SCUTTLEBUTT 1243 - January 20, 2003
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THE FAT LADY HAS SUNG
For the second time in his sailing career, skipper Russell Coutts has won
the Louis Vuitton Cup after his Alinghi Team defeated the Oracle BMW Racing
crew on Sunday afternoon in the waters off Auckland.
After almost a two-hour delay due to light winds, Coutts started work
early, luring Oracle BMW helmsman Peter Holmberg into a pre-start penalty.
With that early advantage, Coutts was content to wait patiently for an
opportunity later in the race to make a pass, and that eventually came near
the top of the second beat, when Oracle BMW skipper Chris Dickson elected
not to cover.
The American boat sailed into a light patch and what had been a 150-metre
lead quickly evaporated as the Swiss team charged in from the right. Now
holding the lead at the second top mark, Coutts and his team protected
ferociously the rest of the way, and sailed on to victory.
When the wind eventually filled in early in the afternoon, the weather was
perfect for the coronation of a champion, with sunny skies and a light sea
breeze blessing the Hauraki Gulf. On past performance, the lighter
conditions would seem to have favoured the American team, setting up what
would become a classic match race. On the final run, the Americans actually
regained the lead with some smart tactics and a nice wind shift. However
just before the finishing line, in an effort to engage Alinghi and offload
the penalty, they surrendered it again, going down fighting to the end.
With a weekend armada of over 600 spectator boats surrounding the race
course, the Alinghi Team crossed the finish line ahead of its American
rival to a cacophony of cow's bells and ship's horns, securing a 5 -1
series victory and the Louis Vuitton Cup. The winning delta was two
minutes, 34 seconds.
Many of the Alinghi crew were with Coutts when he first won the Louis
Vuitton in 1995, but for seven sailors on the race crew today, this will be
their first taste of Moët & Chandon champagne from the Louis Vuitton Cup.
With the win, the Swiss Alinghi Team, assembled by Ernesto Bertarelli,
earns the right to Challenge Team New Zealand for the America's Cup
beginning on February 15th. For the second time in a row, there will be no
American boat in the America's Cup. - Louis Vuitton Cup website,
HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
(Angus Phillips' story in the Washington Post examines why Alinghi was able
to defeat Oracle BMW Racing in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup Series.
Here's an excerpt.)
Dickson and crew were playing to their strengths -- downwind speed and
excellent performance in lighter breezes -- until the advantages vanished
like smoke. Conditions seemed perfect for Oracle to put the squeeze on
Alinghi. What stopped the upset-in-the-making?
"I think Oracle helped us a little bit to learn how to work better and how
to handle the situations better," said strategist Jochen Schuemann, a
three-time Olympic gold medalist from Germany. "They did some smart sailing
the way they sail their boat downwind and that was a gain often on us, so I
think we learned from that and we do it more or less the same way now."
Pitman Josh Belsky, one of two Americans on Alinghi and a veteran of four
Cup campaigns, said it was all about adapting. "We had an idea how to sail
our boat based on training sessions with our other boat. But what worked
against SUI 74 didn't turn out to work against Oracle, so we had to figure
out a new way, and Oracle showed it to us."
Of course, change can work for you, as it did for Alinghi, or it can
backfire. Oracle may have been a victim of too much change. The black boat
that started this regatta in October is so different from the one that
showed up for challenger finals, the crew had to learn to sail it all over
again. "About the only thing the same on our boat is the number on the
sails," Dickson said before the finals.
By design, the entry of billionaire software guru Larry Ellison was set up
to evolve as the season wore on from a stiff, heavy-air campaigner in the
early going when strong winds predominate here to a light-air flyer later,
when gentler breezes arrive on the Hauraki Gulf.
The changes went on as planned but apparently no one bothered to factor in
the time it would take for skipper and crew to learn how to sail in the new
modes. Frequently in the finals, Oracle team members complained they were
still learning to efficiently sail with new, larger sails and a lighter
ballast arrangement under water.
Add to that an unsettled situation at the controls, with Dickson and
helmsman Peter Holmberg battling for helm time and the volatile boss,
Ellison, sometimes observing from onboard in the 17th man position and
sometimes from his power yacht, Katana, and you end up with a situation so
unstable it threatens to unravel at the first sign of trouble. Which it
did. Down went Oracle with the crew still working out how to trim the
sails. - Angus Phillips, Washington Post, full story:
TRAPEZE HOOK UPDATE
Tragedies due to trapeze hooks causing entrapment under overturned boats
are, unfortunately, no longer isolated incidents. Our company, Performance
Sailcraft, has been instructed to limit our liability and no longer rig our
29ers and Club 420s with trapeze rings because an alternative exists. We
have obtained the NA distribution rights for the new Bethwaite Safety
Harness that uses no hook. If you are involved with a yacht club or
community sailing program, you can find out more about it on our Website or
contact us for info on what's involved in a conversion. http://www.ps2000.ca
PERSPECTIVE - Tim Jeffery
(The following excerpts are from Tim Jeffery's column in the UK Daily
The winners were like a fine Swiss watch with some Kiwi parts, according to
the American software billionaire Larry Ellison after his Oracle BMW team
were crushed by Alinghi in the final Louis Vuitton trial to select the
challenger for the America's Cup.
With his own skipper Chris Dickson alongside him, Ellison praised Ernesto
Bertarelli's Swiss crew, headed by the New Zealander Russell Coutts, as
"the best sailing team in the world". He said his outfit had made mistakes
and he flew straight out of the Auckland for California in his corporate jet.
Precisely what Alinghi's victory meant for New Zealand was abundantly plain
as SUI 64 sailed into the Viaduct Basin. Three years ago Coutts held the
America's Cup loft as skipper of Team New Zealand's second successive
triumph. In three centuries of Cup history it was the only time a winning
challenger had gone on to retain sport's oldest trophy.
Then Coutts left Team New Zealand and is now pitted not just against his
old team in four weeks' time but, it seems, 3.9 million of his countrymen.
Strip away a cacophony of cow bells, and Alinghi's welcome in Viaduct
yesterday was as quiet and cool as a high Alpine pasture.
* Fundamental to Alinghi's victory was then calm, cohesive control
Coutts's brains trust exerted over their rivals. Already a tight and
talented team when at Team New Zealand, Coutts had added the German
quadruple Olympic medallist Jochen Schumann to his general staff. Alinghi
became a formidable unit. Coming from behind in three of the six races was
emphatic proof. They followed Prada as the second Europeans to reach the
America's Cup match since 1964.
There was a contrast with Oracle's crew. Dickson, having restored Holmberg
to the helm for the final, was always in his ear, telling him how to steer
the boat. A symbiotic sailing team they were not. -
QUOTE / UNQUOTE - Larry Ellison
"It's just that they sailed better. I think that is the best sailing team
and the best sailing I've seen ever in my life."
"Absolutely I'll be back.
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS
* February 5-9: National Sailing Program Symposium, Annapolis, MD.
Specifically directed to those involved with organizing or operating a
sailing program, the symposium is a gathering of the very best people and
resources in sailing instruction, sailing program operation, sailing
equipment and more. For the agenda plus information about registration,
housing and attractions: www.ussailing.org/training/nsps/2003/index.htm
* March 28-30: International Rolex Regatta, St. Thomas Yacht Club, St.
Thomas, U.S.V.I. - www.rolexcupregatta.com.
JULES VERNE TROPHY
The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran seems to have found some
rather more sustained wind, raising hopes that she may have left the
Doldrums behind. By Sunday morning, Geronimo was making 18 knots due south.
If they have indeed left the Doldrums behind, this tricky passage will have
gone very well for the crew, since the giant trimaran has only had to slow
her pace for 24 hours, and even then managed to cover 300 nautical miles
Saturday. On each of her previous 8 days at sea, Geronimo has outrun her
competitor and current Jules Verne Trophy holder, the maxi-catamaran,
* The crew of Ellen MacArthur's maxi-catamaran Kingfisher2 has no fixed
departure date as they await a weather window with strong breeze from the
North. - http://www.teamkingfisher.com
The OneWorld Challenge announced today that the team's owners have decided
to wrap-up operations in Auckland and suspend planning a further challenge
for the next America's Cup until they see how the next event will be
organized and run. Earlier today the team's owners notified members, team
sponsors and the Seattle Yacht Club of the decision to evaluate their
options at a later date.
"The spirit of the America's Cup has to be about tough competition on the
water and camaraderie off the water. Many current and former participants
have wonderful ideas about how to change and improve the event," said
OneWorld Founder Craig McCaw. "I would be happy to be a part of the reform
discussions that I believe are sorely needed, but until I see some
leadership in that area I would not want to proceed and in effect be
endorsing the present situation."
"The OneWorld team is, in our opinion, probably the finest group of men and
women ever assembled for the purpose of winning the America's Cup," said
OneWorld owners Paul Allen and Craig McCaw in a prepared statement given to
the team. "We are proud of the effort that each put forward in the face of
adversity. We hope to be fortunate enough to sail with them another day."-
* The Louis Vuitton Cup Website has a great photo feature containing images
from the first five races of the LVC Finals:
* Chris Dickson compiled a 16-9 record as skipper of Oracle BMW Racing.
All nine of those losses, however, came at the hands of fellow New Zealand
countryman Russell Coutts and the Alinghi squad. Dickson has won more races
in the Louis Vuitton Cup than any other skipper. Since the 1986-'87 Louis
Vuitton Cup he has compiled a 96-36 record. - Sean McNeill, LVC website,
* Terra Nova Trading Key West starts today with sailors from 30 states
and 20 countries racing 290 boats in nine one-design and 11 handicap
classes. The forecast is for temperature upper 60s; wind 15 knots, N-NE;
water temperature 71. - www.Premiere-Racing.com
* Chuck Gilchrest has joined Edson International's marine aftermarket
sales staff. His duties will include sales and customer service of the
marine aftermarket and accessory product lines, building relationships with
Edson's current dealer network and expanding the Edson customer base.
Formerly in the motorsports industry, Gilchrest brings knowledge and
experience in the areas of product development and aftermarket accessory sales.
The best ride in Key West this week may not be on a race boat, but on the
Raider RIB by Aquapro. Superb handling no matter the conditions combined
with a comfortable cabin or stylish console model guarantees your
passengers the most comfortable ride around. Whether in a 22' or a 46'
model, Aquapro delivers the most comfortable ride at the most affordable
prices. Still not convinced? Take a test ride at Terra Nova Key West Race
Week or at the Acura SORC. Call (619) 709-0697 to schedule your ride.
Raider Boats - Quality made affordable. http://www.raiderboat.com
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 Joe McCoy: Please do what you can to squelch any criticism of foul
language aboard racing yachts. If they declare this unacceptable, I will be
banned from racing forever.
* From From Tyler Garrett (In response to Robert Berg): Have you never
heard the expression "curse like a sailor"? Most of the time sailing takes
place far away from anyone except other "cursing sailors". In most other
"spectator" sports there is a huge crowd and an innocent could be offended
by the occasional foul word. Sailing is pretty rough and tumble at times,
and at the upper levels done by teams of rough and tumble boys. Since we
are eavesdropping on Oracle and Alinghi, let's just pretend we are part of
the crew and are throwing a few choice words out ourselves. Get over it.
* From Gareth Evans: Now I'm no prude when it comes to swearing - working
in the construction industry tends to make sure of that. However, we need
to ask what kind of impression we want the non-sailing world to have of our
great sport. The on-board pictures are often some of the most exciting, and
if they are peppered with expletives or bleeps the TV companies may refuse
to show them to a "family" audience. Long term, this could impact further
on the tiny amount of TV coverage that sailing gets. Also do sponsors want
to be associated with this kind of language?
* From Damon Wells: Foul-language issues, obscenities and a few choice
words used on both boats? How about the (was it Alinghi?) crew member
taking a leak off the stern in Race 4? It seemed like he was there for
several minutes and the camera even got the lad zipping up his fly.
* From Jim Senske: On the shifty Hauraki Gulf, it seems that it really
boils down to the human element reading the wind on the water; not the
digital instruments. With all of the talk on OLN about technology and
digital instruments being used to read the windshifts (i.e., the piece
about Eric Doyle wearing a 'hi-tech' mini-computer that presents instrument
read-outs within his sunglasses), I am compelled to ask: Isn't spotting
puffs and reading the wind on the water truly about interpreting subtleties
on the water, not about reading the instrument panel?? It's really about
getting back-to-the-basics: all of the magazines and the 'experts' who
write for them consistently tell us that wearing a good pair of Polarized
sunglasses will high-light the subtle markers that the wind creates on the
water. Clearly, Oracle and Alinghi understood this basic principle - why
else would they race around the course with a man on top of the mast whose
sole responsibility is to call out the next puff and the next big windshift!?
* From Tom Walsh: Congratulations and many thanks to OLN for the amazing
improvement in their coverage of the LVC! As far as I can tell they have
taken action on every constructive criticism that they received early on.
Their coverage with boats, helos and virtual spectator is pretty darn good.
Their final team of Ed, Peter and Dawn as commentators has been doing an
awesome job! Bill Patrick, also, has really brought himself up to speed on
the sport of sailboat racing. Their timing of commercial interruptions is
much, much improved and their "commercial free" leg coverages in the finals
has been like a late Christmas present! On behalf of all my fellow sailors
and racers, Bravo Zulu OLN, job well done. We hope you cover more sailing!
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: While we officially closed the OLN thread many weeks
ago, I simply could not continue to ignore the many positive notes I've
gotten from readers about the vastly improved LVC coverage on OLN. So, we
decided to open that door just far enough to allow this email from Tom
Walsh … which is very typical of many similar notes we've received. And now
we've done that, we will close this door tightly once again.
* From Helen Johnstone: In 'Butt 1242 Russell Coutts "hit the nail on the
head" when he was quoted as saying "the most important decision you ever
make in the America's Cup is the people you hire at the outset. You get
that right and it all becomes a lot easier. It's a lot simpler to manage
good people". It is also important (for the most part) to have innovative
techonology and a strong financial backing but the bottom line becomes the
attitude and the teamwork of the individuals working together to win the
America's Cup. Russell Coutts and his respective teams in each America's
Cup that he has won have demonstrated this with class, good-sportsmanship,
humbleness and a low profile approach.
* From Gregory Scott: As we reach what could be the last days of the
challenger series, I think of those who fallen by the wayside. A reasonable
argument could be made that 500 million dollars have been spent to date by
those seeking to hold the America's Cup. That is a considerable amount of
money. At no time will I suggest that those that wish to play should not
spend their money anyway they wish. All I ask is that we all stop for one
moment and think about this. $500 million dollars. I heard today that
hammerhead sharks have been reduced in numbers by 79% based on the most
recent figures. We all love to play in the water. Let's think about how we
can continue to enjoy the AC and manage our resources to keep the oceans alive.
THE CURMUDGEON'S CONUNDRUMS
Awarded a penalty