SCUTTLEBUTT 1276 - March 2, 2003
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ALINGHI WINS 5-0
Alinghi won Race Five of the XXXIst America's Cup Match in Auckland on
Sunday and, for the first time in its 152-year history, the America's Cup
is going to Europe. Ernesto Bertarelli's Swiss Alinghi Team swept away Team
New Zealand in five consecutive races, becoming the first Challenger to win
the America's Cup on its initial attempt.
With his 14th America's Cup win, Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts broke
Dennis Conner's record of 13 America's Cup race victories, adding the five
wins of 2003, to the nine he earned with Team New Zealand in the 1995 and
2000 campaigns. Coutts has also now equaled the legendary Charlie Barr and
Harold Vanderbilt by winning three consecutive America's Cups.
The Hauraki Gulf delivered conditions America's Cup aficionados had hoped
for, and Sunday's race was sailed in ideal weather, with a steady 12 to
15-knot Northeasterly, blue sunny skies, and fair weather cumulus clouds
providing an idyllic backdrop for the drama on the water.
As they have throughout the 2002/2003 America's Cup season, the Alinghi
Team turned in a dominant performance, winning the start, and converting
that early advantage into a solid lead that they protected ferociously.
Team New Zealand tried everything they could to break through, but the
black boat continued to be plagued by gear failure, this time breaking a
spinnaker pole on the second run. In the end, Alinghi was too strong, and
proved to be well deserving of the most prestigious trophy in the sport.
The America's Cup will be collected by Alinghi in the Eastern Viaduct
immediately as the boats return to port. The Official Prizegiving and
closing ceremony will be at the American Express Viaduct Harbour on Monday
afternoon at 16:00. - Peter Rusch, America's Cup website,
THE FINAL RACE OF AC XXXI
Another consummate performance from beginning to end saw Alinghi sweep to a
5-0 victory in America's Cup XXXI. Once again, there was no dial up as the
yachts came into the starting box. Instead, they elected to sail deep into
the box and then line up for a time-on-distance run to the line. Once
again, skipper Russell Coutts and his afterguard timed the run to
perfection, hitting the line at speed as the gun went. Alinghi were to
windward, with Team New Zealand tucked away slightly behind and to leeward.
Both yachts left the line on starboard tack and very quickly Alinghi once
again demonstrated its ability to sail higher than Team New Zealand.
Alinghi led around the first windward mark by 21 seconds. Team New Zealand,
skippered by Dean Barker, reduced the deficit to 18 seconds and 16 seconds
on the next two mark roundings, but then Alinghi stretched away.
The delta at the second leeward mark rounding was 31 seconds, building to
42 seconds at the final windward mark and 45 seconds at the finish line.
Once again, Team New Zealand was plagued by gear failure, breaking its
spinnaker pole towards the end of the second leeward leg. The crew
jettisoned the broken pole for the chase boat to later collect. With a
spare pole on board, the breakage did not cost the team significantly in
terms of time, but underlined the difference between these two teams. -
Ivor Wilkins, America's Cup website, full story:
Alinghi finished the America's Cup season with a 31-4 overall record.
On-the-water they were 30-3. Coutts has set a few records in this event. He
becomes the all-time winning skipper in the America's Cup Match, having won
14 races with no defeats. He also tied Charlie Barr and Harold Vanderbilt
for consecutive Cup wins, three.
While Coutts has won 14 consecutive races, some of his teammates have won
more. Butterworth, Murray Jones (traveller, wind spotter), Warwick Fleury
(mainsheet), Simon Daubney (genoas) and Dean Phipps (bow) all have won 15
races. They're all former Team New Zealand crewmembers. "The record's
pretty exciting," said Butterworth. "It's good to have Coutts one back."
The Kiwis hardly did it themselves. German strategist Jochen Schuemann adds
an America's Cup victory to his four Olympic medals, including three golds.
Grinder John Barnitt (U.S.) won his third America's Cup, having won twice
previously with Dennis Conner (1987, '88). Pitman Josh Belsky (U.S.) has
won his second Cup, having won with America3 in 1992. - Sean McNeill,
America's Cup website, full story: http://americascup.yahoo.com/story2134.html
CHALLENGER OF RECORD
As the Swiss challenger Alinghi crossed the finish line today to win the
America's Cup for the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), Commodore
Pierre-Yves Firmenich received a formal challenge for the next Cup from the
Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) of San Francisco.
GGYC, the club which backed Larry Ellison's Oracle BMW Racing Team in the
2003 competition, becomes the "Challenger of Record" for the 32nd America's
Cup. The Challenger of Record negotiates the rules for the next event with
the Defender, representing the interests of all eventual challengers.
Commodore Pierre Yves Firmenich said, "It is a great honor to have Golden
Gate Yacht Club, and Mr. Ellison's Oracle BMW Racing Team, as partners with
our club, Ernesto Bertarelli and team Alinghi as we go forward with
planning for the next event." Bill Erkelens, Oracle BMW Racing's General
Manager, said that the negotiations between SNG and GGYC representatives
had gone smoothly. "Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison share the same
vision and values for modernizing the Cup.
A press conference will be held on Tuesday, March 4 at the Alinghi Base in
Auckland, New Zealand to announce details of the "Protocol" which describes
the challenge details and other ground rules for the next America's Cup event.
New Zealand skipper Graham Dalton, running in 5th place in Class 1 on Leg 4
of Around Alone, informed the Race HQ at 13:50 hrs GMT on Saturday 1st
March that his Open 60 Hexagon dismasted at 48 07S 59 29W approximately 250
miles NW of the Falklands. The skipper is safe, and has not reported any
hull damage. At 14:30hrs GMT, Class 2 leader, American skipper Brad Van
Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, was diverted from his position at
50 degrees South and 56 degrees West in order to standby to assist Dalton
if required. At 16:15hrs GMT Van Liew was 156 miles from Hexagon, roughly
15 hours away from Dalton's position.
Hours later, Graham reported the mast was gone and the boat was relatively
undamaged. He had started his engine as was heading for Mar del Plata in
Argentina. With that news Van Liew was asked to resume racing and was told
he would be given compensation for the time spent sailing towards Hexagon.
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QUOTE / UNQUOTE
"There was no question today as to which boat was faster!" - Rolf Vrolijk,
Alinghi's principal designer.
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 Doug J. Van Der Aa (edited to our 250-word limit) I'm afraid that
the proposal to mandate the nighttime wearing of harnesses and flotation
smells more like a shameless C.Y.A. move by shoreside race organizers than
a true safety action by on-the-water sailors.
Although I appreciate that this proposal as written only applies to
Category 0 and 1 races, I can already foresee the inevitable trickle down
effect on the Category 2 races that I sail. If this passes it is inevitable
that we will see modifications to the NORs and SIs of the Chicago and Port
Huron Mac races within two years, quite possibly as early as this summer.
Official protestations to the contrary are quite frankly disingenuous if
not blatantly deceptive, and are not to be believed by intelligent men and
women who understand the way the world works. My prediction: in 2-5 years
if this proposal is passed we will see this added to the SIs to Wednesday
night "beer can" series.
American amateur sailors have experienced the challenge, excitement,
teamwork, camaraderie, and yes even the danger of sailboat racing for over
100 years. Now in the race to "safety" the obstacles and barriers to
amateur participation, especially of crews made up of families and friends,
are being erected to new and possibly insurmountable heights.
Are we incrementally going to drive out all the amateurs, leaving offshore
racing to the professional crews alone? I recognize that that would likely
be viewed positively by the major race directors, but would it be good for
* From Brad Butterworth (In reply to George P. Parthemos comments): It is a
great honor to be included for membership in the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club.
Being a 'Butthead for many years I continue to enjoy the comment from
around the world about our sport.
* From Craig Davis: Well, we are embargoing the French for their lack of
support, I think that we should embargo ESPN for their lack of
transmission! Here we are down to the final two races of the America's Cup
and we get to see all of the action taped! I find it incredible that at
this stage of the cup we are forced into this situation by ESPN, so what,
that we can see another inconsequential basketball game or something else
equally exciting! Bring back OLN, we know they would be giving us this
match, probably the final of this Cup.
Can you imagine the public outcry if the Superbowl or World Series were
broadcast taped. It is disgusting that we have to do that to see the
Olympics! And try to call the offices of ESPN, no management in on the
weekend, no one in programming, they tell you to call back on Monday! Isn't
that great, after the Cup is finished and gone! Why bother to bid for
something if you are not going to show it!!
* From William Keaton: I have read with interest the many comments about
ESPN2 postponing coverage, especially for "Streetball". I don't know what
time zone some of these readers were in, but my Race 4 coverage was delayed
by college basketball. Realize that ESPN has contractural obligations of
their own to fulfill. Many of the days they did try to cover live racing
were days scheduled as lay days. Once the RNZYS put out the AC schedule,
ESPN has to make plans for programming, sponsors, etc. While it would be
nice to throw out the schedule in favor of yacht racing, they cannot always
sacrifice their other sports commitments.
While I'm happy to have any TV coverage, be aware that ESPN is hardly
thrilled with the unpredictable nature of the weather (and Team NZ!) and
cannot always drop everything else to cover a race that may or may not ever
start. Race 5, for example. I'm sure they would prefer contest that start
at set times, with a generally predictable duration. Remember Race 2? We
waited 2 1/2 hours for the start of a 2 1/2 hour boat race! 5 hours of
programming blown out in one night. The only other sport that I can think
of with that kind of record is baseball, and they don't usually postpone
games 9 days in a row! Given the conditions, cut ESPN a little slack, and
set your Tivos and VCRs for 11:30PM Eastern Saturday night.
* From Eric Steinberg: For those that would like to cast stones at ESPN,
take a deep breath and relax. Instead of venting your frustrations on the
world stage, take a moment to think about the buckets of cash ESPN must be
losing every day the racing is delayed. They have an extensive production
crew in Auckland who are costing $$ every day in wages and expenses, they
have equipment and studio rentals that are going over the expected budgeted
period (a single tape deck is $500/day), etc., etc. In many ways, be
thankful they have the deep pockets to stay and that they're not packing to
go home to something more profitable.
Television is a commercial enterprise and the essence of yacht racing
isn't, therein lies a fundamental problem. Most major sporting events have
direct dialog with the broadcaster (at the league level and at the venue)
for a particular event in order to enhance the production. In football,
there is a person on the sidelines who is in contact with the broadcaster
via radio and indicates to the officials whether or not there is a
The desire to broadcast an event live is always the fist choice of the
viewer. For some sports it isn't entirely practical for the broadcaster. In
yachting, when the viewers expectations of schedules are not met, I say
suck it up, you can be sure the broadcaster is.
* From Michael Silverman: Perhaps in the minority, I would like to
commend ESPN for their America's Cup coverage. ESPN is not a sailing-only
station; they have commitments to other sports and viewers that cannot be
broken. Expecting them to break said commitments is just unreasonable. When
the NFL decided to change the day of the Super bowl in 2002, they paid a
HEFTY Fine... Almost $9 Million to the NADA to move their convention, as
well as hundreds of thousands to the Mardi Gras Krewes (Parades) that had
to be rescheduled.
ESPN has shown every race of the cup, albeit tape-delayed on the
non-scheduled days. Their director took the chance of adding music to parts
of the race, and I personally think it adds to the drama of a tacking duel.
I don't know if Mr. Page had other commitments, however, ESPN made a change
to their announcers when Mr. Page and Mr. Jobson's on-screen chemistry was
obviously failing, and there seems to be a better flow as a result.
The only thing I would personally ask ESPN to do for us sailors is to
update their website or ESPNews channels to inform us better of the TV
Scheduling. Finding it on their website was anything but simple.
* From Gary Mintz: While I was certainly not happy to discover that ESPN
has decided to delay televising , first race 4 and now race 5 of the
Americas Cup, I must object strenuously to Mr. Fooks' characterization of
the replacement program, "Streetball" . His lack of tolerance could be
viewed by some as, if not typical, perhaps symptomatic of the upper class
sailing elite. Doesnt Mr Fooks realize that as much as we love sailboat
racing, we are a very small minority of sporting enthusiasts. It is
incumbent, especially upon minorities to respect other minorities, lest we
be slandered as unfairly as Mr. Fooks would slander streetball players by
calling them "gangstas". It's fine to be disappointed in ESPN coverage or
lack thereof, but please lets not start spouting invective unfairly. After
all Mr Fooks, you have the final choice, if you don't like what you are
watching, turn it off.
* From Jeroen van der Beek, New Zealand: The issue of Russell Coutts and
Brad Butterworth's membership of the RNZYS should have been decided three
years ago when men of integrity would have resigned their membership. As a
New Zealander I have no problem with Kiwi's sailing on other syndicate
boats. In fact it has added to the excitement and Alinghi must be
congratulated for an outstanding campaign. However when you represented the
RNZYS in originally wining the cup, agree to head the campaign to defend it
and then jump ship at the first cheque book with the intention of taking
the cup away from the RNZYS.
We have a different situation. Imagine working for company A and you are
their star performer. You then leave to assist in forming company B with
the express intention of taking company A's business away from them. Would
you then expect to retain your membership of company A's social club? Of
course not. Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth jumped ship, actively
recruited other members from Team New Zealand and joined Alinghi and were
well rewarded for it. They must be incredibly naive to expect to be welcome
at the RNZYS. This has nothing to do with who wins the America Cup and
being a gracious winner or sadly as it would appear a bad loser, but a lot
to do with the integrity and character of two individuals.
* From Kevin Dibley, Auckland: I can assure you that John Street doesn't
speak for all the members of the RNZYS. I'm sure that he is part of a very
small crowd of members who think this. What about all the other members of
the Squadron who raced with other syndicates? Is their membership to be
questioned? No, I'm sure the RNZYS Committee has noted Street's complaint
and only going through the proper channels of dealing with it in a
professional manner. End result, no change.
* From Handley Richard: Dear Dick Katz - A few facts regarding TNZ mast
break and your question why Alinghi didn't stop racing and offer
assistance. The chase boat for TNZ was about 100m away from the boat when
the mast broke. They got to the boat within about 30 seconds. Isn't it the
chase boat that has all the equipment on board to deal with such accidents?
It looked like that another 2 TNZ boats where around the boat pretty quickly.
The Alinghi Chase boat was further away but stood by the TNZ boat until
there seemed to be enough TNZ boats to assist. It looked like it then took
off at speed to go and shadow the Alinghi raceboat. What is a 25 tonne
yacht travelling at 10 knots going to do to help? I would think that the
safest option would be to sail as far away from the broken boat as
possible. It can't just drop it's sails and motor around like other yachts can.
* From David Tabor: Dick Katz wonders why Alinghi didn't offer assistance
when TNZ lost their mast. While he correctly states that assist boats were
nearby, does he really think trying to maneuver an AC class boat near
enough to lend assistance with 80 feet of broken mast and rigging hanging
over the side in those sea conditions would be a prudent move? The best
thing Alinghi could have done was exactly what they did, get the hell out
of the way. With smaller, nimbler and easier controlled tenders available
*I* would not have wanted an 80 foot boat trying to come alongside me!
* From Mark Weinheimer: I found it interesting to go into the archives
and re-read the Coutts/ Butterworth statement after the former trustees
rebuttal. Interesting that the trustees never confronted what seem to me to
be the pivotal issues in this disagreement. According to their account, C&B
were required to shoulder~$7 million of debt. According to C&B, $5M of this
was to existing "sponsors" ( I always thought sponsors gave you money) -
with the balance as a hedge against future liability.
To add insult to injury, the trustees required that C&B not look for other
sources of funds for 12 months, an eternity in A-Cup timeline. The final
blow was a prohibition on negotiating with "the Family of Five" in terms
other than those already in place. These issues were never addressed in the
trustees statement; instead, they spoke only of who said what on which
date. If the above assertions by C&B are not true, why were they not
contested? When C&B announced their deal with Bertarelli, they had no
contract with TNZ, being unwilling to work under such onerous conditions.
In retrospect, who did the directors get to agree to the conditions they
required of Coutts and Butterworth? Or did they figure out a different way,
a day late and a couple of dollars short?
* From James Stevralia: It is too bad the AC series was changed from the
weather condition rules of the LV races. Whether right or wrong, the boats
are so highly developed that they truly are a limited use vessels, and
should be sailed as such. That is the sport the competitors (owners and
sailors) have opted for. Similar to the difference between an Indy race and
a the Baja run.
It is too bad that two races have been decided by such major equipment
failure. Some observations however, there is no way Alingi could or should
have abandoned race 1 simly because TNZ could not finish, and race 4 proves
it. The boats were all designed in the real world, not in a tank test
controlled environment. If one can handle the conditions safely (?) without
falling apart, the the other must or it loses. Simple. Would enjoy seeing a
couple more races.
Russell has it right. If the AC is going to be the major sailing spectator
sport, it has to be spectator friendly. An independent race committee to
make the judgement on racing conditions together with the broadcster and
not the competitors. It will be fun to see what the organizers come up with
for the next go round.
* From John Drayton: (re America's Cup Trivia - Completing the Course
after Competitor Failure): In the 1885 America's Cup, the American yacht
Puritan fouled the British yacht Genesta during the inaugural race of that
year's Cup. To be specific, Puritan, on port tack, failed to cross Genesta,
who was on Starboard tack; Genesta's bowsprit speared through several feet
of Puritan's mainsail causing significant damage to the American's boat.
The American's acknowledged the foul and immediately withdrew. The British
were advised by the NYYC race committee that they would win the race if
they completed the course, but feeling that would not be sporting, the
British chose to withdraw as well. The American's returned to win the
series 2-0 with a much faster boat.
* From Bill Stump: Let's see - ESPN2 broadcasts the last AC race for the
next several years, after it's over. Virtual Spectator leaves a lot of
their followers on the dock for the finale. And, TNZ broke yet another
stick (boom, mast and, now, pole). Congratulations to Alinghi and thank
goodness the Fat Lady sang!
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Laughing helps - it's like jogging on the inside.