SCUTTLEBUTT 1968 -- November 16, 2005
Scuttlebutt is a digest of major yacht racing news, commentary, opinions,
features and dock talk . . . with a North American focus.
GUEST EDITORIAL -- Charlie Cook
The Olympic format agreed upon last week was the result of a careful
balancing of the interests of all stakeholders: sailors, sponsors, media
and event organizers. Olympic aspirants spend years and countless sums
training for and competing in the Olympics. They put their lives on hold.
They want to compete in a fair event, with the best sailors winning the
Gold. They don't want a format that amounts to nothing more than a lottery.
Corporate sponsorship has become the lifeblood of Olympic campaigns. Media
exposure is the currency of those sponsors. The more live TV coverage and
other opportunities for exposure the better - for all sailors.
Literally billions of dollars are paid to the IOC for the right to cover
the Olympics. The IOC have made clear that sports must adapt to this
reality or be eliminated from the Olympics. This is an issue at all levels
of the sport. Try explaining to an Editor who sends a reporter and
photographer to an event why the winner isn't event sailing on the last
day. The organizers of Grade 1 and World and Continental Championships of
Olympic classes are also stakeholders. Whatever format was decided upon for
the Olympics is likely to trickle down to other events. Clubs want a format
that's inclusive, and easily managed.
Some of the more radical proposals included an elimination series leading
to a three race winner-takes-all final series for four boats. That would
certainly have made for interesting live TV coverage on the final day of
each event. But, especially given conditions expected in Qingdao, it would
have reduced the competition to a lottery. In the end, the sport would have
been changed, in many ways for the worse.
The format settled upon represented a compromise in the best sense of the
word. The new format addresses the interests of all stakeholders. The
potential for a lottery is greatly reduced; the best sailors will win the
medals. A larger number of sailors will gain exposure through live TV
coverage. The final race will be meaningful and interesting to the media.
Finally, this is a format that organizers of Grade 1 events and class
championships can implement.
Early returns have been overwhelmingly positive. The IOC are reported to be
pleased with the format. The mainstream media think it's a good approach.
Most importantly, it didn't "change the game" for the most important
stakeholder - sailors around the World. -- Charley Cook, ISAF Council
Member (Group P - USA and CAN)
EXPOSING THE SECRET
Anacortes, Wash. -- Shhh. There is a secret within the Anacortes
boat-building industry, and the only clue is a building with several BMWs
parked in front. After several months of preparation, the BMW/Oracle
America's Cup racing team is about to begin construction of its first of
two racing boats in a nondescript building on Anacortes' industrial
waterfront. And as the crews prepare to lay a carbon-fiber skin into a mold
made by Janicki Industries of Sedro-Woolley, secrecy and security have been
ever present. for good reason. Competitors in the 32nd America's Cup have
prestige and esteem at stake in the race, and boat design and construction
are closely guarded secrets by the teams. "Now we go into the secretive
phase as we go into this year," said Tom Ehman, external affairs director.
The boat will be built inside an unassuming brown and orange industrial
building and then baked in a covered oven outside. There may be a small
ceremony when the boats are completed in a few months, but that is not
likely. The finished hull is top secret and is usually unveiled just days
before the race. "It is hard to tell what is going on in every other team.
It is all pretty secretive," said Ian Burns, the design team coordinator.
"The whole thing, the America's Cup, is a game of advantages, (such as)
what the other team is thinking."
The BMW/Oracle boats are the only entries being built in the United States.
But they won't be finished here. Once the major components are ready, they
will be sent to Spain for assembly and for the race, which takes place in
April 2007 in Valencia. Each of the two boats requires about 30,000 hours
of construction and 200,000 hours of research and development, according to
the team. The BMW/Oracle racing team brought 18 construction workers and
their families to Anacortes for the year. -- Randy Trick, Skagit Valley
Herald, full story:
INTERNATIONAL SAILING SUMMIT
Several presentations highlighted, through statistical and anecdotal
evidence, the marked decline in watersports participation, by as much as
6-8 per cent per annum according to Tim Coventry of the International
Sailing Federation (ISAF) and by even greater margins in the latest report
produced by the sporting goods manufacturers' trade body, SGMA
International. In contrast, European Boatbuilder editor Phil Draper
reported that mainstream yacht production, from 6m right up to superyachts,
was healthy and concluded from research that it was likely to remain so.
Reversing what seems to be an irresistible march towards exclusivity in
sailing remains a key theme of the ISS, founded and chaired by Ronstan
International's managing director Alistair Murray. Introducing the one-day
conference, Murray affirmed the summit was about quality delegates, not
quantity, and confirmed that there were many key personalities among the 85
participants present from 16 countries. -- Excerpt from a story on the
Sail-World website, full story:
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APPROACHING THE DOLDRUMS
As shore managers scratched their heads over how best to return crippled
yachts to the race track, navigators of the leaders on the first leg of the
Volvo Ocean Race were rolling the tactical permutations for the dive south
through the trade winds. Adrienne Cahalan had given Brasil 1 a 57-mile lead
over Steve Hayles in Ericsson as both chose an easterly option. Speculating
to accumulate were the two ABN Amro boats, a further 13 and 17 miles behind.
In Portugal, both movistar, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, and the Paul
Cayard-led The Black Pearl looked increasingly likely to make major repairs
and still try to complete the first leg from Vigo to Cape Town. The
fifth-placed Australian entry Brunel Sunergy has already left Porto Santo,
Madeira, after completing repairs to the boom attachment to the mast. --
Stuart Alexander, The Independent, full story:
Tuesday, 2200 GMT Position Report:
1. Brasil 1, 5248 miles to finish
2. Ericsson Racing Team, +35 miles
3. ABN Amro One, +39 miles
4. ABN Amro Two, +39 miles
5. Sunergy and Friends, +466 miles
6. Movistar, +909 miles
7. Pirates of the Caribbean, +965 miles
Event website: www.volvooceanrace.com
BEKKING OPTIMISTIC DESPITE 'SICKENING' IMPACT
Movistar was damaged on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the start from
Vigo. "It was a crunching, sickening noise. In that moment, it could be
anything," Bekking recalls of the moment when the Volvo 70 crash-landed off
a wave. On the starboard side, the flat panel anchoring one end of the
giant hydraulic ram which swings the keel through an 80-degree arc was
detached from the structure either side of it. On the opposite side, the
main ring frame bulkhead had a three-inch tear.
Russell Bowler, the engineering partner in Farr Yacht Design, spent 20
minutes aboard for his initial inspection. "I think the Farr office will
offer us a solution," Bekking said. "We have to accept it and finance it so
it will be our say as to what we will do." His worst fear is that the
insurers say Movistar is unsafe. This seems the least likely outcome. The
most probable is that repairs can be done in Portugal, in which case
Bekking believes his crew could leave Portimao by Dec 2, complete leg one
and be in Cape Town for Boxing Day's In-Port race there.
"Scoring no points is what we're trying to avoid," said Bekking, mindful
that Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean is also damaged and docked in
Portugal at Cascais. "There are still a couple of points to grab,
especially if Pirates decides to retire and go directly to Cape Town." --
Excerpt from a story by Tim Jeffery, the Daily Telegraph, complete story:
THROUGH THE DOLDRUMS
In the Transat Jacques Vabre IMOCA 60 Monohull class, there is now more of
a triumvirate heading up the fleet, as Jean Le Cam and Kito de Pavant on
Bonduelle have had a relatively magical route through the Doldrums to the
East of the course compared to the others, and is now 36m behind Sill et
Veolia (Jourdain / MacArthur) in 2nd, who in turn have dropped back to 19m
from leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron on Virbac-Paprec after a
difficult night sailing in heavy squalls. The Open 60 monohull leaders are
still under the influence of the Doldrums for a few hours yet, but are all
reporting signs of the trade wind conditions in the skies.
As the multihulls are crossing the Equator at the latest position reports,
the top three ORMA 60 trimarans are launching in a tacking battle to the
Ascension Island turning point in the SE Trades. The sea state is renowned
to be rough in this area too, and so looking after the structure and
rigging will be paramount on this leg of the race. Banque Populaire
(Bidegorry / Lemonchois), leading from Géant (Desjoyeaux / Destremau) by
42m, pulled off a winning counter-tack earlier today to reposition nearer
to the rhumb line and ahead of Gitana 11 at the same time.
Giovanni Soldini and Vittorio Malingri, the two Italian skippers on ORMA 60
trimaran TIM Progetto Italia, which capsized 450m West of Freetown at 0515
Monday morning, were picked up around 2000 hrs by the supertanker Capbari
which was en route to Mexico. There is no current information about a
possible transfer of the two skippers before the tanker reaches Mexico.
Giovanni spoke to the Race organization around 2100 hrs from on board the
tanker about the chances of salvaging his trimaran. "I don't think we can
salvage the boat. The starboard float was smashed by the mast, which broke
into three pieces and was heavily damaged."
FOR THE RECORD
Olivier de Kersauson' Geronimo continues to power her way towards the
islands of Hawaii in her quest to set a new World Sailing Speed Record
Council record for the transpacific Los Angeles Honolulu Challenge. After
48 hours, Geronimo was close to the halfway point in the 2225 mile race,
and the Capgemini and Schneider Electric trimaran has been traveling at an
average of 21.75 knots overnight. The maxi trimaran has covered 261 miles
in 12 hours with the team covering over 500 miles for day two. "We're just
getting to the point of being ahead of the record now," said USA crew
member Larry Rosenfeld. "It was pretty slow going at first and then very
rough seas from a bad direction and now finally we can let her run. We have
been doing 23-28 knots last watch." -- www.superyachting.com
* Time is running out for US Sailing members to make their nominations for
the 2005 US Sailing Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards.
Only one male and one female can prevail, and they must be U.S. citizens.
Nominations will closed or November 30, just six days after Thanksgiving.
After the nomination period ends, a shortlist of nominees is presented to a
panel of noted sailing journalists who discuss the merits of each, and vote
by secret ballot to determine who will be honored … and receive their
specially engraved Rolex watches. To make a nomination online:
* On-line registration for the 2006 US Sailing Rolex Miami OCR is now open.
The is expected to bring together hundreds of sailors from about 30
countries to Biscayne Bay from January 22-27, 2006. The event, ranked as
Grade 1 by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), is a mandatory
event for the 2006 US Sailing Teams as well as the Canadian Team; a country
qualifier event for the 2007 Pan American Games; and one of the first Grade
1 events for the new Neil Pryde RS:X board. Registration information and
other regatta and Winter Circuit information can be located at
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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. You only get one letter per
subject, so give it your best shot and don't whine if others disagree. And
please save your bashing, and personal attacks for elsewhere. For those
that prefer a Forum, you can post your thoughts at the Scuttlebutt website:
* From Richard Spindler, Publisher / Executive Editor, Latitude 38: Winning
is everything" isn't killing the just-concluded 750-mile Baja Ha-Ha Rally
from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa
Maria. The 12th running of the annual event was the second largest ever, as
525 sailors sailed on 132 boats that included everything from Mariner 31
ketches to big Swans, with a few J/Boats and Santa Cruz designs thrown in
for good measure. The starts of all three legs featured superb sailing. But
when the wind died, as it often does along the coast of Baja, most of the
boats motored to the next port for potlucks and parties.
Two boats did sail the entire course: Nels Toberson's Morgan Out-Island 41
Bronco - which waited out 40 hours of calm in the first leg - and Michael
Ganahal and Leslie Hardy's 60-ft modern schooner Millennium Falcon. The
philosophy of the Ha-Ha is that everybody who finishes in a winner, and the
worst any boat can do is tie for third in class. While rallies certainly
aren't the solution for what ails competitive sailing, the Ha-Ha left over
500 sailors in Cabo with big smiles on their faces. Did we mention that
about 35% of the participants were woman, and that seven of them were skippers?
* From Andy Steiner: The Whitbread/Volvo Management Team has done it again!
With all the experience of Ocean Races available over centuries they still
have a talent to find the worst solutions for what is supposed to be a
modern ocean race. In the beginning of the Around the World Races amateur
crews were allowed without any experience with the result of many injuries
and the loss of lives. Then came Steinlager who had a huge advantage, in
fact it wasn't really a race! Where were the rule makers?
The VOR 60 was a reasonable start for a new era, except that the boat was
too small and only professionals could participate with a chance for
success. The whole concept went from one extreme to the other. But the 60s
were probably half the price of the 70s. Now the VOR 70: in my opinion a
complete failure in concept. Who would want to do the Paris - Dakar in
Formula one car? The formula one car would not survive the first turn. And
that is exactly what has happened. What would be the difference if the
boats were much more conservative and simpler and cheaper? Well, there
would be twice as many boats and the sponsors would all have a big smile on
* From David Greening, Naval Architect (edited to our 250-word limit): The
only reckless disregard by boat designers in respect of high-performance
race boats is in accepting a commission for a boat built to a rule and a
race area that may be mismatched. The responsibility for the safety of the
crew must be with the race organizers and class administrators who define
the type of craft and the race area. If you give a designer a rule they are
going to work to its limits, in this case the limits are proving inadequate.
The V70 rule requires yachts to meet the Essential Safety Requirements of
the Recreational Craft Directive for Boat Design Category A - Ocean. So in
the case of buckling bulkheads, is it appropriate to apply scantling
standards that are intended for leisure craft and where the defining ISO
standard is still only in draft form to around the world racing yachts?
I am on record in the UK press as suggesting that the limits set by
Category A - Ocean are marginal and are driven by commercial pressures from
European mass production boat builders, I believe that there should be a
Super Category A - Trans Ocean, which puts a greater emphasis on
survivability. In the case of the Orma multihulls, you have to question the
wisdom of short handed sailing this type of craft in heavy weather. After
all many of the high profile racing yacht structural failures in the past
year would have resulted in fatalities if it were not for EPIRBS, GPS and
* From Ralph Taylor: Guess I'm in a minority of Scuttlebutt readers,
thinking that ISAF did OK in balancing entertainment values with fairness
of competition when it changed the Olympic sailing format. I see nothing
wrong with adding a race that eliminates all but the best 10. It cuts the
fleet down to manageable size of boats with reasonable prospects. At this
level, that promises to be tight racing. The added final race takes on more
importance, with its double points. The leading three boats are in danger
of losing their spots.(Recall Apollo Ohno in Salt Lake.) But (Run the
math.) it will still be nearly impossible for 10th place to move up to the
podium in one race. Where I see some danger is to "fair sailing" & outside
assistance, if boats conspire to team up to impede someone ahead in the score
* From John Arndt (re coaching): My general perception view point is that
too many people think that sailing is a competitive sport rather than a
recreational activity. Kayaking used to be an elite competitive sport
practiced by a few white water daredevils. They remain purists that look
down their noses at the common paddler. But Hobie's business went through
the roof when kayaking stopped being a sport and became a recreational
activity in which anyone could participate. When kayaking stopped focusing
on competition and winning and started focusing on fun the industry flew
and is majority of Hobie's business today.
I love racing and it's a terrific way to enjoy sailing but not the only
way. There are numerous ways to sail that don't require coaches, rules,
marks, committees, membership, high tech gear or all the rest. All one
really needs is a breeze, an open patch of water, a hull or two and sails.
Then you can 'have a Hobie day' or any other kind of fun, relaxing,
enjoyable family sail on the water.
To each their own. Here's a great quote re: learning to sail and racing
from this month's Latitude 38: 'About eight years ago, my wife gave me
sailing lessons at OCSC,' said Joe Ferrie, a Berkeley resident and computer
programmer at Oracle. 'She hasn't seen me since!'
* From Linda Simpson: I hope you are going to follow up today's
quote/observation (Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for
dinner) with the second half of Benjamin Franklin's quote: "Liberty is a
well armed lamb contesting the vote."
"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I
wouldn't be a bit surprised." -- Dorothy Parker