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
2000 OLYMPIC JURY
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),
RIKKI TIKKI HUARIKI
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 http://www.americascup.org/ for some great insider
information on what's happening Down Under. (See below)
LOUIS VUITTON CUP
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
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, http://www.americascup.org/
* 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: http://www.louisvuittoncup.com/
* 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: http://www.nytimes.com/library/sports/
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 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
-- 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
-- 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
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?
You say you want more Louis Vuitton Cup stuff? Well, now you can get
cartoons to go with the news:
ARE YOU READY FOR INSPECTION?
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:
http://www.sailingsupply.com/articles/ 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
SANTA MARIA CUP
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: http://www.electriciti.com/camet/index.html
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
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.