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SCUTTLEBUTT #467 - December 24, 1999

The America's Cup is always rife with rumours. And with the Internet, the rumours spread faster and to a wider audience than ever before. Thus, perhaps the event's most fantastic tall-tale ever has been making the rounds recently -- that America True, AmericaOne and Team Dennis Conner conspired to keep Young America out of the semifinals of the Louis Vuitton Cup by allowing the French team to win races it was likely to lose.

But wait, there's more. According to these unattributed bits of scandal mongering, members of these teams, particularly America True and AmericaOne, placed bets, at favorable odds, on the French boat when it raced AmericaOne, knowing the race was fixed.

At first the rumours were shrugged off, even laughed at by some representatives of the accused teams. Now, that they've persisted for more than a week, America's Cup Challenge Association president Dyer Jones has had enough. "I've sent a letter to all 11 challengers saying I'm sick and tired of the rumours," said Jones. "They don't serve the event well. They bring into question the integrity of the event and some of the challengers. If a challenger has something to say, say it or shut up."

Gina Von Esmarch, AmericaOne spokeperson, was well aware of the accusations that Cayard and crew dumped the race against the French boat 6eme Sens. As for there being a conspiracy, "that's a new one on me," she said with a chuckle. "We hadn't heard that we jointly conspired against Young America."

A published story yesterday said international jury chairman Bryan Willis absolved AmericaOne of any untoward activity after a brief investigation, even though no official protests or complaints were lodged.

This scenario is so convoluted that it would be laughable if it didn't also involve accusations of crew members benefiting by betting on the race. But with several email messages being redistributed around the globe at the speed of light via the so-called information superhighway, it's no longer a laughing matter to any of the parties involved. With specific people being singled out and accused of collusion and illegal betting, it has gone beyond the prank stage and become a cruel hoax that could taint the sport and the reputations of its participants.

"Quite frankly, if people are being tarred with a brush, it should stop," said Jones. "It must stop. What I have communicated to everyone is put up or shut up."

At least one email message appeared to come from inside the Young America camp. But with today's technology, it's simple enough to fake an electronic message. "We have no knowledge to support such a theory or to substantiate it," said John Marshall, Young America CEO. "We had no knowledge of any correspondence, nor does it reflect our team's position on the matter."

One of the rumoured accusations was that America True crew members placed bets on the French boat at seven-to-one odds, knowing it would win, and made a "good deal" of money in the process. "The whole America True team is very upset," said Grace Kim, America True spokesperson. "We take offense at the scandalous rumours. They are baseless. There was no agreement with any other teams and we have a formal team policy that betting is prohibited."

AmericaOne has a strict policy against betting as well. "We discussed it with the team. We have a strong policy about not betting on the races," Von Esmarch said.

New Zealand's Totalisator Agency Board (TAB), which makes book on a variety of sporting events including yacht racing, doesn't give the rumour any credence. The organization had heard about it and has analysed the betting, but found nothing to substantiate the anonymous accusations, according to Neil Sorensen, TAB sports betting manager. -- Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports.

Full story:

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. When you see what I just found on the ISAF website, I think all of the 'Buttheads should feel flattered:

" ISAF President Paul Henderson has announced today an award to be given at the next ISAF Annual Conference (November 2000 in Scotland) for the Sailor of the Millenium. Nominations will be accepted for the next 30 days only, after which email polling will take place for 6 months. Sailors will be eligible to vote only once (we'll track by email address). Send nominations to:"

ISAF's Sailor of the Millenium. Scuttlebutt's Sailor of the Century. I suppose it's just a coincidence. Regardless, it's a good idea Paul. And the ISAF will arrive at a consensus -- something that would be impossible for the 'Buttheads.

Telstra will today complete the installation of the Sactom C satellite communications service aboard all yachts competing in the Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Although a handful of yachts participating in this years race already had a Satcom C service installed, Telstra has funded the purchase and installation of the service aboard the remaining fleet for the duration of the 1999 race.

Completed within a tight six-week time frame, the project has proven a logistical challenge, involving installation of hardware on yachts at ports throughout Australia and in New Zealand.
Telstra Satcom C is a satellite communications service designed for sending and receiving data, as well as facilitating email communications and vessel monitoring. The service will complement the existing CYCA mandatory communications safety equipment aboard each yacht, including a 406 satellite linked EPIRB, HF and VHF radio apparatus.

The Satcom C service will enhance race communications by facilitating email communications from yachts fitted with laptop computers and by providing regular positioning reports linked to the Telstra Sydney to Hobart website ( This will provide unprecedented coverage of the race, allowing spectators to monitor the progress of the yachts via the website as the yachts race to Hobart. -- Peter Campbell

Full story:

The Organizing Committee the Newport to Burmuda Race has published a 28-page, full color "Notice of Race" brochure containing, in addition to rules for the conduct of the Race, articles on safety at sea and "Lessons Learned" from Sydney Hobart 1998; navigating the race; the Gulf Stream and weather; a new Cruising Division for Classic Yachts; history of the Race; the Onion Patch Series, and more.

Potential participants, the yachting press and industry and others with a special interest in the Race can receive a copy by sending a postal address to:

Event website:

The 25th Etchells Class World Championship to be held off Australia's Palm Beach in January 2000 is shaping up to be a fantastic spectacle and competition. The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club will be the host of the events, incorporating the inaugural International Match Racing Championship. Regatta Chairman, David Ritchard, is expecting a fleet of 65 boats to compete in the Championship. With entries so far from the United States, England, Scotland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Bermuda, the international presence will definitely be felt.

Australian Championship 7 - 14 January 2000
World Championship 14 - 23 January 2000
Match Racing Championship 24 - 26 January 2000

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 Bob Merrick --To answer Steven Schwartz question, "Paul who?" Paul Elvstrom's accomplishments include four Olympic gold medals. He sailed in 8 Olympics, his last in the Tornado Catamaran class in Seoul Korea at the age of 80. Elvstrom has won world titles in the Snipe, FD, 5.5 Meter, Finn, Half-Ton, Star, 505 and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

-- From Betsy Alison -- It is a long hard fight to get any of the classes to change in the Olympic Games. It has taken a lot of effort by a lot of people to get a women's keelboat event into the Olympics. One of the reasons I believe that a women's event was included was because the IOC has mandated that participation by women in all Olympic sports be up to 30% by 2004. Decisions within ISAF tend to be political, and support for some of the "traditional" classes is very strong.

I suspect that a 7 person keelboat class as suggested would have about the same chance as an ice cube in a very hot place. The reason being is that the number of athletes allowed by the IOC for each sport, sailing included, is restricted to a very specific number. The IOC apparently is not very flexible on this note.

For 2004, the new women's keelboat event will be restricted to a 3 person team because of the limitations on the number of competitors allowed. This would be 12 teams of 3 (36). We had hoped to be able to sail with teams of 4 like we normally do internationally, but due to the nature of number/athlete restrictions, it does not seem feasible.

I also agree that team racing would make for good action, excitement, integration of the sexes, but the number of athletes it demands will be the determining factor in its selection as well.

-- From Bill Fastiggi -- While the Finn is most certainly one of the most physically demanding boats to sail in, the physical conditioning required to compete at the top level of boardsailing far exceeds that of any dinghy. Some would argue that pumping a sailboard around a course is not sailboat racing, but it is one of our Olympic sailing disciplines.

While competing on the US Team at the Pan Am games this summer, I had the pleasure of watching both Lanee Butler and Mike Gebhart win medals, and the physical demands needed to win are much greater than most sailors could possibly imagine.

The Olympic Finn class has certainly had it's share of world class sailors. The same can be said for the Star, another class that has been in the Olympics "forever". I think the argument could easily be made that these great sailors are not great because of the type of boat they sail in, but that they are just great sailors who are driven to compete at the Olympic level.

The tremendously talented sailors like Elvestrom, Buddy Melges and Dave Curtis have won Olympics and World Championships in more than one class because they are competitive, not because of what class happens to be in the Olympics during their lifetime. If Interclubs or Yinglings had been Olympic Classes, you can bet that these guys would have won medals. Same for Paul Foerster, Jonathan and Charlie McKee, and Pease Glaser who have all switched classes and just won the US trials.

-- From Scott Truesdel (re "Flags of Convenience" article in 'Butt #465) -- This story points out yet another example where the spirit of the rule is completely discarded in favor of the letter of the rule phere. Another example of this is the twisting masts that nimbly step around the ban on rotating masts.

Either the rules should be rewritten to allow anyone from any country to participate at any level or the rules should be tightened up all the way and enforced according to the spirit in which they were conceived.

It seems obvious that the participants want to eliminate the national restrictions on crew, materials and designs. They are going to great lengths and personal hardships to circumvent these restrictions. It seems equally obvious that designers and builders want to work with the substantial benefits of rotating masts. That makes the relevant rules incredibly annoying but utterly ineffective.

Does anybody think that twisting masts are more seaworthy or cheaper to engineer and manufacture than rotating masts? Do we want twisting masts on our PHRF boats? Are the measurers and performance analysts having difficulty quantitizing performance gains by rotating masts?

Formula 1 race cars are currently grappling with the rotating versus twisting issue in regards to the aero- dynamic wings used to apply downforce to the cars. The FIA banned adjustable wings (rotating masts, if you will) so the designers and builders built flexible supports (twisting masts...) to adjust as air pressure changed. This paragraph has no revevancy except to point out that sailing is not the only equipment-oriented sport with cheater/rule-bending problems.

--From Mark Harris, Multihull Racing Assn, Sierra Area Landsailing Assn. (re Bruce Vandeventer's thread about inflatable sails) -- In Northern Nevada we have a board and landsailor Dennis Colburn, who is sailing quite well using an inflatable wing with 4-line controlled kite. His windward ability is about 10 degrees above a beam reach, but the inflatable sections of the kite do allow water launching and provides good wing shape and control. Besides controlling the kite sail, Dennis is also foot-steering his board. He also uses a sea kayak for these one-way downwind trips.

-- From John Drayton (On sailor of the century) -- Since it's actually the end of the Millennia, my vote for sailor of the Millennia goes to Sir Francis Drake (early Whitbread sailor, put SF Big Boat Series on the map, led team on impressive come-from-behind victory over Spanish Armada).

-- From Ron Weiss -- Has anyone mentioned Olin Stephens as Sailor of the Century. Dorade? Intrepid? The invention of the fin keel?

-- From Kimball Livingston -- While Dennis Conner is a name that belongs on anybody's short list of Sailor of the Century -- great wins in small boats, great wins in ocean racers, and he redefined the America's Cup competition -- Paul Elvstrom did even more. Paul Elvstrom redefined the sport of sailboat racing.

Paul Elvstrom invented the notion of the sailor as athlete. He worked harder and proved the results. He moved the goalposts and redesigned the playing field. He won more Olympic medals than anyone else in sailing and half a lifetime later, with his hair turned silver and a grown daughter for a crew, he showed up for yet another Olympiad, "because I like to sail."

Paul Elvstrom is the Sailor of the Century.

-- From Marc Herrmann -- I cannot believe the political misgivings regarding this issue. Here we have a young guy and his five (presumably young) mates who have been given a golden opportunity to tune-up (NOT race) with a Legend. Yet again, due to the never ending political shortcomings of this Venue, the fate of these up and coming future stars are being dictated by yet another Arbitration Panel. Come-on folks lets get real here. We are talking about Tune-up's, not race for the LV or AC Cups. Give these guys a chance to race with some of the best in the World so when they look back on this event and once they have passed on their knowledge and experience to other's, they will be able to say not all AC events are dictated by politicians.

-- From Russ Lenarz -- There has been allot of talk in the past few weeks about role models in sailing as well as what is good and bad about the Americas Cup. I would just like to say that I admire the young 20 year old skipper from Australia James Spithill. Going into the Louis Vitton Series he knew that he did not have much of a chance with an old boat, but he and his crew went out there and gave everything they had and proved that he has the talent to compete at this level as well as other grand prix sailing events.

I hope that that Mr. Spithill gets his chance, and hope that people will recognize that Mr. Spithill is one of the best things that has happened to the Americas Cup in a long time.

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: While most readers will undoubtedly agree with the sentiment expressed in the two previous letters, all of the challenges did agree to a set of rules as Chris Bouzaid explains below.

-- From Chris Bouzaid (savagely edited to our 250-word limit)-- As a Kiwi living in Newport RI and a member of both the NYYC and the RNZYS I have been very interested in this year's challenger trials. I was fortunate enough to be present to view the last set of trials and used Virtual Spectator to analyze the races. Wow! It certainly shows up the mistakes very quickly. My overwhelming observation of the Louis Vuitton Cup races is that there is very little room for error on the Match racing course. The passing lanes are few and far between.

I feel that the reason Young America did not make the top six is that their tactics throughout the three sets of trials were not as good as the others. In short they were let down by the afterguard. They made basic mistakes throughout the series.

Very few Americans understand that this is the first America's Cup, defense or challenge, that the different American Teams cannot use any boats, equipment or people who are eliminated. In prior years any American team that is eliminated has made their resources available to the other American Syndicates. This time all syndicates agreed that this would not happen.

Yachting is still about the best sailors and the best management. When NZ won the America's Cup in 1995 the credit went to Peter Blake for his management and to Russell Coutts and his crew for their sailing. The winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the Americas Cup will be recognized for these attributes.

-- From Geoff Cropley -- I'm sailing aboard "Brindabella" in the Telstra Sydney to Hobart yacht race starting in 2 days time. Much of the action can be seen on our own web site emails, photos etc. we will update every 3 hours hopefully:

Monday, December 27 at 12:30 AM Eastern (Sunday night, December 26 at 9:30 PM Pacific time) on ESPN2 there will be a 30-minute show on days 7 - 11 of Round Robin Three.

T'was the night before Christmas, I swung on the hook With snowflakes a'landing, asleep with my book When up on the deck I heard footsteps and stuff "I've been boarded!" I thought, and I tried to be tough

Then down the companionway hatch came a dude He was dressed like a nut and I thought, "I'm so screwed" But he laughed and he hummed as he surveyed my junk So I figured he must be the resident drunk

His eyes were lit up like a junkie on speed But he gave me a whole bunch of stuff that I need Like rum and cigars and new charts and a dinghy And some kind of fancy electrical thingy

I knew it was stolen but I wasn't telling I just hoped he was giving and wasn't just selling And I poured him a grog which he downed with a wink Then I poured one for me (Lord I needed a drink!)

Then he staggered above to the dark snowy night As I peeked I beheld an incredible sight Eight tiny dolphins and a beautiful sleigh And the dude hopped aboard and prepared to make way

The dolphins were ready to power the sled But the guy raised a genny and mains'l instead With a burp and a chuckle he gathered the breeze And called to the dolphins, now swimming with ease

"Hey Stalker and FEMA and Cancer and Nixon! Or Stinky and Pepper Spray, Mason, and Dixon! Or whatever your names are, you cute little fishes, Here's to every last sailor, my best Christmas wishes!"

As he sailed away leaving a wobbly wake I hoped he had not many stops left to make He got close to shore and he soon was aground But the dolphins proceeded to pull him around

And I heard him exclaim as he sailed out of sight "Killer whales!! ...I'm just kidding, don't be so uptight!"

Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.