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SCUTTLEBUTT #466 - December 23, 1999

(Following is an excerpt of an interview Gary Jobson did with Lanee Butler on the NBC Olympics website.)

Lanee Butler, 29, of Aliso Viejo, California, has dominated women's sailboards in America since first earning an Olympic berth in Barcelona in 1992. She placed fifth that year, just missing a medal. She was the only member of the American contingent not to return home with a medal. Shrugging off the disappointment, she came back to win an Olympic berth for the Atlanta Games in 1996. Again she failed to win a medal, but she won gold at the 1999 Pan American Games, giving an indication that the experience of the past will be an asset for her upcoming Olympic bid. Butler will be making her third Olympic appearance next September in Sydney. She's training in Australia, and I recently caught up with her to discuss her plan.

Jobson: You've been able to win the Olympic trials three straight times. What has been your secret?

Butler: I feel the biggest secret is to make sure you covered all your bases possible to be sure that when the first race comes, you are ready for it. That includes not only doing all your homework on the water, but off the water, too. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and be sure you are ready for everything. In all sailing and windsurfing regattas, there are so many things out of your control: the weather, the actions and decisions of the other racers and the race committee, as well as your own equipment failing. You have to limit your mistakes on the race course and finish each race, learning from it and knowing that the trials could possibly go down to the last leg on the last day of a long series. Lastly, I've had the experience of two successful Olympic trials prior to this one, and that gave me the added confidence going into this one.

Jobson: An Olympic medal has been elusive. What preparation are you doing for 2000?

Butler: With my trials almost one year before the Games, I have more time on my side. There is 9 1/2 months to go, and now I can focus on the Olympic Regatta instead of worrying about the Olympic Trials. I am using Sydney as my home base and will be there until April training and racing, with some side regattas in February and March. I will go to Europe in the summer and then to California for some more training and racing before coming back to Sydney before the Games for final preparation. On top of that, I do a lot of physical training on land. Windsurfing is the most physically demanding sailing class, and it is vital for me to be in the best shape of my life. We can pump our sails as much as possible, and it gets tough doing two 45-minute races in one day.

Jobson: Who are you training with?

Butler: I do a lot of training with the Australian team on the Harbor. And since there are a lot of international sailors down there, too, we all train together. That's one of the greatest things about our sport: Although we compete against each other, everyone is friendly with each other and we all train together and socialize on the land afterwards.

Jobson: Do you sail any other boats other than boards?

Butler: I learned how to sail in a Blue Jay when I was 10 years old and later learned how to windsurf from my sister, Lynn, and we started racing together when I was 15. In college, I sailed FJs at UC-Irvine, crewing and steering. I have an old 420 I play around in when I can, and sometimes I get the chance to go out with my boyfriend, Adam Beashel, on his 49er, which is always a blast. In the future I want to get a lot of experience racing on dinghies -- like a 29er -- and on big boats, doing long-distance racing.

Full interview:

OLYMPIC INSIGHT -- Paul Henderson
Olympic Reality: Olympics are limited to 10,200 athletes. Why? Ask the IOC. Sailing is limited to 400. Why? Ask the IOC. National Sailing Federations do not send sailors - the National Olympic Committee do. Every NOC also has a limit except for USA and the host country. I am a Canadian and our NOC has a limit of 650 athletes in total for all 28 sports. To convince our NOC to send a six person keelboat or a team of 6 Team Racers and leave the womens' volleyball team at home is impossible. To have 1 event take up 25% of Sailing's allocation is dreaming or to have the USSA Team Racers use up 6 countries Laser entries is also a tough sell.

The Olympics should be for the young athletes in our sport. Hopefully all 5 single-handers will remain, two boards (M&W), Europe (W), Laser (Open) and Finn (Men Heavyweights). How the other six events evolve is open for debate but at least two should be two-person dinghies and the Cat appears safe plus Keelboats (M&W).What the equipment (classes) will be is up to the ISAF Council in their wisdom to decide. We must also remember that the IOC will continue to cut back as new sports are added so it will become even more difficult in the future.

The most positive happening so far for Olympic Sailing was that 22 separate countries shared the 30 medals awarded in Savannah.

I have already entered into discussions with the World Games which is for all non-Olympic sports such as Squash, Bowling, Racquetball, Rugby etc to include Team Racing and Offshore Racing in their next Games. -- Paul Henderson, ISAF President

* Frustrated young Australian skipper James Spithill sits on the dock each morning and watches the America's Cup boats go out to sea. Spithill's campaign has long since left the Louis Vuitton challenger series. But he and five of his crewmates have been waiting around in Auckland to see if they can help out across the Viaduct Basin at Paul Cayard's AmericaOne.

The decision will be made by an arbitration panel, but there is no indication when that will come. In the meantime, Spithill and his mates watch videos, play cards and sleep at the railway campus in the central city - waiting. "It's the most frustrating thing I've ever known," the 20-year-old skipper from Sydney said. "We just want to get out there and go sailing. It all seems so stupid.

Regardless of the panel's decision , the Australians will not be able to race for Cayard in the Cup itself. But the question is whether they can crew on AmericaOne's B boat on test days. Spithill, who proved himself aggressive and accurate in the pre-starts behind the wheel of Young Australia, would drive the back-up boat against Cayard. "It would be a dream come true for me if it comes off," Spithill said."

Spithill was offered a part-time job with another syndicate, but would have had to go through the same drawn-out process. -- Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald

Full story:

MAST AND SAIL TECHNOLOGY -- Auckland's higher winds and generally smoother seas have seen a significant shift in sail shapes and rig configurations compared with the 1995 San Diego generation. Sails are cut much flatter and sheeted much harder on rigs that are much stiffer than before -- all of which makes for an unforgiving cocktail of forces that sends the loads rocketing to numbers never seen before on International America's Cup Class yachts.

Steve Wilson of Southern Spars, which built Team New Zealand's masts in 1995 and again for this regatta (along with Prada and Abracadabra), said their rigs are even stiffer this time round and are having to cope with compression loads over 100,000 pounds with forestay loads up to 30,000 pounds. "It's exciting and frightening at the same time," said Omohundro's Terry Kohler of the technological advances and challenges these loads represent. Omohundro has made masts for Team Dennis Conner, AmericaOne and America True, among others. "Our masts are literally 50 percent stiffer than they were in 1995."

The demand on the masts has increased also because the Auckland generation of yachts has narrower shroud bases and because sheeting the sails harder means the spreaders have to be shorter. "Everything is getting closer to the centreline," said Tom Whidden, CEO of the North Marine Group and a long-time Conner sidekick.

"The actual sheeting angles at the deck are not much different from San Diego, generally between seven and nine degrees, sometimes as close as 6.5 degrees. But, because the headsails are flatter and sheeted more tightly, the middle of the sail is drawn in much closer to the rig, requiring the narrower spreaders. "All this means the tacking angles can be much narrower. On many days, we are tacking through 60 degrees, whereas it would have been about 70 degrees in San Diego," Whidden said.

With most teams opting for a very high carbon content in their sails, there is also much less stretch than before. In the 1995 sails, there would have been about 10 units of stretch for every 100 units of load. "Now we are down to about two units of stretch for the same load," says Whidden. "It is so small, it virtually cannot be measured."

Carbon-fibre hulls, with heavy keel bulbs provide very stable platforms, too. Combine that with stiffer masts, halyard locks and aramid running backstays, and it all adds up to a system with virtually no give in it anywhere. It is all strung tight as a harp, with all the elements working much closer to their maximum loads.

This, in turn, has meant going up in rigging sizes, shackle sizes, traveller systems -- everything that carries load is carrying more load this time and has to be built correspondingly stronger. Underestimating that reality has seen two boats suffer rear bulkheads ripping out under fairly benign conditions -- which doubtless sent all the other syndicates scurrying to rerun their numbers and possibly reinforcing their structures. -- Ivor Wilkins, Quokka Sports

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 Michael Leneman --Inflatable sails have been tried. There was a company (can't remember who) that made sails that "ballooned out" from the winds pressure, and Jay Kantola, trimaran designer had a sail that had an inflatable sock-luff. Using the differential in wind pressure from the head of the sail to the foot, air would enter at the head and exit at the foot, inflating the luff. It worked quite well but you couldn't reef it.

-- From Kitty James (Re: Inflatable Sails) -- This sounds like a natural avenue for the Gregorski Brothers to research. I'll give them the assignment immediately. After inflatable spinnaker poles and water ballasted anchors, they should be able to come up with something quite interesting.

-- Phil Garland Hall Rigging -- Eric Camiel from Darien, CT invented and I believe patented inflatable battens for jibs in the late 1980s and later sold or bartered the rights to North Sails. The idea was to make the jib more efficient when it was eased out for a reach. I think Gary Hoyt's jib boom on the Alerion 38 does the same thing. I am not aware that North did anything with the product.

-- From Rick Hooper -- Personal attacks are not allowed??!!! John Riise's letter was a personal attack on all the regular Joes who love sailing and would continue save for the snobby attitude of many who would like to keep sailing to themselves.....or as we used to say "sailing is a rich man's sport". It seems personal attacks are what the curm_______*&^%$#@ determine them to be!!!!

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Well ... you got the last part right.

-- From Doug Holthaus (Regarding Peter Huston's proposed revamping of AC-XXX Semifinal scoring) -- If he only knew how long it took and difficult it was to gain concusses on the existing Protocol, Sailing Instructions, etc., he would understand the doubtful likelihood of obtaining syndicate consent to a significant revision of the scoring system with less than 2 weeks remaining before racing resumes. Add to this the necessity to obtain the advice and consent of all challengers and the consent of the defender, one begins to appreciate the practical impossibility of implementing Peter's proposal (albeit a good one).

The America's Cup XXX governing documents are the product of interminable analysis and the collective and dedicated input of numerous persons of diverse nationality. While perhaps imperfect in some aspects, they nonetheless collectively represent a unique achievement and a flexible tool that has worked quite well when applied to unanticipated and improbable scenarios. Not to be forgotten is the reality that what might have been important to one syndicate might well be antithetical to another for legitimate reasons, including funding. Varying positions and considerations were advanced during negotiations and, without exception, every player compromised its position in order to achieve the goal of consensus. What we presently have is the product of compromise; not perfect but an agreement nonetheless.

It would be tempting fate to go monkeying with the AC-XXX governing documents at this late date. Perhaps the better approach is to simply leave things be for the time being while making sure there is a smart-enough lawyer to do the job perfectly when AC-XXXI rolls around.

-- From Jeff Trask -- I agree with Peter Huston on A-Cup scoring. One of the things that makes NASCAR, Indy Car and virtually every form of motorsports fan and driver friendly is the scoring system. NASCAR awards 175 points for a win, 5 points to lead a race and another 5 for the most laps lead. There are only 10 points less awarded to the second place car. And just 5 down to 3 points between the rest of the racers. It is possible for the car in second to score as many points as the winner. Indy Car does the same only with fewer points on the line. These scoring systems have been found to accurately represent the performance of the driver and car. If under the current system a team loses the start, sails into a bad shift up the first leg and rounded all of the marks behind only to win at the line on a luck shift, they are awarded the maximum points for the win and the team that won the start, lead at all the marks and lost on an unlucky shift at the finish gets no points. Not a great system for the loser.

From a fan's point of view, it keeps us interested. NASCAR races 34 times and Indy Car races 22 times in a season. So far the challengers have each raced 30 times. If a system of points such as this be used I believe that all the boats would sail all the races.

-- From James Nichols -- The Finn is, quite possibly, the most perfect sailboat ever designed. To roll tack the Finn, you 1 - leave the mainsheet cleated; 2 - push the helm down with the tiller extension; 3 - hike the boat down hard as the bow crosses through the wind; 4 - "toss" the tiller extension across the stern to the new weather rail; 5 - duck to the new weather rail and do a push-up as it starts to lift; 6 - hiking the boat down, you reach for the helm, which has returned on its own to 1/2" - 1" of center, and complete the change of course.

During the North Americans in Newport Beach, CA in 1980, a Santa Ana blew up before the second-to-last race could be started. In gusts to 70 knots, 45 Finns sailed from the Santa Ana River mouth to the Newport jetty, and back up the harbor to Newport Harbor Yacht Club without a mishap or breakdown. Think you'd see that in a 45-boat Laser, Hobie 16 or Star fleet? Stars in 70 knots of breeze!?! Don't take my word for it: ask Henry Sprague, Craig Healy, Cam Lewis or (the real) John Bertrand . . . or even the other John Bertrand.

-- From Cam Lewis (On the thread of boats for the big O) -- Back in 1980, before the Sailboards, before the Europe, before the Laser were Olympics classes I sailed Finns, I learned so much about sailing from this boat. Those hard earned miles and victories-2 Gold Cups put me where I am today -- in my office raising money. Look where Russell Coutts is, the two John Bertrands, Paul Elvstrom - the list goes on and on and on. I don't have the full history in my head, but Glen Foster, Henry Sprague, Lasse Hjortnaes and countless others have honed there skills in this demanding boat.

Point being back in the 1980 Olympics, the toughest GOLD MEDAL to win in any sport in all the summer games was the FINN Gold. Not much has changed in reality. (More singlehanded classes, shorter races) A marathon is only 24 miles and 2 hours and change. A Finn Gold is / was 7 races, about 2 hours each, you figure it out, that's 7 marathons in 7 to 9 day period.

Now what relevance does racing 'lead transporters' with 7 crew around balloons have with Olympic Excellence? 60 foot trimarans that might make good TV, but that's a joke with $$ 18 foot skiffs or an updated cat like the new Gino and Pete CFR 20 would be my vote for change.

Let's stick to what the Olympics was and should be about - human excellence in sport.

PS I still have not figured out the Olympic horse thing? Million dollar animals that the French would love to eat!

-- From Andy_Besheer -- Couldn't resist responding to the Sailor of the Century. It's really hard to pick one, but I'll make a couple of suggestions:

Sherman Hoyt gets my vote, but you also must consider Arthur Knapp, The Stephens brothers (take your pick, or better yet take them as a pair), Bus Mosbacher or Charlie Barr (do you vote for him as sailor of the 19th, 20th century, all-time?). What about Ted Turner? Its hard to argue with the SORC (when it really was the big dance), Fastnet and America's Cup with a recycled yacht.

I realize that my picks are US-centric (and East-coast at that), but I bet folks from different parts of the country/world will come up with great additions to the list.

-- From Geoff Newbury, Canada (re Sailor of the Century) I would nominate David Curtis. He has won more small boat one design championships, in more classes than you can count on one hand. For example: 8 (Eight!) out of the first 16 North American Championships in Etchells (to 1993) and at least one more since then... 7 out of the first 19 Worlds including 3 in a row and 4 out of 5.

Solings, J-24, Lightnings... During the late 80's early 90's he sailed a Soling Worlds on Botany Bay followed by an Etchells Worlds out of Pittwater and came second in both.... in the span of about 3 weeks, with different crews...

-- From Bill Bennett ( re: sailor of the century) -- This list could be the entry list from the OFR (Masters Invitational at StFYC). My pick would be Lowell North with a very close second to Bill Buchan.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Two worthy nominations. And they help point out what's so great about our sport. I wonder how many of the 'Buttheads have raced against these 'giants' and maybe even beaten them on a given day. It's pretty neat to 'soar with the eagles' and it simply does not happen in other sports.

The Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Hugo van Kretschmar, said that no official weather forecasts for the 1999 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race would be issued through the club until the race briefing for skippers and navigators on Friday. Commodore van Kretschmar was commenting on a report in a Sydney newspaper quoting un-named weather sources that severe weather was again predicted during the race which starts on Boxing Day, December 26.
"Any forecasting of what may happen during the race is premature until the Bureau of Meteorology assesses all the weather models available to it," the Commodore said.

"We have certain protocols to follow and while there will be a weather briefing on Friday, the more definitive forecast will be given to skippers and navigators at 0800 hours on the morning of the race start. "It is too early to predict what will happen several days in advance, as is evidenced by differing opinions expressed this week by various experts. "That is why the CYCA has specifically asked the BOM to conduct a weather briefing on the morning of the race. When the yachts set sail, they will have the very latest forecasts covering wind, sea and current information."

"If the conditions at the start are such that we can safely get the fleet across the start line and out the Heads, the race will go ahead. If there is any reason for concern regarding actual weather conditions at the time of the start, we may suggest to skippers that they start but remain within the harbour until the weather abates," he said. -- Peter Campbell, ISAF website

Full story:

'96 Europe Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtenay Dey (The Dalles, Ore.) and '96 Olympian John Lovell (New Orleans, La.) will each receive a GMC Envoy as part of a program announced by General Motors, exclusive domestic automotive sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team. GM, in cooperation with the International Union, UAW, announced the names of 100 U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls who will receive new GM vehicles through "The Team Behind the Team" program. This innovative program was developed to address the challenges that face U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls as they travel to training and competitive events while continuing to support their families. The announcement highlights the $3.5 million vehicle donation aspect of the program, demonstrating a unique partnership formed to support U.S. athletes long before they reach the Olympic Games.

Dey and Lovell, both actively campaigning for Sydney's Olympic Games, are long-time members of the US Sailing Team. The US Sailing Team, created to recruit and develop athletes for upcoming Olympiads, annually distinguishes top-five ranked sailors in each of nine Olympic classes.

Dey and Lovell are among the 100 hopefuls selected from 1,800 applicants. Chosen by a panel assembled by the UAW and GM, selection was based on financial need, training and competition requirements, and qualification of "hopeful" status. Consisting entirely of Olympic Gold Medalists, the panel included Evelyn Ashford, Carl Lewis, Bob Mathias, Pablo Morales, and Kristi Yamaguchi. It was co-chaired by Grant Hill and Dorothy Hamill. In addition to reviewing the applications and selecting the 100 vehicle recipients, the panel offered invaluable insight into the needs and challenges faced by U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls.

JK Group Inc., a company that manages corporate philanthropic programs, assisted GM and the U.S. Olympic Committee in developing the selection process -- defining criteria, establishing a screening process, and identifying candidates for review by the panel. -- Jan Harley

Additional information and a complete list of the 100 U.S. Olympic Team Hopefuls selected to receive new vehicles:

Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?