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.
MATT JONES TRIVIA QUESTION
What year did the Star Class first appear in the Olympic Games?
Answer at the end of this issue of 'Butt.
BIGGER, BETTER, BRIGHTER
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)
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
winter...in 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
LOUIS VUITTON CUP
* 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
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,
Full story: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/
* 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
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
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: http://www.spinsheet.com/
* 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
Full story: http://www.louisvuittoncup.com/
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 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
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
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, www.stars-stripes.com, and the
Louis Vuitton Cup's official Web site, www.louisvuittoncup.com. 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
For more information: http://www.templegames.com
GREEN WITH ENVY
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: http://www.ultimatesailing.com. 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.
SAILING ON TV
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:
TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER
The Star Class raced in the Olympics for the first time in 1932 and the
Gold Medal was won by Gilbert Gray.
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
How come wrong numbers are never busy?