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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 920 - October 11, 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.

American skipper Steve Fossett and his international crew aboard 125' maxi cat PlayStation have set a remarkable new W-E TransAtlantic world sailing speed record (subject to official ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council - WSSRC). They set the new time of 4 days 17 hours 28 mins 6 secs against the official WSSRC course distance of 2925 nm. This beats the previous record of 6d 13h 3m 32s set 11 years ago by Serge Madec on Jet Services 5 by the huge margin of almost 44 hours.

Shortly after passing the finish line at The Lizard an elated Steve Fossett said, "This is enormously satisfying. We put it all together; an extremely fast boat in PlayStation, ideal weather and a crew who sailed brilliantly."

Navigator Stan Honey added, "I'm absolutely delighted. It is an honor to sail with Steve and these guys."

PlayStation crossed the start line at Ambrose Light, NY on Friday (5 October) at 17.19.17 GMT and maintained an incredible 25.78 knots average speed all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, finishing at 10.47.23 GMT today (Wednesday 10 October). A new 24 Hour speed record of  687.17 nm was also set during the period 22.00 GMT 6 October - 22.00 GMT 7 October.

PlayStation's TransAtlantic Crew
Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper
Stan Honey (USA) Navigator
Ben Wright (AUS) Watch Captain
Dave Scully (USA) Watch Captain
Gino Morrelli (USA) Boat Designer/Crew
Peter Hogg (NZ) Crew
Shaun Biddulph (UK) Crew
Dave Calvert (USA) Crew
Paul Van Dyke (USA) Crew
David Weir (USA) Crew

1935: The French Line passenger ship S.S. Normandie goes into service on the North Atlantic, arriving at New York June 3 after crossing from Southampton in a record 4 days, 11 hours, 42 minutes. The 79,280-ton luxury liner with four screws is 1,029 feet in length overall and has an 80-foot swimming pool, 23 elevators, and a dining room modeled after the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

1940: Britain completes the world's largest passenger liner and puts her to use as a troop transport. Powered by steam turbines that develop 168,000 horsepower and give her a normal sea speed of 28.5 knots (32.8 miles per hour), the 83,673-ton ship, 1,031 feet in length overall, will go into commercial service for the Cunard Line after the war as the S.S. Queen Elizabeth.

1952: The United States Lines passenger ship S.S. United States leaves New York July 3 on her first transatlantic voyage and sets a new record. Built with immense 240,000-horsepower steam turbines that can push her at 50 miles per hour and convertible to a troopship that can transport 14,000 men, the $79 million 53,000-ton vessel is 990 feet in length overall, can carry 1,750 passengers, and makes the crossing of 2,949 nautical miles in 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes, averaging 35.59 knots per hour (sic) (more than 40 mph).

And Fosset and company did it with some freeze dry food for "fuel." Imagine what the United States burned. I remember my father, a marine engineer, saying in the mid 1950's that no steamship would ever break the United States record. It took until 1990, nearly another 40 years, for the Blue Riband to be won away from the SS United States. So can a sailboat hold the record? Would that ever be something if it happened? -- Guest Editor's thanks to Bill Elmer, excerpts from

A few minutes past midday today, illbruck become the first yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race to cross the equator and enter the southern hemisphere for the next five months.

On board illbruck, her crew had been quietly preparing to induct the four crew members that have yet to cross from north to south. Richard Clarke (helmsman/trimmer), Ian Moore (navigator), Jamie Gale (mast) and Tony Kolb (bow) will all incur the wrath of King Neptune, who, as justice for past crimes, dishes out punishment in many smelly and sticky forms.

On ASSA ABLOY, only Jules Mazars from France would have felt very alone, as he was the only member of the 12-man crew that had not been in front of King Neptune. Mark Rudiger, one of the more senior members on board reported by sat phone: "Everything is going great out here, sailing in Trade Winds, it's pretty warm little bit choppy but we're in solid breeze. We're locked on pretty good - not a lot of passing lanes out here for a while, but we're working and trying every minute to gain another inch.

News Corp lying third at the moment is still putting a lot of thought into their sail inventory, hoping to get an advantage as the race progresses.

In fifth place, Grant Dalton continues to be pleased with the progress of his last minute campaign although is frustrated by gear failure on Amer Sports One that has not allowed him to reel in the yachts ahead.

Still some 300 miles off their equator ceremony, the crew on Amer Sports Too is feeling the immense frustration of falling further behind the fleet with every six hourly report.

For the three yachts left behind, it seems the Doldrums may lash out again. "Okay, we are in for take two - Doldrums passage number two is coming up," explained seventh placed SEB skipper Gunnar Krantz. "They moved down to approx five degrees north and we have to negotiate them a second time, together with djuice and possibly Amer Sports Too".

With these three yachts, djuice, SEB and Amer Sports Too between 193 and 322 miles behind illbruck, a gap that is likely to increase as the leaders pull away in the southeast trades, Krantz believes that the rest of the leg to Cape Town will now be a tale of two halves.

Latest Positions:
Boat - Distance to Finish - Distance to Leader
illbruck Challenge - 3922 -0
ASSA ABLOY Racing Team - 3939 - 17
News Corporation - 3957 - 35
Team Tyco - 3969 - 47
Amer Sports One - 3981 - 59
Amer Sports Two - 4242 - 320
Team SEB - 4250 - 328
djuice dragons - 4272 - 350

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With the V.O.60 yachts illbruck, ASSA ABLOY, News Corp, Tyco and Amer Sports One crossing the equator in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race today and Team SEB, Amer Sports One and djuice expected to follow in short time, this occasion is a highlight in every sailor's life. As the Volvo Ocean Race follows the route of the early circumnavigators, the traditional ritual of King Neptune coming on board to trial the novices.

"Crossing the Line" is nearly as old as seafaring itself; Our modern practice is believed to have evolved from Viking rituals, executed upon crossing the 30th parallel, a tradition that they passed on to the Anglo-Saxons and Normans in Britain.

Early "Crossing the Line" had a fairly serious purpose, however: they were designed to test the novices in the crew to see whether they could endure their first cruise at sea. Ceremonies in the seventeenth century were particularly rough. Today, "Crossing the Line" no longer has such serious undertones, although some of the novice/veteran dichotomy persists in the titles given to those who have and have not been initiated by the rites: those who have crossed the equator are termed "shellbacks" (often called "trusty shellbacks") and those who have not are called "pollywogs" (also rendered "polliwog"). These "slimy" pollywogs (or "wogs" for short) must endure the entire ceremony at the hands of the shellbacks before being accepted into their number.

What does a "Crossing the Line" ceremony entail? Traditionally, the night before King Neptune (the most senior shellback) sends a messenger informing the Captain that he intends to board the ship the following day, and summoning a list of slimy wogs to appear before him. The actual ceremony revolves around the pretext of "preparing" the wogs for their audience before King Neptune. This "preparation" involves any number of disgusting, dirty and deprecating actions. This may include crawling through garbage, eating coloured food, allowing the "Royal Doctor" to squirt foul-tasting liquids into one's mouth, and kissing the "Royal Baby" (the fattest chief on board) on the belly.

The penultimate ritual is a "shaving" by the Royal Barber with a huge wooden "razor," after which one is dunked in a tub of water (often dyed a hideous colour) to "cleanse" oneself for the final meeting with King Neptune. At this meeting, King Neptune appears with his entire retinue, Queen Amphitrite, and Davy Jones and officially proclaims the wogs to be trusty shellbacks. After the trial, the new shellbacks receive elaborate certificates testifying to their safe passage, along with a wallet-sized card to prove the fact on future crossings. -- from

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The crew of Commotion, Ross Hunton, Astrid Hunton, Garie Blackwell Wood, and Charlie Baumgartner, will receive the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal in recognition of their actions on July 22, 2001. US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee member Cai Svendsen will make the presentation Saturday, October 13 during the Columbus Day Regatta winners dinner in Miami, FL.

Taking their turn as Race Committee for the day, Ross Hunton, and crew went out in the 20 to 25 knot winds, and 3 to 5 foot seas for the start at the Gulfstream Sailing Club in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Air and water temperatures were in the low 80s.

One and a half miles offshore, the crew saw something off to the side, which turned out to be three scuba divers who had been separated from their boat for more than an hour. The wind and waves continued to build; Hunton called that the dive flag tethered to the divers be reeled in, to prevent it from entangling the propeller on his Beneteau 35S5. When Ross came head to wind and stopped, the wind and waves quickly blew the bow down away from their target. During the next pass, he lay the boat ahull, drifting down on the divers position. When in range, Ross' crew deployed three lines, one to each diver to provide connection. Each was reeled over to the swim ladder in the scooped transom, and was amazed to see how well this worked, hauling three exhausted two-hundred pound men, plus their scuba equipment on board.

The US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who effect rescues of victims from the water. The award is made for rescues in U.S. waters, or in races that originate or terminate in a U.S. port. The Rescue Medal has been in existence for twelve years and is administered by US Sailing's Safety-at-Sea Committee (SASC).

More information about the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal can be found at

( - Guest Editor sitting in for a couple of weeks)
(Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name and may be edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. 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 Bob Fink: I was disturbed by the ad in SB 919 for the Ockam Laser Rangefinder under the heading "Pinging The Enemy" and including in the text ".... not only will enemy range/bearing be known ....." blah, blah, etc..

Now -- I don't know how you do it on the East and Left coasts, but here in flyover country we mostly race against friends. I don't have any particular problem with zapping a "friend" with a laser gizmo, but I'll be go-to-hell if I'm going to spend my recreational time with an "enemy." This depersonalization of competitors as "the enemy" has its place -- Army basic training and Marine boot camp -- but over "who gets first shot at the keg?" Give me a break. How many interviews has anyone seen or read where a skipper explains that he got into sailboat racing because he just didn't have enough ENEMIES in real life? It's this mentality that leads to pitched battles on the docks, lying in protest hearings, and fudging on class rules. After all, we're trying to defeat an "enemy." Sheesh.

* From Tom Davis, VP, Ockam Instruments: I understand your point, especially given the events of recent weeks -and I hope you can appreciate the spirit in which this "battlefield" language is used (and was written prior to the events of 9/11/01). Use of the term "enemy" in laser gun rangefinding on race boats has become something of a convention over the past 10+ years within the relatively small group of folks who've used them. In fact, our software which links to a rangefinder gun's output incorporates the same terminology and it is absolutely a nod to one of the primary, original applications of rangefinder technology - gunnery (not all that surprising given the software was written by an ex Navy man!). We certainly did not mean to offend with an insensitive display of(apparently ill timed) jocularity.

Again, I do appreciate your point. When I wrote the text a while back I deliberately avoided using the term "shooting" in favor of "pinging" given the tenor of the times.

* From Fred Schroth, Executive Secretary, North American Laser Class: In ('Butt #919) you printed, "If you really want to know how you're doing against other boats, only a laser rangefinder will do the job properly."

This was an irresistable come on for me. You almost got it right. You should have printed the following:

If you really want to fulfill your need to compare yourself to other sailors, only a Laser will do the job properly.

Thanks for trying.

* From James Malm (on the Swiss Challenge): Congratulations to the early leaders of the 2003 AC Challenge. Winning one of the prized match race events in the world should be great, but educating today's students in the process is better.

Money doesn't buy ideas. It might open the door for more ideas to flow, but the idea is priceless!

* From Peter O. Allen, Sr.: As a professional planner of international meetings (retired), and a well-experienced (mostly volunteer) PRO and regatta organizer, I find the comments of Rod Carr and Gareth Evans, regarding late entries, unfortunate. Sure, encourage early entries. Sure, set a date by which entries should be submitted. Sure, charge a surcharge or penalty for late entries. But let's not be crying because a few late entries make it inconvenient for those making fleet splits in handicap regattas, or the volunteers or caterers in the kitchen. Rarely, if ever, are there so many late entries that they cannot be accommodated by some good advanced planning and anticipation. Come one, come all. We'll figure out how to fit you in and appreciate the presence of you, your boat, and your crew. One of my guiding principles as a PRO over a 30 year period has been that the race committee should be relatively transparent. We should do a good job in a quiet manner. While we always appreciate helpful suggestions and kind words from the racers, we generally want to be no more than a part of the background of a successful yacht race. I would hope that all race committees would adopt such a philosophy. Unfortunately that has not always been my experience.

* From Sherwood Kelley : Regarding letters in 'butt#919, Dick Hampikian's comments are interesting, but not my experience. As with many racers in So. Cal. who originally were upset/annoyed by the change, in getting into it this year we found the new system was a big improvement and a lot more exciting. He could be right about the shapes though. From a distance flags are more difficult to see, but then, what would you be doing so far from the line under the new system? One of the biggest reasons for the change was to bring the US in line with the rest of the world. Hey, this is progress!  The sport is evolving, which is good!  Take a look at how San Diego YC runs multiple problems there.

* From Chris Ericksen: I couldn't agree more with Dick Hampikian's comments about the new ISAF starting system ('Butt 919), especially with regards to how poorly it handles multiple-class regattas.  This was my feeling from the very beginning.

Alamitos Bay Yacht Club made an addition that has a great amount of merit and one I suggest to everyone running multiple starts:  they added a planned one-minute pause between the start of one class and the warning of another. This allows for a general recall without confusing the issue of the next fleet and allows time to change all the flags we need to, including class flags and course-designator flags. ABYC shortened the 5-4-1-Go sequence to a 3-2-1-Go sequence, allowing classes to start every four minutes under perfect conditions; my own preference is to shorten to a 4-3-1-Go sequence with the one-minute pause, allowing competitors to set the same five-minute running clock we have come to know and love. This has run at ABYC without a single hitch since March 1.

My other observation is, Didn't we beat this horse to death months ago? I hope this thread, if reopened, isn't left open too long. This is the rule; we either need to live with it, modify it to suit our needs or write the old System 2 (or whatever other rule we like) into our SI''s. Get over it and get on with it!

GUEST CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: On that note, so be it. This thread is dead.

The Kenwood Corporation has informed Royal Hawaiian Ocean Racing Club (RHORC) that it is with deep regret that they will be unable to continue their sponsorship of the Hawaii International Offshore Series in 2002. RHORC is currently seeking a new title sponsor and sub-sponsors for the event. RHORC is in the process of distributing the Official Notice and Conditions of Race for the Royal Hawaiian Cup Hawaii International Offshore Series that will be held in Hawaii from August 4 to August 14, 2002. The Race Notice and Entry Forms for the regatta may be found on the new website for the event at

In September, 18 junior women from yacht clubs across the country joined the "big leagues" for two days when they converged on Annapolis, Md., for the Rolex "Next Step" program. Established in 1997 as a way to expose juniors to international women's sailing in a mentoring atmosphere, the program is now a traditional component of the biennial Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship.

On the busy agenda was a breakfast session with 2000 Olympic Silver Medallist and Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Pease Glaser, who shared her experiences from Sydney with a special slide show presentation. Additionally, the juniors took part in an asymmetrical spinnaker clinic at JPort Annapolis, followed by a full day on the water aboard J/22s, practicing drills and racing under the guidance of Nan Walker and Tucker Thompson, both professional sailing coaches from the Annapolis area. Finally, the past president of US SAILING, Jim Muldoon of Washington, invited the group aboard his 70-foot race boat Donnybrook for a day of spectating on the racecourse.

Full story and list of participants at

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.