SCUTTLEBUTT 1237 - January 10, 2003
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SAILING'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Rich Roberts
Sailing does not have a world championship. The America's Cup? It's come
down to Alinghi against Oracle for the right to meet what's left of Team
New Zealand---strictly match racing between corporate giants. The Volvo
Ocean Race? Long-distance racing among the same. The Admiral's Cup? Close,
but blurred vision reduced what once was the unofficial "world championship
of fleet racing" to ordinary rank. Dozens of classes of boats have their
own world championships, but none encompasses the world's best talent and
Of all the above, the America's Cup is the best hope to achieve ultimate
status. It has the tradition, the talent and the technology. All it needs
is noble, unselfish leadership and a major overhaul to rid the game of
self-destructive ingredients. First, deep-six the Deed of Gift. It's the
Dead Sea Scroll of sport. It was written in a far different era that had no
application to the global dynamics of the 21st century. Let this abused
relic of tradition die a gentle and quiet death so the event can move on.
A "box" rule for boats is better than going one-design. It leaves room for
technology to come into play. But let's quit splitting hairs and put some
teeth in the all-powerful Protocol by saying, "Any attempt to circumvent
the spirit of the rules shall merit disqualification." Then let the
designers go for their clip-on false hull skins and take their chances. Of
course, that means having . . .
Rules overseers with the authority and guts to properly punish those who
push the box too hard---and I don't mean the absurdity of obsolete
computers with design information left forgotten in a garage.
The nationality rules, as described by veteran John Cutler, a New Zealander
sailing for the last Americans standing, are, in his word, "bogus." Yet,
nationalistic rivalry is critical. It takes rooting interest to build a
following, but who can root for software and pharmaceutical companies?
Sailors should be allowed free agency, but with a stronger measure of
commitment. Like the Olympics, if they want to switch countries, make them
sit out one America's Cup.
The foundation of an America's Cup is the venue, and for maximum impact it
must be at or near a major media market. Of course, that means the reigning
champion would not necessarily enjoy the home-waters advantage. And why
should he? Auckland has been wonderful, but the event will not grow in New
Zealand. Let the world's great cities bid for it, as they do for the
Olympics and soccer's World Cup. Where better to do business than where the
money and the people are?
Furthermore, there should be no defender, only a defending champion
competing with everyone else with no special privileges or advantages.
Should the Los Angeles Angels be allowed to sit out next season with an
automatic seed back into the World Series?
There would be fleet racing and match racing, providing tests for both of
sailing's disciplines. A series of 10 to 20 fleet races would determine
eight quarterfinalists. Those eight would be seeded (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7,
etc.) in a best-of-seven match-racing elimination series. The decisive
America's Cup Match would be best-of-nine between the final two survivors.
And, please, no wimpy wind limits. Boats that can't handle whatever nature
normally delivers don't belong at the pinnacle of the sport.
How to achieve all of this? By mutual agreement among current principals,
if that is possible, hire an independent authority to manage the event in
perpetuity, without bias, like a benevolent dictator. Formula 1 or soccer's
FIFA come to mind. The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) does not.
The next winner would be required to selflessly sacrifice customary control
of the event for the sake of its success. Does Larry Ellison have that
level of vision and commitment to the sport? Ernesto Bertarelli? Team NZ?
How many winners have made the America's Cup better than it was before they
won it? One will soon have that opportunity. Or is it more important to
their egos to embrace an ornate silver pot, their zealous and self-serving
pursuit of which has made it the laughingstock of modern sport? - Excerpted
from a story by Rich Roberts in The Log. Full story: http://www.thelog.com/
THE JULES VERNE SHOWDOWN
(Tim Zimmermann, a correspondent for Outside magazine and author of 'The
Race' has posted an interesting and comprehensive story on the Yacht Racing
website about the Jules Verne Trophy Race and the two challengers who are
now preparing assaults on that record. Here's a brief excerpt.)
Ellen MacArthur and De Kersauson (whose wife is a descendant of Mon. Verne
himself - are settling into stand-by mode in Channel ports, waiting for a
favorable weather system to launch them on non-stop voyages that will take
them south through the Atlantic, eastwards around Antarctica through the
Southern Ocean, round Cape Horn and home again. Peyron reclaimed the Jules
Verne Trophy last year in the 110-foot maxi-catamaran "Orange," which now
sports MacArthur's "Kingfisher 2" colors, with a time of 64 days, 8 hours
and 37 minutes. That dropped De Kersauson's 1997 record by more than a full
week. De Kersauson and MacArthur aim to do even better. But first they have
to survive some 26,000 miles of spectacular high-speed
The Jules Verne is mostly a race against time and a battle to keep the boat
together, but MacArthur versus De Kersauson is an intriguing match-up
nevertheless. After a spectacular win in her beloved Kingfisher Open 60
last November in the Route De Rhum, MacArthur is moving full-time to
multihulls and this Jules Verne attempt is part of a transition that will
eventually see her racing her own 60-foot trimaran. This will be her first
serious voyage in a maxi-multihull, and first experience running a large
crew, which will number 14. De Kersauson, in contrast, has made more Jules
Verne attempts than any sailor alive, and has built a 110-foot trimaran,
named "Geronimo," to challenge the maxi-cats that came out of The Race.
MacArthur is fresh-faced and De Kersauson is grizzled. MacArthur is English
and De Kersauson is French. MacArthur loves to share her adventures with
the world, while De Kersauson made his name by playing the Jules Verne game
with a provocative flair that included a penchant for confounding the
opposition with radio silence or position reports that seemed suspiciously
advanced. Both are great sailors and great personalities, however. And with
the massive media suites aboard both vessels it will be possible to follow
the action closely.
Just as intriguing will be the match-up between boats, potentially the
first successful head-to-head contest between a maxi-cat and a maxi-tri (De
Kersauson set off on a Jules Verne last year but had to retire due to
rudder problems, leaving Bruno Peyron and "Orange" to make the running
alone). When the two primary design teams working on The Race crunched
through their VPPs early in the design process, they raced virtual
catamaran and trimaran designs against one another on the Jules Verne
course. Both concluded that trimarans would be faster in the upwind and
light air segments of a round the world voyage, but that a catamaran would
be better (and likely safer) in the massive seas and downwind running of
the Southern Ocean. In the end, all the designers for The Race opted for
cats, leaving the sailing world and the racing crews to speculate on how a
giant trimaran would fare in the new era of high-performance offshore
multihulls. - Tim Zimmermann, Yacht Racing website, full story:
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* Racing between Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing begins today, the first
race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final to determines who will Challenge for
the America's Cup. Russell Coutts' Alinghi team has the better racing
record at this event so far, sitting at 21-3 to Oracle BMW's 20-8. At the
pre-race press conference Oracle skipper Chris Dickson said, "The sail
number of the boat that we are using is same, but after that the
similarities disappear quickly. The boat is significantly different. We've
found boatspeed in a lot of different areas and I don't think we've
compromised any other areas to get it." - http://www.louisvuittoncup.yahoo.com/
* The two teams will be without the laser range finders, which have been
used throughout the competition so far, in contravention of the event
rules, to help work out how fast opposition boats are going. This round the
teams have decided to abide by the rules, concerned after the issue came up
towards the end of the semifinal repechage, primarily because of the
mysterious goose-shaped object on the back of Oracle's boat. In answer to a
series of questions at the time, the America's Cup jury said laser range
finders and radar were capable of receiving or transmitting communications
or signals, and such equipment was prohibited from being carried on board
while racing. ". - NZ Herald, complete story:
* The Louis Vuitton Cup final between Alinghi Oracle BMW Racing will see
on-board umpires for the first time in America's Cup history. Chief Umpire
Bryan Willis told the press conference on Friday morning the on-board
observers will access when an overlap is established or broken, and
immediately pass the information on to the skippers. They will also relay
certain information such as when a tack is completed from the umpire boat
to the afterguard. - Fiona McIlroy, Nzoom.com website, complete story:
* The International Jury has determined the procedures for any team
wanting to protest Team New Zealand's controversial hula appendage and says
clear and compelling evidence that it touched the hull outside of the
permitted attachment zone during racing would be required. That begs the
question whether it would be up to Team New Zealand to prove there had been
no contact, or whether the Challenger would have to prove there was
contact. The answer from the International Jury puts the onus of proof on
the Challenger. - Ivor Wilkins, Louis Vuitton Cup website, complete story:
* For the last series, Oracle BMW Racing's Eric Doyle wore strange
sunglasses with a tiny control pod on one side that produced information.
"That's the heads-up display unit we developed with the help of our
partner, BMW," Doyle said. Technically, it's a BMW Wireless Microdisplay
System that can display wind readings and boat performance on Doyle's
shades. It was originally developed for Ralf Schumacher's Formula 1 helmet
so he wouldn't have to take his eyes off the road. - Rich Roberts, LA
Times, complete story: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-sail7jan07.story
* The so-called Kiwi clip-on, the radical appendage that could seal
another Cup win for Team New Zealand, came not from a Kiwi but from a
stalwart ex-U.S. Navy officer, Clay Oliver of Annapolis. Oliver, a naval
architect and 1973 graduate of the Naval Academy, has been working as a
designer for Team New Zealand since 1996 and was a member of the design
group that drew up NZL 60, the black boat that successfully defended the
Cup three years ago. He had offers to move to other camps but chose to
stay, and late in 2000 came up with the offbeat idea of attaching a
horizontal appendage to the bottom of the next generation of race boats to
increase waterline length, and thus speed. - Angus Phillips, Washington
Post, complete story:
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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 Zachie J de Beer: So, TNZ and Clay Oliver have extended the legacy
of rule bending that was started by the NYYC, built on my Michael Fay,
Dennis Conner, possibly by Alan Bond and now Clay Oliver. I was pondering
over all this last night and somehow it did not make sense for a New
Zealander to have found the loophole, it needs a certain mindset. I was not
surprised this morning when I read that Clay Oliver is from the USA.
On the other hand, does the Cup not live from all the controversy? Would it
be the same spectacle if it were sailed in One Designs? I think not. Maybe
the journalists are funding the attorneys?
* From Robert Middlemas: Moral and sportsmanship issues aside, the "hula"
is a fascinating and inventive solution, no doubt about it. TNZ has done it
again. From this amateur's point of view, anything that is allowed by the
judges or umpires, is legal. Does that make it fair? What's this about
intent? Don't make me laugh! The changing of tunes by the syndicates is
comic. If it is allowed and it is faster, you do it. This is, after all,
the America's Cup.
Additionally, everyone knows how much the mental state of a competitor
plays into winning and losing. Head games are as much a part of sport as
ability. With this in mind, perhaps there is another side to all this that
TNZ seems to fully understand. Even if their bustle is not faster, (and as
long as it isn't slower) what they have effectively done is provided the
challenger with a viable reason to lose. I love this sport.
* From Roger Marshall: The America's Cup has always been about pushing the
rule to the limit. Reliance was one of the first examples, the largest J
class boat ever built. The Park Avenue boom, luff groove devices, the
separate "rule cheating" keel and rudder on Intrepid, the radical stern on
Mariner, Australia II's winged keel, the list goes on.
It is innovation of this nature that helps develop boat designs so that
every sailor benefits. Not every idea is successful and some are only there
to fool the rule, for example, bumps on IOR boats and the hula, but because
of designer's ingenuity these ideas get tested and lessons are learned.
Lets not restrict the America's Cup rule to eliminate innovative ideas;
somebody might come up with a concept that will make every sailing boat go
* From Roy P. Disney (Regarding the "hula"): I wonder if anyone has raised
the question of whether the water flowing through the gap between the
appendage and the hull will, in fact, be accelerated by unintended venturi
effect. If so, this would be a violation of the propulsion rules. Also, how
will it be possible for a competitor to "prove" contact between the
appendage and the hull when the downhill or underwater side of the
appendage will be the side subject to the pressures necessary to press it
against the hull?
* From Peter Huston: Given that the Kiwi's are 0-2 in matter which
pertain to equipment tricks and the Cup (see '88 and '92 series), everyone
shouldn't be so quick to just hand them a wrench to tighten the bolt that
holds the Cup in place at the RNZYS. There have been plenty of other
examples where a measurer has given a boat a certificate, only to have a
Jury take it away because it was ill-gotten.
The Hula isn't an appendage, it's more like a sacrificial mucous membrane.
Too bad, because if they had stayed within the confines of the generally
accepted meaning of the word "appendage", they probably would have come up
with a boat that would have been very hard to beat. Now, they run the very
real risk of losing the Cup forever in the room.
* From Seymour A. Friedel: It seems that the current America's Cup rules
make for legal work and rule interpretation. I do like the Kiwi approach of
"lets draw a fast boat and then figure a way around the rules." At least
they started with the premises of making a boat fast. That they had to do
this is, of course, nuts.
Sailing is just a small microcosm of life itself. Why can't the sailing
community can't make the rules into a one-page affair that will clearly
benefit the vast majority of sailors, designers and manufacturers? We can
start the revolution! A one-page rule! Of course if we do that we won't be
able to argue about the rules, just about boat and team performance.
* From John Mandeno: Meantime, whilst the world has been focusing on the
three sets of appendages, I see Prada out there every day suitable for
sailing, two boat testing. Does this mean they are convinced that the Cup
will stay in Auckland?
LIGHTNING FAST STICKS
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When Class 1 leader Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group - Armor Lux, crossed the
Around Alone finish line for Leg Three at 11:24:43 local time on Thursday
Jan 9th (22:24:43 GMT Wed January 8th), he knocked nearly two days off the
old record for this leg set four years ago by Giovanni Soldini on Fila.
Stamm will now have a full month in New Zealand before the start of Leg
four on February 9.
STANDINGS 2200 UTC January 9 CLASS 1: 1. Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Bernard
Stamm, Finished; 2. Solidaires, Thierry Dubois, 136 distance to finish; 3.
Hexagon, Graham Dalton, 626 dtf, 4. Tiscali, Simone Bianchetti, 652 dtf; 5.
Pindar, Emma Richards, 895 dtf; 6. Ocean Planet, Bruce Schwab, 978 dtf.
CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger, Brad Van Liew, 912 dtf; 2. Everest Horizontal,
Tim Kent, 1694 dtf. 3. Spirit of Canada, Derek Hatfield, 1904 dtf; 4.
Spirit of yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi, 2092 dtf, BTC Velocity, Alan Paris, 2738
dtf. - www.aroundalone.com
JJ GILTINAN 18 FOOT SKIFF TROPHY
Showing form similar to the racing that gave him the JJ Giltinan title in
2002 Howie Hamlin and crew Mike Martin and Rod Howell on GE/US Challenge
won their second race in heat 5 of the JJ Giltinan International Trophy on
Computer Associates day. The finish line was extremely crowded with GE
managing to finish one second in front of the next two skiffs that saw a
dead heat for second place between Trevor Barnabas and crew Matt Felton and
Trent Barnabas on Omega Smeg and Rob Greenhalgh, Peter Greenhalgh and Dan
Johnson on RMW Marine.
The fleet sailed in a southerly breeze of 15-20 knots that had a constant
battle for first place between the top four finishers. It was exciting
sailing for the spectators onboard the ferry that followed the racing.
Standings after 5 heats, no discard: 1. RMW Marine, Rob Greenhalgh GBR, 22
points; 2. General Electric, Howard Hamlin USA, 34.7 points; 3. Omega Smeg,
Trevor Barnabas AUS, 36.7 points; 4. Total Recall, Tony Hannan AUS, 39.4
points; 5. Express Post, Hugh Stodart AUS, 50 points. www.uk18footer.org
The fifth stage of the Clipper 2002 Round The World Yacht Race, part of the
second crew leg, will get underway on Friday, 10 January. The fleet of
eight identical 60-ft yachts will set sail on the "Ko Olina Cup Race," a
4,105 nautical mile journey from Galapagos to the Ko Olina Resort and
Marina in Hawaii. They are scheduled to arrive on February 2. -
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUM
Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?