SCUTTLEBUTT 1659 - September 1, 2004
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Two medals in 11 classes equals the worst performance by American sailors
in the Olympics since World War II. As recently as a dozen years ago,
American sailors claimed a record nine medals in Spain. In 1984, the
American team won seven off Long Beach. "We can do better," three-time
Olympic medalist Mark Reynolds said yesterday. Reynolds, who lost the Star
berth this time around to Paul Cayard, cites a number of factors for the
American team's struggle in Greece. "One of the biggest reasons is that the
rest of the world is getting better," Reynolds said."And sailing has become
a much bigger sport in Europe than here in the United States. That fact has
helped lead to European sailors having more sponsors and financial support
than sailors from the United States."
Other factors include the unusual conditions that greeted the sailors in
Greece and the fact that many of this nation's top sailors are off making
money sailing in such competitions as the America's Cup. "There isn't one
reason, but there are plenty of reasons," Reynolds said. "I remember when I
was comparing budgets with the British team before the Sydney Olympics,
they had about four times to spend what we had." "Many countries also focus
on fewer sailors," Reynolds said. "They decide early who has the best shot
in each class and support them as a national team. Here, the United States'
way is to have a wide-open trials with the winner going to the Olympics." -
Excerpt from a story by Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, full story:
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE - Peter Huston
I think the US Sailing Team would benefit from 'butt running a thread on
readers giving their top five things they think should be done to help the
US get back to consistent, long term medal superiority. Here's mine...
1 - Take a page from the US Ski Team, create a development program that
puts less experienced, but highly motivated (notice I didn't say younger,
maybe there's some old folks who'd like to this too) sailors in classes
with strong US participation where there is also good international
competition, Laser Radial, Lightning, J22 Hobie 16, 505, Snipe. Benefit
would be alot less money needs to be spent to gain experience in tough
fleets because you stay on this continent. Then, a year before the next
Games send them to a few big Olympic Class regattas, and of course the US
Trials. Basically, start a US Sailing Team Development cmte.
2 - Create a "High Performance Race Weekend" series that travels the
country for classes selected for the Development team, Olympic boats as
appropriate. Bring in coaches that help anyone who shows up, run drills
part of the time, race part of the time. Have fun all the time.
3- Again, take another page from the US Ski Team, and figure out why it
is that they have been able to get a high quality group of sponsors. Hint,
get Bill Martin to broker a meeting with some key members of the US Ski
Team Foundation, like Thomas Weisel and Jack Kemp.
4 - Designate a couple of key clubs as official US Sailing Team Training
Centers. These clubs should have ample facilities to host qualified
potential Olympians on a long term basis, at no or minimum cost. Benefit to
all is a concentration of talent and resources.
5 - US Sailing Foundation should target donations of boats and equipment
for development classes.
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QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Phil (Trinter) and I are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to race
in the Olympics and represent our country. With so many people around the
world experiencing difficult times, this must not be overlooked. For me,
the biggest reward out of this will be if I succeeded in demonstrating to
my children how much hard work goes into trying to achieve lofty goals.
Afterall, as parents, our biggest job is to set an example, and I hope that
my children, 14 and 15 years old, know a little bit more about what it
means to work really hard for something.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who supported and followed our
efforts over the past few years. I have seen it written in several articles
that I spent over $100K of my own money on this effort. This is true but
that money was spent just preparing and winning the Olympic Trials. I want
to make it known that since I won the Olympic Trials, all my expenses have
been covered. These amounted to another $125K. The bulk of this funding
came from US Sailing and the St. Francis Yacht Club Foundation with an
additional $10K raised around the Lorain OH area, Phil's home town. Also,
the New York Yach Club fundraiser in May was a great success and needless
to say, all these funds were very much appreciated!!! - Paul Cayard
* I've seen other sailors demonstrative at the finish. The Greek 470 girls
capsized their boat and stood on the upturned hull. Shirley and the Sarahs
jumped into the Saronic Gulf off their Yngling, yet I find it difficult to
do these things. You've put in so much effort over so long a period
deliberately trying not to get too excited, trying to temper your emotions
into some sort of equilibrium, that it's actually hard to suddenly let the
When I finished I was still numb with shock. I was so focused on the race
and on doing the right things. You don't really snap out of that mindset
immediately. Physically as well, you use up a lot of reserves. Adrenalin
gets you through the aches and pains, so that your body doesn't give up on
you. But just how draining and exhausting an Olympics can be is probably
something only other athletes really understand. - GBR Finn Gold medal
winner Ben Ainslie from a story in The Telegraph, full story,
The UK-based Mariantic website has posted an excerpt from a story by Ed
Gorman of the London Times that states, "there is a possibility that Iain
Percy, the Finn class gold medal-winner at the Sydney Olympics, may yet
join the GBR Challenge after deciding two months ago to work with a new
Italian America's Cup team instead. It appears Percy is less than satisfied
in Italy and despite their public dust-up with him when he decided to sign
with the Italian +39 syndicate, the British team are keen to speak to him
We are not sure how he can be "less than satisfied in Italy " as he has
been at the Olympics since it was announced he was joining +39...
Also rather far fetched, we think, is this paragraph; "Even more intriguing
is their hope to speak again to Ben Ainslie, the triple Olympic
medal-winner who won his second gold medal in the Finn class at Athens and
who has joined Team New Zealand (TNZ) for the next Cup as a helmsman.
Although Ainslie is thought to be under contract to TNZ, the GBR Challenge
has not given up hope of luring him back to Britain." -
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THE REST OF THE STORY
Wild behavior is nothing new to the Olympic Games, where extraordinary
performance has never been limited to the fields of play. Part marketing
blitz, part political stagecraft and part ritualized battle, the Olympics
are also, at their core, a spectacular physical display: 10,000 examples of
the perfect human form, in motion. It's the reason the original Olympians
in ancient Greece competed nude.
The secret of the modern Olympics is that the athlete village, with its
tightly packed collection of firm young bodies, 24-hour sports television
and all-you-can eat international cuisine, has become the most exclusive
VIP club in the world. It's "a two-week-long private party for thousands of
hard-bodies," says Nelson Diebel, an American swimmer who won gold twice in
Barcelona. Like a mirage, the village appears in the middle of an exuberant
host city for two weeks every two years. Open only to competitors, coaches
and trainers, it's a wonderland of hormones, glycogen and dance mixes.
The free dining hall is open 24/7. Vending machines dispense free soft
drinks. Pool halls, cinemas, bowling alleys and discos stay open - and
jumping - throughout the night. "It's like adult Disney World for two
weeks," says Christo Doyle, a television executive who was the assistant
venue logistics manager for Atlanta's village in 1996. "In Atlanta there
were private concerts with big music stars, a free video arcade and all
these ripped athletes riding around on free mountain bikes that BMW had
The latest attraction is free internet service, which Marco Buechel, an
alpine ski racer who competes for Liechtenstein, put to good use in Salt
Lake City. "You can contact any athlete, even if you don't know them at
all," says Buechel. "They give you a list when you get there. Everybody
uses it. I saw this beautiful ski racer, from Greece of all places. She had
the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. I saw her at the village and sent
her an e-mail, in English. Her reply was very short: 'Not good English.
Want meet you.'"
According to Buechel, he and the Greek beauty made arrangements to meet
soon after. "We tried to talk, which wasn't very successful," says Buechel,
"and then we started to drink, which was much more successful." And? "It
was very beautiful," he says. "A beautiful international incident." - There
is a lot more to this story: http://news.scotsman.com/features.cfm?id=814602004
* Subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, a new
Bermuda to Plymouth record has been set by the 43 ft Trimaran Mollymawk
sailed by Ross Hobson and a crew of two. Mollymawk sailed the 2870 nm
course in 14 days 6 hours 12 minutes 50 seconds for a average speed of 8.38
knots. This betters the previous record set in 1974 by Eric Tarbarly in Pen
Duick VI -14d 20h 15m 12s.- http://www.sailspeedrecords.com/
* Within hours of arriving home from Greece, Athen's Olympic sailing judge
Ralph Roberts was honoured as one of the four inaugural inductees to a new
Business Hall of Fame in New Zealand. Roberts was awarded the honour by
Auckland-based economic development agency Enterprise North Shore,
recognizing business people whose efforts have had a positive effect on the
city's economy and community. Roberts, a former Olympic sailor and 1992
chef de mission, and international judge and president of the Takapuna
Boating Club, is managing director of electrical company Roberts
Electrical, a family firm established 77 years ago.
* Devoti Sailing has reason to be proud of their Olympic accomplishments.
Having built all of the Finns competing in the Olympics, it was expected
Devotis would sweep the medals in that class. However, only five of the
Olympic Stars were Devoti Lillia boats, so it was pretty amazing that all
three medals in that class were taken by Devoti Lillia boats. And although
Devoti is not a licensed builder of the Yngling, GBR Gold medalist Shirley
Robertson took delivery of a bare hull from Abbot and asked Devoti to add
the final magic. A good Olympic record indeed. - www.devotisailing.com/
* The Transpac 52 Class is sponsoring a logo contest for the mainsails. All
Scuttlebutt readers are eligible to win the 1st place prize if their design
is selected by the owners. All designs become the property of the TP 52
Class. Successful designs should look to encompass the TP 52 box rule
concept. Deadline is Friday September 10th. Winning entry announced after
the September 15th TP 52 Owners Meeting in San Francisco. Please submit
your finished design to TP 52 Executive Director Tom Pollack at
YALE, WHEN THERE'S A LOT ON THE LINE
Yale Cordage, official supplier to the US Sailing Team, extends
congratulations for an outstanding effort in Athens. Great job by all, with
special congratulations to Paul Foerster, Kevin Burnham, John Lovell and
Charlie Ogletree for podium finishes-they look great in Gold and Silver!
For the fastest line anywhere: http://www.yalecordage.com
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(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 Ronnie R McCracken: Michael Moore's letter in Scuttlebutt 1658
appears to be missing the point about discard races. The proposal is not
for Club series over a number of weeks but for Championship Regattas that
last 6/7 days and have 6+ races in that period. These would include
National, Continental and World Championships.
What other sport allows you to discard your worst score, not golf, tennis
or any other sport immediately comes to mind. Could you imagine the
Brazilian marathon runner who was bundled out of the lead by a deranged
former Irish Priest and finished third asking for redress and then having
the marathon rerun the same afternoon so that the closing ceremony could
proceed. There is the need to move with the times and now is the time to
experiment to see if it is worthwhile changing the discard system before
the 2008 Olympics and the 2009~2012 Rules come into force.
* From Nicholas Stark: While obviously extremely athletic competitions,
Olympic events like Gymnastics and Figure Skating have to be considered
"Spart"....part sport, part art, as art is subjectively judged. Right now,
with a drop race, Sailing becomes something like "Spart" because you
essentially get a "do over". While Olympic judges are all competent and
dedicated, they aren't as immersed in their field of endeavor as are
Olympic athletes, who tend to live their involvement in the Games on a
Therefore, being human, and less perfect in the specialty than the
athletes, judges are going to make mistakes, and athletes have to accept
this fact as one of the variables that makes up the winning or losing
equation. Don't you think the Marathoner who was attacked as he was leading
the race would like a do-over so he could get a chance at his Gold instead
of the Bronze he won? Beyond the Olympics, getting rid of the throwout in
other regattas will tend to lessen the aggressiveness on the race course
and the last race match race. Why do some sailors want to debase the value
of our sport by insisting that it be a "spart"?
* From Bill Gladstone: (re Michael Moores' comments on keeping throwouts in
Olympic scoring to protect against bad luck and misfortune): I wonder if we
should take it a step further: In a long regatta, throw out the high and
low scores to reduce the impact of good luck and bad.
* From Colin Davis: The arrangements for spectators at Agios Kosmos were
appalling. Having traveled half way around the world to view the sailing
and finding no chance of viewing the racing even with the most powerful
binoculars. Entry was denied to the sailing centre on the pretext of
security requirements. However I was able to enter Athens with out having
to show a passport. One spectator craft requiring $A198.00 to visit 4
sailing areas is simply unsatisfactory. ISAF should explore these issues
and unless the host country can offer reasonable access they should be told
to go and jump as far as sailing is concerned. This fact is also the more
remarkable when watching the television coverage of other events there were
very few spectators. One can only assume we were not welcome.
* From Dan Tucker: The British sailing accomplishment at the Olympics is
impressive, while the US's results are disappointing. That takes nothing
away from either team, but I think Chris Buydos misses the point.
Experience and dedication are tremendously important, but there is no
questioning the dedication of US sailors who devote years trying to get to
Money is a tremendous obstacle to success. It is a constant, draining
hurdle each sailor must overcome. The costs for equipment, travel and
coaching are large and never ending. Finding a source to fund the US
Sailing Team at a comparable level to GBR would remove that hurdle for the
sailors, allowing the sailors to devote 100% of their available time to
training, rather than 20%-40% to fundraising. It's as simple as that.
Congratulations to every athlete worldwide who dreamed and trained to be an
Olympian whether you won a medal or didn't win your Trials... to even try
is a tremendous undertaking to be proud of.
* From Mike Blecher: I agree with Chip Pitcairn (Butt 1658)--It's really
not "sailing" in the Mistral class, as I see it, but more like "air
rowing." I also thought it was odd that Gary Jobson in his broadcasts
referred to the racers as "boats." I suppose Gary's the expert so I won't
question him, but they sure don't look like "boats" to me. These "boats"
have the same relationship to yacht racing as gin has to ginger ale. And
the game itself...it's OK to hit the marks? Sheesh! Like kite boarding,
kayaking or swimming, they are certainly serious and competitive athletic
endeavors that take years of training, but they are separate sports. Just
because they take place on the water, they should not dilute real yacht
racing's precious few moments on the airwaves.
* From Victor Fragola: I am sorry to say that Scuttlebutt never ever
mentioned Lange & Spinola in commentaries about the Tornado races in
Athens. They had won the World Championship this year and they finally won
the bronze at the Olympics.- I do think they deserve some attention.- I
must also say that "Camau" Spinola won in Athens his third Olympic medal in
a row: silver in Mistral (Atlanta) Also silver again Mistral (Sydney) and
now bronze Tornado.
* From Morgan Reeser: I have enjoyed reading your Athens Olympic coverage.
One amazing athlete that has sailed under the radar of the press deserves
recognition - Ruslana Taran of Ukraine. Ruslana has now equaled the record
for the most Olympic Medals for a female in sailing (Barbara Kendall also
has three - one of each color).
Silver Medal - Yngling 2004
Bronze Medal - 470 Women 2000
Bronze Medal - 470 Women 1996
Ruslana has now won one more medal than Theresa Zabell, JJ Isler, Margriet
Matthysse, Natalia Via Dufresne and Shirley Robertson. Yet where is an
interview and where are the photos of this most decorated Olympian? Even if
the press have missed out on the opportunity recognize Ruslana's
achievements, I do not want to - Well done Ruslana!
THE CURMUDGEON'S OXYMORONS