SCUTTLEBUTT No. 821 - May 23, 2001
Scuttlebutt is a digest of yacht racing news of major significance; commentary, opinions, features and dock talk . . . with a North American emphasis. Corrections, contributions, press releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always welcome, but save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.
New York, NY, USA, 22 May 2001 - American skipper Steve Fossett and his international crew of 12, aboard 125' maxi catamaran PlayStation, have today set a new Miami - New York world sailing speed record. Their time of 2 days 5 hours 55 mins 8 secs beats the previous mark by the considerable margin of 16 hours 55 mins. The previous record for this passage - 2 days 22 hours 50 mins, was set by Data Explorer, co-skippered by Bruno Peyron (France) and Cam Lewis (USA), June 1999.
A pleased Steve Fossett - reflecting on setting his 14th World Record in sailing - spoke tonight by sat-phone from the boat, just after passing New York: "It is nice to back in the record business! And for a number of the crew it was their first World Record. Winds were quite moderate really - we started in only 10 kts of wind and we've probably seen a 15 kt average wind speed. But it has been consistent - except for the past few hours, anyway! And PlayStation excelled in these conditions. We covered 505 nm the first day - and 503 the second. So this has been a very good trip - not just for the new record, but because we've really shown her potential again."
PlayStation and her crew are now sailing on to Newport, RI and will arrive early Wednesday morning, where final preparations for an attempt on the 11-year old TransAtlantic sailing record (NYC - UK) will begin. Steve Fossett is shortly off to Australia however, from where he will attempt the first Solo Round the World Balloon flight. Steve's 'Solo Spirit' project goes on weather watch on May 29. - www.fossettchallenge.com
CREW: Steve Fossett (USA), skipper , Andrew Harrall (NZ), navigator , Ben Wright (Aus), watch captain, Dave Scully USA), watch captain, Pete Melvin (USA), Roland Gaebler (Ger), Dawn Riley (USA), Dave Calvert (USA), Peter Hogg (NZ), Chuck Hawley (USA), Paul Van Dyke (USA), Shaun Biddulph (GB), Anthony Hussey (Aus), Bob Rice (USA) was meteorologist.
(On the madforsailing website, James Boyd interviewed to the former Team New Zealand tactician Brad Butterworth about the Alinghi (Swiss) America's Cup campaign. Here's an excerpt from that story.)
The design team are working hard on the creation of the two new Alinghi IACC boats. The team is led by Rolf Vrolijk and includes Dirk Kramers and Carol Vernon both formerly of America3, America's Cup vet Grant Simmer and former Team New Zealand designer Glyn Davies. There are representatives from four 1998 campaigns in the design team but one particularly interesting point is how much Team New Zealand know-how, whether it is design or technology, will end up being used in the Swiss boats. "What we took was what we knew," says Butterworth on this point. "We sailed the boat. As far as the sailors knew - that's what we have. You can't walk away with CAD drawings. If you did you'd be out of the regatta." He does admit that all Alinghi's designers looked at all the boats competing in the last America's Cup to examine their differencies (in particular their beam and sail areas). "We have a lot of experience in terms of what we think is fast. With a lot of talking you come to a consensus."
Alinghi's build team at Decision SA is gearing up to start work on the construction of their two new boats. Butterworth says that the schedule is being dictated by their wanting to have the first boat in New Zealand ready to sail in December. They will probably start construction in about one month and he confides that the design of the first boat will be quite surprising, although he will impart no more than that. - James Boyd, madforsailing website.
There's a lot more to this insightful interview: www.madforsailing.com
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CHALLENGE MONDIAL ASSISTANT
This is the most intensive finish the 60-footer multi-hulls sailors have ever experienced in an offshore race. As the fleet still have 105 miles to cover to Tarragona, it is getting closer and closer and each of them still has a chance to win. Belgacom of Jean-Luc Nélias jumped into the lead Tuesday afternoon. Foncia-Kingfisher of Alain Gautier/Ellen MacArthur made an amazing come back and lies only 0.2 mile behind the leader. Groupama is in third but got a penalty. Yvan Bourgnon's Bayer dropped to fourth position but is only 3.6 miles behind Belgacom.
Penalty for Groupama Franck Cammas and his crew are in a bad mood since they've been told that the International Jury of the race decided to penalize them for having turned the engine on for 30 seconds when anchored near Tarifa. A 15 minutes penalty could do harm when the race is so close.
Franck Cammas and his crew had to anchor in a sheltered place near Tarifa to fix the mainsail's head that got ripped off before they passed through the Straits of Gibraltar. As the anchor got stuck in the daggerboard, they turned on the engine for 30 seconds to avoid drifting to the beach.
Franck Cammas mentioned it to the race committee. The president of the Jury, Frenchman Jean-Louis Fabri, member of ISAF, told the skipper of Groupama that the would be penalized for infringing the sailing instructions. " It is up to the race committee to order the boat to stop for 15 minutes at the 40th parallel North before the finish line", says the Jury's decision.
" We do not understand the decision of the Jury. We were not obliged to report it to the race committee. We did it to be honest. They reproach us for not having ask permission before. But we didn't have time to do it as it was a case of emergency", commented Dutch navigator Marcel Van Triest. - Isabelle Musy, www.challenge-mondialassistance.com
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(Only signed letters will be selected for publication, and they may be edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. Constructive criticism is welcome, but we never publish bashing or personal attacks. This is not a chat room or a bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best shot and don't whine if others disagree.)
* From Jay Glaser: In 1979 I went to Kieler Woche to race my Tornado. My driver and I were so poor that we slept in the shipping container the boats came over in. There the organizers had a protest fee that was high enough that we could not afford to chance losing a protest.
What if the protest fee was $50,000 how many people would put their money down? Knowing how wealthy some of the AC people are how high would the fee have to be to stop a frivolous filing? What if the fee was $100 how many juniors could put up that kind of money?
I have to agree with US Sailing. We need other ways to stop frivolous protests like arbitration and alternative penalties. Why should the rich be the only ones to protest?
* From Ralph Taylor: Hurray for US Sailing eliminating fees for filing protests! I'm in complete agreement. We shouldn't ask sailors to pay to enforce their rights. Fees don't discourage frivolous protests, just protests from cash-strapped sailors. The "frivolous protestor" has so much ego at stake that a few dollars won't dissuade him or her. There are already many disincentives for most competitors to file protests (stress, uncertainty of outcome, etc.) To place further obstacles in the way of competitor-enforced rules doesn't make sense.
In my experience as a racer and race committee, most so-called "frivolous" protests arise out of misunderstanding of the rules. Mediation and arbitration are superior ways of dealing with these situations and have the advantage of educating at the same time. It's far better to have a knowledgeable and objective party interpet the rules than to discourage airing of the disagreement.
Yes, protests are an inconvenience for the organizing authority. However, they are an inherent part of the process and we need to accept their reality. While I personally hate to go to the protest room in any capacity, I recognize it as essential to keeping the rules alive.
* From R. G. Newbury: The Canadian Yachting Association basically has always forbidden protest filing fees. In the 1993-96 Rules, the prescription provided that no filing fee could exceed $5.00 without CYA's written approval. (And that's in loonie dollars...barely enough to buy a beer!) I do not perceive any great differences as a result.
The fee serves no useful purpose beyond increasing the paperwork. If you really feel wronged, you will pay any reasonable fee to protest. So should 'achieving justice' depend upon your sense of outrage times the size of your wallet? In particular, having filing fees at junior events is an abominable possibility.
* From Jack Spangler: Your story about high school sailing for the Mallory Cup truly puts life and sailing-sport in perspective. That my high school, New Trier in Winnetka IL finished dead last - is OK. At least they were there. When I was in this high school in the '40's, sailing and we enthusiasts were far out of the thoughts of any general high school-related activity or interest. Now, two generations later, New Trier is fielding (is this "fielding" - or "floating"?) a team - and the grandson of one of my Lake Michigan sailboat racing compatriots of those days is on that team. Superb!
This surely says something big about where sailboat racing has come from over the years - half a century of them - among competitive sports and worthwhile developmental activity for teenagers.
* From Ned Hall: If Bill Koch's quote in Scuttlebutt 820, is correct, find me the last time a mediocre sailor won the America's Cup due to organization and superior backing. But then again, an America's Cup
campaign would not be possible without people like him!
A BIT OF NOSTALGIA
On Saturday 19 May, 1983 America's Cup winner, Australia II, hit the water for the first time since 1988 and wowed everyone, just as she always does! Thirteen years as a museum exhibit (in the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney) hasn't dampened her spirit, it seems. With a new mast and rigging and a fresh coat of paint, she certainly looked the part as her keel touched the waters of Fremantle Harbour.
According to original Australia II crew member, John Longley, who sailed on her on Saturday: "We got the main up without much of a problem and went off reaching. The mast looked great, so after Damian Fewster had done a mast check we sailed in the main harbour as it was a bit lumpy outside (the heads) for a new mast. We were able to get the boat on to the wind OK and ended up sailing in there all afternoon doing shy to shy gybes by the end of the day. - Lesleigh Green, BoatingOZ, www.boatingoz.com.au
MONACO, May 21, 2001 - Italy's Francesco Bruni, by virtue of an unbeaten record in the round robin, was able to chose his opponent for the second day from the other three skippers who qualified to reach the semi-final of the Laureus Regatta on Monday.
After much musing, he decided to race "JJ" Isler of the United States on the grounds that she had lost to Britain's Chris Law in their first-day match. He did not add, though, that he too had beaten Isler when they met.
Racing in the light and fickle winds on the eve of the 2001 Laureus World Sports Awards was interesting and at times extremely close. None was closer than the match between Law and Ben Ainslie of Great Britain in which the lead changed hands three times and Law took a penalty turn on the final leg when they were sailing the two eighty foot Swans. Ainslie, who began match racing with Law as one of his crew some four years ago, narrowly took this match.
Racing was in carefully matched pairs of boats - two Swan 46s, two Swan 59s, two Swan 60s and the biggest pair, the Swan 80s. The boats were brought to the regatta by their owners who must have had some heart-searching moments as these top-class skippers threw themselves and their borrowed vessels into the fray, passing within a foot or two of each other. - Mark Bullingham, : www.laureus.com.
SCORES: Francesco Bruni (ITA) 4 wins - 0 losses; Ben Ainslie (GBR) 3-1; "JJ" Isler (USA), Chris Law (GBR), and Thierry Peponnet (FRA) 2-2; Grant Dalton (NZL), Achim Griese (GER) and Tommaso Chieffi (ITA) 1-3.
DID YOU KNOW?
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CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* June 1-3: Detroit NOOD (National Offshore One-Design) Regatta, Bayview Yacht Club. 215 boats competing in 22 one-design classes. - www.sailingworld.com
* September 2-9: Nico ISAF Women's World Match Race Championship, Trentino, Italy. www.womensmatchracing.org
* November 3-10: Annual Meeting of the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club, held concurrently with the Pro-Am regatta at the Bitter End YC on Virgin Gordo in the BVI. SSC members will have the opportunity to crew for Ken Read, Russell Coutts, Ed Baird, Peter & J.J. Isler, Keith Musto, Butch Ulmer, Rod Johnstone, Lowell North or the curmudgeon. - www.beyc.com
* There are four pages of images online from the recent Greenwich Cup (25 knot winds) by East Coast yachting photographer Cheryll Kerr, www.regattaphotos.com
* The application deadline for US Sailing' Team Race Championship is June 4. The regatta will be held August 3-5, 2001 at the New York Yacht Club in Newport, RI. www.ussailing.org/hinman/
Picture the scene. Busy startline action in hot one design fleet. Lots of carving and luffing action then lining up for the line. Your jib trimmer is working overtime. Jib in for power, curling it to hit the brakes, full on flapping when you've got it really wrong, then winding in the power for the final run up.
He cranks in some barber hauler. Moves the car forward half an inch to your "upwind in chop" mode winds her down and cleats her off. Handle out, in the holster.... Then as he runs up from leeward to take his place on the rail, he catches the tail of the jib sheet around his foot and pulls it out of the cleat. - By Penfold, BOATmagic website.
More tips: www.boatmagic.com
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
You spend 18 months trying to get your children to stand up and talk, and the next 18 years trying to get them to sit down and listen.