Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 988 - January 18, 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.

Steve Fossett, age 57, of Chicago, Ill., and Cory Sertl, age 42, of Rochester, N.Y., today were named 2001 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, respectively. A panel of sailing journalists selected the two accomplished sailors for this year's distinction from a short list of six nominees for the Rolex Yachtsman and five nominees for the Rolex Yachtswoman.

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Awards recognize outstanding on-the-water achievement in the calendar year just concluded. The winners will be honored at a luncheon and press conference at the New York Yacht Club in New York City on February 15, where they will be presented with Rolex timepieces.

Accomplished sailor and celebrated adventure sportsman Steve Fossett was recognized for shattering not one, but five speed sailing records aboard his 125-foot catamaran PlayStation. The records are for the fastest times sailing from Miami to New York; across the Atlantic; around England's Isle of Wight; and across the English Channel. While shattering the TransAtlantic record, Fossett also posted the fastest time for distance covered in a 24-hour period.

One panelist noted that Fossett "didn't just nick the record, he obliterated it," shaving off almost two days to post a new benchmark of four days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and six seconds. "There have been 24 attempts in 11 years to break it, and three of those were made by me," Fossett explained. To smash the 24-hour record, he covered an astounding 687.17 nautical miles (790.2 statute miles) at an average speed of 28.63 knots.

Fossett, who has been sailing only since 1993, holds a total of 18 world sailing and race records. Legendary for his ability to achieve seemingly impossible feats, he also holds nine world records in jet airplanes and balloons. His six attempts to make the First Solo balloon flight around the world have set many records and attracted international media attention. Piloting his Citation X jet, he has set Round the World as well as transcontinental airplane records for Australia and North America. Additionally, Fossett has completed premier endurance sporting events including the legendary Iditarod, Ironman Triathlon and the English Channel Swim. He also has raced international sports cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Cory Sertl, who also is the 1995 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, was cited by the panel for her versatility in two disciplines: fleet racing and one-on-one match racing. She also showed prowess both as a skipper and a crew at several different regattas throughout the year. High on Sertl's achievement list was her victory at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship held in September. The biennial event is considered the pinnacle of women's international fleet racing. Victory, and winning four of 10 races against a record 60 teams, was especially sweet for Sertl, who sailed with two long-time friends and Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year--Pease Glaser ('00) of Long Beach, Calif., and Susan Taylor ('87) of Annapolis, Md. Another friend, Dina Kowalyshn of Annapolis, also crewed for Sertl.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to the people with whom I sailed," said Sertl, who also won the prestigious BOAT U.S. Santa Maria Cup match racing event, again with Glaser crewing as well as Jody Swanson of Buffalo N.Y. (the 1989 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year) and Suzy Leech of Avon, Conn.

Sertl, a 1988 Olympian, says that her "dabbling" in the new Olympic Yngling class throughout 2001 was part of a "cautious" goal of working toward the 2004 Olympics in Greece. In fact, it was her performance in that class, including a second at the 2001 Yngling North Americans as crew for Swanson, that further impressed the panel of judges. This year, the Swanson / Sertl / Glaser Yngling team plans to compete in all of the US Sailing Team clinics and ranking regattas and will sail in the Yngling World Championships in Switzerland this summer.

The Olympic Sailing Committee of US Sailing has announced the events which will qualify athletes to represent the U.S. at the 2002 ISAF World Sailing Games scheduled for June 29-July 10, 2002, in Marseille, France. Regatta organizers will provide boats for all events thereby lowering the expenses associated with competing and allowing many more nations to participate. Among the 100 nations expected to be represented, the U.S. will send two entries in the Formula Windsurfer (men and women), 470 (men and women), Laser (men), Laser Radial (women), Hobie 16 (men and women), J/22 (women) and J/80 (men). For more information visit the event website at The U.S. qualifying events are as follows:

Formula Windsurfer - The top two men and women will qualify from the Calema Midwinters Windsurfing Festival, March 1-3, 2002, in Merritt Island, Fla. Please note that this represents a change from the previously announced women's qualifier due to a change of equipment by ISAF. For more information:

470 and Laser - As previously announced, the top-finishing boats in both the 470 and Laser classes at the Rolex Miami OCR (January 29-February 2, 2002, in Miami, Fla.) will have their choice of either a berth to the ISAF World Sailing Games or the Athens 2002 Regatta in Greece (August 12-25). At a minimum, the top four boats in each event will qualify to sail in one of the two international events. For more information visit

Laser Radial - The top two women will qualify from the Laser Midwinter's East, February 21-24, 2002, at Clearwater Yacht Club (Clearwater, Fla.). For more information visit

Hobie 16 - A men's and women's team will be qualified from each of the following two events: Hobie 16 Midwinter's West Area Championship, February 22-24, 2002, in San Felipe, Mexico (contact Stoney Douglas at or visit the event website at; and the Hobie 16 Midwinter's East Area Championship, April 13-14, 2002 in Pensacola Beach, Fla. (contact Kirk Newkirk at

J/22 - The top two all-women's teams will qualify from the J/22 Midwinter's, February 14-17, 2002, at Southern Yacht Club (New Orleans, La.). For more details visit

J/80 - The top two male skippers will qualify from the Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week, January 21-25, 2002, in Key West, Fla. For more details visit

Questions about any of the U.S. qualifiers should be addressed to - Jan Harley

90% Lighter and less expensive than standard sheet and halyard clips. EquipLite has been successfully testing these new fittings in top race boats since 1999, and is currently supplying numerous new boats as well as some of the top Volvo and AC syndicates. Available spliced to your choice of New England, Samson or Maffioli cordage.

Clipper Ventures Plc announced a £200,000 host port deal for its flagship event. Clipper 2002, the world's longest circumnavigation race, is set to start from Albert Dock, Liverpool, on Sunday 27th October 2002, returning in September 2003 after some 35,000 miles of intense competition on the high seas.

Clipper 2002 is a biennial 16-stage race, featuring eight identical 60-foot racing yachts, crewed by paying amateurs in a series that takes a course around the centre of the globe. Clipper 2002 will take a predominately downwind route following the trade winds and passing through some of the classic yacht racing territories, stopping at cities in Europe and Asia, as well as North and South America. It is set to pass through a wide variety of weather systems which require the full range of sailing skills, from patience to steer through calms, flying downwind under spinnaker before a trade wind, to beating through the Southern Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope.

(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 Richard Slater: Jim Kilroy's idea of a gate in the America's Cup course was used to provide a way for spectators to get closer to the action. The result is a filed of play being 2 smaller diamonds rather than 1 large diamond. Jim also said that the start and mark roundings were the other spectator friendly parts of the racing.

So why not just make the America's cup course a 1.5 mile beat rather than a 3 mile beat. Spectators get closer (you end up with 1 small diamond) and you get more mark roundings as more legs are needed to sail the desired distance / time. There are still only 2 boats so the top mark won't get any more crowded!

This makes starts and corners more important and may throw maneuverability back into the equation when designing the boats.

* From Kirt Simmons: I really appreciate the efforts of Mr. Kilroy and Mr. Hoyt to increase the excitement and interest in the America's Cup. I like the suggestions for more races and changing the course, including the potential use of gates. I was wondering if another modification might make it even more interesting- That would be to include a (relatively short) reaching leg in the middle of the course, both up and downwind. This would bring the boats (back) together like a gate but also involve mark roundings, and potentially, require sail changes and spinnaker drops and sets, which in my opinion are exciting and add to the "human interest, skill and atleticism" of the event, to say nothing of the potential for lead changes, gear problems, etc.

* From Tom Rutten: Once again that there is discussion about "fixing" the America's Cup courses to make the racing closer. From a marketing point of view closer contests should make for larger audiences but, if I'm not mistaken the Superbowl commands up to $1million(US) per minute for advertising yet in most years either it is considered a blowout (19 of 34 games have been won by 2 TDs or more) or the games are called boring defensive contests. Still it is one of the most watched TV event worldwide.

As far as adding gates and/or course changes to make boat handling a larger factor in the racing, look back to the "Z" leg in 1992. Ultimately the crews learned to handle the turns without any problems. If I remember correctly it wasn't a factor in the outcome of the Cup. It was eliminated in 1995 as a way of saving money on sail inventories and practice time. By nature the job of an America's Cup syndicate is to solve problems. If the goal is to make boat handling a larger factor in the racing by modifying the courses, don't announce any changes to the courses until the day the racing starts. If the syndicates know the modifications ahead of time they'll just work on the problem until it's eliminated. That's what they do.

As far as selling sailing to a wider (US) audience let's face it Yogi Berra said it best "If people don't want to come, you can't stop them".

* From Rick Hatch, US Sailing Senior Judge (re Jerry Montgomery's letter about monetary penalties): Monetary penalties instead of an alternate penalty (720, 20%, time, etc.) or risk of DSQ would invite cheating by competitors who can more readily afford the penalty (read: more money than brains) than others. At the amateur level of the sport this solution would be more destructive to the objective of fair competition than anything I can imagine.

Except possibly for an ISAF Special Event, I would not judge at any regatta if the NOR or SI's for the event were to prescribed any kind of monetary fine for infringement of the rules in lieu of the kinds of penalties we have become accustomed to.

There still seem to be too many sailors around who need to re-read (or possibly read for the first time?) the "Basic Principle" section at the front of the rule book, under the heading "Sportsmanship and the Rules."

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: Relax Rick - I know that Jerry had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he wrote about monetary penalties.

Steam power will be crucial in the America's Cup - for spectators, at least. Racing yacht spectators will be able to make use of a rock-steady steam-powered tug to watch the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup races from October this year. The solid and massively powerful historic tug, the William C Daldy, will be the oldest and probably the only steam-powered boat on the Hauraki Gulf watching the most expensive yacht race in the world.

Yachting, and of course tug boat fans, can thank the Auckland Harbour Board for commissioning the 348 ton boat from Glasgow more than 65 years ago. After nearly three months at sea she arrived in Auckland from Glasgow on January 30, 1936, and duly began berthing and towing ships. The harbor-bound tug worked flat out until 1977.

Master mariner Donald Handley, who has worked on board a range of sea-going vessels for 28 years, reckons the William C Daldy is magnificent. "She's very maneuverable and steady - an ideal viewing platform for the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup races," Mr Handley says. He believes she will be the steadiest vessel in the harbor when the races take place. And propelled by two 1000 horsepower engines, the tug will also be one of the most powerful boats on the water during the cup. She cruises at about 10 knots.

Mr Handley, who is also a member of the William C Daldy Preservation Society, says the old tug costs a lot to maintain. The society normally only has five months to run sightseeing tours during the summer, from which it earns money to keep the tug financially afloat.

Keeping the coal-powered boat moving is almost as much work. Slightly built stoker Courtney Edmonds says technique is the key to throwing coal right down the tug's six two-metre-long chutes with a wide-mouthed shovel. Firing up the coal chutes to maximum heat takes 36 hours of hot, sweaty work, he says. Temperatures reach about 40 degrees Celsius in the boiler room, even with the overhead ducts blowing cold air on him. - Quentin Clarkson, The Central Leader. Full story:,1008,1069476a1501,FF.html

Slow sails are never cheap - no matter how little they cost. But you can improve your boat's performance with quality racing sails at a price that is truly affordable. Let the professionals at Ullman Sails help move your program to the next level. You can get a price quote online right now:

The 2002 ISAF Regulations are Now Available Online. Included are all the changes as approved by the ISAF Council in November 2001. The Regulations are available for download in entirety or by parts. A document highlighting the major changes is also available, together with a paper explaining the changes. However, please note this paper is purely intended as a guide to assist and you should refer to the specific Regulations.

The Wayzata Yacht Club has posted a five minute Ice Boating video on their website (with a Johnny Cash audio track) that the curmudgeon enjoyed a lot. You too can take a ride at 50 mph from 10 inches above the ice. It's an 8.8 download that can be seen with Real Video.

* July 12-14: US Youth Multihull Championship for the Hoyt/ Jolley Trophy, Port Clinton YC, Ohio. Twenty new Mystere 4.3 catamarans. Winners will become US Sailing Team Members.

* September 28-29: Sunfish U.S. Masters Championship, Charleston YC /James Island YC, Charleston, SC.

At Ford Cork Week 2002 up to fifty IRM types could be racing against each other for the first time because none will be accepted in an IRC cruiser-racer class. Sailors need to register themselves on the ISAF website before the event to prove their amateur / professional status. This can be done at: For the Cork latest news: Event website:

Philippe Kahn, a Santa Cruz-based software developer, has been sailing competitively only three years but is ranked as a serious threat (in the Melges 24 Worlds) by (World Champion, Vince) Brun for good reasons-one being the presence of Mark Reynolds, 2000's world sailor of the year, as tactician. "I wouldn't be surprised if he does extremely well or wins this thing," Brun said.

Kahn's response: "Vince is way more confident in my abilities than I am. I'll be psyched if I could beat Vince only once in a single race."

While Kahn, 49, hasn't hesitated to hire the best sailors money can buy to help him sail his boats, he isn't the usual multimillionaire dilettante. He drives his own boats and spends a lot of time learning-most recently as a singlehander in a Finn. "I actually have been sailing mostly Finns for the last few months, or should I say learning to sail them," Kahn said. - Rich Roberts, Yacht Racing website

Full story:

If you admire masterful sailing images, you should click on this link:

The curmudgeon is off to Key West Race Week - racing on the Santa Cruz 52, Triumph. Once again, David McCreary will be at the helm during my absence. Please send any e-mail for 'Butt directly to David at:

It is bad to suppress laughter; it goes back down and spreads to your hips.