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SCUTTLEBUTT 1554 - April 5, 2004

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.

Malta's reputation as an ideal sailing destination has gone from strength
to strength lately. The Rolex Middle Sea Race, fast becoming one of the
most popular regattas in the Mediterranean, has inevitably lured to our
islands some of the best syndicates from around the world including the
likes of UK maxi Nokia and Alfa Romeo, billed the top racer around. They
all shared the opinion that our islands have a great potential for
top-class races.

Yesterday, this statement was given the thumbs-up from another illustrious
personality in the sailing world - Russell Coutts. This highly successful
skipper, accompanied by another top sailor, Paul Cayard, was here this week
to take a closer look at the possibility of local organisers staging 2007
America's Cup pre-race regattas in our waters. Coutts and Cayard toured
Malta's sailing facilities and even had talks with government ministers
Louis Galea and Francis Zammit Dimech. The first reactions were encouraging.

Coutts said he was highly impressed with what he saw here and did not rule
out that Malta could stage one pre-race regatta. "This was a short but
useful trip," he said yesterday at the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Paul and I
had a quick look at what this country could offer and our first impressions
were positive. Obviously, it is still early for any decision. However, I
wouldn't rule out Malta from pre-race regattas. "There are still many
things to be done first. As I said, this was a brief stop-over in Malta...
we didn't have enough time to make a thorough evaluation of the climatic
conditions and other vital matters in our sport. The early indications look
positive though." - Valhmor Camilleri, The Times of Malta, full story:

Many of the skippers in The Transat's Open 60 class will have more on their
agenda than just reaching Boston. Crucially The Transat is the last
opportunity for many to qualify for November's Vendée Globe challenge and
while their competitive juices may be flowing, these skippers will also
understand the importance of having to reach the finish line in one piece.

Jean Le Cam's brand new Marc Lombard Open 60 designs Bonduelle launched
this month falls into this category as does Jean-Pierre Dick's new Virbac,
which despite winning last year's Transat Jacques Vabre was dismasted
during the Defi Atlantique and failed to complete the race inside the time
limit. Other Open 60s who must finish the Transat to get their spot on the
Vendée start line include Charles Hedrich's Objectif 3, Norbert Sedlakec on
Austria One, Conrad Humphreys on Motorola (formerly Mike Golding's Ecover)
and Herve Laurent on UUDS.

The pressure is slightly less on former Vendée Globe competitors Roland
Jourdain on the new Sill, sistership to Bonduelle, and Marc Thiercelin who
is sailing his new boat Pro-Form (the former Tiscali/Whirlpool). Under the
existing Notice of Race, Jourdain and Thiercelin can still qualify for the
Vendée Globe by completing a 2500 mile solo passage by 20 September 2004 if
they fail to finish The Transat. However, the new Vendée Globe organisers
announced this week will be issuing a new Notice of Race so things could
still change. Mike Sanderson on Pindar AlphaGraphics is the only competitor
in the Open 60 division not competing in the Vendée Globe this autumn.

Meanwhile the qualifications continue. This week Dominique Demachy on his
50ft multihull Gifi completed his, as did Yves Parlier who arrived back in
his home port of Arcachon on Thursday aboard his radical new 60ft catamaran
Médiatis Région Aquitaine. For the first 500 miles Parlier averaged 20
knots, an indication of the potential of his new twin masted vessel. Karine
Fauconnier, daughter of 1984 winner Yvon Fauconnier, set out on her
qualifier this week, but returned prematurely to sort out some technical
problems on her 60ft trimaran Sergio Tacchini. Franck Yves Escoffier is
currently in the middle of his qualifier while Mike Sanderson plans to
leave on Monday (5 April). -

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* Cheyenne Skipper Steve Fossett has confirmed that they are hobbled by the
localized micro-depression - with relief not expected before 0300 GMT
Monday. Crossing the finish line at Isle d'Ouessant in France is now
expected for between 1200 and 1800 GMT Monday, which will slash something
like six days off of the World Sailing Speed Record Council's Round the
World sailing record. After crossing the finish line, Cheyenne will not
stop in France, but will continue on to Plymouth, UK. -

* Sunday morning, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran continued
her approach to the Horn via the ice fields. It's the only way of
approaching this hugely turbulent area in which the forecasts change every
6 hours. As the hours tick by it becomes increasingly certain that the
Drake Strait will become more and more difficult; the crew will have to
choose their moment and throw themselves into the arena at the least bad
moment during the transition between two major climatic brawls. The sea
states promise to become difficult very quickly after the first front
passes through and it would be pointless to wait while the second does more
to churn up an already troubled sea. daydreamed the skipper. During the
last 24-hours, Geronimo did 443.60 nautical miles for a 18.48 knot average.

(Over the weekend we received the following two press releases about a
current litigation.)

* The Race Event has commenced legal proceedings in France against the
British sailor Tracy Edwards, and the legal entities involved in the
organization of her round the world sailing events, Maiden Ocean Racing
Qatar Ltd, Maiden Ocean Racing Ltd and Maiden Two Ltd. The Race Event is
seeking damages for passing off and use of TRE know-how in respect of her
round the world projects for 2005 and 2006. -

* "Tracy Edwards has not a party to the proceedings that the Race Event
commenced against Maiden Ocean Racing, Maiden Ocean Racing Qatar (in the
UK) and Maiden II ltd.. The Race Event has produced no evidence in support
of its claim for compensation. The defendant companies have been advised by
their lawyers Denton Wilde Sapte that the claim should be struck out." -
Tracy Edwards,

The man chosen to spearhead Britain's challenge for the America's Cup,
yachting's oldest and most prestigious trophy, affirmed on Thursday the
team's commitment to turn the campaign into a four-year sporting business
with Formula One-style sponsorship deals. Irishman Gordon Moultrie, the
newly appointed team principal, will lead a 100-strong team of sailors and
technicians, to take on the world's finest yachtsmen over the 2004-2007
contest. With 15 years' experience in the information technology industry
and organizational expertise honed in the EDS Atlantic Challenge, he takes
the helm at a time when GBR's team building and sponsorship negotiations
are well under way. His team hopes to capitalise on the success of
billionaire Peter Harrison whose team was placed sixth in the last
competition off Auckland which was won by Swiss challengers Alinghi.

The Cowes-based team with four boats will start its sailing programme in
June in readiness for the preliminary regattas in Marseilles and Valencia
in the autumn. Technical specialists have successfully completed a second
phase of tank testing on the modified hull of the GBR70 while others work
on the rig developments, sails and hardware systems. An interim sailing
base has been hired at Valencia's Real Club Nautico for Mediterranean
training and trials.

About a third of the team of about 96 has been recruited. It will include
ex-Prada men Andy Hemmings, a sails specialist, and Will Brooks, a
structural engineer. With the world's best sailors preparing for the Athens
Olympics, Iain Percy, an Olympic gold medalist, is joining GBR for the
first time. GBR is also involved in discussions with former skipper Ian
Walker and Ben Ainslie, another Olympian. Other key personnel still on
board include technical coordinator Derek Clark and head of sponsorship and
marketing Leslie Ryan. Tecnical partnerships concerned include Wolson,
QinetiQ and Insensys. - Simon Greaves, Financial, full story,

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* Discount tickets are available for members of the Scuttlebutt Sailing
Club members (that's you) for Pacific Sail Expo in Oakland, CA, April
14-18. The Curmudgeon will be speaking at the show in the seminar tent on
Thursday, April 15. Stop by and say hello. To get your discount ticket, go
to the SSC membership page and click on "Membership Benefit" up at the top:

* AC Management, the event manager of the 32nd America's Cup, has launched
the official Italian version of the America's Cup website. The official
website of the America's Cup has been a bilingual website supporting
English, the official language of the event, and French, since June 2003.
Following the decision to make Valencia, Spain, the Host City for the 32nd
America's Cup in November 2003, the Spanish language version of the site
was created, and now, a week after the first Italian challenge for the 32nd
America's Cup was accepted, the Italian language version is live online. -

* Race Officers take note - If you have run at least a national level
regatta, take advantage of this opportunity: The North American edition of
the annual ISAF Race Management Seminar will be conducted this year in San
Diego, at the San Diego Yacht Club, beginning Monday, May 31(Memorial Day)
and finishing Wednesday, June 2. The ISAF Mid-Year meeting will be held
immediately following from June 3 to June 6. Visit the ISAF website and
link to Race Officials for more information: Application
with seminar criteria:

*Antarctica Cup race management announced that the Norwegian watchmaker
Amunden Oslo will undertake time-keeping responsibilities for the inaugural
Antarctica Cup International Yacht Race scheduled for December 2005.
Amunden Oslo will provide each skipper with a custom made timepiece, and
will also donate the 'Roald Amundsen Trophy to the first boat to pass
through the 'Roald Amundsen Gate located at Longitude 148° 00 West along
the Antarctica Cup Race course. The Antarctica Cup Race is a biennial 45
day non-stop circumnavigation of Antarctica in which national teams compete
with crews of the same nationality in identical 82 ft. boats. -

Historically the entry fee structure for the huge Cowes Week regatta (8000
sailors racing in 40 separate classes over an eight day period)) has been
very complex and used to be based on an estimate of the crew numbers.
However, this year it has been simplified with a huge reduction in the
number of different levels of entry fee. This means that some classes will
see a reduction in their fees from last year whilst others will
unfortunately have an increase.

Event Organizer, Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC), had hoped to be able to keep
the level of entry fees static. However, ISAF have stopped event organizers
from charging differential fees for boats that carry advertising. This left
CCC with a large black hole in its budget that would have meant increasing
fees by over 10% just to stay still. CCC and event sponsor Skandia decided
that this level of fee increase was not going to be acceptable to the
majority of non-advertising boats and have therefore agreed to swallow over
half the losses. Despite this, CCC has had to increase fees by an average
of 5% and hopes that all competitors will understand. However, if they feel
strongly about it they should write to ISAF.

CCC also suggests that corporate entries might like to donate at least part
of the savings that ISAF has brought them to the official Skandia Cowes
Week charity, Sail 4 Cancer.

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(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 Toby Cooper: The sport of polo is a team sport which handicaps its
players. Polo, which is sort of ice hockey on horses, is played with 4
players per team, and for whatever reasons buried deep in its long and
obscure history, the sport ranks players from -2 (beginners) to 10 (Jerry
Rice-level pros). For openers, there are but five 10-handicap players
worldwide, and most of those are from Argentina.

So, the handicap of a team is the sum total of the handicaps of its
players. A team composed of four players ranked at +2 would be 8. If a team
ranked 8 is playing a team ranked 9, the 9-rated team spots the 8-rated
team one goal at the beginning of a match. Would this work for sailing?
Maybe. Sailing is mired in constant fury over handicapping boats.

I would hate to serve on the PHRF committee for handicapping sailors.
However, at least in one design, if I sailed Stars it would be nice to
start a regatta with Paul Cayard spotting me 10 points. Anyway, it works
pretty well in polo.

* From John McLeod: The premise of crew handicapping would hurt the sport
in the long run by limiting boats' time on the water. Time on the water
would become a metric used to establish a handicap. It would become a
general assumption that the more races and practice sails you do, the
better you are. By staying off the water, you would be perceived as a
novice and therefore receive a "better" handicap. If a boat participates in
all of their club races, all the local traveling regattas AND does some
practice sails, they get hit with a penalty.

I can see it now: "Hey John, make sure you blow a couple of jibes and
takedowns today so we can keep our handicap". There has to be better ways
to get race participation up. Crew handicapping is not one of them. Let's
put an end to this idea

*From Bill Tingle. I find the discussion on handicaps quite interesting but
I see therein no satisfactory solution. Sailboat racing is most exciting
when most of the boats are close together around the course and arrive at
the finish line within a few boat lengths of one another. Time corrections
cannot provide that. Horse racing has done a good job by adding weight to
the faster horses. Adding weight to sailboats would be inconvenient and
difficult to certify.

A simpler method is to have a winning boat drag a loop of two-inch bull
rope (line?) with a knot at the end. Every time the boat wins a race a
length of rope and a knot are added. This is great for a series of club
races. By mid season most boats are approaching the finish line together,
and all are enjoying both exciting races and the chance to win a race. At
the end of the season the boat/skipper combination with the longest rope is
awarded the trophy. After all, the real hero is the skipper who has
overcome the greatest handicap. Thereafter, when one signs up for a
handicap regatta, all one reports is the boat number and the rope length.
How would you like to be known as a "five knot skipper"? Voila'

* From Dr. Joe McCoy (edited to our 250-word limit): Many of the "Big Boat"
and medium boat one designs (F40, 1D35, Melges 24 etc) have evolved in a
conventional "Big Boat" manner with obvious changes in the
displacement/sail area/ righting moment/ crew weight limit part of the
package. The lifeline technology and design have remained very much
unchanged from decades ago with the one exception of allowing for loose
lowers. This unfortunately rewards a very unhealthy form of hiking that has
significant health risks. The major blood vessels and nerves of the groin
and lower abdomen are compressed continuously on the beat. The lumbar spine
is subjected to tremendous forces that are inherently damaging. The better
the hiker the more the compression exists and the more havoc created for
the lumbar spine. Having raced in this manner for several years, I can't
help but be concerned for all that have done it with me and continue to do
it on a regular basis.

I strongly favor the built-in reward for athleticism and fitness in
sailboat racing but remain concerned about the hiking technique in these
select classes. I cannot help but think that with a little thought and
planning, a more healthy manner of hiking could be worked into the new boat
designs that both rewards the fit and athletic while still providing some
protection for the anatomy of the sailors involved. Many sports have tried
to eliminate unsafe practices while still rewarding the most athletic and
fit. I think sailing has some room for improvement in this category.

* From Michael A. Rosenauer: Once again, Olin Stephens adds a succinct
observation. With this clarity of thought, no wonder his designs are
consistent winners.

* Dan Hirsch: Re: Different handicaps for the 2003 Mac Race: I don't know
about the Farr 40's but I do know that the seven Farr 395's that started
with the Farr 40's had different Americap ratings using Olin Stephen's
definition. I sailed on one of them and this is a fact. The differences
were not based on deep vs shoal draft keels, either. The Americap ratings
were based on owner reported measurements and the time allowance fastest to
slowest boat was over thirty minutes.

* From Douglas Johnstone (In response to Rick Nelson): I believe that you
can use the trapeze on your Tempest under Southern California PHRF as long
as you have a set of class rules for one design racing. This is how the
Schock 40 has been able to race in PHRF with a canting keel.

Never under-estimate your ability to over-estimate your ability.