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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 983 - January 11, 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.

Dennis Conner has unveiled the first yacht in what he hopes will become a two-boat campaign to win back the America's Cup. In front of the grand headquarters of the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, Conner today posed with the latest Stars & Stripes, a $US2 million ($NZ4.74m) boat that will carry sail number USA66. The boat's navy blue and white colour scheme appears very similar to that used by Conner in the last Louis Vuitton challenger series.

Conner, who has been based in San Diego on the US west coast, said his return to the New York Yacht Club was a chance to redeem himself. He last represented the club in 1983, when the United States lost the America's Cup for the first time in 132 years.

It is not clear, however, whether Team Dennis Conner and the NYYC will succeed in building a second yacht for the 2002 Louis Vuitton challenger series which starts in October in Auckland. NZ Herald

Full story:

Stars & Stripes web site:

This evening on RadioNZ Pete Montgomery reported that the British Olympic gold medallist, Ben Ainslie, is leaving the One World Challenge America's Cup syndicate. A farewell party is being held for Ainslie this evening at the Harbourside Restaurant in Auckland. Ainslie won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics. He caused an upset when he elected to join OWC rather than the GBR Challenge. Pete Montgomery suspected he had become frustrated with his role at OWC.

Pete Montgomery also reported that the ACC boats at the Viaduct Basin with Southern Spars masts have had them removed following Oracle's dismasting two days ago. Oracle's second boat is sitting in its shed mastless. Team NZ's NZL-57 and NZL-60 had their masts removed late yesterday afternoon. Cheryl, 2003AC Forum web site,

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENTS: It's no secret that Ainslie's next Olympic campaign will be in a Finn not the Laser in which he won the Gold Medal in 2000, nor the Star class in which he has recently competed.

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(New Zealand-born Grant (Fuzz) Spanhake is a veteran of three Whitbread races, sailing with the now legendary Sir Peter Blake on Lion New Zealand in 1985-86, Grant Dalton in 1989-90 on Fisher & Paykel and finally in 1993-94 on the George Collins' Chessie Racing. Now in charge of sail design for Team Tyco, he drew some interesting comparisons between then and now during a recent interview he did with Volvo Ocean Race press office.)

"1985 was so much fun, it really was! Single and twenty-something and running around the world, how can you ask for better? Now it's all very professional. You turn up, you go training in the mornings. As the game has gone on in sailing in general you have to be sharp, you have to be on the ball, you have to be presentable. It doesn't mean you can't have fun every now and then, but even the way the camps are structured now is different. Before there were a couple of tents held up with some flag poles, now there are proper structures and there are proper offices and every person has a laptop. But structure is the name of the game with the shore crew as well as on the boat. The crew are all very professional, the boat is immaculately prepared, and the shore crew needs to be the same way." - Grant (Fuzz) Spanhake,

(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 Scott Ridgeway: Perhaps the next Curmudgeon's Conundrum should be, "To whom will the 2001 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year give his new watch?"

The two leading contenders for the Rolex Award seem to be Steve Fossett, who set the new 24-hour speed record and the record for a Trans Atlantic crossing; and Philippe Kahn, who won both the Admiral's Cup trials and the Trans Pac Race, in very different boats. Each of these guys undoubtedly has a drawer full of Rolex watches already, so the real intrigue may center around which crewmember will be the likely beneficiary of the winner's 'grand gesture.'

* From Mowbray Jackson (Re Email from Bill Stump): The reason the 'campaign threatening' fines 'suffered' by Illbruck and Tyco are in Pounds Sterling is (I imagine) because the VOR HQ is in Southampton. The reason the fines will not be paid in Euros is because Britain has opted to stay out of the single currency, much to the great satisfaction of the majority of the British people.

* From Ronald Dominicus -The Netherlands: Mr. Bill Stump is very astute about the currency in which Tyco should be fined but he has forgotten that, as usual, the Brits wish to stay isolated from the rest of Europe and hang on to their Pounds Sterling rather than convert to Euro's.

* From Frank Betz: Rules/schmools, it strikes me that the 500 pound sterling penalty imposed on Team Tyco (given the details of their offence I've read) is pure chicken****, regardless of the fact that it's a big money game and the players are all big boys. RC rulings like this one are the kind serve no lofty purpose and surely tick owners off big time and diminish enthusiasm to participate.

* From George Bailey: Is there no one who opposes the questionable philosophy that we ought to try to get adults to worship this or that "hero?" People should respect whomever they understand to deserve it. I have great respect for great sailors. I do not worship them. They are not "heros." Children have heros, adults should be sophisticated enough to understand why they should not. To what end do we promote mindless hero worship by the masses of people who cannot think for themselves (could they do so, the propaganda promoting heros would fall on deaf ears).

Respect comes through understanding. How many non-sailors can have any idea of what is accomplished by a round-the-world single-hander? The promotion is to create an image to raise money on for the next race.

* From Alan Blunt: Carbon fiber is an awesome material. It is no longer an ‘exotic' and has major advantages over traditional boat and spar building materials. The big problem for marine applications is quality control.

The aircraft and car racing industries with their huge budgets, have sophisticated tooling, obsessive quality control and testing programs that have pretty much eliminated major failures. It is unlikely that boat and spar builders will ever have access to such resources, but quality control continues to improve as builders gain more experience.

One important application where marine usage differs from the main stream is for masts, which as far as I know are the only major carbon fiber structures designed to work under compression. This increases the delaminating problems and is the cause of most mast failures. On aircraft, compression components such as landing gear are still made from metal. Maybe they can learn from us?

* From: Glenn Magyar: I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard a report about the American Airlines jet that crashed in New York last November. It was stated that the investigation as to the cause of the crash was still underway but it was apparently due to failure of the composite tail structure. The report went on to say that this was the first time ever that federal investigators were looking at a situation that involved these types of materials and their lack of experience could delay the results.

Which leads me to this: In sailboat racing, composite parts fail on a regular basis as competitors and designers push the limits on weight v. strength. As a result, there are numerous experts in the racing community who should be able to lend insight into the reason for the structural failure. I would like to suggest that those experts contact the FAA and offer their services as a consultant to aid in the investigation. It would be good for sailboat racing, good for the FAA and most importantly good for the safety of the public.

* From Caitlin Kelly (Cruelly edited to our 250-word limit): Glenn McCarthy's right, the U.S. does not have a sailing hero(ine). As much as I'd love to see us have one, I wouldn't hold your breath. I speak as a journalist who has written many articles about sailing -- for Sports IIlustrated, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Penthouse, BusinessWeek and many others. There is no huge appetite out there for stories on sailing.

In fact there's almost none; every time I have pitched a feature on sailing, it is an uphill battle to convince skeptical editors, male and female, newspapers or magazines, how exciting, adventurous, athletic, etc. sail racing can be. Why? The vast majority of editors/producers and other media gatekeepers, have never sailed, never raced, never even been near the VOR or AC or Key West Race Week, anywhere that one can feel some of the excitement and camaraderie that those who know and love the sport feel so passionately. They even don't know anyone who can take them out and get them into the adrenaline rush of 30 boats vying at the starting line, the incredible teamwork required to make a boat go fast, the range of skills involved.

The firm and fixed belief amongst these media gatekeepers -- with virtually nothing in the media now to counter it -- is that sailing, and certainly sail racing, is something that is done primarily, if not exclusively, by wealthy, white middle-aged men -- the guys who can afford to drop six figures on a yacht.

* From Kelly Henson: I can't think of a better Women than Jane Watkins for the Peggy Slater award. I sailed with Jane back in the early 80's and will sail with her anytime. She was then and is now an inspiration to all women sailors. Her enthusiasm is as vibrant off the water as it is on the water no matter what your sailing, be a J-24 or SC/70.

A runaway win by Daniel Phillips on 'Derwent Racing' puts him into strong championship contention after he and his team mates Andrew Hay and Rod Howell showed the fleet the way round Sydney Harbour in glorious sunshine this afternoon (Thursday).

The wind was again from the south east, but somewhat lighter than yesterday, and all the boats were using their Number 1 rigs. Almost immediately after the start 'RMW Marine', sailed by Rob Greenhalgh, suffered a broken jib track, which proved to be impossible to repair on the water and led to retirement.

Overall after 5 heats, 'Rag & Famish Hotel' holds a two point lead over Howie Hamlin's 'General Electric-US Challenge' with Matt Felton's 'Newport Arms Hotel' third and 'Derwent Racing' (which is carrying a disqualification from Heat 1) fourth. However, when looked at assuming a discard, the order becomes 'Derwent Racing' in first place, followed by 'General Electric-US Challenge', 'The Rag' (John Harris, AUS), and then 'Newport Arms Hotel' (Matt Felton, AUS) and 'Great Britain' (Tim Robinson, GBR) equal in fourth position.

Friday is the second lay day, and the championship will then be fought out over Heats 6 and 7 on Saturday and Sunday. - Peter Danby,

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* January 24-27: Atlantic Sail Expo, Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center. More than 200 exhibitors, sailboats ranging 8 to 47 feet in length, and free seminars and special events. -

* February 2-3: InterClub Midwinters, Severn Sailing Association, Annapolis, MD.

* February 8-10: 505 Midwinters, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Florida.,505,IC/2002/NOR.htm

* April 20-21: Ahmanson Cup / Skylark Trophy, Newport Harbor YC, Balboa, CA. PHRF, J24's, J105's, J120's, J35's, Schock 35's, Santana 30/30's, Schock 40's, Melges 24's, One Design 35's, Farr 40's.

* August 6-9: Santana 20 Nationals, Del Rey YC, Marina del Rey.

The sports marketing agency Octagon has named James Pleasance as Sales Director. Pleasance will lead Octagon's sailing property representation efforts in Europe with his primary role selling sponsorships for the Swedish Match Tour. Pleasance comes to Octagon with more than 10 years experience in the marine industry, including roles in marketing, public relations and sponsorship management with a special focus on global yachting events and marine-related companies and products. In 2001, he acted as publisher of the official program of the America's Cup Jubilee event as well as serving as event coordinator at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championships in Cowes, England.

There appears to be an opportunity for all of you seagoing aspiring authors. Nomad Press is a small, independent publisher in Norwich, Vermont - the publishers of Fighting Finish: The Volvo Ocean Race Round the World 2001-2002 (the "official" book of the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race), as well as The Bahamas Cruising Guide and several other books - are interested in extending their line of sailing and adventure-related manuscripts. They are a royalty-based publisher and are seeking non-fiction manuscripts that are well written, interesting, and complete. For more complete publishing guidelines, aspiring authors should go to:

On January 13, 2002, US SAILING General Services Committee Chairman Don Durant will present US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to the crew of Voyager during the San Francisco Sports and Boat Show at the Cow Palace. The crew of Voyager--John P. Melko, Karen A. Melko, Maria C. Melko, John R. Melko, and John Hetherton III-will receive the award for rescuing a mariner in distress, calling the United States Coast Guard to avert a wasted mission, eliminating a hazard from the waterways, and the safe return of the victim to his watercraft along with the proper safety device. Penny Piva Rego,

Key Biscayne YC, Key Biscayne, Florida - Conditions: A strong cold front pushed through South Florida early in the week bringing record low temperatures and strong north winds. The 32 boats left shore with 12-15 mph winds and temperatures in the lower 50's. The breeze quickly died as the temperatures rose to the lower 70's putting emphasis on straight-line speed in the flat water conditions. Race One: 10-12 mph, dying to 8 by the finish. Race Two: 8 mph, dying to 6. Race Three: 6 mph, dying to 4.

STANDINGS (32 boats):
1. Tim Healy, 5 pts
2. Geoff Moore, 8 pts
3. Brad Read, 13 pts
4: Andy Horton, 15 pts
5. Uri Saks, 27 pts.

Mission Bay YC, San Diego, CA Standings after 10 races (Snipes): 1. (Vanguard 15) Kevin Funsch /Watt Duffy, 19; 2. (Laser) Chris Raab /Jon Rogers, 21; 3. (Star) George Szabo /Brian Janney, 23; 4. (Sabot) Chuck Sinks/ Mark Gaudio, 39; 5. (InterClub) Jim Bowers /Susannah Bowers, 41; 6. (J/24) Chris Snow /Aine McLean, 54. -

Is it true that cannibals won't eat clowns because they taste funny?