SCUTTLEBUTT 1272 - February 26, 2003
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CYANIDE LETTER THREAT TO CUP
A national security alert has been sparked after the discovery of a letter
containing cyanide which makes a terrorist threat to the America's Cup.
Letters were sent to the United States Embassy and the British and
Australian High Commissions at the same time last week. Two contained a
powdered substance that police have since found to be harmless. But the
third contained cyanide.
Police have not revealed which diplomatic mission received the cyanide
letter and refuse to disclose contents of the message to diminish copy-cat
actions. The threats have led police and health chiefs to make a rare
public warning for all New Zealanders to be vigilant when taking public
transport, eating in restaurants and public places or eating packaged foods.
The letters were intercepted at the South Auckland Mail Centre on Thursday
night after staff noticed powder on a conveyer belt used to carry mail. A
copy of the letter, also containing powder, was received by the New Zealand
Herald on Monday. It was taken away by police. The substance was analysed
and found to be harmless.
The letter writer warns that an escalation of events in Iraq could trigger
terrorist action. Police said similar threats were leveled at the America's
Cup. The level of security at the Viaduct Basin, the hub of cup activity,
is being constantly monitored, police say. America's Cup competitors had
been advised of the threat and would look after their own security
precautions. - Excerpts from a story by Patrick Gower, Paula Oliver and
Alan Perrott, NZ Herald, full story:
MEANWHILE - AT THE VIADUCT BASIN
Life slogged on as normal at the America's Cup following a public warning
from anti-terror police after letters containing cyanide crystals and white
powder were seized by postal workers. Two policeman took time out from
patrolling the stormy waterfront to play a match-racing video game at the
Swiss compound, bartenders were pouring pints before noon and idled sailors
raced remote-control, scale-model boats in front of the sheds that house
the real sloops.
* Some of the Swiss crew, including syndicate head and navigator Ernesto
Bertarelli, raced their remote-controlled yachts, using a small inflatable
cow for one of the buoys. Alinghi spokeswoman Veronique Teurlay said
security was normal at the Swiss base. "This situation should be handled by
the authorities and not by us directly," she said. "We're trying to avoid
panicking and things like that." Bernie Wilson, AP, posted on the Fox
Sports website, full story:
AC RACE SCHEDULE
Yes - there is an America's Cup 'scheduled' for today. Here's the
MetService weather forecast for the Hauraki Gulf, issued at 1730 26
February 2003 - valid until 1159 Thursday: Southeast 35 knots gusting 50
knots. Winds easing to 30 knots gusting 40 knots in the morning. Very rough
sea easing. Poor visibility in periods of rain. Outlook for until midnight
Thursday: Easterly 20-30 knots. Showers. -
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A Swiss flag was left gathering dust instead of flying atop the Auckland
Harbour Bridge during the first three races for the America's Cup.
Switzerland Ambassador Sylvie Matteucci says a large Swiss flag for the
giant bridge pole was available on the day of the first America's Cup race
on February 15. The Central Leader reported on Friday that motorway
operators Transit New Zealand decided not to unfurl a Swiss flag on the
bridge, after seeking Team New Zealand's opinion.
* Giant "Loyal" and New Zealand flags flew from the bridge during the
cup's first three races, until Transit lowered the Loyal flag for
"maintenance repairs". It was replaced by a second New Zealand flag, but on
Sunday this was dropped and the Swiss flag hoisted instead. Ms Matteucci
says the Swiss flag was sent from Switzerland immediately after Swiss
syndicate Alinghi won the Louis Vuitton Cup in mid-January. Alinghi
spokeswoman Sanna Fowler confirms the Swiss flag was made available for the
start of the America's Cup series.
During the 2000 America's Cup, the Italian flag, representing challenger
Prada, flew from the bridge alongside the New Zealand flag from race one. -
Phil Taylor, Central Leader, NZ, full story:
THE SHRINKING OLYMPICS
The IOC Executive Board made their decision on the IOC Olympic Programme
Commission's proposal to reduce events for some sports and totally exclude
some sports from the Olympic Programme. Sailing was threatened with a
reduction in events from 2008 onwards, with the Olympic Programme
Commission targeting the keelboat event.
The International Sailing Federation lobbied the IOC to retain the current
eleven events through until 2008, with an acceptance that there may need to
be a reduction in events and athletes come 2012 as part of the strategic
review of the entire Olympic programme. The IOC Executive Board decided the
following in respect of sailing:
-Sailing (ISAF) - reduction in athlete quota and number of events
The IOC EB has accepted the ISAF's proposal to reduce the number of events
from 11 to 10 and the athlete quota from 400 to 380 starting from 2012, as
the sailing events in 2008 will not be taking place in the Olympic host
city." - ISAF website, www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=3957
JULES VERNE TROPHY
Slow - Real Slow. Since Tuesday morning, Geronimo has been close on the
wind (at 31° actual) to try and force her way through the centre of the
small depression to her north. The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew
then hope to pick up the northern edge of the low pressure area and catch
its westerly winds. As they wait, the crew has continued to use the calms
to overhaul the entire boat as she runs at reduced speed. 24 hour run -
just 233 nm. http://www.grandsrecords.com
THE BIG QUESTION
Over a year ago, a group of us from Team Pendragon in Marina del Rey joined
the Curmudgeon at the Bitter End Yacht Club for the first annual meeting of
the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club. Held in conjunction with the Dry Creek
Vineyard Pro Am, it was a fantasy sailing week for me! Luck had it, I was
assigned to race with members of the Swedish Women's Match Racing Team. Not
only was it a fantasy week, but a reality week as well.
With Buttheads from around the globe gathering, I was also fortunate to
meet Miss Kellie Fennessy, there with a group of her friends from San
Francisco. Starting with a competition in a limbo contest (which she won!)
we have been together almost continuously. I would like to take this
opportunity to thank the Curmudgeon for bringing us together and with
special permission from the Curmudgeon, ask one question.
"Kellie Fennessy, will you marry me?" - Mike Priest
Solid race leader for three out of three legs, Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm
on Bobst Group-Armor Lux, has just been forced to relinquish his lead to
his closest rival, French circumnavigator Thierry Dubois on Solidaires. At
20:24hrs GMT, Bobst Group/Armor Lux came alongside the pontoon at Port
Stanley in the Falklands Islands. It is a real race against time as this
stop will incur a 48 hour penalty for Stamm, as well as the time in port.
At best, Bernard can hope to finish still in either 2nd or 3rd place for
this leg, as both Dalton & Schwab are expected to stop to fix their broken
booms as well.
Class 2 leader Brad Van Liew remains well over 500 miles ahead of his
nearest competitor, Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal but they are in two
totally different weather patterns. While Kent has relatively benign
weather, the same cannot be said for life on board Tommy Hilfiger Freedom
America: "It has been gusting to 63 knots. Right now the wind is blowing
right off the ice and it's very cold. It's also wet with water everywhere.
I can't wait to get to the Horn, around the corner and out of this place."
STANDINGS: 2200 UTC February 25 CLASS 1: 1. Solidaires, Thierry Dubois,
2488 miles from finish; 2. Bobst Group-Armor Lux, Bernard Stamm, 37 miles
behind leader; 3. Tiscali, Simone Bianchetti, 425 mbl; 4. Hexagon, Graham
Dalton, 456 mbl; 5. Ocean Planet, Bruce Schwab, 641 mbl 6. Pindar, Emma
Richards, 698 mbl.
CLASS 2: 1. Tommy Hilfiger, Brad Van Liew, 3325 miles from finish; 2.
Everest Horizontal, Tim Kent, 627 mbl; 3. Spirit of yukoh, Kojiro
Shiraishi, 851 mbl; 4. BTC Velocity, Alan Paris, 1278 mbl; 5. Spirit of
Canada, Derek Hatfield, 1487 mbl.
The ISAF has launched the updated Race Officials' website. There is
information about becoming a Race Official - Judge, Umpire, Measurer or
Race Officer - attending seminars, or applying to host a seminar. With
links to the online ISAF Manuals, including the Judges, Race Management,
Umpires and Match Racing Manuals, Rapid Response Calls and more, there is
plenty of useful and downloadable information.
The searchable database of Race Officials allows you to source ISAF
qualified Race Officials by country location, nationality, status and
language ability, or a combination of any of the above. The Race Management
and Event section provides direct links to standard documentation, such as
Sailing Instructions and Notice of Race, Protest Forms and Hearing
Schedules, Rule 42 Forms and more.
Need some scoring software, the site profiles three providers offering
excellent software. Additionally, each of the providers' software also
incorporates the ISAF Sailor programme, allowing the results to link direct
to the sailor's online biography. Check out the latest world news on Race
Officials, which is drawn straight from the ISAF News Index, or go to the
advanced search options. The site also details any sailors currently
suspended from competition. - www.sailing.org/raceofficials
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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced today that more than 14,000
copies of the World Anti-Doping Code have been downloaded from its website
since the final version of the Code was posted five days ago. The document
will be presented for acceptance at the upcoming World Conference on Doping
in Sport March 3-5 in Copenhagen, Denmark. -
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 Bob Kiernan: The mention of the rig from Kingfisher2 still afloat
has me concerned. As an ocean racer I have hit stuff. The rubbish this
world leaves in space should be a good example of what not to continue to
do to our oceans. There has been lots said on this subject but, what are
the possibilities that the rigging, those hundreds of pounds of sail
material, fittings, line and the section itself staying afloat for any
period of time?
If we are going to continue this type of racing who's to say we don't
station checks along the way if for no other reason, be there to assist in
emergencies. To pick up this flotsam & jetsam or be a movable mark. The
Race had a boat in the lower latitudes. Not a ship a maxi but it was there
if needed. It's not like we don't have scheduled races to circle that icy
rock to the south. We could, and I'd do my time aboard a ship there for the
purpose of covering these surface skimming spaceships.
* From Ed du Moulin: If and when Mr. Bertarelli and his Alinghi team win
the America's Cup he should bear in mind that the Cup does not go to him.
It goes to the yacht club he represents. The defending club runs the
regatta. It is their race committee which runs the event. It has always
been so and I hope it continues that way. For those who remember Newport,
it was standard procedure for boats to try to influence the race commitees
with respect to whether they should start or delay the start.
* From Sherwood Kelley: You can't help but wonder if Russell and Ernesto
discussed the possibility of not crossing the finish line after their
sail-around in Race #1. Paraphrasing another AC skipper of many years ago,
he said he did not continue racing after the other boat had broken down
because he had come to race, not do a sail-around. That was an
extraordinary gesture, but given the current atmosphere in NZ, how much
would Russell have improved his image locally if he had simply dipped below
the finish line instead of crossing it? How much of a true gentleman
Ernesto would have been seen as if he had given the order to do so? What
did they really have to lose vs. the gain? Let's hope the AC is not won 5-4
with that one race--and how they handled it--being the determining event.
Behavior is still a big factor in yacht racing, regardless of the
* From Andrew Troup: The traditional format of the America's Cup is
essentially designed for the participants. It constitutes a severe and
unusual test for them. In lesser degree, it is also a test for the
interested members of the public. It is a test of their patience,
fortitude, fatalism, and their interest in subtle stratagems and Byzantine
Many of these are anachronisms today, having been smoked out of the few
other bastions where they could once be found, in the interests of
'modernity'. As someone else has pointed out, the AmCup is essentially a
C19th competition, and perhaps the only high-profile "Challenge" trophy
which is still around. (Match-racing, I feel, is itself a test, with
similar attributes. It does not have mass appeal. It is a relic from the
days when people played sports at high levels with relative disregard for
whether anyone else cared.)
If I am right that the America's Cup constitutes such a test, and if this
is a test which you, personally, "fail", perhaps it would be more
appropriate to choose other tests, rather than to try to get this one
re-written. The acid test for whether the test no longer has merit, is
this, and this alone: Will a challenger challenge?
* From Kimberly I. Thomas: I, for one, believe that the America's Cup
should be a National endeavor. The Deed of Gift says "between countries."
What does it mean to say "Switzerland holds the cup," when there are more
Kiwis than Swiss on the boat? I believe that anyone sailing on a challenger
or defender, should have been a citizen of the "country of record" at the
time of the last race. We have many other races for multi-national
syndicates. I think the America's Cup should be special and be a race for
* From Jordan Murphy: With mention of eliminating non competitive
teams,(Ernesto 2-24) now is a good time to raise a question. In the last
Cup, TNZ said not sailing the elims was not a problem, the reason being
that so many teams were not fast. So the effect could be detrimental and
elusive as well.This time around the feedback seems to be that the not
racing in the early rounds is bad for TNZ, or could at least in part be
contributing to the current situation. From where I sit, it appears to me
that it is those managing and sailing that make the difference. It would be
nice if the finer points of the sport came across the airwaves, that is if
* From Peter Cullum: If people didn't lose patience with America's Cup
during all the back biting and legal shenanigans leading up to the finals,
maybe they can stick with it long enough for race four to actually take
place. The organizers are lucky ESPN doesn't mind re-running and re-running
the previous 2 1/2 races. Filling the time slot with Aussie 18's racing
would probably kill interest in watching the A.C. with a single airing.
* From Simon Smith: As a long time reader but first time correspondent to
scuttlebutt I felt I must write re article by Jan Corbett in the NZ Herald
regarding Russell Coutts. As a NZer I was embarrassed by the completely
childish nature and inaccurate nature of the article. It smacks of third
rate journalism by a person who has never met the man and after this
article I am sure never will. It is completely sensationalist and attacks
not the character of the man but his physical characteristics. Please do
not fellow readers accept this as an example of any work worthy of your
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
You know it's the 21st century when your daughter sells Girl Scout cookies
on her website.