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SCUTTLEBUTT #464 - December 21, 1999

After the retirement of PlayStation from her transatlantic record attempt (New York / Lizard Point) last Friday (Dec. 17, 1999), Steve Fossett has decided to take a fresh look at his calendar of preparation for The Race. Rather than getting to England as soon as possible to make a bid for the Jules Verne Trophy (the absolute sailing record round the world) in the early weeks of the year 2000, the 105-ft catamaran will spend the winter in Fort Lauderdale (Florida).

Steve Fossett wrote on Dec. 17 in the Daily Telegraph (British daily): "Boat and crew will thus be able to learn more about each other. I'm ready to forgo our Jules Verne Trophy attempt next in order to get everything right for our longer term goal - The Race."

In May 2000, PlayStation will be in New York once again to make another attempt at the Atlantic record (held since 1990 by Jet Services V in 6d 13h 03mn and 32s) and at the same time qualify for The Race (which starts on Dec. 31, 2000 from Barcelona).

Even though the 10-man crew had to interrupt their crossing by heading back to Newport (Rhode Island, Northeast coast of the USA) on Dec. 18, 1999, they were able to limit damage on board PlayStation. Steve Fossett talked about the storm they went through during the night of 16th to 17th December: "A gust of 62 knots hit us. No rain or snow accompanied it and there was no warning of it on the radar. Gino Morrelli, PlayStation's designer, was steering. He pointed the boat directly downwind - there was nowhere else to go. I felt the bows dig in and the rudders were out of the water grabbing only air. Fortunately, we came through, but not before four mainsail battens were shattered as the wind slammed them against the lazy jacks, ropes used to control the huge sail."

The skipper's conclusion: "De-powering must be done early because once loads spiral out of control on a boat this powerful there is nothing 10 men can do except hold on. And hope."

The Race website:

North Sails has combined forces with Bill Gladstone's Performance Racing Seminars under a name synonymous with sailing education: North U. This new seminar series will be held in 25 cities throughout the US from February through April of 2000 and offer Gladstone's state-of-the-art multi-media presentations, along with some shorter-length education modules developed by North.

Since 1983, Chicago-based Bill Gladstone has owned and operated Performance Racing Seminars. He has recently upgraded the seminar series to include CD-driven animations to accompany his textbooks and, combined with a slide show, it represents the first-ever truly multi-media presentation of its kind. For 2000, North U. will present Performance Racing Tactics, a day-long seminar which concentrates on developing strategic and tactical thinking on the race course.

For more information:

Like wildflowers in the Spring, they keep growing and growing and growing. Sail California sold yet another J/105 in Southern California (that makes 20) to compliment the 40+ 105s in Northern California. And there are now 33 J/120 in SoCal. Why are these boats so popular? If you really want to find out, just call Sail California: Jeff Brown-619/224-6200 or 760/212-5141 (cell),; Jeff Trask, 949/-675-8053,; Don Trask, Chris Corlett, Art Ball, Matt Jones, 510-523-8500 They'll not only give you the scoop -- they'll take you for a sail. That sure seems like a win/win proposition to me.

* Very quietly, very surely, America True has sailed it's one yellow boat into the Semi Finals, and into a position where all the remaining Challengers must be wary of the San Francisco syndicate.

Since calling an early end to Round Robin Three (America True didn't sail it's last race against the French) the boat has been in the shed undergoing modifications, and the sailors have enjoyed a couple of days down time. But navigator Dee Smith says the boat will likely be in the water Tuesday, and the crew is staying sharp by sailing in the harbour in a couple of Etchells.

One thing Smith and the rest of team won't accept is that they are a surprise syndicate. The plan for America True has always been to go all the way, and if others haven't rated them highly to this point, too bad.

"I wouldn't say we're trying to stay in touch," Smith said defensively when asked if America True could stay with the other Semi-Finalists. "We're trying to win."

One reason America True wasn't a pre-regatta favourite was because the team has only built one new boat, and is using a 1995 boat as a trial horse. But Smith doesn't accept that.

"It's really a question of money and time, not one boat or two boats," he argued. "If you have two boats, but no time to exploit that, then you're worse off - just look at Young America. Of the two-boat programmes, Prada has made the best of it; they did it right. AmericaOne is only now learning something with the second new boat. We came here early, we've sailed a lot and we've learned a lot, and I think it's showed."

Conventional wisdom says that building two boats allows the designers to squeeze more speed out of the mix, but Smith says this Louis Vuitton Cup has been about sailors, not designers.

"I don't think the differences in speed are that great at this stage, nobody's pulling away," he said. "We're happy with our speed, everything we've done has helped, but it's a sailors race here and whoever sails the best wins - that's the way it should be."

The way it should be indeed. -- Peter Rusch, Louis Vuitton Cup website

Full story:

* Even though Paul Cayard's AmericaOne syndicate is rightly described as a two-boat campaign, up to the end of the second round of the Louis Vuitton Cup series it was essentially a one-boat team. USA-61, the second of the team's two new Bruce Nelson-designed yachts, arrived towards the end of the second round and was kept off the race track during Round 3. Although the party line is that the team has yet to decide which yacht to use for the semifinals, you could safely bet your house that USA-61 will be the pick.

Naturally enough, the team is not giving anything away about the new boat or its performance, but there are boastful claims coming from its base on syndicate row. The team had enough confidence to take the media out to watch both boats testing on the Hauraki Gulf in a brisk northeasterly.

A classic two-boat formula is to produce two relatively similar yachts fairly early in a campaign and then work them up by leap-frogging their performance gains in a scheduled progression that, hopefully, peaks at just the right time. That is the approach adopted by Prada, Nippon and the defenders, Team New Zealand.

Cayard's syndicate took a less conventional approach, delaying construction of the second yacht until quite late in the campaign. A chartered Boeing 767 flew USA-61 into Auckland towards the end of November as Round 2 was drawing to a close.

This two-step approach may have had something to do with the rate at which funding flowed into Cayard's war chest, but the team turned necessity into a virtue. It freed the designers from having to produce an essentially similar second yacht, and gave them longer to refine their ideas. "We think we're going to blaze through the trials with USA-49, then bring in the new boat, which is not beat up from three months of hard sailing," said Nelson back towards the beginning of racing.

Before the round was even over, the two AmericaOne yachts were into their testing programme. "We have kept 49 in its Round 3 configuration, but we have already reconfigured 61 several times as we work it up," said Billingham.

Based on observations from the water, it appears the differences between the shape of the two yachts are subtle rather than dramatic. Essentially, the new yacht is longer, with more pronounced overhangs both in the bow and stern. The beams look similar -- in other words, narrow -- although the second yacht tapers more at the stern.

Judging by the air of satisfaction at the camp, the strategy has worked -- which means USA-61 has fulfilled the promise implied in that longer design gestation and is quicker than her older sister. -- by Ivor Wilkins, Quokka Sports

Full story:

What does the boat name Kialoa mean in Hawaiian?
A Goes before the wind
B Long white canoe
C Queen of the sea
D Strong Winds

Answer at the end of this issue of 'Butt

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 Bob Kiernan (re Peter Huston's comments about the LVC jury speaking out) -- The discussions heard in a casual setting after the race or the detailed information on a hot subject can be unofficial news, printed because we are part of a casual environment. Even the Cup races. We should imagine, precedent setting even where the decision-maker isn't forbidden from discussing their views. This making our sport a benchmark to open official discussion on matters when they are over and unchangeable. I stress, over and unchangeable. They're knowledge is respected and should be heard. I for one enjoy the information. It's good press.

-- From Skip Ely -- My heart felt condolence goes out to my friend Dooy Isdale (commodore NYYC) with whom I have been fortunate enough to sail. A lot of buttheads have been comparing sailing to other sports lately. I am a die hard football fan and I am particularly fond of the 49ers who have won a few superbowls. I have seen the Niners on multiple occasions show up but effectively not play the last game(s) of the season because they had Division title and home field advantage locked up. Therefor with nothing else to play for why risk your starters. Who could blame them, and who can blame Dawn Riley as much as we might like to see the NYYC guys take place of the French.

-- From Monroe Wingate, Commodore St. Francis Yacht Club -- We at St. Francis Yacht Club would like to congratulate John Marshall for the gentlemanly and statesmanlike manner in which he has handled a very difficult and trying situation.

Back in October, not even the most farfetched imagination could have forseen a situation where Young America would not be a serious competitor in January and very possibly the challenger in February. The tragedy that struck Young America on November 9th and all the difficulties that ensued saddened many of us who had been looking forward to fierce, but friendly competition in this great regatta.

Our club extends its sincere regrets to NYYC that we were both denied that opportunity. We wish John Marshall and the entire Young America Team our best wishes for the future. We especially commend John for the outstanding manner in which he and his team have handled this tragic turn of events.

-- From Scott Diamond -- The goal of the American teams was to bring the Cup back to America. By America True withdrawing from the race (which they had every right to under the rules) and causing the elimination of Young America they have substantially decreased the odds of the Cup coming home. If I were on America True I would be damn embarrassed if we did not bring the Cup back. Has John Marshall shown the world "America's True face"

-- From P. Merrifield -- A comment on the decision by America True not to sail in the final race of Round Robin 3. In that case, as in many cases in sport and elsewhere, the team ahead has an advantage. In the end while it is not what we consider 'typical fairness', the higher the stakes, the greater use of strategy a team must use. Had America True ignored this 'advantage' and either had a critical equipment break or lost to Young Am later, the initial omission could be considered negligence by their sponsors.

In 1992 when the fleet racing/match racing format was first introduced in the Soling Olympic Trials, Kevin Mahaney had wrapped up the fleet racing portion of the trials with at least two races left before the match racing portion was to begin. With three other teams still qualifying for the match racing portion, his team reviewed their strategy and the competitors. They decided that the Coleman brothers who were in a position to qualify for the match racing portion could be a formidable match racing contender. So although Mahaney didn't even need to sail the remaining fleet races to qualify, his team went out and pushed the Coleman brothers back far enough in the remaining fleet races to prevent them from even competing in the match race portion, and eventually won the Olympic Trials.

The moral of the story is that if you allow yourself to be in a position where a respected competitor can determine your destiny, they probably will.

-- From Bob Rutsch -- as inevitable that a team would lock up a berth in the semis toward the end of RR3. NYYC as the challenger of record could have prevented this by carrying the points over to the final round. It reminds me of NHL and NBA where any team with a .500 record makes the playoffs. Give me the good old days of major league baseball, where the regular season meant something.

-- From Dave Voss -- In the hindsight is 20/20 department, I was catching up on back issues of Seahorse magazine when I read a July interview of Doug Peterson (co-designer of Prada) in which he was asked to reconcile lightly built IACC boats with a windier venue and responded:

Well you have to keep in mind that Auckland does not have the swells of San Diego. You'll remember there would be a wind change and the boats would be sailing at 9.5 knots straight into the seas. Stress-wise Auckland won't be anything like that: you'll get some shop and you'll get some slamming but you won't see the whole boat flying in the air again.

I guess Young America believed him.

-- From Katie Pettibone -- John Bertrand's comments on Abracadabera and Young America's arrival dates in Auckland were incorrect- shore people were in Auckland in the end of August/ early September with the boats arriving in September. For Abracadabera the boat sailed in Hawaii was ready to go but instead all efforts were put to getting the second boat ready. So they could have been sailing in Sept.

-- From Chuck Simmons -- Was just wondering who would be the sailor of the century. My vote is for Paul Elvstrom, but surely there are others as worthy that I am unaware of from earlier in this century. What do you and other buttheads think?

-- From Bruce Vandeventer -- I'm curious to know if someone has ever tried inflatable sails? In light air being able to force the sail into some semblance of its proper shape would be a big advantage - why not have some inflatable stiffeners in the sail and just pump it up when the wind dies? On spinnakers, you could put some stiffening tubes or panels near the top so in light air it doesn't plaster itself to the headstay. The inflation could be by a CO2 cylinder that's fired off by a mechanism that triggers when the head reaches the halyard sheave at the top of the mast, and the same mechanism could actuate a deflator when you lower the head away from the mast. You could do the same thing with inflatable battens on jibs, which otherwise are hard to fold up because the battens get in the way. People laugh at me when I suggest this, but I think it would work.

The following ten yacht clubs have been selected to race in the 2000 United States Yacht Club Challenge: Annapolis Yacht Club, Bayview Yacht Club, California Yacht Club, Houston Yacht Club, Long Beach Yacht Club, Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Rochester Yacht Club, San Diego Yacht Club, San Francisco Yacht Club, St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

The Regatta will be hosted by Newport Harbor Yacht Club, March 29 to April 1.

By rearranging the letters in "Dormitory " you can come up with "Dirty room."

* Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead have announced with great regret that they are obliged to withdraw from hosting the 2000 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship due to the serious illness of one of the main organisers. ISAF is working with help from Eastern to find an alternative venue and negotiations are proceeding. --

* The Sundance Cup 2000 organizing committee is now accepting Requests for Invitation to the 2nd annual Sundance Cup Women's Match Racing Clinic and Regatta. This is an ISAF Grade 4 event with the objective of providing unranked and lower ranked women match racers a venue to gain match racing experience. The event will be held March 28th through April 1st, 2000 from Fort Worth Boat Club in Fort Worth, TX. --Cliff Black

Requests for Invitation and the Notice of Race:

Kialoa is Hawaiian for long white canoe.

If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.