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SCUTTLEBUTT #463 - December 20, 1999

This year will be the first full moon to occur on the winter solstice, December 22nd, commonly called the first day of winter. Since a full moon on the winter solstice occurs in conjunction with a lunar perigee (point in the moon's orbit that is closest to Earth), the moon will appear about 14% larger than it does at apogee (the point in it's elliptical orbit that is farthest from the Earth).

Since the Earth is also several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in the summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter. Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the moon's orbit is constantly deforming. If the weather is clear and there is a snow cover where you live,it is believed that even car headlights will be superfluous. On December 21st. 1866 the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on soldiers in the Wyoming Territory.

In laymen's terms it will be a super bright full moon, much more than the usual AND it hasn't happened this way for 133 years! Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this. Our descendants 100 or so years from now will see this again. -- Courtesy of Diane K. Sheaks

Selected on the basis of the need for experience and expertise on jury panels, umpiring, rule 42 on-the-water judging, language and geographic spread, the following Olympic Jury was appointed:

Bryan Willis (GBR) - Chairman, Hans-Kurt Andersen (DEN), Eva Andersson (SWE), Ajay Balram (IND), Neven Baran (CRO), Fernando Bolin (ESP), Bernard Bonneau (FRA), Aaron Botzer (ISR), Jim Capron (USA), Carlos Diehl (ARG), John Doerr (GBR), Steve Hatch (AUS), Pat Healy (USA), Nelson Horn Ilha (BRA), Oleg Ilyin (RUS), Giorgio Lauro (ITA), Pertti Lipas (FIN), Jack Lloyd (NZL), Henry Menin (ISV), Marianne Middelthon (NOR), Takao Otani (JPN), George Panagiotou (GRE), Bo Samuelsson (SWE), David Tillett (AUS), Steve Tupper (CAN), Lorenz Walch (GER),

The news and commentary from seasoned journalists rowing around the Huariki Gulf (figuratively of course) seeking the insights and observations that bring to life the spectacle known as the America's Cup. Check into Quokka's AC website at for some great insider information on what's happening Down Under. (See below)

Forget the broken boat, suspicions about AmericaOne's loss to the French and America True's subsequent gift to Le Defi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel -- there was only one real reason why Young America's sailors failed to reach the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals.

They didn't sail well enough. All the rest wouldn't have mattered if Ed Baird and his crew had protected early leads against their strongest rivals -- Prada, Nippon, AmericaOne and America True -- in critical third-round races. Numbers from the on-water umpires' report suggest that in an event that represents the highest level of match racing, Young America wasn't ready to match-race.

Baird is the only American ever to earn No. 1 ranking on the world circuit. He won the 1995 world championship and was second in '93, '96 and '97. But over two months Young America usually sailed its own races, too often coming from ahead to lose. When there were close encounters, Baird was reluctant to wave the "Y" flag to protest an opponent's move. Combined with its opponents, the New York Yacht Club team was involved in only 20 such incidents, fewer than anyone except the Spanish (also 20) and Switzerland's FAST 2000 (5).

Young America never got a call in its favour throughout the challenger elimination series, while drawing four penalties -- second only to six by Nippon Challenge's combative Peter Gilmour. But Gilmour, with an unrivalled 47 flags waved by him or at him, had seven calls go his way. Mixing it up wasn't Young America's game.

In their last real race against America True on 12 December, the New Yorkers stayed too long on an initial starboard tack waiting for a wind shift that never came, as Dawn Riley's boat built an insurmountable lead. "What were they thinking?" True helmsman John Cutler asked this week. "It was a no-brainer. They could have come back and been maybe three or four boat lengths behind. Instead, it became 10. They handed it to us."

The signs of mental fatigue were evident in Young America's first two matches of Round 3. Against Prada on 2 December, the New Yorkers led the mighty Italians around the first two marks -- an 80 percent guarantee of victory in this regatta -- but lost by 23 seconds when they failed to cover on the last beat.

The next day was Nippon. Young America led Idaten over the starting line by a boat length. After a long tack left in tandem, the Japanese split to the right, and when they re-converged Young America was penalised for tacking too close on Idaten's leeward bow.

The race remained tight until the end of the second downwind leg when Young America tried to discharge its penalty onto Idaten. There was a flurry of six "Y" flags. The umpires responded with five green flags -- no foul -- but the other was yellow: a second foul on Young America, meaning it immediately had to do one penalty turn. What followed was the Auckland premiere of "Keystone Kops at the America's Kup." Young America rounded up, seemingly out of control, and traced a course of figure-8s and other interesting manoeuvres seldom seen in world-class sailing. The Japanese were home free.

Four teams in the semis -- Nippon, Team Dennis Conner, Prada and Le Defi -- also hold the top four spots in incidents through all three round robins. That suggests that it has paid to be aggressive. However, Paul Cayard's AmericaOne and Cutler's America True rank only seventh and eighth, and they won't be mistaken for wallflowers

Cayard's for-and-against foul ratio of 4-1 is second only to Ken Read's 5-1 with Stars & Stripes. Cutler is 3-3. Then there is Prada's Francesco de Angelis, who was virtually indifferent to extracurricular activity until leading the fleet with 19 incidents in Round 3. Three resulted in penalties, all against the Italians. They managed to pay off one and win against Young Australia but couldn't undo another against AmericaOne before the San Franciscans crossed the finish line. That suggests the price of penalties will be higher in the semifinals with no pushovers to sail around.

Cutler said, "As the races get more intense, you have to be careful what moves you pull. If you muck it up, you will probably lose the race." Cutler was clean of fouls, for and against, in Round 3. "After the Gilmour race in Round 2 [five fouls total], we thought we'd stay out of trouble," he said.

Before he left, Young Australia's 20-year-old skipper James Spithill was being eyed by the umpires as the local sheriff might regard the newest gunslinger in town. In three consecutive races, Spithill drew fouls from de Angelis, Gilmour and Le Defi's Bertrand Pace -- the latter two currently ranking first and third in the world. Too bad he didn't have a fast boat underneath him to make his advantages stick.

No excuse there for Young America.

Syndicate boss John Marshall admitted, "We managed to lose races with fast boats."

Cutler said, "Those guys had their opportunities way before the stuff at the end. The boat is as fast as anything. They just sailed it badly." -- Rich Roberts, Quokka Sports,

* THE BEAT GOES ON -- While the rest of the Western world prepares for Christmas, the six Challengers for the Louis Vuitton Cup are preparing for 2 January, 2000, when the Semi-Finals get underway. It may be the holiday season at home, but work continues on the Hauraki Gulf.

On Saturday, the AmericaOne syndicate loaded up its spectator boat with media for a taste of the two-boat testing programme that dominates the schedule of the better-funded Challengers.

"It's the way you win the America's cup - by figuring out what's faster," said Robert Billingham, Operations Manager for AmericaOne. "One boat is a bench mark and stays the same. And then you make a series of changes to the other boat to see what's faster. It is hard, hard work. It's tough because there are so many variables."

On a grey, blustery day, AmericaOne was joined on the Gulf by Prada, Team New Zealand, and Nippon; all busily involved in two boat testing programmes. Team Dennis Conner was sailing Stars & Stripes on it's own, and the eliminated Young America was seen under sail inside the harbour.

"The odds are really against you in this event if you only have one boat," Billingham said. "America True for instance, still gets a lot of information from the 1995 boat they test against. The others make the most of the data they get when they're racing, and they try to mix it up with each other to test in between racing."

"At AmericaOne, we do a series of 10-minute tests. On a good day we'll get about 10 or 12 in. We line up the boats so they're not interfering with each other and then sail them hard," said Billingham, describing the process. "The guys on the instruments really run the tests. They tell the sailors over the radio when it's on and when to stop. It's amazing because the instrument guys can tell as easily as the sailors as soon as something happens - a boat slowing after hitting a wave for instance. We work to balance the testing out across both tacks and windward and leeward positions."

It's a long, tedious process. We watched the two, gun-metal grey, AmericaOne boats line up near each other time and again. The boats would get in racing trim, sail hard upwind for 10-minutes, and then switch positions windward and leeward. They do this all day, on nearly every non-race day - a team of electronics wizards in the chase boat collect the telemetry and analyse the information in the evening. Tomorrow the tests will continue, a different configuration put under the microscope.

"We feel that a good series of tests is worth about 15-20 per-cent," Billingham said. "That's not pure boatspeed, but what I would call optimised efficiency." -- - Peter Rusch

Full story:

* THE FINAL DAYS -- Young America's skipper, Ed Baird remains bitter about what transpired in the final days of the third round. Specifically, he feels that Cayard handed his race to the French. "We lost key races at the wrong time and allowed other teams to make the choices they did," Baird said, "of letting their races be won." Moreover, many Young America team members believe that there were America One crewmen who knew the outcome of the race in advance and placed wagers on the French to win.

Cayard denies both allegations. "We put forth our best race against the French," he said. "They aren't slow and and it was a pretty good day for them. "As for the betting, that's absolutely not true. We heard the rumors swirling around so we questioned everyone, and no one on our team made a bet." -- Herb McCormick, NY Times

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 Wally Henry-- I'm disappointed in your judgment to publish the letter from Ken Guyer in Scuttlebutt # 462. This issue was resolved weeks ago after an investigation showed there was no attempt at being "less than truthful" on the part of Young America. To accuse a team of lying and cheating based on rumors heard from seven thousand miles away shows not only poor judgment but a lack of respect for everyone on that team. Ken is a friend of mine but both he and you should know better than to open this dead issue again.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: You are absolutely right. That thread is officially dead and those comments should not have been published.

-- From Peter Huston -- I am curious - is it just me or does anyone else think it odd that Bryan Willis, Chairman of the International Jury for the America's Cup, has now given at least two public opinions. First he told us why they gave, and then took a point away from Young America. Now, he's offering his wisdom for the world to see relative to "asset stripping".

Even though this is not within his domain to rule, I can not help but wonder why an ISAF certified race official is speaking to the press about anything involving the America's Cup. When was the last time a referee in any sport was quoted about anything relating to the current competitive event in which they are associated?

-- From Mark Van Note -- Has anyone noticed the lack of updates in the two primary Louis Vuitton/America's Cup sites? I could not imagine that there is no recent news in Aukland between RR3 and the semis worth reporting yet both sites have had the same lead stories for at least two days. This has become a trend in past weeks also. The coverage here in the states has been poor at best besides the internet and now the official websites have lost interest.

-- From E. Konuk-- In response to the remarks about the French and TDC "not having a chance" in the challenger series of the Louis Vuitton Cup. I hope John Bertrand likes to eat crow. It might just happen that Team Dennis Conner might embarrass him by coming out on top in the challenger series.

-- From Steve Morton -- Young America had one of the most powerful sailing teams ever assembled. From top to bottom they were packed with champions. By all accounts YA should have advanced to the semis given their collective strengths and enormous fundraising success. Unfortunately they experienced catastrophic equipment failure when their 1st boat cracked in half. In my opinion, this "on-the-water" incident sealed their fate, not America True's decision to withdraw from further racing in RR3. If the goal is to win the America's Cup, how prudent would it have been for America True to race "full-speed" in adverse conditions with their only boat after securing a spot in the semis? Sportsmanship has nothing to do with this decision. If John Marshall was running a (successful) one-boat, $10 million campaign, his decision would have been the same as Dawn's. We should not be critical of ATrue for making a decision in the best interest of their campaign.

-- From Darren Mason -- America True's decision to forfeit is no different than an NFL head coach's decision for his QB to take a knee when victory is certain. Let's face it; every team competing for the right to challenge NZ in February has spent millions, has a stable of sponsors to fulfill, and has a team made up of professional's that are giving it there all to win. Given the eggshell nature of the boats, it is crazy to take risks once a win is assured (in this case, the semi-final's). Good decision.

John Marshall's response shows the class and dignity that he has always been known for. His example of sportsmanship and taking the high road at a very diffucult time serves as a role model to all competitors. John, Young America, Ed Baird and the entire team will learn from this experience and resurface to be tough competitors in the future. Congrats' to all for their efforts!

-- From Bob Kiernan (In response Barton Beek re Dawn Riley's withdrawal) -- "This is bad sportsmanship to an extreme." Not! Well, I don't jump in and make blunt statements much but, "that's yacht racing." It's within the rule and she followed them to the hilt. Good on ya Dawn...Keep it going

-- From Rob Lehnert -- There is nothing wrong with America True not sailing the last race. They are doing something that is perfectly legal in the rules. No one complained when Young America didn't sail some of their races due to various problems. The reason no one complained is because at the time it didn't mean anything, at the last minute it was do or die for New York, with a number of variables out of their control. I am the first person who would like to see the America's Cup return to Newport. Crying foul won't get it there any faster.

As for sportsmanship, there has never been any in the America's Cup, why start now. Looking back at history, the NYYC has taught all of us how to use every little dirty trick in the book to win a sailboat race. Remember, the America's Cup is about winning, at all costs. I would like to see any of the people crying foul be in the same position as America True, and see what they do? It was the right decision at the right time.

-- Gary Mitchell -- Gary Jobson's proposal for a seven person Olympic keel boat illustrates the lack of foresight that has so plagued our beloved sport for so long. I for one believe that the Olympics has and should always be a celebration of youth. One can only imagine the dearth of aging syndicate builders who would press their amassed fortunes into the purchase of their Olympic berth. This could only be ruinous to a discipline that has recently had to prove its merit to remain "afloat". If we want to make our sport appealing let's just use the two boats that have proved to be appealing, the Laser and Hobie 16. After all, only a true Olympian can tack a 16, I know I can't

-- From Lorin Alusic -- I am writing in reference to the possibility that the Finn, at some time, may not be included in the Olympics. First, the Finn is a great class that requires both physical and mental prowess. It would be a shame to remove it from the Olympic line up. If the a change must be made... I am an advocate for the broadening of opportunity for women in the sport of sailing. If the choice is between another open keelboat and a women's class, keel or otherwise, go for the additional women's class.

If one could add more choices to the list I would add team racing. I strongly feel it is the future of the sport of sailing. People can understand the concept of team racing faster than the nuances of boat speed and wind shifts. They don't have to learn to sail before they can understand Team Racing.

Although, I love the America's Cup, and have for years, watching two 70 foot boats match race is equivalent to watching paint dry. In team racing it is easy to understand why a team did not win, they did not finish ahead of the other team. In all, team racing will become an Olympic sport in the future, why not start sooner than later?

CARTOONS You say you want more Louis Vuitton Cup stuff? Well, now you can get cartoons to go with the news:

The riggers at Sailing Supply are constantly asked to perform inspections of rigging. Inspections are really paramount in keeping your rigging in good order -- to prevent the loss of a mast. But you can do a lot of this yourself, and there are some great hints on the Sailing Supply website: You'll have no problems if you follow their simple instructions. But if you uncover some trouble, just give Sailing Supply a call. They're all sailors there, and they'll be able to fix you up in a hurry: (800) 532-3831

The 2000 Boat/U.S. Santa Maria Cup organizing committee is now accepting Requests for Invitation to the 10th annual Boat/U.S. Santa Maria Cup Women's International Match Racing Championship. The event will be held June 1st through June 4th, 2000 from Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis, MD. -- Jeff Borland

Requests for Invitation, sponsorship opportunities and the Notice of Race:

Yes. What an awesome idea. Imagine a pair of shorts that keeps you organized with giant cargo pockets to store everything, parachute chords just in case, flashlight holders, and plenty of places to attach those whatzamacallits that can open, close, chop, slice, dice everything. While Camet hasn't yet created the Swiss Army Knife of shorts, they have designed their highly popular quick drying Camet sailing shorts for crews to feel cool and comfortable on the weather rail. For Key West, BVI, Rolex, Antigua, these are a must have ... particularly in the curmudgeon's custom bright red. Check them out:

When asked the question, winners generally let you know they're going to Disneyland. But where do the others go? "I'm going fly fishing," is a quote attributed to John Kolius in Larry Edwards' story on the Quokka website.

Jack Luft was killed in a car accident this week and we are having a memorial service for him on Saturday the 18th, at 3:00 pm at the Marshall Funeral Home in Rockport, Texas. Jack sailed all over the world for about twenty years competing in everything from the old SORC, Fastnet, TORC, Big Boat Series, Ultimate Yacht Race and Key West to the Transpac. He was also a professional powerboat captain for a number of years and more than a hurricane or two. In the process he made friends all over the sailing community. He finally settled down a bit with his wife Kay. Anybody that knew Jack has a story about him and they are pretty much all true. He truly was one of a kind and he will be greatly missed. -- Steve Hastings

Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.