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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 977 - January 3, 2002

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.

Shortly after midnight the first five yachts have rounded North Cape, the second of New Zealand's great landmarks. Assa Abloy, still holding a comfortable 20-mile lead has just passed Cavalli Island with the Bay of Islands coming into view. After their struggle with light wind at Cape Reinga, Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One has recovered and leads the trio made up of illbruck, News Corp and Tyco with comfortable 31 miles along New Zealand's coast.

For djuice, Cape Reinga is rising above the horizon and Amer Sports Too is enjoying smooth sailing with the wind from their starboard quarter as the yacht sails along with steady 12 knots under the big spinnaker.

Jason Carrington's condition on Assa Abloy is vastly improved, the fever is gone and he eats and drinks properly again.

POSITIONS - January 3 at 0358 GMT:
1. Assa Abloy, 128 miles from finish
2. Amer Sports One, 20 miles behind leader
3. illbruck, 51 mbl
4. News Corp, 52 mbl
5. Team Tyco, 53 mbl
6. djuice, 94 mbl
7. Amer Sports Too, 534 ml
8. Team SEB, retired

* "We might have found a kink in illbruck's armour. Four boats passed them in Storm Bay in light air." - Dee Smith, Amer Sports One

* "We have had a lot of gear changes in the last few days requiring us to change sails and move all the gear around in the boat, which has been draining, on the bodies' reserves. This has been accompanied by a continual soaking so that the boat below smells like it is inhabited by 12 wet Labradors." - Jez Fanstone, News Corp.

* "Tight reaching in 13 - 15 knots of northwest wind. Its 1 am - beautiful night, full moon, smooth seas, cool wind, and we're very slowly putting a few metres on illbruck. It's nights like these that makes you forget the bashing and crashing over the past nine days, and appreciate the sailing." - Ross Field, Team News Corp.

The maxi-catamaran Orange cast off from the yard in La Ciotat on Saturday 29th December and has since been undergoing her first sea trials. The preparation phase onshore is now complete and was carried out thanks to the work and complicity of a team of twenty people assembled around Alain Gabbay and under the responsibility of Gilles Chiorri (Boat Captain) and Herve Jan, who returned from Sydney especially to take part in Bruno Peyron's new campaign round the world. The boat could be ready to start the Jules Verne Trophy as early as February 7th next.

The boat's first outing took place very progressively. The wind was blowing at 20-25 knots in La Ciotat roadstead when Orange, with two reefs in the main and staysail took to sea, inaugurating her new colours. "Each sail change was followed by a general check-up" explained skipper Bruno Peyron, "we have been managing the boat's rise in pressure slowly and progressively so that we can observe her slightest reactions. We shook out a reef, then at day's end we tried the new solent jib, which allowed us to approach 30 knots on the clock already, without forcing.

The coming weeks will enable crew training and selection to be pursued. Time and weather permitting, Bruno Peyron and his men might try a small speed record to Corsica, just to test the new sails. But whatever happens, the boat should be ready to leave Marseilles around January 22nd with complete crew and stores.

This month you can save 35% off the normal price of our new model "CONDOR" rubber overmolded grand prix aluminum 10" handle. Maxi-T or Single Grip. The perfect handle for any serious racer. Available only at selected USA stores. Normally $77.95 buy today at $49.99. They're guaranteed for life. See to find out where!

On the 2003ac website, Bill Hughen reported receiving the following campaign update from Team Dennis Conner: "We [TDC] will be in Long Beach training with our first new boat and USA 54. USA 55 was sold to the OneWorld team last year. Our second boat will be finished in the late spring and brought out to Long Beach as well. USA 34 is still in San Diego and we use her for corporate entertainment as well as some local racing. We will christen USA 66 in Manhattan in front of the NYYC on January 10th then we all head out to California." -

(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 Jef d'Etiveaud (edited to our 250-word limit): I found Grant's comment on Sydney Hobart quite well founded. Our 147' ketch Mari-Cha III was invited in 1999 by the CYCA as a demonstration boat for the Superyacht class which was going to be an official class the next year. We decided to deliver the boat from the Med to Sydney to support this new class. When we got to Hobart nearly 2 hours in front of the whole fleet. Mari-Cha, who was not eligible for the race record but holds the record for the Sydney to Hobart course, was nicelly sidelined after this performance. Our participation in the race was presented as anecdotal by the organization.

My view is that the performance of the MC III surprised many people. The fact that a big heavy superyacht could beat the racing boat at their own game probably threatened a few people in Sydney. A solution was found easily though: the Superyacht class simply died the day MC III crossed the line in Hobart.

These big boats are fun, fast and certainly catch the attention of the media. Why not take advantage of this fact and create a solid class for these giants. The natural inclination of human kind for the XXL will not damage the small quick and beautiful; if anything the attention paid to the big guys will create a new audience to the sport. I am all for opening the races to more classes instead of protecting a result by limiting the competitors.

* From Graham Kelly: I was surprised by Grant Dalton's ungenerous remark about the results of the Sydney-Hobart Race, that "it [the race]contains nothing other than a bunch of slow old boats".

Is anyone surprised that a bunch of heavily canvassed all-out race boats with water ballast and professional crews can beat a fleet designed to a type-forming handicap rule which penalizes excess sail area and prohibits water ballast. And if the V.O. 60s are so darn fast, how come Bumblebee 5 won the race on corrected time?

On the other hand, if Dalton's point is that the IMS rule tends to form a fleet defined by low rating, rather than boatspeed, I think it could have been made in a more kind-spirited fashion. After all, Dalton's catamaran is a lot faster than his Volvo 60.

* From Iain Smith: Hear hear to Matthew Shillington's comments on the Dalton foot in mouth disease. Whilst I and all the part time, semi professional, amateur sailors who go south to Hobart often, "mostly for the love of the sport" respect immensely the courageous and brilliant sailors who go around the planet the comments that Grant Dalton somehow dribbles out show how out of touch he is to the grass roots level of sailing.

Perhaps he need to do himself a favor and read the Rod Davis column in Seahorse recently and proceed to remove his seaboots from his mouth. The real facts are 25% of his wonderful, professional and superior Volvo 60 fleet could not complete the Hobart race. Just as well it was not a hard race like 84, 93, 98 and 2000. Bumblebee 5 did not break anything.

* From Dave Millett: (Re Craig Fletcher's comments): A lot of us are more than happy to sail against anyone who shows up at the starting line. Grant Dalton or Joe Blow, it just doesn't matter. Any Boat, Anybody, Anytime, Anyplace, bring it on!

(Professional sailor Dobbs Davis explains how to make big gains at the leeward gate in a story on the SailNet webste. Here's an excerpt.)

Staring downwind at a gate is rarely a good method for finding the favored end, particularly in traffic, so it's useful to use other means. One I like is to do some homework before the race starts by sailing by the gate (if it has already been set) and getting a compass bearing on the axis between the marks. Just as in a starting line, if the wind is 90 degrees to that bearing, the gate is square, and if not, then the favored side can be determined. Even if you don't exactly know what the wind is direction while going downwind, by keeping track of your jibe angles and knowing that gate bearing you can often get a relative sense of which end might be favored regarding the latest wind shift.

While the tactician mulls over these geometric nuances, the crew must prepare for whatever decision is made while still pushing the boat hard to get to the mark. As with any rounding, flying the spinnaker as long as possible is ideal, but you must be ready to douse it quickly and get the jib and main set up for going upwind. The helmsman may have to perform some intricate ballet to deal with traffic issues, so the crew should be aware of this and ready to adjust if necessary at the last minute.

For example, if the favored end looks too crowded to get to without having to endure a lot of bad air after the rounding, it may be faster to sail the extra distance to go the other end. The crew therefore has to be flexible at being able to hoist the jib and continue to fly the spinnaker despite the change in gameplan. Flying the spinnaker without the pole is therefore an important skill that the crew needs to master. Obviously, on a boat with a conventional spinnaker pole, once you remove that from the program it becomes much easier to get the kite down. - Dobb Davis, SailNet website

Full story:

1905 - Atlantic, 56 m schooner, 12d 04h 01mn 19s A Gardner design
1980 - Paul Ricard, 17 m tri-foiler, 10d 5h 14mn 20s A De Berg design
1981 - Elf Aquitaine I, 20 m catamaran, 9d 10h 6mn 34s A Langevin design
1984 - Jet Services II, 18.28 m catamaran, 8d 16h 36mn An Ollier design
1985 - Royale II, 25 m catamaran, 7d 21h 5mn 42s A Graal design
1987 - Fleury Michon VIII, 22.50 m trimaran, 7d 12h 49mn 34s An Irens design
1988 - Jet Services V, 22.85 m catamaran, 7d 6h 30mn An Ollier design
1990 - Jet Services V, 22.85 m catamaran, 6d 13h 3mn 32s An Ollier design
2001 - PlayStation, 38 m catamaran, 4d 17h 28mn 06s A Morrelli & Melvin design

There's more:

Sailing is an equipment sport. Period! And when you make it all the way to the Olympics, you simply must have the very best equipment - the right stuff. No wonder the United States Silver Medalist in both the Women's 470 (JJ Isler and Pease Glaser), and the Men's 470 (Paul Foerster and Bob Merrick) used Ullman Sails exclusively. Additionally, Ullman Sails were used by the Silver and Bronze Medalist in the Tornado Class. Isn't it time to moved your sailing performance up to the next level? -

February 2: 13th Annual SCYA Women's Sailing Convention, Bahia Corinthian YC. Thirty workshops presented by knowledgeable and experienced faculty.

After a day out on the water - satisfying the hunger pains of sailors is no easy task. Oracle Racing have New Zealand chef Mark Reihana operating their syndicate diner in Auckland's Halsey St. Reihana is a New Zealand cooking gold medallist and has experience cooking for large numbers as former head chef for the Xena: Warrior Princess television series. The menu he prepares for Oracle includes a variety of fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, pasta and meats.

On the directive of the team's nutritionist, only one cup of oil is used a day to cook all meals, and no product gets on to the shopping trolley unless it is under 6 per cent fat content, says Reihana. Lunch and dinner vary depending on what is in season, but in a typical week, the shopping list can read: 48 whole chickens, 60kg of steak, 20kg of chicken breast meat, 20kg of mahimahi fish, 10kg of minced beef, 7kg of jasmine rice, 5kg of lemons, 5kg of couscous, 50 heads of lettuce, four cases of bananas, four trays of strawberries, and three trays of tomatoes. . - Julie Ash, NZ Herald,

Tortola, British Virgin Islands - The Royal BVI Yacht Club Watersports Centre (RBVIYCWC) has become the first Caribbean-based sailing facility to earn the status of a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Recognised Teaching Establishment (RTE) for the National Sailing Scheme (Dinghies and Keelboats) and Powerboat Handling.

Gary Jobson's office was nice enough to let me know that the TV schedule from the Volvo Race Press office that we published yesterday was incorrect. The next Volvo Ocean Race show on ESPN2 is scheduled for:
* Sunday 1/27/02 - Volvo Ocean Race Show #4: 3:30pm EST
* Monday 2/4/02 - Volvo Ocean Race Show #4 (re-air): 12:00pm EST
TV dates and times have habit for changing, so it's always a good idea to check the Jobson Sailing website:

The less time I have to work with, the more things get done.