility as a lead sponsor on the boom of AmericaOne's two competitive sailboats. -- Gina von Esmarch,

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 Ken Morrison, Race Director Clipper Cup/Kenwood Cup since 1978 (re Casey Woodrum's comment in 'Butt #456, regarding the '79 Clipper Cup) Sorry Casey, there was no Clipper Cup in 1979.! Our first series was in 1978 and the second series in 1980. Our Series has always been sailed on the even numbered year so we do not conflict with TransPac! Kialoa III and Ondine were our maxis in 1978.

-- From Ken Brooke -- The subject of Frank DeFords debate won't seem to go away. Most of what he says may be true but comparisons with other sports is of no value whatsoever. However I cannot let his comment "Not since the Cup was in Newport R.I. has it been so alive." go without correction. Clearly he was not in Fremantle in 1986/7

-- From David L. McCreary -- Bell and Howell sure get the award for the "clueless marketing blunder" of the year. sign a check for sponsorship of Young America and 48 hours later the boat is eliminated from competition. Didn't anyone from their organization bother looking at the points standings? I've got a nice bridge in Brooklyn that I hold exclusive marketing rights to, perhaps I should give them a call....

--From Steve Morton -- America True's decision to withdraw from further racing in RR III was a no-brainer. When you spend close to four years striving to win the America's Cup, you cannot risk assets needlessly . Having achieved a milestone goal of making the semi-finals with a one-boat campaign, the ONLY rational decision was to forfeit the race. An obvious comparison is pulling your starting quarterback after you have clinched the division championship. America True's management team have made good, sound decisions for four years and conversely, the NYYC have been making questionable, costly decisions since 1996. The Cup is not entirely about how much money you raise and how big your team is, it is clearly more important to make good, smart decisions at critical points.

-- From Bruce Lines -- The NYYC and John Marshall should be congratulated on such a sportsman like approach to a situation that may have left me rather bitter & twisted. They are true ambassadors of the sport. Enough said.

-- From Jerry Bidjiewicz -- No question, Young America put itself "behind the 8-ball" with their sailing performance in this round.

But America True's decision to not compete is typical of everything wrong with the Cup. And its even more ironic given the all the anger expressed in the memoirs of those subject to Bill Koch's decision to "reconfigure" the structure of the 1995 Defender Trials. Rather than deciding matters on the water, America True made news in a conference room. If AmericaOne sailed anything less than flat out in their loss to the French, then they can share in the disgrace.

Its just as well (and not surprising) that Americans largely ignore our sport; the America True decision is akin to the Colts saying "our goal was to make the playoffs, so we're going to rest up this week and skip playing the Giants."

John Marshall has more forbearance that I would have. Yes, the "rules" may allow for this decision, but all Riley/Cutler/Coffin bleatings aside, it doesn't make it right.

-- From Dick Bracken -- I met John Marshall in 1971 when he and Peter Conrad opened the first North Sails loft on the East Coast, upstairs at Derektor's yard in Mamaroneck. John was a world-class 505 champion, and in spite of the fact that I was just a local Highlander sailor, John always made me feel as if my business was important to him. What I remember best: his smile, his warmth, his genuineness...and then, of course, his genius. I am proud to have been a supporter of Young America, and John's "concession" statement made me even more proud, in spite of my disappointment. John Marshall defines the word "class".

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: It certainly is a refreshing change to see someone on the America's Cup scene 'take the high road'.

-- From Russ Lenarz -- I would like to second the motion proposed by Don Becker making team racing a part of Olympic sailing. Not only would it allow countries to compete with each other for national pride, but it also would give more sailors from a country a chance to experience the Olymipics. Team racing is very popular with collegate sailors which is where we need to focus on in order to keep the Olympic sailing movement alive. Plus it would provide some interesting racing.

Cam Lewis announced at the Salon Nautique/Paris Boat Show in Paris, France that his organization, Team Adventure has signed a contract to build a 110-foot catamaran with Multiplast shipbuilders in Vannes, France with the cooperation of the JMV shipyard in Cherbourg.

The boat, expected to be one of the world's fastest sailboats, is designed by the Gilles Ollier Design Team, and will enter THE RACE, a non-stop, no-limits circumnavigation of the world. THE RACE will start from Barcelona, Spain, on December 31, 2000. To date there are at least eight entries, mostly massive multihulls capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots (46 mph).

Lewis, skipper of Team Adventure is widely known as the only American to sail around the world in less than 80 days, a feat he accomplished in 1993 with Bruno Peyron, the founder of THE RACE, and three other Frenchmen. Lewis is a five-time world champion. He was crew aboard Stars and Stripes, the winning yacht in the 1988 America's Cup, holds the westbound TransAtlantic record, the TransPac race record to Hawaii, and is America's most experienced multihull sailor.

Other members of Team Adventure are Larry Rosenfeld and Skip Novak. Rosenfeld, Executive Director of Team Adventure, was formerly Chairman and CEO of Concentra Corporation, a publicly-traded engineering software company he sold to Oracle in 1998. Before that he was Director of Research for Hood Sailmakers. Novak skippered boats in four Whitbread Round the World races, is an active Antarctic explorer under sail, and is co-holder of the Transpac race record and Yokohama to San Francisco records.

Also working with Team Adventure are Spanish sailors Guillermo Altadill, a Whitbread veteran and Olympic coach, and Fernando Leon, Spanish Tornado Olympic Gold Medallist at the most recent Olympics. Team Adventure expects to generate American and Spanish sponsorship for the boat, as well as sponsorship from other nations around the world.

Team Adventure's catamaran will be launched in September 2000, followed by a rigorous shakedown and boat tuning program in preparation for the start of The Race on December 31, 2000. -- Larry Rosenfeld

Team Adventure website:

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One of the highest quality maxi fleets seen in years will come together for the annual Canon Big Boat Challenge to do battle for the prestigious title of line honours favourite for this year's Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race.

A fleet of up to 14 maxis is expected to line up for the invitation-only race on Friday December 17 for what is now a regular feature of the week leading up to the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race.

"The Canon Big Boat Challenge is the most spectacular harbour race of the year," said George Snow, owner/skipper of Brindabella, a regular competitor in this race. "It gives the public a great opportunity to witness big boat racing at its best, something they don't see when we go offshore," he added.

Newcomers to the Australian grand prix racing scene including John Kahlbetzer's slick 62-footer Bumbleebee 5, skippered by Iain Murray, and the Volvo 60 yacht Nokia, campaigned by a joint Danish/Australian crew for this year's Hobart Race, will be on the start line.

Spirit, the former America's Cup yacht, Marchioness, Robert Oatley's day-racer Another Duchess and Magna Data, the Open 60 skippered by former Australian Star champion Sean Langman, have also entered.

The super yacht Mari-Cha III, measuring in at 145-feet, has also been invited to take part.

The Canon Big Boat Challenge will start from Nielsen Park at 12.30pm on Friday December 17. Good spectator vantage points include the Opera House forecourt, Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Bradleys Head and Darling Point. -- Peter Campbell

Young America Skipper Ed Baird on the end of RR3: "We're disappointed that America True did not give the French a fair race the water today, but they were within their rights to elect not to race. We also regret the French and Australian teams' withdrawal. The Young America team have been deprived of a chance to demonstrate their speed and skill in the last two scheduled races. We came here to race, not to sail the course alone. Young America is scheduled to race the French tomorrow, but the French have announced that they will not race as they now have enough points to assure their berth in the semi-finals. It's unfortunate that the regatta ended on an anti-climactic note when we all came here to experience the kind of exciting racing that we have seen in the Louis Vuitton series."

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.