Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT 1468 - December 1, 2003

Powered by SAIC (, an employee-owned company. Scuttlebutt is a
digest of major yacht racing news, commentary, opinions, features and dock
talk . . . with a North American focus. Corrections, contributions, press
releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always
welcome, but save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.

As an old timer I sympathize greatly with sentiments expressed recently by
Craig Coulsen and Tom Donlan. Moderate sized yachts that combine comfort,
speed, strength and good looks are equally attractive to me. When I began
doing designs I was fortunate in inheriting the traditions of Watson, Fife
and Herreshoff. A golden age.

Against us, there seem to be powerful technical factors. The extremely
strong recent synthetics make possible strong hulls and rigs that now
incorporate much higher ratios of power to weight, meaning far greater
speed, than in the past. With the growth of understanding the place of
stability as a speed factor, the effect of crew weight on the weather rail
gradually became demanding and is now universal. The attraction of speed
and the discomfort of spending the off watch exposed to constant spray and
frequent solid water have been powerful incentives to short daytime courses.

Added to those fundamentals are the improvements in transportation and
communication. Worldwide travel to sail no longer means lengthy separation
from family or business, and day racing under sail has attractions that
offset the longer races like Bermuda, Fastnet and Sidney/ Hobart that were
the big three as I grew up. Fortunately they are still sailed but the
winners are different boats.

Though the reasons are subtle, my experience with design suggests that a
successful design must be all of one piece, balanced in every sense of the
word, the components working together, so that old appearance and new
performance are difficult, if not impossible, to combine.

Fortunately there are options. Available, but little used, is a concept
going back to the thirties that can be applied to rating rules for
deliberate type forming. By treating varied parameters as bowl shaped
curves rather straight lines the desirable features can be treated
favorably in a rating formula and those disliked can be penalized more
heavily. This may be coming again. It means encouraging slower boats, a way
to go back to the past, possible, but not broadly popular.

More popular has been the restoration of many beautiful boats from the late
nineteenth century to the seventies of the twentieth. I have been happy to
take part in the replay of my own past experience. - Olin J. Stephens

In the fever that surrounded the announcement of the new venue for the
America's Cup, news of the new class rule for the boats themselves slipped
under the net. So what will the boats be like for the next Cup?

* "Displacements will be reduced and sail areas increased," said Alinghi's
chief designer Grant Simmer. "Typically we're looking at reducing
displacement by a tonne to 24 tonnes and a scope for varying the
displacement of around 250kg."

Increasing the downwind sail area by around 7-8% was seen as a way of
increasing the chances of overtaking downwind by helping the boats to
accelerate quicker as the puffs roll through. But while more sail area is
allowed, the variation has been reduced to keep the boats closer. "Last
time around we could vary our sail plan over a range of about 25m2," said
Ian (Fresh) Burns of Oracle BMW Racing. "Next time around the limit will be
around 5-7m2."

Teams will have one more crew member taking the total working crew to 17
plus one for the 18th man and teams will now have to carry additional 100kg
ballast if they don't have an 18th man aboard. Among the other changes,
keels will be deeper, rigs will be lighter by around 250kg and composite
headfoils and forestays will be allowed but non-metallic standing rigging
for the shrouds will not.

So, as the America's Cup circus rolls into action once again, the next
round of racing promises to be closer than ever before with a far greater
emphasis on crew work than in the past. Not everyone believes this is what
the high octane, design hungry America's Cup really stands for, but aside
from all else, few would argue that close racing doesn't appeal. - Excerpts
from a story by Matthew Sheahan on the Yachting World website, full story:

The Ultimate Sailing calendar, caps, t-shirts, note cards, screen savers,
posters and books all feature Sharon Green's brilliant photography. Check
out the website for all the sailors on your list:

Sailors must face the reality of what ISAF must do and what we are doing
with regard to facing the Olympic Challenges while turning more
self-administration over to the individual non-Olympic Classes.

ISAF has put forth a submission which will hopefully put all ISAF Class
Rule changes in the hands of the various classes to change as the sailors
wish within broad guidelines. The previous system of having to wait once a
year for an ISAF Committee to pass it will be dispensed with. The Etchells,
Snipe, FD, Farr 40 or any other non-Olympic Class will have more control
over their own rules to change when they feel appropriate.

The Olympics is a different story and the event is owned by the IOC and all
technical aspects are in the hands of ISAF and the athletes are in the
hands of the relevant National Olympic Committee. To take issue with
Olympic decisions and relate them to broad-base sailing issues is
instigating a non-relevant inflammatory debate. The Olympic Classes choose
to be in the Olympics and in doing so subject themselves to extreme scrutiny.

Doping is a very good example. ISAF has no control over the testing for
performance enhancing drugs and WADA can change the list or the testing
procedures whenever they want. ISAF and Olympic athletes must accept that
situation. It is the same situation ISAF has with measurement issues or
formats. In Athens, ISAF will institute swing tests on Ynglings, exhaustive
tests on Boards and more diligent tests on sail alterations even to
impounding sails after each race. ISAF has banned any electronics in coach
boats and even made a more complete ban based on an "urgent submission"
after the Cadiz experiences.

I have written just recently on the ISAF Website the differences of the
Olympic Regatta. It in no way relates to 99% of what sailors do. ISAF must
act and constantly face the challenges of the Olympic Regatta. ISAF
submission date is August 1. Cadiz was the World Championship of all
Olympic Classes and was after this date. Issues arising out of this
outstanding event brought up by sailors, media and classes can only be
brought forward as urgent submission by the President to be discussed at
the November AGM and are sent out to everyone. ISAF must not have a "Figure
Skating Scandal" and must face up to the "Win at all costs" Olympic
mentality and endeavor to keep a "level playing field".

If Farr 40 wants No Drops and the Etchells wants 6, it is up to them. The
5.5M has an event where you can only go to the finals if you have won a
race. Their choice. The bottom line is that if a class wants autonomy do
not become Olympic. If a class chooses to be Olympic then they must face
the fact that they have partners: IOC, NOCs, MNAs, and ISAF. Olympic
Classes always have the right to not apply to be designated Olympic as ISAF
never forces a class to apply. This is about the 100th time of explanation.
- Paul Henderson, President, ISAF

The rule that caused a stir in Valencia is the requirement for teams to
drop their skirts - those elaborate contraptions that conceal a vessel's
keel from prying eyes while it is berthed. "Imagine that! It's the best
thing to happen to the America's Cup," said Dennis Conner, the man who
skippered the U.S. Stars & Stripes team to multiple America's Cup
victories. It was one such skirt that allowed the Australian team to beat
Dennis Conner in 1983, breaking the longest running streak in sports. That
year, Australia II hid under its skirt the first ever 'wing keel' -- an
invention that revolutionized boat design and secured the Australians the
first non-U.S. victory in 132 years.

But in the coming America's Cup and its qualifying rounds beginning next
fall, teams will only be allowed to shroud their keels in 2006 -- which is
seen as a crucial design year. "It will eliminate much of the secrecy
that's always gone along with the America's Cup. And that way, it'll also
make for more similar designs," said Oracle challenge representative Tom Ehman.

Drafters of the protocol also hope the rule will help create level playing
field in a sport traditionally dominated by those with the biggest budgets.
"If Alinghi and Oracle were able to skirt our boats right up until 2007, we
could get a definite advantage over the other teams," said Ehman. "But
we're looking to create a race that's more open and fair."

CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: To read or download a copy of the latest (58-page)
draft of the new America's Cup Class Rules:

Purchase embroidered gear for your team before Christmas and get 15% off
Steiner Marine Binoculars, SeaLife dive cameras, or Douglas Gill foulies!
All you have to do is call (888) SAIL-BUM or email
Check out all the loot at

Neville Crichton, owner and skipper of the super maxi yacht 'Alfa Romeo'
and one of New Zealand and Australia's leading businessmen, has been
awarded the Sir Bernard Fergusson Trophy as the Yachting New Zealand Sailor
of the Year in recognition of his remarkable run of wins in Australia, New
Zealand and Europe.

Crichton won thanks to a remarkably consistent series of wins that started
in Australia by winning almost all the local races he could find to compete
in including the gruelling 2002 Rolex Sydney to Hobart. From there he and
the team headed to Europe where he picked up line honours in every race at
the Rolex Giraglia Cup, smashed the Giraglia Race Record and has just
recently won the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Crichton is the first ever to take
the European Grand Slam of the above races in 12 months. - Sail-World
website, full story:

* The rumor-mill gains momentum on Coutts' continued absence from Alinghi's
spotlight. Despite the presence of senior Alinghi sailors and other top
America's Cup skippers, Coutts kept a low profile during the venue
announcement. He also did not skipper for Alinghi in the Mot Cup. Some say
Russell is just taking a break, others see deeper meaning and wonder
whether he will be at the wheel in 2007. - Cup Info website, full story:

* Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker is launching a late bid to compete
at the Athens Olympics in the same class in which Russell Coutts won gold
in 1984. The 30-year-old helmsman will race two Olympic trials next year in
an attempt to be New Zealand's entrant in the Finn class. - Cup in Europe
website, full story:

* Immediately after the America's Cup announcement in Geneva, the America's
Cup, along with a 100 strong delegation of the extended Cup family -
potential challengers, dignitaries, journalists and officials - departed
for Valencia on a private charter flight. Plans announced will see the Port
of Valencia upgraded and renewed, with a canal connecting the Port directly
to the sea, giving the America's Cup boats quick access to the race course.
A metro line from the airport to the Port, and a number of new hotels and
services are also planned. -

*The 245 ft. (75 m) Ron Holland-designed Mirabella V launched within 1% of
her weight estimate, at a displacement of 478 tonnes. She is floating 3
tonnes lighter than her launch weight prediction. Her 150 tonnes lifting
keel will be fitted in Portsmouth next week and her 31 tonnes mast and
rigging will be stepped over the Christmas holiday period. Holland is
predicting that Mirabella V will achieve 20 kts. downwind under sail, while
under power she will reach speeds of up to 16 kts. -

* In a story posted on The Daily Sail website, Team Dennis Conner Director
of Operations Bill Trenkle is quoted as saying, that TDC has not sold USA
66 & USA 77 to the Toscana Challenge, " but we are talking to them." -

Let WMR take care of all your rigging needs before and during KW Race Week.
Located at the West Marine store, 725 Caroline Street. Services & products
include: Splicing, Wire Swaging, Shackles and Cordage by NER, Samson and
Yale. Contact: 888-447-7444 or Cell 803-979-1298. Stop by and visit our truck.

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 Richard Hazelton: With all the talk of growing the sport of sailing,
I think we're just preaching to the choir. While US Sailing does an
admirable job of working with people already involved in sailing, I think
some credit should go to Sail America and their Discover Sailing program.
Introducing the joys of sailing to non-sailing kids and adults will grow
our sport more than just supporting those already there.

* From John A. Drayton: I was able to find several books about Admiral
Cochrane on Amazon, including the one's Bruce Kirby noted as being out of
print, and am looking forward to reading some of these.

Just an observation, but over the years, the Curmudgeon and some 'Buttheads
have referenced or recommended a number of excellent sailing books, some of
which I've actually been able to track down and read (e.g. Lawson's History
of the America's Cup, The Wizard of Bristol). Frankly, I've done a lot
better with Scuttlebutt's recommendations than either the LA or NY Times
Book reviews. With the holiday's coming up, I'm sure there are others out
there who would appreciate it if your readers would throw out a list of any
good sailing books they've come across recently.

* From Jeremy Wyatt, World Cruising Club: In reply to William Elmer's
letter "Am I missing something? Isn't the ARC the "Atlantic Rally for

Mr. Elmer is quite correct, the ARC is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. So
what are VOR60's doing taking part? Well we actually have Racing Division
within the ARC, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. This
year the Racing Division has attracted entries from 36 yachts, from a total
of 208 in the ARC fleet. With a sizeable Racing Division, and a number of
yachts hoping to break the course record, we have to talk about who is at
the front.

However, in our news stories on , the official
ARC website, we try to keep the balance in favour of the majority of the
fleet, i.e. the cruising yachts. So yesterday's lead was about the first
fish strikes of the trip. The ARC is a microcosm of sailing, with
participants from many different backgrounds, incomes, and nationalities.
We try our best to keep the stories interesting for everyone.

* From Bob Kiernan: (Re "$$$; Blah, blah, blah; This guy said...that guy
said...whatever): It's not important any longer. Enough already! And, it's
only just getting started. We should stop the gripping before it starts.
Sailing is the sport and the venue is where and what it is. Go there and
sail! Otherwise can the bitching straight way and sort out what it's going
to take to first get there and then sail well enough to stay for the big show.,

* From Hans J. Oen: Regarding time limits when there are no dropped races.
Jim Capron's description of Annapolis YC's scoring of TLE is fair and
equitable. It is however a fixed number regardless of starters and
finishers. I feel this can even be further improved upon by giving all TLE
boats a median point score between the number of finishers and the number
of starters ( rounded up). I.E. 10 starters - 5 finishers = 8 points for
all DNF because of TLE. Granted, if only one boat finishes, he will get a
big jump (1 point and the other 9 boats will get 6 points each) but it may
not be totally unreasonable to get some reward for finishing.

* From Denis Farley: There have been some interesting comments about
throwouts, both for and against. The fascinating thing about sailboat
racing is that there is no other sport involving racing that is so
dependent on the vagaries of wind, tide, sea conditions, and weather. Not
only are sailors sailing against their competitors, but they are also
battling the elements. In most other racing sports the participants need
only deal with their competitors, and weather conditions rarely have much
of an effect on finishing order. Anything can happen in sailboat races and
usually does because of the very nature of the sport and the variability of
conditions. The potential for bad things to happen in a race is enormous;
collisions, OCS, major wind shifts, breakdowns, simple bad luck, etc. It
only makes sense to have throwouts in this great sport that is the most
challenging of any sport I know.

* From John Williams: While I enjoyed Michael Foster's letter in SB 1466,
one point struck me because it is often trumpeted by detractors of handicap
systems - he said that if a pursuit start is used and the handicaps are
accurate, then everyone should finish at the same time. I'm sure I'm
reading too much into his statement and the context in which it was made,
but it bears clarification that everyone would finish at the same time only
if they all sailed their rating. Sailing your rating under at least the
Portsmouth system assumes you got the start you wanted and sailed a perfect
course in the same conditions that everyone else had.

There are scoring programs (notably Sailwave) that calculate race
statistics including what a competitor's rating would need to have been for
them to have won a particular race. We're finding in the multihull fleets
that the post-race barroom karate debrief is greatly enhanced (both in
decibles and mirth) by comparison of these numbers as well as the normal
finish positions. For example, flipping a Nacra Inter 20 three times in a
single 55-minute race will make it as fast as a Hobie 16... hey, this gives
me an idea for a new regatta format!

Miser: A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.