SCUTTLEBUTT 1661 - September 3, 2004
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releases, constructive criticism and contrasting viewpoints are always
welcome, but save your bashing, whining and personal attacks for elsewhere.
(International yachting journalist Rich Roberts interviewed Philippe Kahn
about the new Olympic training program he's setting up at Pegasus Racing.
Here's an excerpt from his story in The Log.)
Rich Roberts: How does someone qualify for a look?
Philippe Kahn: We'll select candidates through multiple filters and
processes. We received over 250 inquiries in one week! Those who will
appear to be best fits with our team will come sail with us for a few weeks
and we'll trial not just their skills and fitness but also their fighting
spirit, teamwork and positive attitude.
RR: Do they pay their own expenses?
PK: The best programs will be able to focus 100% on sailing. Everything
will be taken care of.
RR: Just so there is no misunderstanding, what is the financial arrangement
for participants, once accepted? Will Pegasus Racing pay room and board,
travel costs to European events, etc.?
PK: Those selected will have to focus on one thing: Sailing, fitness and
RR: I think I understand the concept of bringing in top foreign talent to
push the Americans ("the best way to help the US is to help the best get
better") -- but in the end, at the Olympics, isn't there a risk of that
PK: There is a greater risk in having competing national efforts focused on
the trials. Here our teams push each other all through the Olympics. The
best outcome is that one wins the gold and the other the silver. There are
worst things today, like what we are experiencing in most classes except
what superstars such as Kevin [Burnham]and Paul [Foerster] have done.
RR: Will the program's participants also sail as crew on Pegasus Racing's
PK: Absolutely. Cross-training and sailing and racing every day is key to
our program. That will include 505s, Melges 24s, Mumm 30s, Farr 40s, etc.
However, daily they will focus on fitness, and sailing their own class.
RR Who heads the program day to day?
PK: We always have fitness coaches, nutrition coaches, sailing coaches.
They head their part every day. The plan is simple: Best skills, best
fitness, best team, most racing, most sailing.
RR: Not that it matters, but what does US Sailing think of this?
PK: I hope that they will applaud. We are synergistic, not competition. Our
goal is to make better Olympic sailors. - Full story:
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
"No one has inspired me in my life. I have relied on myself for
inspiration. When I was younger I was shadowed by my brother's sailing.
People knew me and my sister as the twins, and they had no clue about our
sailing. So that pushed me to train and become good in sailing so I would
become my own person, but now I am trying to become a better sailor. The
reason I have never looked up to anyone is because they don't have anything
to do with my sailing; it's all up to me if I am willing to put in the
effort, not them. I don't need a poster or some image in my mind to become
a good sailor. I only need myself and the will to keep going, and if I
think I can be good, then that inspires me to train and work like crazy
towards my sailing. You only live life once, so live it to the fullest." -
17-year old Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.); Youth World Champion in the
singlehanded class and three-time U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded
Championship. - From a story in the NY Times, full story:
EVENTS AND SHOWS
A reminder that the Scuttlebutt website has an event calendar for regattas
and boat shows, plus a 'TV Guide' for television and website programming of
sailing events. If you like the movie 'Wind', look for it to be shown
eleven times in September. Thanks to calendar sponsor West Marine, it is
all listed at http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/calendar
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VOLVO OCEAN RACE
(International yachting journalist Bob Fisher looked at the development of
the new Volvo Open 70 for a story on the event website. Here are a few
"We were very keen on not designing the hulls for designers," said James
Dadd, the RORC's chief measurer, "we didn't want the bumps and such that
appeared in the IOR and were even beginning to show in the Volvo 60s, so we
looked at what other measurements were needed and those have been included
as and when they were required." There are few enough hull measurements in
the new rule, but some are there for the purpose of enhancing the safety of
One of the big issues of the crews in the last race was the 'stacking' of
the sails on the weather side after each tack and gybe. It was the most
energy intensive task on the boats, and was almost certainly why the
all-woman crew was less efficient - their inability to shift a ton of sails
without wearing themselves out was critical.
The new rule encourages the use of roller furling headsails, even to the
extent of allowing a recess on the foredeck so that the tack of the jib
will be as close to the deck with a furling drum as it would be without. A
reduction in the number of crew allowed - to nine in the case of an
all-male crew - will also influence the decision as to whether or not a
furler should be fitted.
The spars are to be of carbon fibre and there is a possibility that the
moulds of some America's Cup masts might be used in their manufacture. The
carbon masts, with one exception, proved more than superior to aluminum
alloy in the Volvo 60s. This time it has been decided to allow the use of
PBO monofilament standing rigging as it is lighter than cobalt steel rod
for better strength. - Bob Fisher, full story:
US ADMIRALS CUP TEAM
It's been a while since the USA sent a team to the Admiral's Cup at Cowes,
Isle of Wight, but it could happen in 2005. The USA is eligible to send
either one or two teams. Each team will be three boats: One Swan 45; One
Mumm 30; and one IRC (endorsed) boat with provisionally a TCC between 1.300
and 1.550 and appropriate limiting DLR and Hull Factors (precise rating and
other limitations will be confirmed in the Notice of Race). US Team
selection criteria will be formulated at the US Sailing meeting in
Portland, Oregon, October 21-23. Ken Morrison, Chairman of the US Sailing
Offshore Teams, Offshore One-Design and Level Classes Committee is
requesting that boat owners with both the interest in joining the USA team
and an eligible boat contact him: KLMorrison@compuserve.com
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
The Race Committee for the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act 1 will set a full
race course on Friday afternoon, and run through a starting sequence. Each
of the teams is invited to take part in the practice race as final
preparation for the first day of racing on Sunday. Thursday was a day of
perfect conditions on the Rade Sud, with winds of 15-18 knots; the stronger
gusts over 20 knots at the higher end of the spectrum for these boats. The
heavier conditions stretched the limits of the crews and equipment, with
Team Alinghi suffering a spinnaker blowout during some close maneuvers with
Emirates Team New Zealand. Elsewhere on the Rade Sud, K-Challenge and the
Shosholoza Team went through some practice starts, while BMW Oracle and Le
Defi trained on their own. - http://www.americascup.com
(Interesting excerpts from a story on the British Olympic team by Simon
Barnes for Times Online.)
The sudden surge to effectiveness has coincided with the lottery money… but
how come all the other lottery-funded Olympic sports aren't as successful
as sailing? The answer is, sailing people say, that the lottery money came
at the right time to an organisation that was already well geared for
producing elite performers and elite performances.
Rod Carr, chairman of the Royal Yachting Association, said that British
sailing now has "a really bloody strong culture", but that it was "modest
and understated". What is so intriguing about such a culture is the way it
enshrines winning more or less in its constitution. It really is true that
winning begets winning.
These five medals, including the two extra-shiny ones, come as a result of
intelligent, thought-through planning. You don't spread the money out too
thin so that everyone can have a go, not if your job is to seek Olympic
medals. But you don't just bung all your money at a few individuals at the
top; you plan deep and you plan long. Five medals at the World Youth
Championships bear that out very pleasantly. - Full story,
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* All US Sailing registered sailor athletes are eligible to vote for the
Sailor Athlete Council Nominees today. There are 39 nominees running for
one of the seven available chairs, with the top vote getters becoming
members of the Council. Voting runs through September 15:
* The forecast for 35-knot winds failed to materialize on a brilliantly
sunny day on the San Francisco Bay Thursday when John Winning's Computer
Associates won the three-lap buoy race by 15 seconds over Howie Hamlin's
West Marine to leave the top three contenders within three points after
seven of nine races in the third annual 18 Skiff International Regatta.
Trevor Barnabas' red Omega Smeg is in third. - Rich Roberts,
* Correction: the Dragons will be massing in St Tropez from October 10-16,
not next week, as we mistakenly reported in 'Butt 1660. -
* Like most people in the USA, the 'Butt staff will be celebrating the
Labor Day holiday on Monday, so our next issue will be on Tuesday,
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 Alan Smith (Re Elvstom's 'ultimate intimidation' prior to the 1956
Melbourne Olympics, as reported in 'Butt 1660): It was a few days of
particularly nasty weather in Melbourne. I was a member and at Sandringham
Yacht Club the day the Finn's were allocated. Gusting 25 maybe 30 knots
from the south west and cold. A small group stood round and watched
Elvstrom rig his boat. We all expected he would be a gold medal contender
but what followed certainly intimidated all the witnesses.
He hoisted his (cotton) sail, was uncomplimentary about its shape, with
several people holding his boat down he sheeted the sail in until it was
full of awful diagonal creases and flat as a board. Then he said he was
going out. Not another boat on the bay. Myself and another chap, Bob Muir,
jumped into the Bob's 16-foot inboard clinker built fishing/rescue boat and
followed. The launch was in flat water sheltered by Sandringham's large
rock breakwater. Elvstrom ran straight north and quickly out into a sea
that only Port Phillip can generate. Our best speed was about a knot slower
than Paul and he ran ahead of us for nearly two miles. Off Brighton he
gybed and started back.
I was amazed to see him hike with the gunwale under his calf muscle's,
never moving inboard in lulls but crumple against the side of the Finn and
letting his body's bouncy do the balancing. I for one had no doubt that the
rest of the fleet would not see this guy for spray if Port Phillip lived up
to its reputation.
* From By Baldridge: ACT 1, ???, We should have assumed the Europeans would
turn the America's Cup into an opera. Whether it turns out to be a tragedy
or comedy is still to be determined. In the past it has usually been both.
* From Ronald Katz: I agree with Peter Huston's thought process regarding
the reshaping of our Olympic sailing program. It seems to me that the same
problem that has plagued the US America's Cup programs has now spread to
the US Sailing Olympic program. Instead of a system where we work from a
united front focusing all of our resources and talents on the best
prospects, we instead leave it to the teams to fight it out and hopefully
peak at the right time just weeks before the games to gain their berths on
the Olympic team. Maybe the selection process should be run over a two year
period to whittle down the teams that are going to represent the US much
earlier and then we can direct all of the resources for the remaining two
years to make those teams the best possible contenders for the gold. A
further benefit, name recognition with the general public can be developed
much sooner and hopefully used to get better sailing sponsorship and
possibly more coverage on NBC. Everyone knows Peekaboo Street but how many
outside of sailing know Kevin Hall?
* From Lester Armstrong: Why are we trying to 'reinvent the wheel?' If the
US really wants to win more medals in the Olympics, the British 'model' has
clearly demonstrated the steps necessary to produce Olympic champions. And
please don't fall back on the 'Lottery money' excuse. This is not about
money - it's about their total program - and their program is definitely
the best working 'medal machine' on the planet. I know it must trouble the
US leadership that the GBR model was 'not invented here.' Get off it. In
the face of increasingly tougher international competition, their model
produced medals … while we seem satisfied to live in the past. We've had
our wakeup call, but did anyone wakeup? Something tells me that the US
plans for the next Quadrennial will look a lot like the 2004 program. Pity!
* From Steve Gregory: One of the systems the US has for Olympic sailors
during each quadrennial is their annually selected 'US Sailing Team'. Based
on their performance in certain regattas each year, the top five teams in
each Olympic class are named to this team for the year. The idea is to help
narrow the field and provide heightened benefits to those selected. But
I took a look at the make-up of the 2003 team, which would be the final
group of named US sailors leading into the push toward the trials, and made
a couple observations. In the Star, two of the five selected teams ended
their campaigns soon after being named to the team. Did they return their
benefits, passing them on to others down the line (I believe the answer is
no)? As for the Finn and Laser, the US Olympic Team representatives were
not even listed in the final standings for the 2003 US Sailing Team, thus
the value of these team benefits failed again to hit the target. Plus, can
the US expect to have much success in the Finn and Laser classes when their
reps were not even domestically ranked leading up to the games? A link to
the 2003 team rankings is at: www.ussailing.org/olympics/2003/rankings.htm
* From Paul Kamen: Scoring a race series with throwouts does not "protect
against bad luck and misfortune." The concept that everyone seems to be
missing here is that a place increment near the top of the fleet is
generally considered to be worth more than one near the bottom; it's easier
to move up from 10th to 9th than from 2nd to 1st. Scoring with throwouts is
a crude but practical way to reflect this change in relative value. Other
systems have attempted to blend this effect more evenly across the fleet.
See the "Cox-Sprague" system, for example: In a ten-boat fleet, first was
six points better than second, but ninth was only two points better than
At my club we have taken this to the extreme by using a "horse race" style
scoring system for our weekly Friday night PHRF races. Only first place
counts towards the season standings, and after 25 weeks the boat with the
most firsts is the series winner. It makes life very easy for the RC, and
the racers seem to like it too. For more than you ever wanted to know about
scoring, see the little book by F. Gregg Bemis, 'Yacht Race Scoring'.
Published by Bemis himself way back in 1960. It's packed full of ideas and
insights on the subject, most of them long forgotten.
* From M. Linus Isabell: It really is sailing in the Mistral class! As a
life long competitor in many classes of boats from windsurfers and one
designs to offshore, let me challenge all the 'butts who think that the
Mistral class (or windsurfing for that matter) is not sailing and doesn't
have the right to be called an Olympic Yachting class to "give it a try".
Windsurfing is as pure a sailing sport as there is and while pumping and
hitting the marks are legal in competition, pumping and hitting the marks
occur in all the other classes as well, it's just not as noticeable or
legal (topic for another thread).
A large reason that the rest of the world is becoming so competitive in
Yachting at the Olympics is due to their introduction to the sport through
Windsurfing. There are a number of Olympic contenders in all the classes
who cut their Olympic teeth on windsurfers and a very large number of
people worldwide who are sailing boats today because they tried
windsurfing. Yacht clubs and starting lines across the US are populated
with people who's first boat was a windsurfer and I am willing to guess
that the majority of the members of our Olympic team have spent time on
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
When educators talk about vegetables, they may not be talking about a food