Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT No. 995 - January 29, 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.

The French challenge for the America's Cup could be scuppered by sabotage threats from environmental protesters. It was always going to be a question of when, not whether, the sponsorship by France's nuclear industry would prove controversial. French activists meeting in Lorient, where the challenge team have their training base, say that unless Areva back out of their £10 million sponsorship of le defi, the boat will "never arrive" in Auckland, where the races are due to be held.

This threat came from the Cherbourg-based Alain Rivat organisation, who said they were ready to use all means possible to blockade the new French boat being built at Gilles Ollier's Multiplast yard in Vannes. Disruption of training at the le defi base further north in Brittany at Lorient was not ruled out either.

Threats have emanated from Auckland. There the Greenpeace campaigner Bunny McDiarmid made a similar call for Areva to back out and spend the money on wind energy instead. "Like the tobacco giants, Areva is clearly trying to greenwash its business by linking itself to the clean, green image of sailing," McDiarmid said.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who host the America's Cup from October this year to Feb 2003, expressly bar only one type of sponsorship - tobacco. But Areva's support of the French team was always going to be inflammatory given New Zealand's staunch anti-nuclear stance. France persisted with atmospheric tests as late as 1996 in French Polynesia, and memories of the actions of French government agents sinking the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warriorin 1985 are still fresh in New Zealand. The fact that the vessel was sunk, with the loss of one life, in the very Viaduct Basin which plays hosts to the America's Cup syndicate bases was never likely to be ignored.

Areva were formed in 2000 from France's nuclear fuel and power plant industries, embracing the entire power cycle from uranium mining to power station decommissioning. They project themselves as a modern, caring corporation offering "high technology at the service of a better future".

The environmental lobby will not permit them to leave their nuclear testing history behind. This is because the French government control 5.19 per cent of Areva directly, plus another 78.96 per cent indirectly through the Commissariat a l'Engerie Atomique. Squeezed between lobbyists and sponsors are the America's Cup team, dependant on Areva for funds. - Tim Jeffery The Telegraph, UK

Full story:

Fate has been smiling on the Volvo Ocean Race giving the fleet an easy start to leg 4, but the teams are struggling to get out of the clutches of New Zealand in light conditions. In stark contrast to the Southern Ocean that beckons them in two or so days time, the eight yachts have so far been undertaking a tactical light upwind race under Code Zeros in flat water - an easy beginning to what could turn into the toughest, most brutal leg of this event. - James Boyd, Volvo website.

At the moment, the race around the high pressure is the main issue. The system is centred near Chatham Island, now approximately 200 miles to the south east of the fleet, and it is expected to gradually extend towards the east today, giving more light and variable winds. Grant Dalton on Amer Sports One confirmed their dilemma earlier, "Everyone is headed south as fast as they can to skirt around high pressure. The only question has been how hard to dive, as it creates more miles but gives better breeze."

Kevin Shoebridge from Tyco felt that illbruck might have a slight boat speed edge as she has now taken the lead position, "Everyone looks pretty even with illbruck perhaps having a slight edge in these conditions." However, less than a mile separates the three leading boats and News Corp, SEB, ASSA ABLOY and djuice all remain very close to them and are in sight of each other.

Positions on January 29 at 0357 GMT:
1. illbruck, 6302 miles from finish
2. Team Tyco, 0 miles behind leader
3. Amer Sports One, 0 mbl
4. News Corp, 3 mbl
5. Team SEB, 4 mbl
6. Assa Abloy, 6 mbl
7. djuice, 7mbl
8. Amer Sports Too, 26 mbl

(The following quotes are attributed to the Swiss Alinghi syndicate's design team coordinator, Grant Simmer.)

AC2000 technology is not good enough to win in the next AC. You need to have a fast hull to win. In tank testing we try to learn from the best of 2000 and incorporate it into our designs. We obtained BeHappy, replaced the keel structure, gave it one keel and a new deck. It is used for testing and crew development.

In November and December 2001 we did two-boat testing- determining the differences between the two boats under many conditions. This is difficult and boring. In fact, Ernesto Bertarelli said, "Don't schedule me on any two boat testing. It is boring." We are happy with where we are. Things have proceeded close to plan.

In the first two weeks of January we made a significant modification to SUI-59 but well below 50%. We now need to understand the change and compare it to tank predictions.

We have started construction of the second boat, and its tooling and appendages. It will be shipped to Auckland at the end of winter (NZ) for testing in preparation for racing in the LVC. We plan to be testing and racing against other teams until the Auckland winter. We will take a short break before returning in late July/August for final preparation for the LVC

Read the full interview in the forum section of the 2003AC website:

New for 2002, the Seaquest Sea Boot is the latest development from the marine footwear specialist, Dubarry of Ireland... Part of the Performance range the Seaquest provides a Technical, Waterproof and Fully Breathable boot utilizing a Gore-tex lined leather and Kevlar upper together with Dubarry's new cup sole - providing superior traction and underfoot comfort. View the complete 2002 collection featuring Sea Boots and Yachting Footwear combining traditional quality with modern materials, design and technology... Dubarry North America

For its America's Cup challenge, Sweden's Victory Challenge has developed its very own tender boats. "We build the boats according to our own specifications, the boats we want don't exist on the market" says Mats Johansson, project manager for Victory Challenge.

The boats - six in total - are of RIB-type, with a collar of air-filled side pontoons and a high-quality fibreglass bottom. They are built to act as assisting boats during sailings with newly built Örn, the training boat Cristina, and Victory Challenge's next boat. "They will work as weather boats, towboats and transport boats. They have to be durable, fast, and reliable", says Mats Johansson.

The tender boats will tow out the sailing boats daily for the training sessions and tow them back afterwards. During the sailings, they will work as security boats, its duties will include the transportation of individuals and sails. The tender boats will also house computers, which will be used to collect data of the boats performance and by the weather team to monitor conditions.

The tender boats are strongly built to support rough treatment. In the same time the design of the hull is like the competition boats which Ocke Mannerfelt designs, which guarantee sea characteristics and speed. In the middle there is a steering place with three stand-up-chairs, covered from the sun. Behind are two jockey seats abreast. The foredeck is very large and will house the sails to the Swedish America's Cup-challenge. The storage room is three metres long to store large equipment securely.

The boats have a strong RIB-collar and a large vertical bathing bridge over the pinion as protection. The tender boats are equipped with double KAD 300 diesel motors from Volvo Penta, with 280 horsepower for each motor, and will have a top speed of 50 knots. The navigation equipment is the latest, from Raymarine.

SPECIFICATIONS: Length, in total: 13.5 m; Length, waterline: 10.4 m; Beam: 3.6 m; Displacement: 3.6 ton; Motors: Volvo Penta KAD 300 diesel; Tank: 1,000 litres; Navigation equipment: Raymarine; Speed: 50 knots; Design: Ocke Mannerfelt; Boat builder: Pierre Holgersson/Victory Challenge. - Bert Willborg, Victory Challenge Ltd press officer.

(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 Vernon Stratton, Isle of Wight: Would it be a good idea if there was an agreement with all yachtsmen and race committees that the wind speed should always be converted to the weather forecast speed? I understand that the forecast speed is thirty-three feet above the water or ground depending where the reading is taken. So if the committee boat anemometer is ten feet above sea level it is one-third less than the forecast speed. 60 knots equals 40 knots at ten feet. This of course works the other way around with a sixty or ninety foot mast. A tall rig has a nice breeze when a short rig has virtually no wind. Many is the time that a Race Committee is accused of not complying with the twenty-five knot limit, because the wind speed indicators are at a different height.

LONDON, UK-The first-ever catamaran specifically designed for a disabled sailor could hit the water as early as next to July, according to the BBC News. The Impossible Dream will be operated single-handedly by Mike Browne who plans to sail it around the world.

Confined to a wheelchair since breaking his back in a skiing accident eight years ago, the 53-year-old Browne, who sailed for the UK in the Sydney Paralympics, said this unique catamaran would be owned and used by a charity he set up, Sporting Activities for the Disabled.

"This is an opportunity to open a few eyes, especially to any people with disabilities who have given up on doing anything interesting or exciting in life. It is about enjoying life on the sea and proving that anybody can sail," said Browne. "There is no reason technically why, as a wheelchair user, I can't be the skipper," he added. Boats have been adapted for disabled people before, but there has never been a yacht designed from scratch to do this job."

Work is well under way on the carbon-fiber boat at Multimarine's yard in Cornwall, UK, and the plan is to finish in time for a launch next July. The 58-foot catamaran, designed by Nic Bailey, is expected to cost more than $1 million. - SailNet website, Full story:,sailne1118,sailne1122,sailne1121&tfr=fp

* "In one of the tacks, when moving all the gear, I injured myself on a knife accidentally sticking out of a bag with tools. It looked a bit messy for a while, but after treatment by Doctor Kessel I was fine again. The cut on my wrist was actually glued together with superglue! Great stuff that superglue and Doctor Kessel!" - Gurra Krantz, Team SEB.

* "It feels a bit strange right now. Here we are sailing side by side in flat water, only seven knots of wind. It's so quiet I can hear the guys breathing in their bunks. In a week we will hardly hear our voices for all the noise on deck from waves breaking over the deck, winches grinding and crew screaming." - Knut Frostad, djuice dragons.

* "One thing I've noticed after having the last leg off, is that the standard in the fleet has improved noticeably since legs one and two." Nick White, Team News Corp.

From Gill, Camet, Ronstan, Extrasport, North Sails & more. Yes free! We are celebrating our 15th year in business. Every week this year we're giving away free sailing equipment from these and other leading manufacturers. Stop by and see why our website receives more than 100,000 hits per month from high performance sailors worldwide. Our staff sails on some of the world's highest performance boats and we stay up to date with the latest innovations from the finest manufacturers of sailing gear. Toll free ordering, competitive prices & no sales tax outside California.

For the first time, two brothers are competing against each other on separate boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. The brothers, Peter and Anthony Merrington, from Sydney's northern beaches, Australia. With just 24 hours notice, Peter 'Billy' (30) flew in to replace an injured crewman on djuice dragon. His brother Anthony 'Youngster' (27) is a crew member on Team SEB.

Magnus Holmberg, helmsman in Victory Challenge and his colleagues Stefan Rahm, Lars Linger and Magnus Augustson were named Swedish Sailors of the Year 2001. The Swedish Sailing Federation has given the Victory Challenge-sailors the prize for their victory in the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour. They won the season 2000/2001, they are leading the season 2001/2002 and Magnus Holmberg and his team are ranked number one in the world. (Their team-mate Mikkel Rossberg cannot become the Sailor of the Year in Sweden, as he is Danish.)

Three of the honorees have won this award before: Stefan Rahm 1991, Magnus Holmberg 1992 and 1995, Magnus Augustson 1999.

With plans to sink roughly $85 million of his personal fortune into an aggressive campaign to win the America's Cup, technology guru Larry Ellison figures that he's free to take the helm of his team's 80-foot thoroughbred racing yacht any time he chooses. Clearly, the top-ranked amateur has no desire to remain in the spectator fleet during next fall's America's Cup trials on New Zealand's rugged Hauraki Gulf. His team will vie against nine others in the Louis Vuitton challengers' series in hopes of winning the right to face cupholder New Zealand in early 2003 for sailing's ultimate trophy.

"I'm absolutely going to drive the boat, as long as it won't hurt the team, " Ellison, 56, founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation and one of the world's richest men, recently told reporters. "The nice thing about owning a sailboat is that you get to go sailing," the bearded billionaire said. "If you're the owner of the New York Yankees, you don't get to play first base. You could, but it would be embarrassing." - Jim Doyle, San Francisco Chronicle.

Full story:

The IAC Challenge Nassau. Ltd. will ship both its 1992 IACC yachts to San Francisco for the World Championship to be held in October 2003. Based in Nassau the Bahamas, The IAC Challenge owns and operates - NZL 10 and NZL 12 - both of which sailed in the "Road to the Americas Cup Regattas in 2000". NZL 10 and 12, Ex-Team New Zealand yachts will join their sister ships from 92' for the first time in ten years. This makes six 1992 IACC yachts signed up for the San Francisco regatta. John Sweeney,

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the South Carolina Marine Association (SCMA) have teamed up to fight a new bill, SB 808, proposed by South Carolina senator McConnell in mid-January.

The bill requires additional "Lemon Law" remedies for the enforcement of warranties on sailboats, boats, motors, trailers and associated equipment. The bill further states that if the seller or manufacturer is unable to conform an express warranty within a specified period after notice of a defect, condition or nonconformity on a particular item, the seller or manufacturer must replace the item or provide a full refund, including collateral charges. - Boating Industry International Online website.

Full story:

Sometime during this past weekend subscriber number 12,000 signed onto the Scuttlebutt mailing list. Thank you!

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?