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SCUTTLEBUTT 1742 - December 29, 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
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welcome, but save your bashing, whining and personal attacks for elsewhere.

The 90-foot Nicorette, the sole surviving super-maxi in the gale-decimated
fleet of the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, has taken
Line Honors, giving owner/ skipper Ludde Ingvall his second victory in four
years. Nicorette crossed the finish line off Hobart's Castray Esplanade at
5.10.44 am on a chilly and wet morning, sailing up the Derwent River under
spinnaker in an 8 knot southerly breeze. Her elapsed time for the race of
about 2 days 16 hours 00 minutes 44 seconds is more than 21 hours outside
Nokia's record of 1 day 19 hours 48 minutes 02 seconds set in 1999. Pausing
only to re-provision, Nicorette turned right around is now sailing north
again, aiming for line honors in the 24th Strathfield Pittwater Coffs Race
which starts on January 2.

Of the 116 entries, 53 skippers have now confirmed their retirement to the
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. -

The stricken super-maxi, Skandia, has lost her massive keel and capsized in
the Tasman Sea late today as skipper Grant Wharington and his crew flew
into Hobart after taking to liferafts earlier in the day. Skandia tonight
is floating upside down, some 80 nautical miles offshore. A tug is on its
way in an attempt to salvage the 98-footer which is wallowing in huge seas
east of Flinders, off the north-east coast of the island state of Tasmania.
It is not known if her towering mast has broken.

"We were going so well," Wharington said. "We were sailing conservatively
on port tack heading inshore where there would be calmer water conditions
when we landed off a large rogue wave. At the time we were sailing under No
4 jib and two reefs in the main…very comfortable with the situation." The
impact bent both hydraulic rams controlling the big canting keel, which
came loose and swung to one side, laying the boat on its side. The crew was
able to stabilize the keel for a time and began motoring downwind. However,
the keel came loose again and began chopping through the hull of the boat.
With a police launch fast approaching, and afraid that the keel could fall
off the yacht, capsizing it, at 8:00 am the 16 members of the crew
transferred to liferafts, and were taken aboard the police launch Van
Diemen about a half hour later.

Wharington said that he would not know why the keel had failed until the
boat is retrieved and the broken hydraulics can be examined. However he
still believes in the new canting keel technology. "We are effectively like
test pilots rolling around in formula one racing cars, and I am still a bit
baffled as to what actually happened. We are lucky to get out of this alive
and sail another yacht race," he added. - Peter Campbell

Check out the photos:

(Stewart Thwaites, the owner/skipper of the New Zealand super-maxi Konica
Minolta describes the circumstances leading to their retirement for the
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.)

"We had a relatively hard night (in gale force winds and big seas) but
nothing we couldn't handle. But we launched off a ten meter wave with no
back," Thwaites explained. "The bow felt like it was facing the sky and a
good proportion of the keel was out of the water," Konica Minolta's
principal helmsman and America's Cup sailor, Gavin Brady added. "There was
that lonely five seconds while we waited to fall. You hope for a soft
landing but…"

When the twenty-seven ton yacht smashed down into the bottom of the wave's
trough "we heard a crack but we were not sure what it was," Thwaites said.
"It was an all hands on deck situation." They found that the cabin top had
creased between the mast and the sleave of her enormous canting keel, where
there are intense structural pressures on the boat. For an hour the crew
attempted to slow down the yacht as they braced the damaged area, but with
the boat head on to the big swell and the back and forth motion bending the
hull, Thwaites and Brady decided that if they continued sailing there was a
real possibility the keel could fall off the boat. The sails were lowered
and they motored towards the Tasmanian coast. Their race was over. "It was
a hard decision," Thwaites said.

Ironically the damage occurred just five miles from relative security.
Brady explained that during the night, after a day of playing cat and mouse
with the Melbourne supermaxi Skandia, Konica Minolta took a gamble and
sailed very aggressively during the dark, stormy hours. "Normally at that
stage of the race you would have everybody below resting but we kept
everyone on deck." The tactic allowed them to open a substantial lead and
this morning, with Skandia forced to retire and no other boat close enough
to threaten their lead, they decided to head toward more settled waters
close to the coast. "We were only five miles from smooth water when the
boat broke," Brady said. - Peter Campbell

"Every year I say it's my last one, but probably I'll be back." - Stewart
Thwaites, Konica Minolta

"I'll be back. This is a great race, isn't it?" - Grant Wharington, Skandia

"It may be to their benefit that Nicorette is so new, because the guys
didn't know how hard to push the boat, so they were not going as hard as
the others. That may be what has saved them." - Alex Simonis, co-designer
of Nicorette

This week is the time for confirming our New Year's resolutions for next
year. Will it be a new diet, more exercise… or the pure fun and smooth ride
of a Raider RIB? The 2005 RIBs come in several sizes to make sure there is
the perfect fit for you. Models are available in 22ft., 26ft., 30ft.,
33ft., 40ft., and 46ft. and come in both cabin and console versions. Start
your New Year with the Perfect Resolution - a Raider RIB! For more
information, call Raider RIBs in San Diego at 877-RAIDER or visit

"Wind above 40 knots most of the time, just got hit by a really powerful
wave ... it ripped the gennaker bag off the trampoline, I went to tie it
down and got a full frontal wave, totally winded me," was the report from
Ellen MacArthur on Tuesday night. "The mainsail on the boom also filled up
with water in the folds as I've got 3 reefs in now and have spent last 45
minutes bailing it out. I'm soaked through, I have to try and put some dry
clothes on. Commanders' think we're not in the worst yet."

Indeed! The latest report from Commanders Weather was just plain ugly:
"Potential for some gusts to 50+ knots especially near any squalls.
Vertical profiles show winds at a little over 2000 feet in the 50-55 kt
range through to 0600gmt Wednesday. Seas 15-25 feet with some peak waves
over 30 feet possible coming down from the north."

As B&Q approaches the halfway mark having covered 12,487 miles at an
average speed of 17.2 knots - 13,231 miles are left on an optimum round the
world course. To break Joyon's record, MacArthur will only need to average
12.9 knots for the remainder of the trip. She is presently more than 40
hours ahead of the record pace. -

Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle), the leader of the Vendée Globe, has today passed
the second Pacific gateway and has less than 9000 miles to the race finish.
The leaders have an ETA at Cape Horn in record time on Sunday, after around
57 days of racing. The distance between the most easterly iceberg sighting
Tuesday morning (by Mike Golding) and the most northerly (by Jean Pierre
Dick) measures a staggering 1600 miles, which is clearly a concern for the
chasing pack as they anticipate this Mediterranean sized ice field. While
the rich get richer averaging 15/16 knots in the forecast favourable winds
all the way to the cape, the trio Josse/ Wavre/ Dick are set to face strong
winds in around 48 hours time, accompanied by big, messy seas. -

Leaders at 1900 GMT December 28:
1. Bonduelle, Jean Le Cam, 8922 miles to finish
2. PRB, Vincent Riou, 183 miles to leader
3. Ecover, Mike Golding, 237 mtl
4. VMI, Sébastien Josse, 890 mtl
5. Temenos, Dominique Wavre, 1525 mtl
6. Virbac-Paprec, Jean-Pierre Dick 1840 mtl
7. Skandia, Nick Moloney, 2312 mtl
8. Pro-Form, Marc Thiercelin, 2655 mtl
9. Arcelor Dunkerque, Joé Seeten, 2806 mtl
10. Ocean Planet, Bruce Schwab, 3221 mtl

The Global Challenge Race Office confirmed that due to a medical emergency
onboard Imagine It. Done, skippered by Dee Caffari, the yacht has stopped
racing in Leg 2 (Buenos Aires to Wellington). The yacht is now proceeding
as fast as possible towards Chatham Island to seek urgent medical
assistance for John Masters a core Crew Volunteer. Masters has been unwell
for several days but his condition has deteriorated and the onboard Doctor,
in consultation with Dr Spike Briggs (fleet medical officer) and the A & E
department at Derriford hospital Plymouth, have deemed it necessary to seek
assistance. Imagine It. Done. and the nearest yacht, Team Save the
Children, will rendezvous later today so that additional medical stores can
be transferred to Imagine It. Done. before proceeding to Chatham Island
which is nearly 800 miles away and 400 miles east of Wellington. With more
than 1000 miles still to sail on the current leg, Spirit of Sark, holds a
slim seven mile lead over BP Explorer with Samsung in third place. Full

CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS (Sponsored by West Marine)
Events listed at

Oddly, a tsunami cannot be felt as it passes ships on the open ocean, for
the wave is usually small, one to two feet, and traveling very fast, as
fast as airliners. It is only as it approaches shallow water that it begins
to break; as the bottom of the wave slows, the top keeps traveling at the
higher speed and increases in height, hitting landfall at 30 to 40 miles an
hour. In 1958, an earthquake in Lituya Bay, Alaska, caused a landslide into
the ocean that created a tsunami 1,720 feet high, a wave that could have
swept over the Empire State Building. Fortunately it headed into a
wilderness area and did not travel across the ocean to Hawaii or Japan. -
New York Times, full story:

Team ABN AMRO's first of two race yachts for the Volvo Ocean Race left the
wharf at Schaap Ship Care and went on transport. Destination: the harbor of
Portimao, Portugal, host to their base camp for the next seven months as
the crew and shore team test and fine-tune the new gear and trimmings.
There are photos of the boat on the syndicate's website:

A memorial service will be held for local sailor/educator Fletcher Pitts on
Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 11 A.M. on Johnson's Bay Beach in Coral Bay,
St. John. He died of heart failure on Christmas Day at the Schneider
Hospital. He was 51 years old. Fletcher Pitts was perhaps the best-known
youth sailing instructor in the Virgin Islands. His Coral Bay KATS (Kids
and the Sea) program was started in 1988 and soon grew from 'two beat,
leaky Lasers' to dozens of Lasers, Opti and other classes. Thousands of
local kids went through the basic seamanship and learn-to-sail program. The
secret to success was, according to Pitts, in "getting the money to the
people with wet-butts," meaning that all the money should go directly to
benefiting the kids ... not to admisistrative costs. A long time
live-aboard and member of the USVI marine community. Rotary II of St.
Thomas awarded him its prestigious Paul Harris award for his educational
efforts on behalf of local youths.

Team One Newport will show the latest and coolest sailing gear for 2005 at
the Philadelphia Strictly Sail Show from January 20-23. Come buy the Axis
Women's jacket from Henri-Lloyd or Harken's new Trimmer sneaker or
Railrider's quick dry and super durable Hemmingway shorts. Check out the
Patagonia Fleece jackets and the Dubarry Regatta shoes and tons more. Come
see Team One Newport's live fashion show everyday at center stage. If you
cannot make it to Philadelphia, then visit our website or call 800-VIP-GEAR
for our latest catalogs!

(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 Clark Chapin: Now that I've received my copy of the rules for 2005-8
and faithfully place it under my pillow every night. I find that ISAF has
modified rule 3 after the US Sailing version went to press. Drat! Why, oh
why, can't these things be ironed out in the four years leading up to the
change? I have the deepest regard for both the US Sailing and ISAF Rules
Committees but golly, I wish I wasn't pasting corrections into my book this
early into the four year cycle. See:

* From Blake MacDiarmid: I simply can't agree with John Handfield's
comments - "Just think how great the AC series would be if guys like Gary
Jobson, Alan Bond, Ted Hood and other past sailing greats could have
input"?): Those are the guys who thought it was cool to take the Twelves
miles out to sea off Newport, and took part in the just-as-political
(more?) Cup scene of the past.

Is the Alinghi cabal making mistakes? For sure. But will the Cup be more
accessible for the rest of us now than it was in the Newport days?
Absolutely. Changes to the Cup program happens in geologic time -- and I
don't see things changing anytime soon. That's why the Mega-multihull game
is taking off, and the Swedish Match series continues to gain momentum.

Having said that, you really want excitement in the Cup? Dump the RRS since
rubbin' is racin', bring in NASCAR folks to help us market it, and let Cam
Lewis do the play by play. Now that would get things moving! I bet that
makes the Nantucket Red crowd shake in their topsiders...

* From Doran Cushing: Please excuse my ignorance, but are multihulls not
allowed to compete in the Sydney to Hobart Race? Given the failures of the
newest, latest tech monohulls like Konica Minolta, Skandia, and Ragamuffin,
and some 40 percent of the fleet withdrawing early in the race, I have to
take issue with the ever-present badgering of the efforts of high tech
multihulls to cross oceans in record times. Seems like the monoslugs which
brag about speeds in the teens but break in a relatively short ocean race
need to check out what the multis are doing - singlehanded or with crews
numbering less than half of the leaners. Please tell me, where are the
multis in the Sydney-Hobart Race?

* From Ted Beier: Changing the Racing Rules of Sailing for beginners, or
anyone else, is unnecessary and dangerous. The rules can be reduced to
their basics for beginners, with a result that is no more difficult than
the basic rules of baseball or football. Personally, I think they are
easier than baseball or football. As with these other popular games, if you
want to be a proficient player, and go beyond the back yard, there are more
detailed rules that must be mastered. US Sailing has printed these basics
on a laminated card, which are for sale at a small price from Portsmouth.
Carlyle Sailing Association uses this card for beginners including juniors
in the 10 - 16 age range with good success.

* From Walter Weller (edited to our 250-word limit): I served as Junior
Director for a nationally recognized program that has grown considerably,
prospers, and is routinely filled. Success during my involvement was
measured by myself and the sailing staff on two separate levels: Success of
the competitive "dogs" as they participated in junior sailing's "circuit"
and by the enjoyment recorded in the faces of the remaining participants as
they developed traits that sailing produces in general, even when
competition is not the most important aspect. I experienced the conflicts
between club members (senior/junior) and previous comments about
diminishing numbers in this regard resonate with me.

It has always been my experience that the participants mostly know what
they want out of a program, and as parents, instructors and junior program
administrators our challenge is/ was to make certain that the program
provided what was most desired by each. When programs specialize in
developing future grand prix sailors - and we had/ have such classes for
our kids, this responsibility becomes focused directly on the parent(s)

It was my experience, over a number of years, that parental/ coach focus
often created more conflict for junior sailors then any other single
element. What is the percentage of juniors, especially "dogs," that drop
out altogether? I bet the number is surprisingly large. Family involvement,
appropriate levels of competitive programming for the junior, respectful
sailing, and appreciation of more than the number of firsts will provide
the most fertile ground for sailors continued growth, both competitively
and in numbers on the water.

Many youngsters learned about stamina when their mother explained, "You'll
sit there until all those peas are gone."