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SCUTTLEBUTT #462 - December 17, 1999

COMMENTARY -- John Riise
Despite efforts to link the two in this forum these weeks past, I view growing the sport of sailing and making it into a viable spectator sport as two entirely different concepts. For example, I don't watch skydiving, bungie jumping or football for that matter and think, "I want to do that." I watch them and think, "These guys are nuts, but this is more entertaining than any current sitcom and I've already seen what's on the history channel." From the other end, although I have enjoyed flying aboard small planes from time to time, I've never watched televised pylon racing or wanted to helm an F-15. I'm not saying there's no relation between doing something for fun or recreation and watching professionals do it on TV. I'm just saying I feel the influence of one on the other is more minimal than many writers to the 'Butt seem to think.

I think we should stop behaving like Jehovah's witnesses on both counts. What's with this rabid fervor to introduce new people to the Lord. . . uh, I mean sailing? Sure, when the opportunity presents itself, take somebody out if they want to go. But lighten up. Not everybody will want to go. Live with it. I've heard a lot of stories of how people come to sailing, and 98% of them involve going out initially with a family member or friend. That's proven, it's not broke, it doesn't need fixing. Showing crashing, burning 49ers is not going to make more people want to sail and - IMHO - may well turn many fence-sitters away from the sport. If they do, there's plenty of other fulfilling ways to recreate. I doubt anyone ever went to their graves feeling deprived because they never got to go sailing.

As for the perceived notion that the huge popularity of sailing in France, Italy, NZ, etc. means there's something wrong here. . . get real! So what? Bullfighting is more popular elsewhere, too. Do we have to keep up with the Jonses in that arena as well?

I think it's kind of nice that sailing a self-regulating, unspoilable, unbuyable activity. If it's going to grow, I like the notion that it grows at its own comfortable rate. And the heros will emerge (check on what Paul Cayard and Dawn Riley are doing six months from now). That's much better to me than 'growing' the sport artificially through TV tailoring or creating Ricky Martin-type flash-in-the-pan heros.

As far as TV, in reading the opinions of the last few weeks regarding televised sailing, I have to agree that televised sailing coverage is never going to happen on a scale most people seem to want. It's never going to equate with football or baseball, where stuff happens every few minutes and you always know where you are. In fact, in a country where the biggest sports figure on TV is currently a sweaty anabolic android called "Stone Cold", I don't think it's ever going to happen on TV.

But I do think it's going to happen on the internet. In 10 years, maybe less, even Quokka Sports' current excellent A-Cup coverage is going to look like silent movies. Having seen the fabulous interactive CD Visual Spectator in action, I think the future of the America's Cup, sponsorship, ad dollars and professional sailing in general - be it in exciting 'Eye-deens' or lumbering IACCs - will be right there on the web for anyone to access anytime. Mark my words: by 2010, you'll be able to dial up virtually any major sailing event in the world, route it through your jumbo, flat-screen, high-res TV and watch sailing as never before until the cows come home. -- John Riise

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENTS: Yes, I know this thread has been closed for some
time. But you should never forget that I make the rules so it's OK for me to break them occasionally. And John Riise's thoughtful piece deserved better treatment than relegation to the curmudgeon's electronic trash can. But make no mistake; I don't want any more letters on either growing the sport or sailing on TV. At least not right away.

What year did the Star Class first appear in the Olympic Games?
A 1912
B 1928
C 1932
D 1948

Answer at the end of this issue of 'Butt.

Who do you call when you want custom sail graphics to make a statement?? Easy. See who the leaders in racing like Sagamore, Sayonara, Samba Pa Ti, Playstation and Stars&Stripes have in common. They entrusted their sail graphics to North Graphics. And better yet, they can do the same for you on your Catalina 27, 1D35 or J/105. Try calling Whitney Gladstone and find out how affordable it is to put custom sail graphics on your boat: (619) 224-8667,

PlayStation crossed the startline at Ambrose Light on her way to attack the 9-year old TransAtlantic sailing record. Skipper Steve Fossett dockside this morning "The weather has come through - and I am confident we have a good shot at this record. But let's not forget it is the dead of the North Atlantic."

The 105' maxi-cat had left the dock on schedule at 1007 after a short press conference and photo opportunity, followed by an escort of press boats and helicopters. Arriving at the starting area two hours later, the team of ten tested various sail configurations - and then added an hour to the anticipated wait - based on advice from weather guru George Caras.

Finally, with winds gusting up to 24Kts PlayStation accelerated past the line and quickly left the press cavalcade in her wake.

Target - THE LIZARD (Cornwall, U.K.) - anytime before 0800 GMT on Thursday 23rd December.


* Team New Zealand tactician Brad Butterworth said Young America had been invited to sail their two black boats against New Zealand's two black boats in a tune-up race for the Kiwis.
But the answer came back: "no." It appears that the New Yorkers are sticking to the unspoken agreement between the challengers that they would not sail with the defender in the build-up to the Cup match in February 2000.

Young America skipper Ed Baird, whose job it was to help Team New Zealand to tune up for the 1995 America's Cup, is more likely to take one of his boats out against one of the six remaining challengers. "We are here as the Challenger of Record, so if there is some way we can help the challengers be stronger, it might make sense," he said. Three of the six semifinalists are one-boat campaigns - America True, Le Defi France and Stars & Stripes - who would like to have someone to spar with.

Rebuilt after snapping in half, USA53 will be dipped back into the sea in the next few days. The Young America crew are likely to sail it for most of next week. "We want to make sure it's sound," Baird said. "We are going to finish some of the projects that were well underway - we have a lot to do."

Young America plan to leave both their boats in Auckland until the end of the Cup.
If Team New Zealand successfully defend the Auld Mug, the Young Americans will come back and use the boats as trialhorses for their next attempt. Baird said he hoped that would not be too far into the future. "We hope we can talk everyone into racing the next America's Cup in two years' time instead of three, so we can be back sooner," he said. -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald,

Full story:

* THE FINAL ANALYSIS -- Report from John Bertrand
The America's Cup is a technology race that has a finite schedule and end game (second is not an option). The trick to winning is having a well conceived plan that fits as much design and development into the allotted time before the start of the challenger trials and then by making improvements/refinements to the boat between each round robin, semi-final, and finals series. This takes experience, talent, funding, focus and discipline. Abracadabra 2000's most notable deficit was due to a lack of funding.

The resource was not there to properly fund the timely construction of the two boats - both boats arrive in NZ behind schedule, and developing between the series was out of the question. The team saw slower rivals getting better between the rounds as was the case with Team Dennis Conner, the Japanese, and most dramatically the French team. At the end of the day Abracadabra 2000 would have been better off building and optimizing just one boat.

On the other hand, the demise of the New York Yacht Club's Young America team can be blamed not on funding woes but on mismanaging their development schedule. They had all the elements to win the America's Cup but they lost focus that the race is run on the water. They purposely delayed constructing their boats to gain additional design time and like Abracadara, arrived in NZ in October. Had they stuck to their original schedule of launching and sea-trials in Newport first, they would have discovered the structural flaws that literally and figuratively sunk their campaign, well before the racing started. Now they can only wonder "what if"!

Who's Left and What Are Their Chances? Prada and AmericaOne are the odds on favorite to be the Luis Vuitton finalist. They both have the speed and smarts and it will be interesting to see them go head-to head in the best of 9 race final series if they both go through. America True and Nippon can cause an upset if the conditions are on the windy side. Nippon is the slower of these two, so America True is posed as the "spoiler".

Team Dennis Connor and the French don't have a chance to move on. They both are slow but certainly have the potential to be "king maker" by stealing a victory off of the top two during double round robin semi-finals series. -- John Bertrand, Spinsheet magazine

Full story:

* ASSET STRIPPING -- As Round Robin Three of the Louis Vuitton Cup recedes in their wake, the six Challengers in the Semi-Finals have about two weeks to prepare for the next phase. Up to this point, the best people and equipment in the world have been spread across 11 challenging syndicates. But now, there is spare talent and equipment in the form of the five eliminated syndicates still sitting in Auckland. This ranges from sailing talent, like aggressive Young Australian skipper James Spithill, to a pair of widely acknowledged quick boats, like Young America's USA-58, and the rebuilt USA-53. The assets also include coaches, sailmakers, weather gurus, boat builders, engineers and the like. Can any of the remaining syndicates put any of these assets to good use?

Bryan Willis, Chairman of the International Jury, doesn't think the Americans can use any equipment (neither a boat nor sails, spars, etc.) from another syndicate under the sharing of technology rules. Willis was careful to point out, however, that these are not cases for the International Jury. If a team were to protest under the Protocol, the case would go to an Arbitration Panel for ruling.

The Arbitration Panel is the body that interprets any Protocol issues, and resolves disputes between Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record. Its decisions are final. It consists of five members, two each from the New York Yacht Club and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the fifth appointed by the other four. All meetings are private, and decisions are issued as available. -- - Peter Rusch & Carmen Pombo, Louis Vuitton Cup website

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 Dean Marvin -- Peter Huston = hammer hitting a nail on the head.

-- From Chris Welsh -- America True's decision not to race is one that happens in fleet racing again and again - a secure leader chooses not to race the last race of a regatta because there is nothing to gain, and everything to lose given a protest, etc. Further, if America True thought NYYC had potential as a real contender, why keep them around? Match racing is not a team sport. America True earned the power to control the outcome by winning enough races to skip one. Peter Huston got it right. New York Yacht Club was competing for sixth, not first - and didn't have the mustard.

It is interesting to speculate how they might have faired if their attitude and sportsmanship had been different (see request for redress blamed on the gooseneck damage when actually they had serious doubts about their boat's structure). Hard to tell who the allies are - but I suspect a different seventh place boat might have gotten a little more help.

NYYC controlled their destiny until the last two races of a 30 race series, and they did not even need to make the upper half of the fleet to survive the cut (6th of 11 went on).

-- From Ken Guyer -- It was interesting to read the comments in Butt #460 regarding the demise of Young America and some support for John Marshall. I concur that John has done a lot for the America's Cup and he has been a part of both winning and losing campaigns. He should be commended for those efforts, But....

To use words of praise in connection with THIS NYYC campaign does not hold up. When competitors make a conscience decision to be "less than truthful" when presenting evidence to the International Jury and then be "caught" in the untruthfulness by fellow competitors is about as wrong and dishonest as you can get. To accept a point you know you do not deserve is even more wrong, and is far more devastating to our sport in the eyes of those looking on than anything mentioned here so far.

A "high road" concession speech, and not apology for the wrong does not erase the action in my opinion. In the case of Young America and the NYYC this time, you get what you give.

-- From Tim Rumptz -- While America True's decision to not sail against the French was the 'smart' thing to do, it's really not the kind of decision that helps us define heroes for our sport is it? Well done, John Marshall.

-- From Geoff Jarvis -- Does anyone else find it odd that the challenger series round robin lasted almost 60 days in order to eliminate 45% of the field, and the semi finals are scheduled for only 10 days to eliminate 67% of the remaining field?

I guess the challengers made up the SI's, so they have to live with this format. Hindsight is 20-20...but it seems a more gradual elimination of boats would have improved the racing as we approached the final races in round 3.

In two weeks, members of the America's Cup on-line community will face off in a real-time VirtualCup Regatta, which will decide who the best virtual sailors are from around the world. Temple Games' VirtualCup is a free match race sailing simulator game that allows Internet users worldwide to race International America's Cup Class (IACC) yachts against friends or strangers without leaving their personal computers. It can be played on the official Web site of Team Dennis Conner,, and the Louis Vuitton Cup's official Web site, The VirtualCup Regatta features match race time trials that lead up to a highly competitive "ladder of elimination" match race series, which is scheduled to begin in late December, 1999 and will be hosted by both Web sites.

Over 16,000 people have downloaded VirtualCup over the past few months and more than 6,000 of those participating have been practicing and competing against one another on-line. "We anticipate that over 35,000 people will have played VirtualCup by the time the Louis Vuitton series is over in early February, 2000," said Jonathan Brown, president of Temple Games, Inc.

VirtualCup competitors represent over 35 countries and have proven to be as formidable on-line as on the water. "These virtual sailors have played over 60,000 multi-player games and are having a great time meeting and competing with sailors from around the world," explained Brown.

Temple Games will be releasing a new version of its sailing simulator game before the competition starts. VirtualCup version 4.0 has improvements that will ensure the competition is as realistic as sailing on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

For more information:

You would be, too, if you had didn't have one of those way cool t-shirts from the Ultimate Sailing Group. Full Throttle and Flying Colors are great shirts for the kids. Get a few dozen and sprinkle them around to those kids in your sailing programs or on your crew who are dreaming of the Olympics in faraway lands. What better way to get them excited about the New Year? Find out how at: And, take a peak at the latest photos from around the world in Sharon Green's latest incarnation of the now famous Ultimate Sailing Calendar.

On Sunday, December 19 at 4:00 PM ET (1:00 PM pacific), on ESPN we present a one-hour review of the first three round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Included will be interviews with each American skipper and a full report on Team New Zealand. ESPN will also take a look at the history of the Cup dating back to 1851. Gary Jobson and Jim Kelly will give their predictions for the semi-finals.

Monday, December 20 at 1:30 AM ET (Sunday night, December 19 at 10:30 PM Pacific time) on ESPN2 there will be a 30-minute review of the first six days of racing of round robin three.

To view the complete America's Cup ESPN TV schedule and sign up for the distribution list of these announcements:

The Star Class raced in the Olympics for the first time in 1932 and the Gold Medal was won by Gilbert Gray.

How come wrong numbers are never busy?