SCUTTLEBUTT 1324 - May 7, 2003
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NEW ZEALAND COMMENTARY
What a calamity. It is the only way to describe New Zealand's decidedly
leaky defense of the America's Cup in light of the damning review released
on Monday. There is an overwhelming feeling the New Zealand public was
badly let down by a less than professional and hugely costly exercise. It
is clear Team New Zealand were hardly in a position to successfully defend
the cup and spent $90 million, 50 per cent more than the original forecast,
in the process.
It amounted to a huge waste and one that will probably never be lived down.
The management and the crippling damage to the spare race boat have been
blamed for the failed campaign, but as Yachting New Zealand's Peter Lester
has said, the sailors had to take a significant slice of the responsibility
Skipper Dean Barker would have to be top of that list, particularly as he
was also part of the management. If things were not right, and clearly they
were not, he was in the best position to have them corrected provided he
was up to it. In the end the sailors were poorly prepared, which comes back
to Barker, and they had no confidence in their boats, which turned out to
be wildly expensive duds.
Where ever one looks there is the smell of failure and a lack of
accountability and proper planning. It smacks of Team New Zealand having
little respect for any of the challengers till it was too late, and a
callous disregard of their backers. When strong leadership was called for
there was none. It emphasized how disastrous it was that Grant Dalton was
not invited to be the boss till after the cup had gone.
What occurred should result in most New Zealanders saying enough, and
wanting to wash their hands off any future challenges. If you were a
sponsor of such a shambolic campaign you would hardly be queuing up to be
involved again. After the publication of the report you would be in damage
control and hoping people would not start quizzing about what happened.
New Zealanders are not used to such vast sums of money being miss-spent.
Other sports looked on enviously and even a little sourly as the cup soaked
up so much potential sponsorship money from them, and people gloriously got
on the bandwagon created by the cup, including the New Zealand Government.
The Government has even agreed to give $5 million of taxpayers' money to
kick-start a possible challenge, which Dalton has the responsibility of
putting together. Monday's revelations will only make an already daunting
task more difficult. The first thing potential backers will want is
assurance that any challenge is not the lemon the defense clearly was.
While the management has taken responsibility for what happened we have not
seen any resignations. The saga of the cup is sadly among the more sorry in
our sporting history and it will more than satisfy those who were long
disparaging of big players and their expensive toys. - Peter Bidwell, The
Dominion Post, New Zealand, full editorial:
HEADS WILL ROLL
Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton expects there will be
changes to the sailing crew if the syndicate challenges for the next
America's Cup. Dalton says there are members of the sailing team who will
not be there should a challenge go ahead in Europe. "There is no doubt the
afterguard going forward will change," Dalton said in an interview on
NewstalkZB yesterday. Asked if Dean Barker would be the skipper, Dalton
replied that he was at the moment.
Dalton is signing key personnel and trying to raise the $120 million needed
to fund a challenge in Europe. A decision on whether a challenge will go
ahead will be made this year. - NZ Herald, full story:
"BAD BOYS" WIN F-28R NATIONALS
Congratulations to Bob Harkrider and the crew of "Bad Boys" for winning the
F28R Class at the 2003 Corsair Trimaran Nationals held in Pensacola,
Florida. This is the second big win of the season for Bob's "Bad Boys" who
sailed away with first place at this year's Key West Race Week. If you and
your crew are ready for the "Fastest Sails on the Planet" give your local
Ullman Sails loft a call or come visit us at http://www.ullmansails.com
FOR THE RECORD
David Pescud, co-founder of Sailors With Disabilities (SWD), has announced
that he and six fellow SWD members will circumnavigate Australia non-stop
and unassisted on the group's Lyons 54' yacht, KAZ. In doing so, the crew
aim to beat Kanga Birtles' unofficial time of just under 44 days, set in
1999 and therefore create an official World Record for both able-bodied and
The crew, which comprises David Pescud (Skipper), Phil Thompson, Kim
Jaggar, Harald Mirlieb, Allan Grundy, Albert Lee and Brett Pearce, plan to
circumnavigate in an anti-clockwise direction, due to weather patterns at
this time of year, and will leave sometime in May when the conditions are
favorable. Pescud said the crew were also sending an environmental message
to all Australians, and for their part, will retain all rubbish onboard
their yacht until the finish. - ISAF website,
GROWING THE CLASS
In the last month the five countries of the southern Caribbean (Barbados,
Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Trinidad) have together ordered 36
Optimists with the help of grants from the International Optimist
Association. This brings the number of Optimists there to nearly 60. All
are owned by clubs or associations and it is a condition of the grants that
the boats be available to the children of non-sailors.
Two boats have also been given to Angola under the International Optimist
Dinghy Association (IODA) "6 for 5" scheme. IODA also announced that it is
paying the entry and charter fee for two sailors from countries
participating for the first time in IODA Continental Championships this
year. These include Georgia, Kenya, Kyrghyzistan, Netherlands Antilles, Sri
Lanka and Uganda. - Robert Wilkes, www.optiworld.org/ioda-develop.html
Team New Zealand boat builder Mick Cookson yesterday said he warned the
syndicate of flaws in the structures of their America's Cup boats months
before the match against Alinghi, but was ignored. And Cookson, who remains
convinced NZL81 and NZL82 are the best America's Cup boats he has built,
also hit out at the performance of Team New Zealand's sailors, saying that
"average sailors can make a good boat look bad."
The design and the performance of Team New Zealand's black boats with their
controversial hull appendages came under fire this week when the syndicate
released a report reviewing the disastrous defense. It revealed the
design-led Team New Zealand campaign suffered a major "catastrophe" when
training boat NZL81 suffered "crippling hull and deck structural damage" in
early December, and then again just before race one. That damage meant the
syndicate had nothing to trial their race boat NZL82 against, and
undermined their confidence in their race boat.
The cause of the failure has yet to be determined, but it is understood to
be related to the compression from the load of the rig which caused a
buckling effect. Cookson, who built Team New Zealand's 2000 cup-winning
yacht NZL60 and its sister yacht NZL57, said the failure of NZL81 could
have been avoided.
The North Shore boat builder, who was also involved in the New Zealand
challenge in 1992, admits he had concerns about the structural elements of
the boats which he raised with Team New Zealand designers. "They double
checked all their numbers and came back and said it was all right," Cookson
said. However, still concerned, Cookson took the issue up again with the
designers, but to no avail.
"The failure of NZL81 came as a surprise to the boys that had done the
numbers. It didn't shock me because it was the area that we had questioned.
I know what could have prevented it happening and I told them. "But they
are the numbers people. It was frustrating at the time to have to send boys
in there to work all night trying to fix it."
On reflection, Cookson said there were a number of things that could have
been done differently. - Julie Ash, NZ Herald, full story:
* Summer Sailstice - a global holiday celebrating sailing annually on
June 21st, the solstice and the longest sailing day of the year - will
donate $1 for every registered sailor to Seacology, a global non-profit
organization dedicated to the preservation of island ecosystems and
cultures. Summer Sailstice is supported by donations from West Marine and
private individuals. - http://www.summersailstice.com /
* Vanguard Sailboats, West Marine, The Walt Disney Company and Gill will
continue to provide sponsorship for US Sailing's Youth Championship Regatta
to be held June 20-26 at the Milwaukee YC. Considered the premier youth
sailing event in the country, the U.S. Youth Championship provides
competition for the Nation's top 150 junior sailors selected by resumes. -
*The New Zealand Government's $5 million grant to Team New Zealand stands
despite a damning report of the team's defense of yachting's America's Cup.
Trevor Mallard, the minister responsible for the America's Cup, said in
Dunedin yesterday that Team NZ had told him it would treat it as a loan and
repay the money if it did not launch another challenge. Mallard said New
Zealand still had the sailing talent for another challenge. -
Later this month, ISAF President, Paul Henderson is meeting with
representatives of Americas Cup holders Societe Nautique de Geneve to
discuss the next America's Cup Match. Following this meeting, an invitation
is extended to all Grade 1 and 2 event organisers to meet with the
President and the Chairman of the ISAF Match Race Committee, Rafael
Wolontis (FIN) at the ISAF Secretariat in Southampton on 10 June. At this
meeting, the future of Match Racing and the lead up to the next Americas
Cup in 2007 will be discussed.
There is an urgent need for ISAF and the major Match Racing organizers to
discuss some of the most important features and issues surrounding this
discipline of the sport. Among items under discussion will be:
- Top level Match Racing Events and the Americas Cup
- The ISAF Umpire program
- Umpire Appointments to Graded Events
- The ISAF Match Race Ranking System
- The Match Racing Rules
HARKEN RELEASES NEW TRAVELER DESIGN
Harken's latest traveler design features captive ball bearings - a first
for travelers. Stainless steel wire guides permanently contain the balls
and ensure a smooth ride so you can toss away that car loader and simply
roll cars on and off the track. For more details on these travelers:
Alinghi, the Swiss team that won the America's Cup earlier this year, will
decide by mid-December where in Europe to host the 2007 competition, on the
basis of the best meteorologic condition and facilities available, team
officials said Wednesday. "The priority will be not losing too many racing
days as a result of adverse weather and sea condition," Alinghi's sport
director and strategist, Jochen Schuemann, told a news conference in Milan.
The schedule of regattas off Auckland in the last competition was often
disrupted by adverse weather.
Alinghi's skipper Russell Coutts will be part of the group in charge of
selecting the host city. The cities selected so far, out of 160 bidders,
are Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia, Spain; Naples, Porto Cervo
(Sardinia) and the Elba island, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; and Marseille,
France. Schuemann said the number of bidders would be cut to four by the
end of May with the winning venue announced by mid December.
A number of regattas, open to Alinghi and Cup class boats, will be
organized from September through 2005, to have the teams confronting ahead
of the America's Cup, Alinghi officials said. The first of the planned
regattas will be held off San Francisco in September but most will be in
southern Europe. - nzoom.com website, full story:
It is easy to be blase about sailing solo around the world. In race form,
it has been with us since the Sixties. And, as the first man to do it
non-stop, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, likes to point out, 40 years on only 120
or so have achieved the feat. Emma Richards is now part of that elite
group. On Sunday night, she became the only British woman to complete the
Around Alone race. "I'm proud to have finished the race - but as a
competitor, not a woman," she said.
Richards is giving up single-handed racing, other than the small matter of
the Plymouth-Newport STAR transatlantic in 13 months. "Emotionally I am
glad the race is over to be honest. I enjoyed it as a whole hugely, but not
the time on my own." Richards loves her time at sea, but not the solitude
of the three to four-week stages. The extraordinary beauty and grandeur of
the oceans are something to be shared. So, too, are the risks and anxieties.
* In a few weeks, Richards and her backer, Andrew Pindar will decide
whether to build a new Open 60 monohull or buy one of the best of the
current fleet for the next three years' campaigning. This will entail
sandwiching the 2003 and 2004 Transat Jacques Vabre, a French two-handed
transatlantic race from Le Havre, either side of the STAR, plus as much of
the growing fully-crewed racing now developing for Open class boats. Ruling
out the 2004 Vendee Globe - the non-stop equivalent of the Around Alone,
and arguably the pinnacle of Open 60 class racing - is an unusual career
move. - Tim Jeffery, The Telegraph, full story:
IT'S NOW OR NEVER
Grant Dalton fears New Zealand may never again challenge for the America's
Cup if a 2007 bid isn't confirmed. The new Team New Zealand boss is charged
with investigating whether a tilt at getting the Auld Mug back from Swiss
syndicate Alinghi is viable. But in his mind it's now or never.
He believes escalating costs and exiting the technology race would be fatal
to New Zealand, especially without the luxury of a billionaire benefactor.
"If we don't go we're gone . . . it won't happen again in our lifetime,"
said Dalton as he began number-crunching for a campaign in Europe. He cited
Australia's slump after losing the America's Cup in 1987 as an example of
what could happen. - Duncan Johnstone, Sunday Star Times,
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 Brent Foxall Now that the court is out on TNZs failure to defend
the cup, it is interesting to see where the fingers are being pointed. The
Team weather program obviously advised for a boat trending toward the
lighter side of the wind range as you would, for that time of the year. In
2000, I doubt the boat would have had similar issues going around the
track. Surprising that few seem to talk about the fact that Coutts was
usually always bow out by 5 metres on most starts. Giving the best sailor
in the world a jump at the start is not a good formula for success. Go the
* From Ken Brooke (re Great American II vs Sea-Witch): Has there ever
been a less even playing field than the one on which Great American is
trying to beat Sea-witch's record. Outside assistance means
disqualification in my view. How about a fast powerboat just behind GA with
a bloody great fan on the front to push them through the doldrums. Oh by
the way how unfair having to hand steer for some of the time.
* From Bruce Gresham: The lesson to share about Brad Van Liew's victory
in the Around Alone race is focus. Since he was a teenager his focus has
been to compete in, and win the Around Alone race. Against many odds, good
and bad economy, and a lot of ney sayers...he did it. Thinking about
winning your (insert your sailing goal here) championship? Focus, and don't
get distracted by all the other stuff.
* From Richard Thomas Clark: I don't know about you guys, and sheilas of
course, but the story of Tim Kent brought a tear to my eye. This guy
represents, to me at least, all that is good and noble about the human
spirit and all the blathering over Americas Cups and sponsorship and
luffing and poker playing moralists, and, - well, it's all in the execution
and how each of us practices it. If my two daughters can walk through life
with such a example to inspire them, I will know I have done A-okay.
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled.