SCUTTLEBUTT 1453 - November 7, 2003
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Peter Nichols of Camden, ME, a freelance writer and author of several
boating books, has won the top award given to a boating writer - The Genmar
Trophy - for his published account of the events surrounding the murder of
Sir Peter Blake.
International piracy took on a more unsettling reputation when yachtsman,
explorer and America's Cup and Whitbread Race winner Sir Peter Blake was
killed resisting armed robbers on his 112-foot yacht in Brazil in late
December 2001. Questions remain about the actions of Blake and his crew,
however Nichols offers a comprehensive retelling of the tragedy from
eyewitnesses, including the men charged with the crime, and intones his
perspective of international cruising and the questions captains should
consider in carrying arms aboard. The resulting article, "Incident in a
Nowhere Place," published in Outside Magazine in May 2002, evolves as a
careful news account, memorial to Blake's sailing life plus an
instructional guide to those considering cruising to less developed
Comments by judges for the Award described the article's craft. "An
intriguing and well-written story of mystery, mayhem and murder - but not
just any murder: It is the painstakingly researched and compellingly
presented story of the night that Sir Peter Blake, the most accomplished
ocean-racing skipper of his generation, refused to be robbed by a pack of
punk pirates who tried to board his yacht in a backwater Brazilian port
where he had anchored. Blake's decision to fight back, and ultimately to
die with a rifle in his hands, is a decision the author examines in such a
non-judgmental way that we can all think of how we might react - to roll
over and be robbed or raped, or to stand up and risk death." - The article
from Outside Magazine is available online at:
GOING THE DISTANCE
Onboard Pyewacket for the 2003 Transpac: Five o'clock in the morning,
tropical dawn is less than an hour away. The temperature is mid-80s, the
wind averaging 25 knots, spiking to 29. You're hiking, legs out, wearing
deck sandals, a T-shirt and shorts on a saltwater-washed deck, blasting
downwind under the big kite on one of the most successful sloops in ocean
racing history. The finish line at Diamond Head is less than 25 miles away
now. When the bow wave kicks up spray as it planes through the
three-meter-high swells (at well over 20 knots boatspeed), you don't even
bother to duck the lashing-the water is that warm-plus you know in less
than 2 hours this "e-ticket" ride will be over. Alongside are 13 others who
have shared the unforgettable experience of a passage from Los Angeles to
There can't be any better place on the planet to sail the final miles of an
ocean race than in the Molokai Channel. From my spot on the rail, I take a
moment to think back to my first Transpacific Yacht Race, 22 years before,
aboard the Santa Cruz 50 Hana Ho, locked in a tight race with its
sistership, Shandu. The on-deck speakers were blasting an Allman Brothers
jam, which seemed a perfect complement to the battle raging along, while
"spinner" dolphins escorted us. We had won that race, but not this time. -
Peter Isler, Sailing World, full story:
With the entry list for Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004 on pace to exceed
300 boats for the event that is 2 1/2 months away, the question is where do
they all come from? From across North America and a couple of oceans -
entrants already represent 20 states and 15 countries. But how do they get
to this southernmost point of the continental United States? Any way they can.
The boat that won the Terra Nova Trading Trophy as Boat of the Week last
January---Richard Bergmann's J/105, Zuni Bear---will again be towed coast
to coast from California. It will be making its annual pilgrimage to the
Mecca of winter sailing hooked to the back of a three-quarter-ton truck,
and distance is no deterrent. California has the most entries at the moment
with nine, and Bergmann plans to sail a Southeastern tour of events after
Key West. "The reason we travel is we have so much fun going to the
different venues and racing against different people," he said. "When you
stay in your own pond you don't get that exposure. Key West is a blast, but
it's also the group we get to sail against."
There are many commercial boat movers available for delivery to Key West,
including Peters & May that ships boats from Europe and elsewhere. Joule
Yacht Transport and FT Yacht Services are active in the U.S. Many sailors
take advantage of these professional services, but Bergmann prefers to
manage his own long hauls. He'll drive I-10 across the South all the way to
Florida. He has modified his Triad trailer to cushion road shock, added
numerous extras to protect the boat and carries three spare tires.
Defending champions, Key West veterans and first-timers from all points are
lining up their travel plans. The Melges fleet includes Joe Woods from
Torquay, UK, making his fifth trip, and 14-year-old Samuel (Shark) Kahn,
from Soquel, Calif. and Hawaii, returning to where he first drove a Melges
24 a year earlier---and now wearing the 2003 Melges Worlds crown. The Farr
40s feature returning champions Alex Geremia and Scott Harris, Santa
Barbara, Calif., defending against Key West newcomers Erik Maris from
Porquerolles, France, and Arien van Verndl from Willenstad, The
Netherlands. - Rich Roberts, Premiere Racing, full report:
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BOAT OF THE YEAR
St. Petersburg, FL, Nov. 6 - The big winners at the Cruising World and
Sailing World 2004 Boat of the Year Awards were the Hallberg Rassy 40,
which captured the top honors in the cruising category and the J/133, the
overall performance winner, along with 10 other category winners (see list
Judges for Cruising World raved about the Hallberg-Rassy 40, calling it a
true sailor's boat. It was designed by Germán Frers and built in Sweden.
"The Hallberg-Rassy has maintained a lot of traditional types of quality
while updating the underbody to produce a boat that sails and handles
well," said judge Steve Callahan. Judge Nonnie Thompson added, "It met my
desire for balance, comfort and safety with class. I would be proud to row
away from this yacht."
The Sailing World judges had just as many kind words for the J/133 in that
magazine's 20th annual competition. "The J/133 has remarkable acceleration
for a boat of its size," said judge Chuck Allen. "A great feel for a dinghy
sailor. We had it 'locked in' at 7.6-7.9 knots upwind, and you had to
really work to get it to fall out of the groove. Downwind was even better;
the kite is huge."
The awards ceremony, held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, also honored a
variety of boats in several categories:
- Best Liveaboard Cruising Boat: Hallberg-Rassy 40
- Best Production Cruising Boat: Etap 37s
- Best Performance 40-Footer: Elan 40
- Best Performance Cruising Boat: J/133
- Best Full-Size Cruising Boat: Saga 48
- Best Deluxe Cruising Boat: Discovery 55
- Best Value: Beneteau 373
- Most Innovative: Gunboat 62
- Best Value Racer/Cruiser: Wauquiez Centurion 40s
- Best Performance Design: Farr 36
Models introduced to the North American market between the 2002 and 2003
U.S. Sailboat Shows in Annapolis, Maryland were judged by two independent
panels, which evaluated and tested boats for the respective magazines. The
Cruising World awards focused on production boats laid out and equipped for
coastal and offshore cruising and voyaging. Sailing World concentrated on
boats designed and built with racing in mind. - Sailing World,
* The ISAF website has been battling technical difficulties all week and
has been unavailable. The latest report from Mark Jardine, ISAF Online
Editor, is that the site should be up and running by Friday:
* The 2004 US Olympic Team trials for the Mens and Womens 470 and the Laser
class begin on November 8-16 in Houston, TX. Racing for the Mens and Womens
Mistral class begin November 8-16 in Jensen Beach, FL, while racing for the
2004 Paralympic Team Trials in the Sonar and 2.4 Meter classes begin
November 7-14 in St. Petersburg, FL. The completion of the 2004 US Olympic
Team trials won't occur until early next year. - US Sailing,
* Jean-Luc Van Den Heede set off this afternoon (Thursday) in a 15-20kt
breeze for his fourth attempt at breaking the solo non-stop westabout
global record aboard his 85ft aluminum cutter. Van Den Heede's ambition of
setting a new solo non-stop westabout record foundered when his boat was
dismasted earlier this year midway across the Southern Ocean and a
remarkable 18 days ahead of the time set by record holder Philippe Monnet.
- Sue Pelling, Yachting World, full story: http://tinyurl.com/u0m8
* On the final day of the China Coast Race Week, Oracle BMW Racing took on
K-Challenge in a matchracing spectacle in front of the Royal Hong Kong
Yacht Club's Kellett Island clubhouse. A large crowd was enthralled by the
two talented crews battling it out in identical matchracing boats, with
K-Challenge, driven by John Cutler, eventually winning 4-3. - SailHead
Magazine, full story: http://tinyurl.com/u0mb
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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 nor a
bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best
shot and don't whine if others disagree.)
* From Gail M. Turluck: In the 470's heyday there were fleets everywhere!
Then the big bucks came in ... Buy a new boat every 6 months because the
Magic Box softened the bow. Buy new sails all the time because the
3-regatta-old-ones were shot ... Collegians and young professionals were
driven out quickly!
There used to be pride at yacht clubs boasting that they had Olympic Class
fleets. The $3K 470's price shot up, builders changed, taking the "youth"
the boat was aimed at out. Last I heard a rigged 470with trailer was $15K
... for a one year toy.
The system broke down. Now there are so many one-designs that there's no
ego involved with having an Olympic Class boat any more (perhaps save the
Star, but we all know that Class has class). Is there a club in the U.S.
with a certified fleet in every Olympic Class??
When the Europe was adopted I tried for 2-3 years to find one to test sail.
I was interested and still young enough I might have considered "going the
route." The few who had one were reluctant to loan, there was no used
market, and a fleet system didn't develop.
With boats in fiberglass, unlike wood before the early 60's, people get a
boat they keep for a long time, treat it with kid gloves, and the turnover
simply isn't there.
Do US Sailing members really want their dues being spent on boats for elite
sailors to traipse about the world with??
* From Charles Shumway: I agree with Mr. Fox's comments regarding the 470
Class. There are other numerous issues why the USA will have a tough time
meeting the world competition. Weight and size is critical, very few
regattas in the USA, any large regatta is in Europe, so the costs are high
and no real support financially from the National authority.
* From Pat Dunigan: Re the French Transatlantic Race. Isn't the object to
win the race? Does pushing the boat to the point of sinking accomplish
this? Seems that one could shorten sail as the weather demanded then
increase when appropriate. I think that's called taking responsibility for
ones own self/boat.
* From Craig Coulsen: Regarding Chip Taternick's letter, the mountain
biking example holds a timely warning for yachting administrators and it is
certainly true that yachting is a participation sport. Yachting federations
and clubs are quickly becoming an irrelevancy to the boom part of sailing
which is cruising, particularly weekend cruising. So perhaps yachting
administrators should "chill out" for at least a weekend or two and see why
racing is in decline and weekend cruising is booming because at the end of
the day at some time everybody wants to know if their boat will beat the
one anchored across the bay. So how about looking after the growth area,
not the squeaky wheels as pro sailing is irrelevant to what should be your
* From Joe Quinn: Ken Read's comments make the most sense of anything I
have read on the topic (of Etchells ranking system). For a vast majority of
sailors, this sport is a hobby, something that we do on our own "time." How
we race, or why we race, is each individuals decision. That we race, is the
important thing. What we derive from racing/sailing is our own. The fact
that a talent such as Ken is focused on having fun sailing with his
daughter should be celebrated as much as his world championship. Congrats
to Ken for both of his "wins!"
* From Gary Gilbert, Vice Chairman Board of Governors, International
Etchells Class: On behalf of the Etchells Class and as a ranked "no name"
(Gilbert/Jobson USA 1238), I would like to thank Rick Roberts for calling
our baby ugly (Etchells Class ranking system). The press in Scuttlebutt has
been terrific and reminds sailing enthusiasts what a great boat/fleet/class
I must take exception to the name calling of "no names". At any given
regatta there are numerous names such as Dennis, John, Russell, Pedro,
Stuart, Wazza, Jervis, Jobo (who is on the mend and will be back on USA
1238 soon), Cocko, Noel, Dave, Jud, Bizzy, Cam, Rob, Tim, Vince, Hans,
Kenny and many others. This group is inclusive of amateurs and pros. All
are on a first name basis, all approachable/friendly and all
supporting/enjoying the boat/fleet/class.
Come join the Etchells Class, but until you have five good regattas under
your belt (including a few Worlds) you maybe ranked in the 300's.
Curmudgeon's Comment: Noted sailing scribe and Scuttlebutt letter writer
Rich Roberts states, "I apologize for referring to some lesser-known but
high-ranked Etchells sailors as 'no-names.' It was a poor choice of words.
But I do believe that while participation is the foundation of the sport,
class rankings should be weighted more on performance." Enough said.
* From Barbara Gold: I was glad to finally see Ken say something for
himself. He is so right. This whole ranking is a bunch of nonsense. Closing
the thread on this issue is a good idea because as Ken said, there is no issue.
Curmudgeon's Comment: You are right. We have slammed the door closed …again.
* From Mike Kenney, Fisheries Supply Company: Your comment at the end of
the "Changing the AC Rule" story with regard to getting your copy of the
Seahorse Magazine at your West Marine store is a slap in the face to
smaller family owned companies like ours who carry the Seahorse Magazine as
well. Perhaps you could have worded your closing comment as, "so run off to
your local chandlery and buy the November issue."
* From Becky Wetzel: I think the people enjoying adultery never made it out
"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys
to teenage boys." - P.J. O'Rourke