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SCUTTLEBUTT 1740 - December 27, 2004

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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, whining and personal attacks for elsewhere.

The biggest spectator fleet in years packed Sydney Harbour with hundreds of
fast powerboats escorting the supermaxis as they sailed, almost boat for
boat, out to sea. Near the sea mark, the water was white with the wash of
the yachts and powercraft. In the headlands around Sydney Harbour, several
hundred thousand people watched the biggest fleet in a decade tack their
way down the Harbour in the light north-easterly breeze on a warm summer's day.

Race leaders Konica Minolta from New Zealand and Australia's Skandia are
this morning sailing towards Bass Strait in their extraordinary repeat
boat-for-boat duel for line honours in the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney
Hobart Yacht Race. The two 98-footers were in a virtual dead heat at the
head of the fleet, with Nicorette just 10 miles back. In last year's Rolex
Sydney Hobart Race, Skandia beat Konica Minolta, then called Zana, across
the finish line by a mere 14 minutes after 628 nautical miles of ocean racing.

The heavy weather conditions they had been warned about in the preliminary
forecast on Christmas Eve appear to have eased, though there are still two
south-westerly fronts headed towards Bass Strait and for most of the fleet
it will still be a rough, uncomfortable sail for much of the race. Early
Monday morning the front runners will sail into the first southerly front a
little earlier than expected, with winds expected to reach 15 to 25 knots
and freshening to 25-35 knots over the course of Monday and Tuesday.
Offshore, conditions will be more testing with winds peaking at 40 knots
and 4-6 metre seas. Even though the peak wind speed has been reduced "…it
is still going to be cold, windy and miserable," said Peter Dunda from the
Bureau, with the forecast still for showery squalls and cold temperatures
out in the Tasman Sea. - Peter Campbell,

Ellen MacArthur's 75-foot trimaran B&Q spent Christmas day in Gale-force
winds - getting pounded with 40 knots of breeze that gusted to 50 (Force
10). "The only white Christmas about this Christmas, is the breaking waves
all around us," she said. "The conditions are horrendous, the waves are
huge and the boat is getting physically thrown around."

B&Q fell out of the back of the big frontal system in the night and now
there is a whole lot more to come! "I've done 12 sail changes in 12 hours,
from 3 reefs and storm jib to full main and genoa," MacArthur said. Now the
frontal system that passed over her by the end of Christmas has stalled
ahead and B&Q is sailing back into the same storm. "Now back all the way
down to 2 reefs and staysail. More to do yet, as we are now right on the
back of the first front and crossing again into the 40 knot plus
northerlies." Winds expected to increase to 35-40 knots, gusting 45 knots.
"I've got a few days of this kind of weather and I'm not even going to
think about opening my Christmas Box until we are through the worst of this
and I can get some decent sleep … probably New Year then!" B&Q is presently
ahead of Francis Joyon's record pace by 25 Hours 10 min. -

Yacht designer Greg Elliott points out that this is why the Volvo Ocean
Race has a hard time getting entries as it is solely based around
professionals rather than owners. He also has grave concerns about the TP52
class. "To me that will be a flash in the pan. Firstly the boats are
ridiculously expensive for their size and it will all be about professional
yachtsmen taking over, so that the one with the most amount of money and
able to buy the best jockeys has probably got a better chance of winning.
That is what will happen to that class if they are not careful." - Excerpts
from a story on The Daily Sail subscription website,

Peter Isler joins host Bill Biewenga, Commanders' Weather & OPC
meteorologists to help you ramp up for Key West 2005. Study the trends and
options for the races ahead. Dig into the research and discuss the expected
weather with the pros from the comfort of your own computer. The online
discussions will be archived for later reference for your own strategy
sessions with your team. The award-winning WxLIVE! online interactive
weather seminar is convenient to your schedule. Early registration holiday
discount still available for the January 8, 2005 online event. More details

The fleet is spread out more 4,000 miles or the width of the Pacific to
within a hundred miles. Divided up into several groups, it is obvious that
they are sailing in very different weather systems. One of the revelations
of this edition of the Vendée Globe because of his ability to stand his own
in an old boat from 1998 against the best skippers, Sébastien Josse (VMI)
unfortunately hit a growler last Thursday. His chances of victory have been
sharply reduced. The youngest competitor in the event, whose jib boom is
broken, must do without his fore sails downwind. In addition to that, he
has a problem with the rudder that he hopes to solve tomorrow, when the
weather eases off.

For Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec), the race changed quite a while back,
when he began to have power problems, as he entered the Indian Ocean. With
two broken gooseneck fittings, and a problem with the link between his
rudder/pilot, Jean-Pierre hasn't stopped doing little repair jobs for the
past month. Tomorrow, it will be Jean-Pierre's turn to enter the iceberg
danger zone, but he will be facing that without any radar, because of the
lack of power on board. Consequently, the sailor from Nice is going to have
to keep further to the north than his opponents to limit as much as
possible the risk of an encounter with an iceberg. Like Sébastien Josse et
Jean-Pierre Dick, , three other competitors still in the race are having to
sail below their normal potential. With a broken jib boom and a weakened
mast head, Marc Thiercelin (ProForm) had to face up to reality and change
his way of looking at the race. As if that wasn't enough, Marc hasn't
brought aenough gas with him and is going to have to eat cold meals, while
down in the south. Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) is also suffering,
having to repair his broken boom alone at sea. Just in front of Patrice,
Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque) spent more than an hour yesterday evening at
the top of his mast trying to release his solent, which had exploded in
last night's gale, as gusts reached 60 knots. -

Standings at 1900 GMT December 26:
1. Bonduelle, Jean Le Cam, 9669 miles to finish
2. PRB, Vincent Riou, 152 miles to leader
3. Ecover, Mike Golding, 214 mtl
4. VMI, Sébastien Josse, 487 mtl
5. Temenos, Dominique Wavre, 1151 mtl
6. Virbac-Paprec, Jean-Pierre Dick 1477 mtl
7. Skandia, Nick Moloney, 2071 mtl
8. Pro-Form, Marc Thiercelin, 2196 mtl
9. Arcelor Dunkerque, Joé Seeten, 2475 mtl
10. VM Matériaux, Patrice Carpentier, 2633 mtl
11. Ocean Planet, Bruce Schwab, 2951 mtl
12. Max Havelaar/Best Western, Benoît Parnaudeau, 3294 mtl
13. Roxy, Anne Liardet, 3532 mtl
14. Hellomoto, Conrad Humphreys, 3563 mtl
15 Akena Vérandas, Raphaël Dinelli, 4083 mtl
16 Benefic, Karen Leibovici, 4261 mtl
abd - Sill Véolia, Roland Jourdain 01:00 AM
abd - Hugo Boss, Alex Thomson 01:00 AM
abd - UUDS, Hervé Laurent 01:00 AM
abd - Brother, Norbert Sedlacek

"Do we want the America's Cup to be governed by two guys that all of a
sudden get together in a back room somewhere and decide to change the rules
for whatever reason? No matter how the cup has been governed in the past
... maybe it is time to look at a new way of doing it. I think it needs to
be more transparent, so we can understand the processes, instead of these
back room discussions." - Russell Coutts,,2106,3137918a1823,00.html

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dropped the high-water limit at Fern
Ridge Lake because of deterioration of the lake's dam, dealing a
devastating blow to boaters across the region and businesses in and around
Veneta. The corps will restrict the water level to 360 feet - 13.5 feet
below normal - and will maintain that limit until repairs on the
63-year-old dam are completed in 2007 at the earliest, spokesman Mike
McAleer said Monday. Restricting the water level will ease concerns of a
break in the dam, but it virtually eliminates boating in the comparatively
shallow lake because the water won't reach any of four ramps. "You're not
going to see any sailboats out there the whole time it's drawn down. You
would definitely get in the mud if you were trying to put a rowboat in,"
McAleer said. Some say the lake 12 miles west of Eugene is the most-used
sailing venue in the state (of Washington).

* On December 28, the first of two Volvo Ocean Race yachts for Team ABN
AMRO will exit the wharf at Schaap Ship Care and go on transport.
Destination: Portimão, Portugal - the Team ABN AMRO's base camp for the
next seven months as the crew and shore team test and fine-tune the new
gear. This is the first Volvo 70 class yacht to hit the water in
preparation of the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts from Galenxia, Spain, in
November 2005. The actual christening of the yacht takes place in Portimão
on January 17.

As you take in all the sights and sounds of the season, we at Henri Lloyd
thank you for taking us along. We appreciate your loyalty to the Henri
Lloyd brand and will work to sustain that trust as we sail into 2005. Best
wishes for a most joyous holiday season.

(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 J. Paul Riou: Only with a blink in someone's eye could both "a
politically correct Christmas" and Eric Matus's contribution end up in the
same issue of 'Butt. There is a major set back in his project - How does he
expect professional sailors, be they navy personnel or oceanic researchers,
to accept and live the conditions met by Cheyenne, Geronimo, and Orange
crews, to work their long hours, night and day? Workers with a status,
would quickly sue their skipper for moral abuse! Get large multihulls into
some registry, classification society, ISM, SSCW 95, and they will suddenly
lose their leading edge. Yacht sailing is useless, probably is it why it is
one of the last free worlds, please leave it unnoticed by government agencies.

* From Richard Clark (Re Eric Matus's comments - "Just image a 400' version
of Cheyenne silently hunting submarines. Running at its potential hull
speed, using a combination of wind, solar, and fuel cell power, it could
locate its target (with passive technology made effective by its silent
propulsion) and launch a strike before the submerged target is aware it is
being stalked?") Huh? With all the technology in the world we still can't
find one bearded dude on the Pakistani border, so put the money into kids
sailing programs and let's just get on with life.

* From Clark Chapin: Without being privy to the thought process behind the
locations for the speaker series, I think I can answer Bob Klein's
question: It's easy to get speakers at Miami, Annapolis, and Newport but
much harder without financial support to get speakers in the sites that
have been selected thus far. My personal wish is that there will be some
funds in reserve to assist in speakers for the Second Annual One-Design
Symposium next fall, wherever it will be held. This year's event was a
success in part because the "name" speakers (Perry, Cronin and Whyte, to
name three) were within an easy distance. The temptation to move from
Newport, site of this year's event, to Annapolis or Miami is strong, but
that's not where the need is greatest. As a pond sailor in Michigan, I
think that growth in sailing depends on participation away from the
traditional centers.

* From Doug Metchick: C'mon Curmudgeon ... how could Bob Klein's comment on
the Mount Gay Rum Speaker Series even make it to print?! Mount Gay is one
of the sport's biggest promoters and they support sailing programs in more
markets than I can think of. Same with US Sailing. What's more, getting
behind seminars that help sailors around the country understand the new
racing rules is a great idea. With all due respect to Newport, Miami and
Annapolis, it's a great big world out there and the notion of limiting
sailing programs to these markets is a joke.

* From Thomas Carroll In response to Mr. Klein's comments about the Us
sailing speaking tour- I think that the point of these seminars is to reach
out to sailing areas that US sailing does not have as much foundation. US
Sailing is losing touch and I think it's a great step! I commend it and as
a New Yorker I look forward to going to Blue Point.

* From Chris Luppens: I believe the wording was "grassroots, educational
series", and since Gulf yachting Association worked on this for some time
in order to have a speaker at their annual winter meeting, and since over
100 people will attend, it seems more than a little appropriate. Is it that
hard to believe that a whole lot of very good sailing goes on outside the
east coast of the United States?

* From Alun James: Instant gratification is the anti thesis of sailing. In
a cruising sense you must enjoy the journey because if you are focused only
on the destination then you better make yourself comfortable. In a racing
sense the gratification comes to those crews that manage to maintain the
hunger for the duration of the race. Frequently the dividends from
decisions made early in the race do not become obvious for many hours (or
even days) later in the race. I have taken colleagues racing who have been
astounded when yachts that were previously many miles apart on opposite
tacks cross within feet (or inches) of each other.

With yacht racing, as in real life, large projects have to be broken down
in to a succession of small but clear wins, a good tack, a smooth spinnaker
gybe or the magic moments when the cockpit crew are calling out the higher
and higher numbers as the yacht approaches her all time speed record on a
good surf. If, at the end of the race you end up with gun smoke or even a
handicap place then it is a bonus.

* From Patrick Blaney: Sailing is one of the few lifetime sports. We
encourage our children into sailing so they too can enjoy this lifetime
sport whether pottering about in boats or competing in the Olympics or
anything in between. Sailing covers it all! It doesn't really matter what
boat our children learn to sail in provided they can cope, can sail with
their friends, have enough competition while making it fun for all. If they
have fun, make friends, acquire skills and enjoy sailing they will come
back for more. The single most important skill in life is the ability to
work with others, sailing in a crew is a big part of that, a skill
single-handers must acquire.

There is, to my mind, simply too much focus on winning, and on the elite,
which in turn drills down into junior sailing and how to get more and more
young sailors onto a path which starts at Optimists and ends at the
Olympics. This narrow focus is wrong and contributes to the drop out
problems. In my experience, those (lucky few) among us with Olympic talents
will succeed with our (organized) support and encouragement, but we should
not start with the premise that everyone should try for the Olympics
because 99.99% will be disappointed, think we are failures, and probably
drop out. Let's remember the objective … the lifetime enjoyment of the
sport, and give children the support and encouragement to find that part of
the sailing spectrum which best suits them, not us!

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.