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SCUTTLEBUTT 2588 - May 2, 2008

Scuttlebutt is a digest of major sailing news, commentary, opinions, features and dock talk . . . with a North American focus. Scuttlebutt is published each weekday with the support of its sponsors.

ON THE PATH TO THE PODIUM
Canadian Mike Leigh is on a roll. In February, he was selected as his country's 2008 Olympic Laser representative. The next month he is in Australia for the Laser Radial Worlds, and despite never having raced before with the smaller rig, and being at his estimate, over 20 pounds too heavy for the class, he won the event. Then in April, he heads to Hyeres, France for the Semaine Olympique Francaise - a major Olympic training regatta - where he again wins, this time over 156 entrants.

The ISAF rankings came out this week, and Leigh is now fifth in the world. Considering how hard it is for North Americans to achieve a high ranking, given the preponderance of overseas qualifying events, let's just say that Leigh is now a major player in the most populated of Olympic classes. Leigh is currently doing what most sailors are doing that already have their ticket stamped for China - he's losing weight. He was down 11 pounds for the Hyeres event (now at about 175 lb), with a bit more to go before the Olympics.

He has posted a report on his recent win, which outlines the task of winning a Euro event. It is an interesting read, for after a good start, his focus narrowed toward his closest competition, Kiwi Andrew Murdoch, who is ranked 3rd by ISAF, and consistently a top finisher in international events. The discussion of tactics covers the problems he had regarding his drop race, and the match race skills he needed to compete against Murdoch, who is a two-time team race world champion. Read on: http://mikeleighsailing.blogspot.com/2008/04/french-olympic-week.html

COACHES CORNER
Comments by Hans Wallen (SWE), who is helping prepare Americans John Dane and Austin Sperry in the Star class for the 2008 Olympics:

* You have a wide array of experience from winning the IODA World Championships in 1976 and winning the Silver Medal in the Star Class in the 1996 Olympics. What are some of the differences you seen in world class sailing over the last 30 years?
WALLEN: The biggest difference is that today there are more countries competing and at a much higher level. Also, the equipment is more equal among the competitors. Back then, I sailed everyday and lived close to a venue. Today people do not sail more hours, there are just more opportunities. There are also more high level racing events, as well as more intense competition. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was always important to have a good home fleet to be well prepared for the Worlds. Whereas today, it is not as much a concern, because they will send 1, 2 or 3 boats to train away from home.

* What are some of the areas you are working on to prepare for the Beijing Olympics?
WALLEN: Right now we are working on many different elements such as trimming, testing materials and testing different Star boats, including one specifically built for light wind conditions. Our team is performing a wide range of testing, which will soon be narrowed down. We are preparing ourselves for a variety of wind conditions in Beijing. Here in Miami we are at about 12-15 knots, whereas it is anticipated to be a little less, around 4-8 knots, in Beijing. You can't expect 'normal' wind conditions, therefore, we are preparing and making sure we have all the right materials for the upper wind range as well as for the lower wind range. We will be going to Beijing to practice in June and July, which we are all looking forward to. -- Complete interview: http://www.austinsperry.com/news?id=7461

TIGHT STANDINGS TO DETERMINE FINAL FOUR
Long Beach, CA (May 1, 2008) -- After day three of Long Beach Yacht Club's 44th Congressional Cup presented by Acura, there have been no dramatic changes in the standings. There will be four more match races so as to finish the double round robin schedule by Friday and determine the top four who will move on. Conditions permitting, there will be a best-of-three semifinals and finals Saturday scheduled around a fleet race for non-qualifiers. Total prize money is $41,000 with $10,000 to the winner. The 10 six-man crews are sailing Catalina 37s owned by the Long Beach Yacht Club Sailing Foundation, rotating boats daily.

(After 14 of 18 rounds)
1. Gavin Brady, New Zealand, 12-2 (11.5 points)
2. Scott Dickson, New Zealand, 10-4
3. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, 9-5
4. Simon Minoprio, New Zealand, 8-6
5. Damien Iehl, France, 7-7
5. Philippe Presti, France, 7-7
7. Pierre-Antoine Morvan, France, 6-8
7. Dave Perry, U.S., 6-8
9. Andrew Arbuzov, Russia, 4-10
10. Chris VanTol, U.S., 1-13 (-.25 points)
Daily report: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/08/0501/

FREE EMBROIDERY AND FREE SCREEN PRINTING!!
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BOTTLENECK AT PANAMA CANAL
More than 150 yachts are in a marine 'traffic jam' on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal, awaiting transit to the Pacific Ocean. Many have been told it will be 'weeks' - in one case two months - before they will be able to get through. This delay could put them in danger of meeting the cyclone (hurricane) season in the South Pacific. Manager of vessel transit operations for the Panama Canal, Abraham Saied, told YM that the peak time for canal transits is between February and April, but for reasons still being analysed the commercial traffic this year is much heavier than usual.

Groups of yacht transits have been dropped from two per day to one per week because they 'impact negatively' on commercial shipping transits, he said. 'The yachts take time to raft up together and handling them through the locks takes 30 minutes or so longer than commercial ships.' Normally up to 38 ships a day are expected at this time of year, but on some days up to 50 ships a day have been arriving. 'We are taking one step forward and two steps back,' Mr Saied said. -- Yachting Monthly, complete story: http://www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20080328135611ymnews.html

PLANNING ON PURPOSE
The future of water access depends on the usefulness of existing and new facilities. The success of these facilities relies heavily upon developing and maintaining the physical infrastructure. Therefore, preserving existing water access facilities and growing water access with new facilities require a well-thought-out plan for development.

Marine industry professionals must take the lead in the planning, development and operation of these water access facilities. Governments and private developers must reach out to marine professionals for assistance in the identification, design, development, and operation of such facilities. The goal must be to expand and improve access to our nation's waterways through a deliberate process.

Clear identification of the parameters for the development and redevelopment of these facilities is critical to the future of water access. A poorly designed facility, with rough waters, silting issues, inadequate vehicle or pedestrian access will negatively impact the boating experience. A facility designed without understanding the market will be under-utilized and will eventually deteriorate.

In either scenario, a failed project leaves the owner with little incentive to maintain water access as a primary use; making other uses more attractive. Addressing the following topics will guide the planning process and maximize project success. -- Read on for the Boating Industry publication's Water Access White Paper: http://www.valvtect.com/WhitePaper_Access_FINALsm.pdf

SAILING SHORTS
* The US Sailing Team Racing Championship will be August 15-17 at Erie Yacht Club, in Erie, PA., where conditions should provide flat water, breeze, minimal traffic, and great host club and facilities (camping available). This regatta will also be the qualifier for the ISAF Team Racing World Championship in Perth Australia, January 2009. Entry deadline is July 4; full details listed at http://www.ussailing.org/championships/adult/ustrc

* Complete details for the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Women's National Championship, the ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship , and the ICSA/Gill National Championship, which will be held from May 26-June 4 in Newport, RI, and now available on the New York Yacht Club website: http://www.nyyc.org/collegenationals

* A Hollywood audition is seeking males 18-30 years who can street sail or windsurf for a commercial. Must be available Friday, May 2nd in West Hollywood. Additional information at http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/tlg/663775361.html

* The final yacht belonging to Southampton, UK-based Challenge Business Interational Ltd, the operators of the Global Challenge round the world yacht race, has now been sold, according to appointed administrator Grant Thornton UK LLP. Challenge Business went into receivership in October 2006, following problems securing sponsorship for the race. The sale of the fleet, which comprised five 67ft (20m) yachts and 13 72ft (22m) yachts, involved 18 months of international marketing with the assistance of yacht brokers Berthon International. Grant Thornton says that it has been able to refund outstanding deposits paid by the public for cancelled trips. -- IBI Magazine, read on: http://www.ibinews.com/ibinews/newsdesk/20080322141723ibinews.html

* The world's first deep-water device to generate electricity from the tides on a commercial scale has been lowered into place and has been fixed to the seabed with 12 metre (40 ft) pins. The 1,000-tonne double turbine SeaGen Tidal System at Strangford Lough in Co Down, Northern Ireland, is designed to produce enough electricity to supply 1,000 homes. -- Times Online, complete story: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3694859.ece

NEWPORT
Newport Shipyard, newport shipyard, NEWPORT SHIPYARD, The Shipyard, Best Yachting Scene, NEWPORT. http://www.newportshipyard.com

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
Some of the random photos from the sport received this week at Scuttlebutt include Star Worlds winners celebrating their victory live on the PR Newswire screen in New York City's Times Square, l'Hydroptere hoisting off the ship in anticipation of her speed record attempt, light air and pool parties for the Ensenada race, pieces of the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 following her break-up off during the round the world record run, Finns training for the Europeans, the Melges 20 coming out of the mold, and the STP-65 Rosebud Racing wearing her new sponsor colors. If you have images you would like to share, send them to the Scuttlebutt editor. Here are this week’s photos: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/photos/08/0502

* Green boats were under the spotlight this week, as they were grouped with bananas and Friday races for things that bring bad luck. However, the 'buttheads reminded us of at least two famous green boats from the late seventies: David Allen's Imp and Donald Green's Evergreen. Images of both are posted on Scuttleblog: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/blog/2008/05/green-boats.html


LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name, and may be edited for clarity or simplicity (letters shall be no longer than 250 words). You only get one letter per subject, so give it your best shot, don't whine if others disagree, and save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere. As an alternative, a more open environment for discussion is available on the Scuttlebutt Forum.

-- Scuttlebutt Letters: editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com
-- Scuttlebutt Forum: http://sailingscuttlebutt.com/forum

* From Damian Christie, Melbourne, Australia: (re, ACUP story in #2587) I respect Tom Schnackenberg enormously, so it is sad to see him reduced to spouting yet another Alinghi red herring. Yes, maybe BMW Oracle should lodge the 'custom house registry of its vessel ...as soon as possible' for the America's Cup. But judging from Schnack's comments about the origin of this provision, it is obvious that Alinghi simply wants intel on Oracle's boat. After all, Schnack recites Alinghi's favourite line (borrowed from Cup donor George Schuyler) that 'the challenged party has a right to know what the challenging yacht is like ...'Clearly, Alinghi is frustrated because it still doesn't know if Oracle's challenger will be a catamaran or a trimaran and it has had to start building its defender blind.

Of course, Alinghi's pot shouldn't call Oracle's kettle black. After all, when Alinghi launched its original protocol for the 33rd Cup with the shambolic CNEV, it insisted on devising the formula for the AC90 class itself and releasing it at a time of its own choosing. Indeed, it was the strong possibility that Alinghi could have started designing its defending yacht before it had even published the new rule that prompted Oracle to launch this farcical challenge in the first place. Alinghi will just have to swallow the unpleasant medicine that it rather cynically attempted to foist on challengers in the first place. It's time for the team to stop its legal whining and get on with this idiotic contest.

* From Russell Painton: I must applaud Garry Hoyt's thoughts on the Olympics (in Issue 2585), and especially his observations regarding the Star and the Yingling classes. However, I think he contradicts himself when he observes that one of the most interesting aspects of sailboat racing is the on-the-water tactics (agreed!). Then, he suggests that multi hulls should be included. I disagree, for while these boats are indeed fun to sail, due to the huge differences in boat speed resulting from very small changes in wind and tuning, there are few opportunities for any meaningful tactics on the race course. The result? The boat races becomes much like a NASCAR race ... a spectacle, not a sport. (Having now annoyed both the cat crowd and the NASCAR fans, I retreat to my keyboard.)

* From Duart Snow, Vancouver, BC: I'm with the Old Freethinker, Garry Hoyt, on his views on the OIympic sailing classes. We can all keep our favourite one-design classes and sail in them happily at whatever level we like, from club to worlds. But let's make Olympic sailing sizzle, and let's focus on the individual athleticism required by the sort of classes Hoyt proposes. Telegenic events might actually benefit sailing by exposing its excitement to wider audiences - at minimum they will help keep sailing an Olympic sport. And so what if those with aging bodies and thickening middles can't compete. We can always line up against the best in a world championship regatta in our chosen one-design.

* From Jeff Borland: In Issue 2587, Dick Schmidt suggests that the inclusion of boats like the Laser and sailboards in the Olympics makes a great deal of sense for their affordability and accessibility. Let's take this one step further.... Match racing is typically (ok, not the AC...) held in provided boats. And, ISAF will be proposing to create an entirely new boat for the match race discipline. How much more equal does it get? A boat that no one has sailed until they get there?

* From Brendan Hanna: A number of years ago I was asked to be second helm for the late Jim Ely for the Scotch Bonnet Light Race, and overnight race on Lake Ontario. I objected loudly when I saw bananas come aboard, but was ignored. I continued my grumbling periodically throughout the night and following day, and did manage to keep the things below during my shift. When the results were tallied, we had not only won our division, but finished first overall as well. It was with great delight that the skipper insisted I pose with him for the official winners photo....he held the trophy while I was forced to hold a banana.

* From Derek Blancke: Why not combine the Olympics and the Americas Cup and get all the **** out the way in one event this year. You could have loads of politics, court dramas, journalists, lawyers, men in blazers, support staff, massive white elephant multihulls, millions of wasted dollars along with no wind and not a sail boat race worth watching.

The resulting lack of interest would cause a ground up rebuild for both events to create some good racing that is entertaining. Then you could have it all in Weymouth and Cowes in 4 years time where there is plenty of wind and the tradition and cache of the original venue and the new olympic village to revialise the whole process. The whole world media focus will be on the UK for 2012. Great idea, eh! Best wishes from a totally unbiased British yachtie...

CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATION
You know you're getting older when you talk about "good grass" and you're referring to someone's lawn.

Special thanks to Team One Newport and Newport Shipyard.

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