SCUTTLEBUTT 1231 - January 2, 2003
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digest of major yacht racing news, 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 GERMAN CHALLENGE
(Julie Ash recently did an interview with John Kostecki about plans for
Germany to have a challenger in the Next America's Cup series. Here's an
excerpt from that story in the New Zealand Herald.)
"We just recently formed a company in Germany. Four of us, Ross Halcrow,
Michael Richelson, myself and Michael Illbruck. We have a team of people in
Germany looking for corporate money," said Kostecki, a former Olympic
Soling silver medallist, who is also dabbling in a little bit of sailing in
the Olympic Star class.
"Obviously it is really going to depend on where the America's Cup ends up.
Budgets can change significantly depending on where it goes."
But he did admit it was a little daunting looking at the $190 million or so
the likes of Oracle and Prada had available to them. "It makes it
difficult, because to be successful these days you do have to spend a lot
of money. But we are looking at that and trying to figure out what it is
going to take to mount a winning challenge." - NZ Herald, Full story:
TILTING THE PLAYING FIELD
The debut performance of Bob Oatley's canting ballast Reichel Pugh 60 Wild
Oats at Australia's Hahn Premium Hamilton Island Race Week 2002 caused
headaches for Australian Yachting authorities and race organisers. Using
the patented DynaYachts Canting Ballast, Twin Foil™ (CBTF) technology, Wild
Oats canting ballast can tip the boat more than 20 degrees. A demonstration
at the Hamilton Island marina showed just that. Australian sailing
regulations, written primarily around water ballast, forbid systems that
cant a vessel beyond 10 degrees. But this new technology has already tilted
the playing field.
Queensland Yachting authorities provided special dispensation for the Hahn
Premium Hamilton Island series, sailed in protected waters inside the Great
Barrier Reef in August. Wild Oats sailed under an IRC certificate, which
seemed to underestimate the speed advantage she had and she won six races
out of eight on IRC handicap.
Many racing designers felt that her July 2003 IRC certificate would be
revised to reduce her handicap advantage. However there was a widely held
belief that Wild Oats would not receive further dispensations to allow her
to race in open waters, unless her canting ballast system was in some way
This was further reinforced when Wild Oats experienced problems in 30-knot
winds during the Post-Hamilton delivery trip back to Sydney. The hydraulic
system used to pump the ballast to windward for added stability failed and
the ballast swung through to leeward, causing the yacht to take on an
abnormal angle of heel. However designers used this incident along with a
mass of additional engineering data, to underline the inherent safeness of
the canting ballast concept in submissions to Yachting authorities and race
Now the regulatory ground is clearly canting too. Tomorrow the
revolutionary 60 footer will start in the Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs
Harbour race, a 226-miler north along the New South Wales Coast and she
will be able to use her full range of canting ballast. In a ruling
confirmed by the Yachting Association of NSW on December 24th special
dispensation now allows Wild Oats to sail in any category 7-4 races and for
this specific category 2 offshore race, organised by the Royal Prince
Alfred Yacht Club in Pittwater.
The 2004 Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs race is clearly going to see more
exciting boats with canting ballast systems. The maxi Z86 Class have
already voted to embrace the use of canting ballast for their new 86-foot
turbo-sled maxi boats. Roy Disney's new canting ballast Pyewacket is under
construction at Cooksons Boatyard in Auckland, New Zealand and will be
launched in September 2003. Work has also started on the new canting
ballasted Morning Glory at McConaghy Boats in Sydney for delivery in the
Australian spring. - Rob Kothe, Sail-World.com.
There is much more to this story: http://www.sail-world.com/pittwatercoffs2003/
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LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.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 Robert Baker (re 'The Sydney Hobart international jury had
initially ruled Valheru's protest invalid because it did not hail "protest"
at the time and did not raise the red flag at the earliest opportunity.'):
Surely the time has come for the ISAF to give better guidelines to protest
committees who are all too quick to rule a protest invalid when a flag or
hail is a few seconds late. Armchair protest committee members can have
little idea the stress caused to skipper and crew involved in such a
collission - and the requirement to fly a flag and hail at the appropriate
time is absurd.
What is the purpose of a hail and flag anyway. I've always thought it is to
ensure the other yacht is made aware of the intent to protest and has
therefore sufficient time and information to decide whether to take an
alternative penalty. Clearly the other yacht had both in this case. When
that is evident by the information provided, no protest should be thrown
out on the technicality of the timing of a hail or flag display. Let's give
some reasonable guidelines to committees to avoid this situation which is
all to prevalent throughout the lesser ranks of sailing.
* From Zvi Ziblat (ISR): The disqualification of "Loki" in the Hobart race
is disturbing. One would think that persons investing so much money and
time in such a project would respect RRS 44.1 and the "basic principals."
And we ridicule the AC rules . . .
* From Gregory Scott Kingston: I find it somewhat amusing to hear a
billionaire complaining of unfair advantages that Team New Zealand may have
by clever use of brain power. If the recent implied glue sticks to the
possibility that Alinghi are in some manner behind the New York case
looking into funding, I will be no longer amused but appalled! The
implication seems as though, money when stifled by talent immediately
resorts to what money can buy; litigation. Rather than accept the
possibility that they may have spent some of their millions going in the
wrong direction, the suggestion now seems as though they want to
substantiate the spending by application of litigation to amend the words
to take "intent" as the precedent, rather than the words themselves.
The world has got itself into one hell of a mess when we have used this in
relation to words from religious text and I think we will find ourselves in
a similar quagmire if it is applied here. On a second point, If the folks
in New Zealand have figured out how to host the event and not go broke in
the process, I think that rather than finding a way of penalizing them, we
should all be applauding. In both cases, It seems as though the lowest
common denominator is in effect no matter what the scale, one dollar or one
million. Dumb it down, rather than move it forward.
* From Helen C. Johnstone: It was refreshing to read Peter Cullman's
comments in butt' #1230 comparing the "diametric opposite characteristics"
of our sport between the amusing soap opera taking place in the America's
Cup and the courage and team spirit of the individuals toughing it out in
the Around the World Alone Race. Maybe I am a bit biased because Brad Van
Liew, who is currently winning class 2 on his yacht Tommy Hilfiger Freedom
of America, is my cousin.
The individuals in the Around the World Alone Race are a true example of
the Corinithian Spirit that still exists in the sailing world today as they
race around the globe for the coveted prize. The beauty of these
individuals is that they have shown complete and utter respect and concern
for one another by going out of their way to assist one another in any way
they can. If you tune in to the www.aroundalone.com website you will
experience first-hand the real character and heart of the team spirit in
what is ironically an individual vs. individual competition.
(Angus Phillips has done a comprehensive story in the Washington Post about
Bruce Farr's involvement in America's Cup campaigns, with a special focuses
on the boats he's designed for Larry Ellison's Oracle BMW Racing program.
Here's a brief excerpt.)
While Oracle is less radical than previous Farr designs, other designers
here agree it's unique in the fleet -- narrower at the waterline than
others, wider on deck, with a graceful, swooping deck line. "It's certainly
the most interesting of the challengers," said Team New Zealand design
coordinator Tom Schnackenberg.
Interestingly, the radical design breakthrough of this Cup appears to be
Schnackenberg's, not Farr's. Both Oracle and Alinghi are trying to copy the
radical "Kiwi Clip-On," a horizontal second skin Team New Zealand
apparently has attached to stern sections of their boats to increase
waterline length, and thus speed. Many here believe the success of the two
challengers depends on which can make the best "silly stern," as detractors
call it, by Jan. 11 when they take to the water again.
For his part, Farr is devoting more time to overseeing this Cup campaign
than he has in years. He was criticized in 2000 for not keeping a closer
eye on Young America when construction problems led to its breakup. Farr
says that campaign was underfunded and he couldn't afford to abandon the
rest of his trade to focus on it.
This time, with Ellison's millions at the ready, money is no obstacle. Farr
flew to New Zealand in November and has been here most of the time since.
Often he shares an apartment with skipper and fellow Kiwi Dickson, a move
Ellison says he championed "to put the two most intense guys in the same
room and see what happens." - Angus Phillips, The Washington Post, full
WHAT MAKES OCKAM BETTER?
You've probably heard that the Ockam system is the best; but what makes it
better? Each week we'll detail the differences in Scuttlebutt. For
starters, Ockam has a more intuitive and logical interface whether
performing calibrations, setting up displays, or controlling the system
from displays or software. The same logic applies to Ockam's physical
layout: a single coax cable carrying power and data. This "daisy chain"
cabling is much cleaner and measurably lighter than the multiple wire, back
and forth wiring scheme of other systems. For more information, visit
TEAM DENNIS CONNER
(Sean McNeill reviewed the Team Dennis Conner campaign for a story on the
Louis Vuitton website. Here are two excerpts.)
According to Bill Trenkle, the post mortem on Team Dennis Conner's campaign
at Louis Vuitton Cup 2003 is easy to assess. "When you look at our
campaign, we probably had the shortest amount of time on the water," said
Trenkle, the President of Dennis Conner Sports. "That was necessitated by
cash flow. When we got the money determined when we could begin our sailing
program. But that didn't leave time for problems."
* Primary among them was the lack of cash up front. That meant that Team
Dennis Conner was one of the last to gear up for Auckland and one of the
last to arrive on site, which put them on the back foot from the start.
Then there was the sinking of the team's second America's Cup Class sloop,
USA-77, off Long Beach, Calif., as the team wound up its training. The team
launched USA-77, a Reichel/Pugh design, in late May and sailed it for less
than two months before it sank on July 23. Then a delay in shipping a new
bow section for the boat to Auckland meant the team's primary race boat
wouldn't sail again for about three months.
"We didn't have the time to give up in September by not having our second
boat," Trenkle said. "We couldn't even sail against another competitor
because if we wrecked 66, we'd be out of the event. We couldn't do in house
practise. Our programme was just too short to handle that."
Their sailing programme commenced in earnest last February when they took
delivery of USA-66. After just a few days sailing, USA-66's tune-up time
was interrupted when its millennium rig broke.
Uncharacteristic of a Conner-led team, there was some substandard crew work
on the water. Helmsman Ken Read's performance in the pre-start was an
Achilles heel. Stars & Stripes rounded a leeward mark without the genoa
sheets attached to the sail. As a final punctuation, their spinnaker grazed
the last windward mark of their last race. They were just 21 seconds behind
OneWorld at the time, but the penalty for touching a mark is a 270-degree
turn, which killed any chance of extending their quarter final repechage
match against the rival American team. It all added up to the earliest exit
from America's Cup competition ever for Conner, the four-time winner. -
Sean McNeill, LVC website, full story:
The Around Alone leaders are making short work of the Great Australian
Bight as Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group Armor lux and Thierry Dubois on
Solidaires reel off day after day of 300 plus miles. Wednesday morning
Bernard had less than 2000 miles to go to the finish in Tauranga and was
rapidly closing on the west coast of Tasmania.
At the back of Class 1 Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet is having troubles of
his own. Bruce's earlier gybe to the north did not pay the dividends he
hoped it would and he is now playing catch-up, a game that has caused him
to push his boat a little too hard and as a result he has damaged part of
his boom vang arrangement. To deal with the situation, Schwab has had to
drop his mainsail and is currently sailing under headsails alone while he
figures out a jury rig for the vang. - Brian Hancock
STANDINGS 2200 UTC January 1 CLASS 1: 1. Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Bernard
Stamm, 1852 miles from finish; 2. Solidaires, Thierry Dubois, 307 miles
behind leader; 3. Hexagon, Graham Dalton, 561 mbl, 4. Tiscali, Simone
Bianchetti, 683 mbl; 5. Pindar, Emma Richards, 761 mbl; 6. Ocean Planet,
Bruce Schwab, 982 mbl.
CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger, Brad Van Liew, 3119 miles from finish; 2.
Everest Horizontal, Tim Kent, 490 mbl. 3. Spirit of Canada, Derek Hatfield,
619 mbl; 4. Spirit of yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi, 730 mbl, BTC Velocity, Alan
Paris, 1137 mbl. - www.aroundalone.com
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
June 27-29: North Sails Race Week, Long Beach, California. PHRF and
one-design class including the Farr 40 and J/105 Pacific Coast
Championships. - www.premiere-racing.com
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Laughing stock: cattle with a sense of humor.