SCUTTLEBUTT 2682 - Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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(With the recent passing of Olin Stephens, this article was written by David
Pedrick, a protégé from 1970-77 and one of Stephens’ great admirers since
It’s daunting to think of the number of sailors and industry professionals
who have benefitted from Olin Stephens’ genius, whether through the
adrenalin of racing or the serenity of cruising. Spanning from Lightnings to
J-Class yachts, from blue-water cruising and ocean racing to virtually every
important offshore racing event on the planet, Olin crafted designs that
countless crews and the seas themselves have loved.
Olin always kept his sights on the next thing. He could see and admit
publicly the weaknesses of any particular design, and was constantly
figuring out the next improvements to make. When asked about why he didn’t
copyright his designs, he explained that, if someone was copying your past
work, that’s right where you wanted them – behind you. Nevertheless, he
shared his ideas generously by contributing for decades to the technical
development of the sport of yacht racing.
I’ve held a special fondness for Olin, who gave me my start as a yacht
designer in 1970. He soon trusted me with an increasing share of creative
and technical work on major projects, including the America’s Cup and
emerging Maxi racers. With his office hours full of telephone calls and
letter dictation, he used the quiet time of his evenings and train commute
to advance his own ideas. Among the special memories that I have of Olin is
often starting the day with an update on what he had been working on the
evening before, and being asked to take it further during the day. I’d pass
it back to him at the end of the day, and so it would go from one study to
A few years ago, after I introduced Olin – my most significant mentor – at
an event at the New York Yacht Club, he told a story about his early mentor,
whom he called – even at age 97 – “Mr. Crane.” After a few more stories of
his early years in the Six Metre Class, in crisp detail and with humor and
humility, all of us in the room felt the special privilege of having had
that time with him. Throughout his fifty years as an active and amazing
designer, and thirty more in an active and amazing retirement, Olin’s
standards of intellectual challenge and integrity never faltered, and will
shine on every bit as brightly as all the trophies that his creations have
=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: Additional comments should be posted here:
BACK IN THE GAME
(September 15, 2008) Following the 32nd America’s Cup in July 2007, Louis
Vuitton, the long time Challenger Selection Series sponsor and overall
sponsor of the 32nd AC, announced that it was pulling out of the event.
Unhappy with the direction the defender Alinghi was taking the event, and a
reduced role that was a far cry from that of the previous five Challenger
Series, this was a shot heard around the world, as many found that Louis
Vuitton’s involvement had been vital in maintaining the unique aura of the
For those pleading for Louis Vuitton to get back in the game, the company
announced today that they are planning an international match racing regatta
to be sailed in Auckland, New Zealand in February next year. The “Louis
Vuitton Pacific Series” is being organized in association with the New
Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht
Squadron (RNZYS), and Auckland City. Organisers will select between six and
eight teams, on a “first come, first served’’ basis, to participate in this
friendly series of races that will compete aboard Emirates Team New Zealand
AC class boats. -- Complete announcement:
* The full LV Pacific Series press conference is online, posted by TVNZ
Channel 3. Interviews afterwards include John Banks and Grant Dalton. --
* From the French America’s Cup challenging team K-Challenge, CEO Stephane
Kandler stated, “The fact that this event is organized by Louis Vuitton, an
America’s Cup’s historical sponsor, is great news for all the sports
community. It is the perfect opportunity to have a positive impact for the
future of the oldest sports trophy in the world, and K-Challenge is more
determined than ever to bring it back with a new generation who already
represented France in the last edition.” -- http://www.k-challenge.org
IT'S IN THE DETAILS...
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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
During their recent haul of six Olympic sailing medals, there was a supreme
amount of media attention on the British sailing team. In fact, when team
member Ben Ainslie won the country’s first sailing medal of the Games, a
Google search for his name generated 4,340,000 internet stories immediately
following the medal ceremony. Given that the Games are now coming to London,
and in how other parts of the sport seem to have roots there, it came as an
absolute surprise to learn of the recent decision by the UK paper The Daily
Telegraph to end their 19 years of sailing coverage.
Britain always used to be the exception in the world in terms of coverage
given to the sport by the national newspapers. Contrast this with the USA
and even hot sailing nations such as France and New Zealand. Further, The
Telegraph habitually gave more space, more often, than any other paper, so
it’s hard to view this as anything but a setback for British sailing.
Outstanding yachting scribe Tim Jeffery had been the paper’s chief
correspondent, who is also a regular contributor to Seahorse magazine.
The purported reason for this change? The reason given was the economic
downturn, though it is widely suspected that new management would prefer to
concentrate on the major sports. At least you can’t accuse the newspaper of
favoritism, as despite the sailing team being the recipients of what some
estimate to be $10 million a year in public lottery funding, and in how Lord
Moynihan, the chairman of the British Olympic Association, considers the
sailing team to be the “Formula One” of British Olympic sports, it still
isn’t sufficient cause for column space.
* While The Daily Telegraph might not be interested in sailing anymore,
there was certainly an impressive crowd of the people that did come out for
a British Olympic sailing team welcoming parade:
DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
by Tillerman, Proper Course blog
(September 15, 2008) I've written here before at length about the fun I've
had traveling to various exotic spots around the world with Tillerwoman to
have interesting vacations linked to my sailing in Laser Masters Worlds
Championships at aforementioned exotic spots. I've also written about how
the Laser Class is attempting to tighten up the entry to the Masters Worlds
in order to prevent totally incompetent bozos who don't know the pointy end
of a Laser from the pointy end of their whatsits from entering these
prestigious events. Or maybe just to prevent barely competent marginal Laser
sailors with embarrassing blogs from entering?
Today the International Laser Class Association opened up applications for
the 2009 Masters Worlds in Canada. OK, Nova Scotia isn't exactly as exotic
as Mexico, Spain or Australia but it's still going to be a popular event
among North American sailors. As of 2:30 pm on the first day of
There are 45 applications for the 35 places allocated to the USA.
There are 45 applications for the 11 places allocated to Australia.
There are 24 applications for the 15 places allocated to the United Kingdom.
There is 1 application for the 0 places allocated to American Samoa.
And so on. Probably someone's going to be disappointed. -- Read on:
'LEGEND' HONORED AT ANNUAL REGATTA
They didn't come as much to win a big trophy as they did to remember an
departed friend — a man they fondly called "The Bruin." "He was a legend,"
sailor Craig Gabel said of Bruce Goldsmith, "and when I say 'legend,' I mean
a true legend. He was the kind of guy who would have won the party and the
boat race." Gabel's words came Sunday at the 65th annual regatta at the
Devils Lake Yacht Club, where the event was contested in honor of Goldsmith,
a world-class skipper who died June 3, 2007 in a sailing accident in western
Goldsmith, 71, worked in Jackson as an investment broker until his
retirement in 2002. He belonged to the yacht club and won the regatta 13
times from 1962. He got his nickname because he looked like a bear. The
fatal accident happened during the North Cape Yacht Club's Commodore Perry
Race, north of Toledo. His boat's boom hit him in the head, broke his neck
and threw him overboard, said his friend and longtime sailing partner, Dr.
Terry Timm of Ann Arbor. -- Read on:
RESULTS MATTER! (Rolex Big Boat Series)
At this past weekend's Rolex Big Boat Series, IRC A, IRC B, IRC C, Express
37, J/105, J/120 and Melges 32 class winners raced with North sails. Why
does this matter to you? It proves that whatever you race, North has a sail
for you that's PROVEN faster, stronger and more durable than the
competition...! When performance matters, the choice is clear:
HOBIE 16 NA’S ATTRACTS CONTINENTAL FIELD
(September 12, 2008) The wind was light for the final day of the Hobie 16
North American Championships in Clear Lake, Iowa. Normally this would have
been unwelcome news, but after sailing twelve hard fought and windy races
over the previous two days, light air was almost welcome news. One race was
started in just over five knots and the sailors barely drifted over the
finish line to end the week long championship.
Team Heineken, Francisco Figueroa (aka: Faccio) and Jolliam Berrios from
Puerto Rico, sailed their throw out and won the event by more than 20
points. Francisco and Jolliam are one of many top teams to come out of
Puerto Rico. No doubt the stiff local competition has helped them to win
their first North American Championship.
In second were Pedro Fernandez and Cristy Guirola from Guatemala. Cristy was
the winning helm at the Women’s championship held over the weekend and won
last year’s Pan American games as a crew with Pedro as the team coach. Pedro
Fernandez is a Cuban expatriate who has been coaching the Guatemalan Hobie
16 team for many years. -- Daily reports and results:
Final Results (Top 5 of 56)
1. PUR, Francisco Figueroa/ Jolliam Berrios, 78
2. GUA, Pedro Fernandez/ Cristy Guirola, 100.3
3. USA, Roberty Merrick/ Eliza Cleveland, 108
4. GUA, Jason Hess/ Enrique Arathoon, 118
5. MEX, Armando Noriega/ Marta Norriega, 123
SMALL BOAT, BIG CHALLENGE
British yachtsman Tom McNally is about to attempt to enter the record books
as he soon embarks on a double Atlantic crossing in his purpose-designed 3
foot 10 inch boat, “The Big C"! Setting off from Cadiz, sailing to Central
America, Texas, Newfoundland and back to his home town of Liverpool, Tom
will sail a total of approximately 10,000 miles. He has previously held
various ocean records for sailing in very small craft; the last craft being
a comparatively massive 5 foot 4 and a half inches. However he subsequently
lost that record when American sailor, Mr Vihlen, completed the trip in a
boat just half an inch shorter. -- Scuttleblog, full report:
* Team Russia's Volvo 70 Kosatka reached Alicante this morning after its
delivery trip from Portland, UK. This was the last offshore experience for
the boat and the crew before the start of its round the world adventure. The
preparation for the race is almost at its final point, with seven of the
eight competing teams now at the race start city of Alicante, Spain (Delta
Lloyd is in transit), preparing for the first in-shore race on the 4th of
October. -- http://www.teamrussia.org
* Portimão, Portugal (September 15, 2008) - The 15-boat TP52 fleet completed
their practice race today in sub 10 knot winds in anticipation of the sixth
and final event on the Audi MedCup Circuit, the Portugal Trophy regatta.
Skipper Terry Hutchinson and the crew of Audi MedCup Circuit leading Quantum
Racing (USA) currently have a lead of 41.2 points over Dean Barker’s team
onboard Bribón (ESP) in second. Windward-leeward races will be held Sept
16-20 except on the 18th, when the fleet will compete in a double-points
coastal day race with a distance between 30 and 50 miles. --
NEW J TO DEBUT IN 2009
The new J/95 (31.2') from J Boats not only draws as little as 3' of water,
it will sail circles around other modern daysailors, all the while in
complete comfort and control. The carbon mast, retracting centerboard, wheel
steering, removable transom locker, and many more unique features set this J
ZEN & SAILING…CONFLICTS TO THE TAO
In some past musings I commented on how alike the art of sailing is with
Kung Fu and the practice of Zen. There is the truth to us Zen practitioners,
that they are not just alike but the same. Kung Fu is called motion Zen.
Because in the Zen/Ch’an mind there is no duality, on the basic level we are
all the same. Man, plant animal, thought, action, etc. Ch’an is the Universe
and the Universe is Ch’an, Life is Ch’an. Sailing is life on a small scale,
using the forces of nature to get you where you want to go, having fun,
doing it with style, etc. One aspect of reality, one aspect contains the
seed, the essence of all. As we are a part of God, we are god in a sense.
Not God with a “big G’ but with a little “g”. Get it? … no matter. -- Read
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* From Stewart Hall, Toronto: (re, passing of Olin Stephens) I met Olin
Stephens as a 19 year old in the mid 70's. It was my first trip to NYC and,
having loved America's Cup boats since I was old enough to read Yachting
magazine, I made my way to City Island, having heard there were 12 meters
I found a busy boat yard and starting poking my head around. It didn't take
long to discover a number of 12 meters up on blocks in a dusty old shed. I
believe one of them was Columbia.
As I stared at the boats in wonder an old man walked up to me and asked if I
liked sail boats. I told him of my love for the America's Cup and that
seeing these boats was a dream come true. We spent about 15 minutes talking.
He was very interested in what I thought about the boats. He was kind,
gentle and curious and seemed to have nothing better to do than talk to a
gawky 19 year old. It struck me that he had the same kid-like love of these
boats as I did.
Eventually he walked off and another man came up to me and asked if I knew
who I was talking to. I answered no and when he told me I was flabbergasted.
I will never forget meeting the great yet humble Olin Stephens.
* From Fred Frye, M.D., SDYC Commodore, 1987: It was an honor and a
privilege to meet and know Olin Stephens. My involvement with him came with
the San Diego Yacht Club and Dennis Connor’s involvement with the America's
Cup starting in 1979. He made many visits to our Club in the intervening
years. His imprint on the Cup and its history is legend. His interest in
boat design and his willingness to adapt and adopt new design ideas only
emphasizes his innovative approach to yacht design.
As has been said many times before, he is the most influential designer of
the 20th century. Above all he was the epitome of a Corinthian Yachtsman.
Something that I feel is being lost as we move forward. I will always
treasure my conversations and interactions with him.
=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: Additional comments should be posted here:
WHICH IS THE BEST RACING WATCH?
It was over two years ago that we asked for watch preferences, and when we
put the suggestions to a vote - wondering what was the best watch was for
the weekend sailboat racer, regardless of cost - the Timex Ironman was the
choice. How do we feel today? Here is the link for the previous thread and
survey, and to post your own opinion:
I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm
Special thanks to Camet, North Sails, and J/Boats.
A complete list of preferred suppliers is at