Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 981 - January 8, 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.

"Crew Challenge," an education project which introduces youngsters to Creative Research and Experimentation on Water, was launched at the London International Boat Show by GBR Challenge, the British team for the America's Cup. Children, who take part in the Challenge in teams, have the chance to enter a national competition to win the unforgettable prize of a trip to the Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand in October, 2002.

Designed to introduce children to the principles of sailing and yacht design, the project is aimed at 9 to 13 year olds who will learn about the history of the America's Cup, discover the basic principles behind boat design and work in teams to produce and test an America's Cup style hull. Entries into the competition will be scrutinized by members of the GBR Challenge design team with the finals taking place at Qinetiq, the America's Cup boat tank testing facility in Gosport, at the end of June 2002.

The project tackles several areas of the national curriculum within Design and Technology, Science and ICT (Information Communication Technology). Taking the boredom out of the average physics lesson, the activities provide youngsters with an exciting and hands on way to learn, the principles of floating, sinking, stability, friction and material properties and much more. The teams then go on to design and build their own boat hull based on what they have discovered.

Downloadable from the Internet, the project consists of four lesson plans that include activities such as drag and drop diagrams, true or false answer questions and multiple choice questionnaires. Diagrams, animations and photographs clearly illustrate the principles being investigated throughout the project.

Throughout it's development, the project has had input from Jo Richards, GBR Challenge Design Team member, who said, "When the ideas behind the project were first explained to me, I got really excited. It took me back to my childhood when I made boats out of any material I could get my hands on. It was really good fun running through the activities and providing a few pointers for the project's writer - the kids are going to love it!" -

On January 9th in Auckland, New Zealand, the Volvo Ocean Race International Jury upheld the protest by Team News Corp against Team Tyco and fined Team Tyco £500.

Team News Corp had maintained that Tyco should be penalized in the Volvo Ocean Race for an infringement of the Sydney to Hobart Sailing Instructions. (Tyco had previously been scored DNF in the Sydney-Hobart for failing to make a mandatory radio safety call within the prescribed time limit). All parties to the protest accepted the findings of the Sydney to Hobart Jury that had ruled that Team Tyco had infringed the Sailing Instructions. The only matter to consider was an appropriate penalty.

Team News Corp asked the International Jury to impose a one-point penalty. Team Tyco replied that it had already suffered a penalty as imposed by the Sydney to Hobart Race Committee. Other teams present at the hearing made submissions to the International Jury, with Team SEB wondering if a point penalty might be disproportionate to the nature of the rule infringement. Illbruck said no penalty, saying it wanted to see the race settled on the water. Assa Abloy submitted that it would support Team News Corp's request.

The International Jury found that:
Team Tyco was required by the Volvo Ocean Race Sailing Instructions to make the required radio call.
Team Tyco made every attempt to make the report (but had equipment failure).
Team Tyco gained no advantage by not making the report within the prescribed time limit and therefore a points penalty would be inappropriate.

The International Jury fined Team Tyco £500.00 -

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!

(Following is an excerpt from an interview Rich Roberts recently did with Assa Abloy navigator Mark Rudiger following the completion of Leg Three of the Volvo Ocean Race.)

Q: How large a factor was (Chris) Larson on the overall leg?

Rudiger: "He was a big factor-not that we couldn't have won either one of these races without him, but it certainly helped secure our spot and keeps the intensity up on deck a little higher by adding the boat-to-boat tactics to our program."

Q: But he's not doing to next leg?

Rudiger: "We set up a [bunk] for him down there and might just chain him up."

Q: Was your confidence shaken after first two legs?

Rudiger: "Like James Bond used to say, shaken but not stirred. I've lost enough races to know that my game plan has worked the majority of the time. We did decide that we'd try and hang a little closer to the other guys-but they wouldn't let us."

Q: Actually, you were all by yourselves coming out of Hobart.

Rudiger: "That's right. We set our course and the guys coming out behind us couldn't follow us because we were going the high road, so they tried to gain by going the low road. We covered that game a little bit and we did pay initially by going from first to third trying to cover.

"So we said, 'Look, this is silly, we're falling into their game,' so we stuck to our game more. We did what we usually do but we didn't have any bad breaks this time, which is what hurt us on the last two legs."

Q: Why was the north so good?

Rudiger: "Our weather team, headed up by George and Ken from Commanders Weather, had laid out before we left Sydney that the next big pressure was gonna come in from the north. The quickest way to get there was to go northeast of rhumb line.

"So the weather pattern between where we were and the new pressure was very complex and confused, and all the models were disagreeing with each other. In a case like that, I just felt like, well, let's take the shortest distance. I found a model that I thought was more consistent than the rest and worked with that. I don't think the other guys were doing that.

"I think [Amer Sports One skipper Grant] Dalton sort of caught on to it and adjusted to it, but the other guys were stuck with their own plans. Sometimes the weather separates more than you expect." - Yacht Racing web site.

Full interview:

(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 Glenn T. McCarthy: Ellen did not become the center of attention in England just because she sailed a boat around the world and performed very well. Somewhere, someone was developing the press releases, contacting the organizations who create these populous votes that is putting her on the tops of the charts in England. It is a shining example on how to do it and do it well. It took a heroine and a great press manager. You need to have both, it doesn't work without one, or the other.

In the U.S. I have heard the idea that we need to create/promote a hero(ine) to promote sailing. We take a few great sailors, and make them into national heroes by the quiet back room PR machine. It sounds callous as I write it, but this is how it gets done. Every sport has their hero(ine), Jordan, Sosa, Kournikova, etc. They didn't get there without someone promoting the heck out of them. We have not been very effective in the U.S. in creating the Sailing hero(ine), have we?

Here's the difficulty, Kingfisher put up the money to underwrite the PR machine. It takes a good lump of money. When will a U.S. sailor get positioned to have the appropriate PR machine, have the writers pumping out the stories, have triumph over tragedy, or success over adversity, and the right press manager to identify the appropriate plan to get into the right news organizations to create a national sailing hero(ine)?

* From George Backhus: Regarding Grant Dalton's comment "Where are they?" meaning all the people, upon his arrival to Auckland early last Friday after this leg of the Volvo, the answer is, on holiday.

I perceive that Aucklanders and New Zealanders are still as passionate about yacht racing as they ever have been, but that Volvo missed the boat as it relates to the timing of the arrival of the fleet into Auckland. A bit of research would have revealed that this is the middle of the holiday season and the town is basically empty from Christmas till about 14 January. I believe that an arrival ten days later would have had a similar turnout to the finale of the last America's Cup.

Lisa McDonald's timing was a bit better. She arrived into the Viaduct Basin at "prime time," Saturday night at midnight, to a huge crowd of well wishers who were also out enjoying the night life in this popular part of town.

* From Bob Tillett: What's wrong with carbon fiber? - what's right with it? Time after time we hear of failures of carbon fibre spars, and hull failures (current Volvo race) where this expensive, but flawed material is used. In the last America's Cup Luis Vuitton series a carbon fibre spinnaker pole was broken in half when it hit the head of an unlucky mast man. He survived.

For the third time in just over a year, ill-fated sailing team Oracle Racing came limping back into the Waitemata Harbour yesterday. One of the two training boats sailed by the US America's Cup challenge backed by billionaire Larry Ellison snapped its mast in two while sailing off North Head early yesterday afternoon.

Oracle were last night uncertain why the rig broke at its halfway point in a mere six knots of wind, but the boat quickly returned to its base in the Viaduct Harbour with the mast strapped on board so the incident could be investigated. Remarkably, no one was hurt as the broken half of the mast swung down on to the deck during a sailing duel with its sister yacht at 2.30 pm. The crew praised the efforts of helmsman Peter Holmberg, who ensured all were safe as the rig fell.

In November, one of the Oracle boats, USA49, lost its keel in the Hauraki Gulf - almost exactly a year to the day since the other training yacht, USA61, suffered the same fate on Auckland waters. Oracle bought both yachts and their appendages from Paul Cayard's AmericaOne syndicate after the last America's Cup in 2000. The team had resumed their summer training programme late last week after a Christmas break.

Oracle spokeswoman Joanna Ingley said the syndicate was obviously disappointed that it had suffered yet another setback. "But we are all well aware that America's Cup masts can break," she said. "We'll be back on the water two-boat testing later in the week."

Syndicate owner Ellison returned to the United States at the weekend after spending time with his crew. - Suzanne McFadden, NZ Herald,

In Marina del Rey California there's an active Martin 242 one-design fleet. About a year and a half ago, one of the skippers in that fleet switched to Ullman Sails, and suddenly winning got a whole lot easier. Obviously, this did not go unnoticed by the others. Now let's fast-forward to January 2002. When you look at the MdR Martin 242s today, it's hard to ignore that it's just about wall-to-wall Ullman Sails. Coincidence? Not likely. Find out for yourself how affordable improved performance can be:

* February 9: Safety at Sea Seminar, SeaTac Holiday Inn. Topics include Boat Preparation, Weather, Visibility & Rescue, Medical Techniques and Electronics, Equipment & Gear. - Sailing Foundation (1-888-892-7245).

* June 14: Newport Bermuda Race, Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The Official Notice and Conditions of Race is now posted on-line, with complete details on the rules and regulations. Racing will be held under IMS for fully crewed spinnaker Racing and Cruiser/Racer entries. The non-spinnaker Cruising division and double-handed entries will race under Americap. -

Two Australian yachtsmen, wincheur Paul Mackenzie from Melbourne and tactician/helmsman Sebastien Destremau from Perth, are to be part of the sailing squad for the French America's Cup adventure. They will soon be joining the base in France and will work together with all of the "Le Defi" team.

A breeze from the west, varying in strength from almost nothing to 12 knots, and with shifts of up to 30 degrees, gave the 18 foot Skiff sailors an extremely difficult time in Sydney Harbour this afternoon (Tuesday). Series leader Howie Hamlin on 'General Electric-US Challenge' had a trying day, and only managed twelfth place, while Rob Greenhalgh had an even worse time on 'RMW Marine' and only achieved a lowly twenty first position.

STANDINGS: 1. 'General Electric-US Challenge,' Howard Hamlin, USA, 21 points; 2. 'Rag & Famish Hotel,' John Harris, Australia, 23 points; 3. 'Newport Arms Hotel,' Matt Felton, Australia, 28.7 points. - Peter Danby,

Dick Stimson, age 68, world class navigator, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2002 after a brief battle with cancer.

Dick became a member of Storm Trysail Club in 1987, was a Charter Member of Eastport Yacht Club and a Life Member of the Annapolis Yacht Club. He was active in ocean racing from 1954 through 2000 as watch captain and navigator on such boats as Proton II, Cayenne, Running Tide, Congere and Morning Star. His first Newport-Bermuda Race was in 1958. He had raced in the Buenos Aires-Rio de Janeiro race twice, in the Marblehead-Halifax Race numerous times as well as hundreds of ocean and buoy races on the Great Lakes and the East Coast.

He was a fixture aboard racing yachts in the heyday of the SORC and was much in demand as a key member of many of the most successful racing yachts. He was awarded the George Mixter Trophy as navigator of the fleet winning boat in the Newport-Bermuda Race twice: in 1976 aboard Running Tide and again in 1988 aboard Congere.

He is survived by his wife of forty-one years, Marlyn, two daughters, one son and four grandchildren. He was the epitome of the professional navigator -- cool, precise and exceptional. He was also a great shipmate and wonderful friend. He will be deeply missed. - Bill Kardash

A Gentleman is one who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't.