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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 985 - January 15, 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.

ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
Volvo Ocean Race first-timer, Chris Nicholson from Amer Sports One, explains how it feels to sail the Volvo Ocean Race: "You're falling asleep all the time on deck because you've already been sick and so you're through that stage and you're pretty much debilitated. It's like your worst hangover plus it affects the whole body, it's not just your mind or your stomach, it really does affect the whole body. When you're that sick you're trying so hard not to move around anywhere, you've got no energy and you've got no control over where you're moving so you just keep the body as still as possible. Usually in the fetal position - that is what the body does.

"These boats are undermanned and you've still got to sail. The guys would probably let you stay in your bunk, but you just can't, as you just have to get on and do your job. There's no eating because that just comes straight back up. But you still have to try and keep some fluids up, if you can, have a protein shake or something like that, but even that tends to come up as well. You just have to keep the liquids up and stop the food."

Emma Westmacott from Amer Sports Too is another sufferer. "Seasickness is something that seems to be catching more and more of the sailors on this race. I don't know if it is something to do with the boats becoming more aggressive, but a lot of people who don't normally have a problem are coming down with it. I haven't been seasick for years, but in the first leg I came down badly in the Bay of Biscay. It's a feeling that you just want to jump off the side of the boat and end it all. It's miserable, you don't feel like doing anything, you get lethargic and you get tired. You loose interest in anything except in how manky you feel and pretty much each time you move, or change your environment, you end up throwing up.

"You have to go down below and take all your clothes off. You just sit on deck and you just think, 'how am I going to get down those steps, take my foul weather gear off, be thrown around, hang it up and get into my bunk without being sick? And then once you have taken your foulies off, it is all over, because you can't come up on deck to be sick because you would get soaking wet. People get wet and then they get cold. It is just an ever-decreasing circle. It is something that you have to combat early or accept the fact that you have a problem with it. Once you actually are sick, it's very hard to get better and you only get better when the breeze subsides." - www.volvooceanrace.org

AMERICA'S CUP
GBR Challenge returned to their two-boat testing program this week after GBR 52 was relaunched following modifications. The details of the modifications are being kept secret, but the GBR team will have an opportunity to see how effective they are when they line up against the known performance of their second trial horse, GBR 44.

GBR Challenge's sailmaking team are also having a busy time completing a raft of new sails from molded blanks supplied by North Sails in Nevada. Most of the syndicate's new sails will be finished in their own sail loft at the Halsey St base. - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, www.nzherald.co.nz/sports/

SPINLOCK XX0812 POWERCLUTCH
The XX0812 Powerclutch is the only choice for secure clutching of high loads, for use on racing yachts 35 - 50 ft and high-tech lines to 1/2" diameter the XX0812 fills the holding gap between other clutches and the high load ZS jammers. The XX is unique in its operation - needing a full cycle of the handle to release the load. There have been developments and upgrades that can be applied to existing models to improve performance - something you might consider for the winter refits. For the latest information and technical details please contact prosupport@spinlock.co.uk and www.spinlock.co.uk

MELGES 24 WORLDS
With almost 80 entries from 10 nations and 3 continents the 2001 Melges 24 World Championship, being held in association with Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week from 20-25 January 2002, will be the biggest Melges 24 event ever held in the USA.

Crews are travelling from as far afield as Japan, Scandinavia, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean to race against the American home teams and some of the biggest names in international sailing will be competing for the World title. One of the hot favourites has to be Vince Brun, who took the Championship in 1998 and 1999 and who is hoping for a record third win. Amongst the overseas contingent challenging him are European Champion Cedric Pouligny and European Ranking winner Laurent Pages from France, IMS 50' World Champion Flavio Favini sailing for Switzerland, World Ranking leader Jamie Lea and UK National Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist Keith Musto from the UK and leading international match racer Marcus Weisser of Germany.

American teams are travelling from across the States to ensure the foreigners get a good run for their money. Brothers Brian & John Porter and Olympic Silver Medallist Morgan Reeser all have unfinished business to settle at this championship. In 2000 the Porters were close runners up to the late great Giorgio Zuccoli whilst Morgan's chances of victory were dashed when his rig came down in the penultimate race.

After winning KWRW 2001 Harry Melges will also be looking to do well again this year. He crewed for the Porter brothers at the last three world championships so we can no doubt expect to see some friendly rivalry between the two teams this year. US National Champion Argyle Campbell is hoping to improve on his 12th place in the 2000 Worlds.

Fleet newcomer Philippe Kahn is so determined to do well that he has entered twice! Philippe will be helming one entry with triple Olympic Medallist Mark Reynolds as tactician whilst the second team will be led by his 12 year old son Shark with US Finn sailor Mo Hart at the helm.

To accommodate the championship requirements Premiere Racing have extended the schedule for the Melges 24 Class to 10 races and incorporated on the water judging, specialist measurement facilities and a dedicated social programme. - Fiona Brown, www.premiere-racing.com and www.melges24.com

LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
leweck@earthlink.net
(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 Tom Cain: Many of the syndicates and manufactures use or are required to use a standard or lower modulus fiber as the reinforcement material in the construction of the spars, hulls and decks? Intermediate and high modulus fibers (aerospace grades) are either ruled out or are currently too expensive. High Modulus Fibers (HMF) by comparison, are literally thousands - millions of times stronger than standard modulus. The same is true for the resin systems. Aerospace grade phenolics, bismaleimide (BMI), epoxy, cyanate ester and matrix resins have vastly superior and different characteristics than the polyester grade resins used in the recreational marine applications. Also, the processes of oven curing (autoclaving / hydroclaving) parts made from these materials is way more complicated and expensive that the room temperature and 250 degree curing methods used in the marine industry. Until all this technology becomes commercially viable, carbon fiber sailboats will remain very much in the dark ages.

* From Tom Hurwitch: I, for one, am happy that the fines levied against illbruck and Tyco were both monetary and small in scale. It seems that each time these boats hit a new port their legal teams get to work trying to figure out who to protest and for what reason. I agree with John Kostecki who, I believe, said that he would rather see this regatta settled on the water than in the protest room (he was referencing the Tyco case). These syndicates have trained months, even years, to get to this level of racing-I would like to believe they didn't spend that entire time reading rule books but put it to good use learning how to sail these great machines. It seems I may be wrong.

* From Ken Brooke: I disagree completely with Stan Betz who criticized the garden manure penalty handed out to Tyco. It was most refreshing to have a really sensible Jury decision that made the protestors look quite ridiculous in pursuing such a petty issue. By the way, I'll bet the protest hearing cost a damn sight more than the penalty.

* From Pete Mohler: Well done to Howard Hamlin, Mike martin and Trevor Baylis in winning the 18 foot skiff champs. With that win Americans now hold three major skiff titles. The 49er, Mckee Bros.; The I14, Zach Berkowitz and Trevor Baylis; and The 18s, Howard, Mike and Trevor. Trevor gets extra credit for dragging Zach around the race track to get the 14 title then one month later jumping on board with Howard and Mike to get the 18 title. Seems like Trev might be a good guy to have on board.

* From Kevin Blee: Having had the privilege of hosting the 2001 I-14 World Championships, and having seen first hand how Zach Berkowitz's dominated the fleet, I am happy to see his nomination for the Rolex award. However, let's not overlook an equally deserving Trevor Baylis, who crewed for Zach in those Championships, and whom Zach gave full credit for his win.

* Dave Hopkins: Just wondering if Trevor Baylis's name was mistakenly absent in the announcement for Rolex yachtsman of the year with Zach Berkowitz. As in the past, the skipper does not account for all, i.e Charlie and Jonathan Mckee, Mark Reynolds/ Magnus Liljedahl.

* From Peter O'Donovan: In response to recent comments about sailing becoming too expensive and elitist and also with regard to TV coverage I think that we should be looking more and more at the discipline of Team Racing. Its been described as the future of sailboat racing by some and when I consider six colour coded boats racing next to piers and on city fronts in front of grandstands full of cheering fans listening to live commentary I ask myself why not.

With sailing becoming more and more expensive team racing offers a cheap alternative that advocates would argue is more exhilarating than any other type of sailing. The simplicity of team racing means that when approached properly, helms, crews, spectators, umpires and race officers can have more fun than at other racing events. Not only is it a hugely popular race training exercise but many top Olympians learnt their skills while team racing and continue to team race to help them maintain their sharpness.

Personally I think that it answers many of the questions that are often asked through this forum. Its fun, both sexes are suited, adults and children can do it, its not restricted to any one class, its affordable, its spectator friendly, it suits schools & colleges etc etc.

* From: John Greenland: In reference to the letter from Bill Elmer about intestinal disorders, I would like to point out the article I wrote on the Volvo Ocean Race website, 8 January: "A pattern is certainly forming and so the Volvo Medical Team have started to research the problems and what the possible solutions are to help avoid future occurrences." - www.volvooceanrace.org/news/feature/f3_injuries_020108.html

* From Andrew Morgan: Regarding the thread on idols, in my opinion both the person and sufficient PR are required to create and maintain idols and heroes. They are an important part of any sport and help inspire people, in this case, to start sailing or sail even more passionately. Why is the US not developing these needed people; they certainly have the talent. For example, Denis Conner has been a great figure in sailing, won and lost almost any title that we, weekend racers, could dream of participating in. Why does the press vilify him? I can understand the Australian and NZ press raking him over the coals when he is a threat to their teams, but why does the US press take any opportunity to whack him and the other great North American sailors. And even worse they glorify their competition. Doesn't make much sense!

* From Robert Middlemas: Sounds like Oracle found a cheap and easy way to get into the head of a rival! Put some mirrored film over a window and boom - your in his head. Myself not being a lawyer, I wouldn't think that Prada has any right to know what is behind those windows.

To me, it sounds like the same old story. Get your competition thinking about anything else except what they should be. Stir up the waters of controversy. Get inside their heads....and stay there. Never let them rest. If that is the case, it is working. It's nice to see that the AC is alive and well. If there is nothing behind those windows except a potted plant, then it has done it's job.

* From Jim Kilroy: Gary Hoyt's suggestion in Scuttlebutt No. 962 to improve America's Cup spectator appeal is a novel idea. Having watched many America's Cup races, I have found that most on the water spectators find them quite boring, except for the starts, mark roundings, and the glamour of the overall event. The basic problem is that the restricted water for the racing yachts is a very large diamond keeping spectator yachts greatly distant from the racing yachts.

I suggest that a gate be placed 50%, up or down, each leg which would allow for an hour-glass restricted area, instead of the very large diamond area. This would be a substantial improvement for spectator appeal, as they could move closer to the middle of the course. A gate 50% up or down each leg would also provide for a better event by taking away some of the advantage of winning the start into a favorable, usually, right shifting breeze from a starboard tack start.

The boat behind, or to leeward at the start, is tanked and the start, frequently, can be the deciding factor in winning the race. Such an advantage, a function of nature - not performance, would be substantially reduced by causing the yachts to rejoin at the mid mark gates, making for a better race.

I know that this would be a hard sell because the yachts and the drivers are absolute optimists, and believe that they will get the start and the advantage, and, as you can imagine, when the start is lost, it's usually that the wind predictions were wrong. It would be great to maximize spectator appeal - a current need for yachting.

SHOWDOWN
Former Black Boat skipper Russell Coutts and his successor Dean Barker next Sunday will stage their first battle off Auckland since the America's Cup schism in Team New Zealand. The pair will switch from helming Cup boats to racing Finns when they join a who's who of the small-boat class on the Waitemata Harbour.

Clifton Webb, New Zealand's Sydney Olympics representative in the Finns, has pulled off a coup by getting the former Black Boat teammates in his 17-strong fleet. Coutts was a Finn gold medallist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games when he had to overcome boils on his bottom and survive a dramatic re-weigh before being crowned champion. Barker has also experienced his own Finn drama. In the New Zealand selection trials ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Barker had the nomination all but sewn up. But his arch rival and the Finn bronze medallist at the 1992 Olympics Craig Monk came from nowhere to snatch the selection.

Monk, the former Team New Zealand grinder who has switched to American syndicate OneWorld, will also be racing next Sunday while Webb is also hoping to contact John Cutler. If Cutler lines up, New Zealand's three Olympic medallists in the Finn will be sailing in the same fleet. . - Andrew Sanders, NZ Sunday Star Times as posted on the Stuff NZ Website

Full story: www.stuff.co.nz/inl/index/0,1008,1066830a1823,FF.html

CALIFORNIA NEWS
For some time, many of you have enjoyed the comfort and the good looks of the Camet Padded sailing shorts. Now these shorts are available in children sizes, in Grey with the Hawaiian stripe or in Khaki. Visit the Camet web site to order the Shorts, Sailing Pants, Bubble Tops or Neoprene Hiking pants, bags etc. www.camet.com

AMERICA'S CUP
You can 'talk' with America's Cup veteran Brad Butterworth during a special chat session on the Swiss Alinghi website. Butterworth promises to answer all of your questions live.

This will all happen on the 17th of January at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., Swiss time (GMT + 1).
That translates to:

Thursday 17th January at 9 p.m. and Friday 18th January at 9 a.m. in New Zealand
Thursday 17th January at 7 p.m. and Friday 18th January at 7 a.m. in Sydney
Thursday 17th January at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. in New York
Thursday 17th January at midnight and noon in San Francisco.

At the times indicated, just log on to Alinghi's website and click on the button inviting you to chat with Brad. - www.alinghi.com

J/24 MIDWINTERS
Key Biscayne Yacht Club - Key Biscayne, Florida - Final results (31 boats): 1. Tim Healy, #5277, 22 pts; 2. Andy Horton, Money Shot, 28; 3. Brad read, Blind Squirrel, 44, 4. Geoff Moore, Cheerios, 47; 5. Rudy Wolfs, Save Your Money, 49. - www.j24class.org/usa/racereps/2002midwinter1s/Final.htm

CREW CHANGES
* Team SEB in the Volvo Ocean Race strengthen its crew with two well know faces for the team. David "Dingo" Rolfe from Auckland, New Zealand who temporarily left the boat for the third leg is back. Back in the team is also Anthony Merrington from Australia who spent last winter with Team SEB at its training camp in Portugal. The two replaced Tony Rey and Sean Clarkson. A twelfth crew member will be announced shortly. - www.teamseb.com

* Nautor Challenge announced today that British sailors Emma Richards and Miranda Merron have joined the Amer Sports Too crew for leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race. Emma will be a trimmer/ helmsman and Miranda is taking over as navigator. Emma (27) is an accomplished dinghy sailor and has in recent years made the transition to big boats. Amer Sports Too is also getting Carolijn Brouwer on board for the forth leg. As planned she is replacing Melissa Purdy for this leg. - www.nautorchallenge.com

ADMIRALS CUP
The RYA has issued a call for all owners and skippers interested in trying out for the English Rolex Commodore's Cup 2002 selection to gather at the Royal Thames Yacht Club at 6.30pm on 29 January. Representation is limited to two per boat and the meeting will discuss the conditions and schedule for the RYA Selection Trials for the Rolex Commodore's Cup 2002. - Yachting World website, www.yachting-world.com

THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
The easiest way to grow as a person may be to surround yourself with people smarter than you are.