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SCUTTLEBUTT No. 991 - January 23, 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.

TERRA NOVA TRADING / YACHTING KEYWEST RACE WEEK
Stronger southerly breezes building from 6 to 15 knots, then fading to 8, allowed a full schedule of racing for the 324 boats: two races each for 17 classes and three races for the Melges 24s, who have 10 on their schedule to determine the 2001 world champion.

Sharing first place in the Farr 40s after today's sailing are Stuart Townsend's Vriago and Heartbreaker, owned by Wally Tshua and Bob Hughes. Aboard Virago is Chris Doubek, president of title sponsor Terra Nova Trading; Townsend is president of Townsend Analytics, the provider of RealTick which is the software trading system Terra Nova uses.

Townsend and Doubek, who sailed a Mumm 30 at Key West the previous five years, have upgraded their team by adding Steve Benjamin as tactician and working the new boat up to speed in various events last year.

"To say we were prepared is a true statement," Doubek said.

Heartbreaker tactician Terry Hutchinson said nobody on his boat knew they were racing the title sponsors.

"We had no idea," Hutchinson said, laughing. "Should I take that into consideration next time? We aren't gonna cut anybody any slack. They're sailing really well."

The big boats are having a dogfight. Isam Kabbani's C/M 60, Rima, which owes time to everybody, is tied with George David's Nelson/Marek 49, Idler, at 6 points after swapping 2-1 and 1-3 finishes. Larry Leonard drives and Kevin Burnham calls tactics for Rima. Ken Read is tactician for Idler, which had its way in the first race Tuesday but lost contact with Rima in the second.

"We couldn't figure out a way to stop Rima," Read said. "The last two legs we lost two minutes in corrected time on them. I don't know if we had something on the keel or the rudder or what."

In PHRF-1 it's a three-way deadlock among Bill Alcott's Santa Cruz 70, Equation; George Collins' Farr 52, Chessie Racing, and Tom Hill's Andrews 68, Titan XI, each with 7 points-and Steve Murray's Andrews 70 Decision is hardly out of it with 9.

Other winners Tuesday included multihull guru Randy Smyth, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., with a second and first in the new F-28R trimaran class, and Lewis Gunn of Hilton Head Island, S.C., driving his J/105, Dead On Arrival. Gunn is 83 years old.

Complete results and photos at www.premiere-racing.com

MELGES 24 WORLDS
After the intense frustration of day one when a lack of wind meant no races were completed at all the Melges 24 fleet was raring to go for day two.

The Class has introduced on the water judging (now standard at all their international championships) to Key West Race Week for the first time and the umpires had plenty to keep them busy today. One of the most frequent penalty calls was for infringement of the class bowsprit rule, which requires that the bowsprit only be extended when the spinnaker is being flown.

In addition the scheduled two races, as the conditions were near perfect the race committee elected to run a third race to help make up for yesterdays lost time.

Overall a fantastic day's sailing for this huge fleet of Melges 24s, the biggest ever assembled in the United States. Jamie Lea was by far the most consistent of the day. He and his team of owner Richard Thompson, Jim Schwerdt and Nigel Young have been amongst the top performers on the international circuit in the last year and are currently joint leaders of the World Ranking Series with Laurent Pages.

Top five places after three races:
Place - Boat - Nation - Entrant - Helm - Points
1. Black Seal - UK - Richard Thompson - Jamie Lea -8
2. M-Fatic - USA - Neil Sullivan - Morgan Reeser - 16
3. Star - USA - Jeff Ecklund - Harry Melges - 16
4. Region Ile de France - (Information not available on website) - 22
5. Blu Moon - SUI - Franco Rossini - Flavio Favini - 25

See www.melges24.com or www.premiere-racing.com

CUSTOM INSTRUMENTS
Not much is truly custom made anymore - but Ockam Instruments has quietly provided custom products since the early 1980s. A few examples from our "099 Custom " series: Depth Below Keel that changes with centerboard height, Yanmar engine RPM, oil and water warnings on Ockam displays (great if your engine panel is below decks as found on a fair number of race boats), tracking by laser gun or radar screen "pinging", dual depth sounders (fore and aft for BIG boats), weather boat systems, race committee boat systems, and more. To discuss your custom application email Tom Davis (tom@ockam.com). www.ockam.com

MORE CREW CHANGES IN VOLVO OCEAN RACE
* Pascal Bidegorry, a French solo and trimaran sailor will join Team SEB in the Volvo Ocean Race during the harsh fourth leg from Auckland to Rio de Janeiro. "Pascal with his extensive ocean racing knowledge and experience is the person we have been looking for. He fits in well as helmsman in our team, says skipper Gurra Krantz.

Bidegorry, a professional sailor since 1993, has so far specialized on solo and trimaran sailing. During the year 2000 he won the well known French solo race "The Figaro", with a course from France to Ireland, via Spain and England. During 2001, he has been on the winner's stand several times sailing on the French trimaran "Groupama" where he met Team SEB's navigator Marcel van Triest. On Groupama he won the French Grand Prix du Cap d'Agde and also the ORMA 60 foot multihull Championship.

* For the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez de Castro (31) will return to join the crew on ASSA ABLOY. The Spanish specialist helmsman made his first appearance in leg two from Cape Town to Sydney and will replace Chris Larson for next second longest leg from Auckland to Rio. Larson has obligations sailing Key West Race Week and will return on ASSA ABLOY from leg 5 onwards.

With more than one week to go to the start, ASSA ABLOY Skipper Neal McDonald was also confident with the state of the boat and the team's sail programme. After returning from the first test sail in Auckland he said, "We are getting new sails this week. Very excited about that, and the boat is in real good shape. If we had to leave tomorrow we could. Unlike some other teams, we did not have any structural damage or problems at all."

Leg four of the VOR starts on Sunday January 27, ETA in Rio de Janeiro is February 19. See www.volvooceanrace.org

LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON -- This week to dmccreary@boats.com
(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 Malcolm McKeag (on the Guest Editor's plans for 'Butthead-funded vacation): Please do write. Send your donations to the McKeags. c/o Market Place Lodge, Whistler BC. That's where we shall be to celebrate the 'Butts Millennium. Haven't you heard? The snow is crap in the South Pacific at this time of year.

* From Ron Baerwitz : I have to agree with Rob Mundle. Fremantle was great racing to watch. The only other place I could see better fit for a spectator fleet is San Francisco. Put the AC in the Bay Area and it will rise to a whole new level of acceptance.

* From Martin England: Forget those new A-Cup gates and moving it all back to Fremantle. The 2003 A-Cup will have many new elements - most notably rotten produce (including a few hairy but over-ripe kiwifruit) from West Auckland orchards hurled at Alinghi's Coutts and Butterworth.

* From Ken Redler: How to make the America's Cup a popular TV event? Why not look at the 1987 America's Cup, probably the most watched regatta ever. People, who know nothing about sailing, still bring up "that race in Australia" whenever they talk to me about sailing. Yet if you recall, the RACING sucked! The Americans had so much speed over the Australians that each race was over, half way up the first weather leg. Furthermore, the boats were 12 meters, slow heavy displacement slugs. Nonetheless, Americans were glued to their TV's every night the races were telecast. Why?

It was the SAILING. Big wind, big swells, boats heeled way over, sails flogging, that is what people fear and admire about sailing. Bring that into their living rooms and they are captivated. Front row seats to the big showdown between "Man Vs. The Elements". In the 1995 America's Cup some of the televised defender and challenger races were decided by less than a boat length. The RACING doesn't get any better than that. However, the SAILING was boring. Consequently, people lost interest in the whole event.

The general public wants to see big boats in big winds and big seas. To them the competition is with ocean itself, not the other boat. If a good race happens to materialize, that's a bonus. Now if only we could just get the greed and politics out of the America's Cup and choose venues best suited for SAILING.

* From Doug Christie: I applaud Ken Read's views regarding more rules to race under. It is not new, I raced in New Zealand in the late 70's on an IOR 50. In one race we participated in IOR PHRF, and General Handicap (Skippers Golf style rating) To add another dimension there was a prize for line honors as well. We won line, and IOR, 4th PHRF and 3RD GHC. Adding a skippers handicap to the mix encourages entry level sailors to join the big races and feel they have a chance at some hardware.

I have been pushing this for many years in the Puget Sound and wrote an article a number of years ago called More Prizes More Fun that explored this idea. It is good to see top level sailors supporting this concept rather than some of the elitist views that tend to permeate this sport. Incidentally I recently competed in Australia in an IRC class which worked well. Picture where Kenwood Cup might be if they sailed all boats under the different systems available to all the nations interested. You could conceivably sail under IMS, Americap, IRC, and PHRF. Good one Ken.

EXTRA AIRX!
Two new styles of AIRX have been added to Bainbridge Internationals winning range of spinnaker fabrics: AIRX-650N: A true 3/4oz fabric specifically designed for classes with a 40gsm minimum weight. AIRX-900N: The strongest 1.5oz available for when the going gets really tough. Make sure to ask your sailmaker about the extra performance of AIRX spinnaker fabrics. More details at www.sailcloth.com

2002 BOATUS SANTA MARIA CUP
The Notice of Race for the 2002 BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup Women's Match Race event has just been released. Racing will be from May 29 through June 1. This year's event will end Saturday evening to give the teams traveling from far distances an easier time getting home. There will also be more sailing for all the teams, as the organizers are planning to have racing amongst the 6 teams that are not participating in the semi-finals and finals.

This year - as it was last year, the top US finisher will be given an invitation to the Prince of Wales Bowl, USSailing's Match Racing Championship. A new twist for this year, the winner of the event gets an invitation to a new women's event in Bermuda leading into competition for the 2002 King Edward VII Gold Cup.

Requests for Invitation are being accepted via the event website at www.santamariacup.org, and as in years past, the winner of the Sundance Cup in Ft. Worth will be granted an invitation to the Santa Maria Cup - leaving only 9 slots to fill!

For more information, check the website, www.santamariacup.org or email Sharon Borland at smc@eastportyc.org

ARTHUR B. HANSON RESCUE MEDAL
On Thursday, January 24, 2002 at 1:30 p.m., Scott Melander will receive the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal at the National Sailing Programs Symposium at the St. Petersburg Hilton, St. Petersburg, FL. US Sailing President Dave Rosekrans will present the award.

Melander and Sara Hitchcock, also instrumental in the rescue, will receive the award for saving the life of a distressed mariner. Hitchcock will be recognized at a February presentation.

Both were instrumental in the rescue of a surfer badly injured by the propeller of a 50' sloop. Complete story at ussailing.org/pressreleases/2002/ABHHawaii.htm

12 METER NORTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2003
Following the success of the 12-Meter fleet at the America's Cup Jubilee in Cowes last summer, the International Twelve Meter Association (Americas) has announced a new event in the U.S. -- a North American Championship to be held in Newport, Rhode Island in September 2003. Currently there are approximately 25 boats in the U.S., many of which have expressed interest in the event.

Newport is currently home to sixteen 12's, which maintain an active charter and racing schedule during the sailing season.

Leading up to the 2003 regatta several other events are planned for the class. For additional information, please contact: Paul Buttrose, VP, International Twelve Meter Association, Americas, buttrose@compuserve.com

REGATTA BOOSTS TOURISM DOLLARS
The St. Maarten-St. Martin Heineken Regatta, scheduled for 1-3 March, and its concurrent Caribbean Big Boat Series (CBBS) boost marine tourism dollars to this dual Netherlands Antilles and French island, and entries the caliber of Roy Disney's, "Pyewacket," a Reichel-Puch 75, will assure the regattas make an even bigger splash in the island's economic coffers this year.

In 1999, the total direct economical boast to St. Maarten-St. Martin can be valued US$2,011,840, said Mirian Leffers, director of the St. Maarten-St. Martin Heineken Regatta. Complete story at www.boating-industry.com/news.asp?mode=4&N_ID=28888

THE CURMUDGEON'S QUOTES
There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. -- Will Rogers