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SCUTTLEBUTT 2783 - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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

Today's sponsors are JK3 Nautical Enterprises and North Sails.

Jorge Xavier Murrieta (MEX) won the 2009 J/24 North Americans, hosted by the Club Náutico Valle de Bravo in México on Feb. 2-5. Here are some of his comments on the state of sailing in Mexico:

* On learning to sail in Mexico: “At the beginning it isn't that hard because the Opti class is very well organized, but after that it gets harder for the young sailors in Mexico because there is not really any class to keep going. What I did was to sail the most competitive class at the time and the one with the best opportunities to travel, so after Optis I sailed Hobie 16 for almost 4 years and then I got into Lasers for one year. After that I did a bit of J24s for the Worlds in 2007 here in Mexico and then sailed Snipes for a while for the Pan Am Games to switch back to J24`s until now. For instance, there aren't any Snipes here in Mexico so we lived in the US and South America at that time.”

* On the future of Mexican sailing: “Right now is getting a bit better but it's just starting. Like 5 or 6 years back was very bad, between Tania Elias Calles who is the best ranked Mexican sailor in the world now (Laser Radial - 18th) and my generation (6 years gap) there are not any other international sailors and then from my generation to 2 or 3 below happens the same but now is stopping to happen that, so is very good. The problem is that sailing is still a very unknown sport here in Mexico so only few people practice it which makes it hard to get better and more competitive. However, it's been improving lately and if all the people keep working in promoting the sport there is a good chance of speeding up the process.” -- Full report: read on

Scuttlebutt World Headquarters is in San Diego, CA, where it is common for beaches to be closed following a strong storm, a result of pollutants mixing with the rainwater that races down streets and storm drains and into the ocean. There have even been advisories against sailing on the coastal bays. Here is an essay on the subject by the non-profit organization Sailors for the Sea:

Clearly, throwing trash overboard is pollution. However, less obvious, but just as devastating and possibly more expansive ways to pollute exist. This hidden culprit is called Non Point Source Pollution or NPS and it has many starting points. It tends to occur gradually and quietly. Initially, the danger is unperceivable. NPS pollution originates from various sources including run-off from the surface of pavements and lawns, secondhand sources like car exhaust and lawn fertilizer, and even boat hulls, which on a near daily basis, are in direct contact with water. It may first appear as a bit of oil spilled in the driveway, waste from the annual lawn fertilization, debris from the cat litter box, or cleaning solutions that flush down household drains. Without even realizing it, we all contribute daily to NPS. As rain falls and snow melts, a rush of water moves over rooftops, paved streets, sidewalks, parking lots, soil, lawns, and storm drains carrying with it all sorts of synthetic pollutants. These pollutants eventually end up in our waters: oceans, lakes, rivers, wetlands, reservoirs, and ground water. The cumulative results are deadly. -- Read on

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(Feb. 17, 2009; Day 100) - Upon her finish in the 2008-9 Vendee Globe, Dee Caffari (GBR) made history when she became the first woman to sail around twice around the world in different directions, both against and now with the prevailing winds and currents. Just three years ago, Caffari, 36, sailed around the world against the prevailing winds and currents taking 178 days 03 hours 05 minutes. While her achievement of 2005 was impressive in itself, finishing sixth in this epic Vendee Globe race on Feb. 16th dwarves that feat, considering her first solo race in an Open 60 was only in November 2007, merely a year before the start of this race.

On finishing sixth, Caffari said, “If you’d said that in the beginning, I’d have laughed in your face. I had an awesome start, then I made a few mistakes tactically in the Atlantic and the intensity of the race in the South Atlantic was just phenomenal. I sort of said, I’m not sure if I can do this. I was OK in the south, then I lost a bit of confidence in my first storm. Everybody was having lots of problems and that was when all the damage was happening; I lost all my confidence then. When I started sailing in an Open 60 eighteen months ago, I hated it and cried all the way and got dismasted right before the end. I thought, Oh my God! What have I let myself in for? But I loved this and have grown into the boat all the time.”

* Norbert Sedlacek, AUT (Nauticsport-Kapsch) is presently racing with no headsails and will need to climb his mast to replace his foresail halyards when the wind and sea state are better, and he intends to make a repair to his mainsail track which is also damaged which means he can only sail with two reefs in the mainsail. Upon his finish, Sedlacek will be the first Austrian ever to complete a solo nonstop circumnavigation.

Solo, non-stop, around the world race in Open 60s.
Standings as of 18:30 UTC (30 entrants; 11 now competing):
1. Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), Foncia, Finished Feb. 1, 15:11 GMT (84:03:09:08)
2. Armel Le Cléac´h (FRA), Brit Air, Finished Feb. 7, 08:41 GMT (89:09:39:35)
3. Marc Guillemot (FRA), Safran, Finished Feb. 16, 01:21 GMT (95:03:19:36)
3. Vincent Riou (FRA), PRB, Dismasted - Redress Given
4. Samantha Davies (GBR), Roxy, Finished Feb. 14, 00:41 GMT (95:04:39:01)
5. Brian Thompson (GBR), Bahrain Team, Finished Feb. 16, 08:31 GMT (98:20:29:55)
6. Dee Caffari (GBR), Aviva, Finished Feb. 16, 13:12 GMT (99:01:10:57)
7. Arnaud Boissières (FRA), Akena Vérandas, 839.9 nm Distance to Finish
8. Steve White (GBR), Toe in the Water, 1590.2 nm DTF
9. Rich Wilson (USA), Great American III, 2989.4 nm DTF
10. Raphaël Dinelli (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital, 4055.8 nm DTF
11. Norbert Sedlacek (AUT), Nauticsport-Kapsch, 4554.4 nm DTF

Event website:
Complete standings:
Race tracking:

By Stu Bannatyne, Ericsson 4 Watch Captain
(Feb. 17, 2009; Day 4) - We are now leaving behind the cold water and cold air as we enter the Pacific and continue our march to the east. You may wonder why we are all heading predominantly east and not taking a straighter route towards New Zealand.

Well, the answer is simple really. These Volvo 70s like the wind to be free so we can sail fast angles and really keep the boat moving along at wind speed or higher. To this end, we are using the northerly winds we now have to make some miles to the east before we join up with the north east trades in a few days time. If it all pans out then by the time we get headed we will have enough of an easterly position to head south and keep the boat sailing the fast angles that it loves. This should enable us to reach the scoring line at 36 south a lot sooner than taking the direct route.

The Volvo 70s, more than any previous Volvo/Whitbread design, use their incredible reaching performance to sail around unfavourable weather at much faster speeds than sailing direct. What this means in practice for leg five is that for a 12,300 mile leg we will probably end up sailing close to or even more than 1,000 miles further than that in order to arrive in Rio as quickly as possible. We knew it would be a long leg but thinking about the best routing option being so much longer is hard to take! Anyway, back to it, three days gone and only 11,500 nm to go. Or should that be more like 12,500? --

Crewed around the world race in VO 70’s, with ten distance legs and seven In-Port races. Leg Five from Qingdao, China to Rio de Janiero, Brazil is 12,300 nm, with the finish estimated on March 20th. Current positions (as of Feb. 18, 1:00am GMT):
1. Ericsson 4 (SWE), Torben Grael/BRA, 11,099 nm Distance to Finish
2. PUMA (USA), Ken Read/USA, 7 nm Distance to Leader
3. Ericsson 3 (SWE), Magnus Olsson/SWE, 107 nm DTL
4. Green Dragon (IRL/CHN), Ian Walker/GBR, 171 nm DTL
5. Telefónica Blue (ESP), Bouwe Bekking/NED, 235 nm DTL
Telefonica Black (ESP), Fernando Echavarri/ESP, Did Not Start
Delta Lloyd (IRL), Roberto Bermudez/ESP, DNS
Team Russia (RUS), Andreas Hanakamp/AUT, DNS

Event website:
Overall scores:
Race tracking:

So how do we measure the success of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series? Well, given that it is the America's Cup in microcosm, maybe the best analysis would be via the mantra of Mr America's Cup Dennis Conner who always referred to the quest for the world's oldest international sporting trophy as "a game of life."

What constitutes a game of life? It must surely have drama, intrigue, high emotion, low emotion, brain power, technology, personalities, controversy, back-stabbing, front-stabbing, creativity, courage, endurance, sporting excellence, pain, laughter, tears, outrage, theatre; the list is endless. Looking at it word by word, there was certainly no lack of drama. Any race that hangs on the execution of a penalty turn on the finish line and ends with victory by a one second margin could not have a more dramatic end.

Then on the final day, the heroic hosts, one down in the final and coming off a string of defeats, reel off three in a row against Alinghi in the most testing, potentially boat-breaking conditions of the whole regatta. Drama with style; Dean Barker and his Emirates Team New Zealand crew had their critics searching for superlatives, the doubters converted by a rare hat-trick that defined sporting excellence. -- Read on

* TeamOrigin skipper Ben Ainslie was in no hurry to relax amid the UK winter following the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, as the triple Olympic gold medallist will be crewing for America's Cup-winning helmsman John Bertrand in the Etchells World Championship in Melbourne, AUS in March. They will be joined by Aussie Andrew Palfrey, who most recently had crewed for Iain Murray in the Star at the 2008 Olympics. -- Event website

If you're considering new sails for the upcoming season, consider this: every Volvo Ocean Race team uses 100% North sails. Every Farr 40 sail flown at Acura Key West Race Week (except one spinnaker) was North. North Sails designs and builds more racing sails than any other sailmaker in the world. North is committed to building sails that are right for YOU and has a sail that is right for every budget and every boat. When performance, quality and value matter, the choice is clear.

* An interview with David O'Reilly, who was runner-up in the 45-boat Melges 24 class last weekend at the St Pete NOOD, provides some helpful tips on what it takes for someone sailing in their first regatta driving their own boat, to compete against top sailors such as Terry Hutchinson, Dave Ullman, Alan Field and Stu McNay. Link: read on

On Saturday 21st February, the seven skippers in the Portimão Global Ocean Race will begin the longest leg in their circumnavigation, sailing approximately 7,500 miles from Wellington, New Zealand, to Ilhabela, Brazil, with around 5,000 miles in the Pacific’s, high-latitude Southern Ocean and the remaining 2,500 miles racing northwards through the South Atlantic to the Leg 3 finish line. For the three doublehanded Class 40s and one solo Open 40, this 36-38 day stretch of the race can, meteorologically and tactically, be split into two parts: the Southern Ocean section between New Zealand and Cape Horn at the southern tip of Chile, and the Atlantic section as the boats turn north.

The raw statistics for the Pacific Ocean are impressive. The sea area represents one third of the Earth’s surface at 165 million square kilometres - 18 times the size of the USA - and is larger than all the planet’s landmasses combined. The Pacific’s average depth is 4,000 metres and the Mariana Trench, 1,200 miles east of the Philippines at the ocean’s western limit, plunges to an abyss almost seven miles deep. The most notorious weather systems associated with the Pacific are El Niño and La Niña: oscillating weather phenomena caused by interaction between the sea surface and the atmosphere. However, the effects of these two, often devastating, weather systems are confined to the tropical region of the Pacific, far to the north of the projected Leg 3 route for the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet. -- Read on

* The Laser Radial Women's North Americans and Finn Midwinter Championships shared a race course last weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Ed Wright (GBR) prevailed against their respective fleets. See photos and complete results:

* Cookson Boats, an Auckland boat building company renowned for building world class racing yachts, is laying off its entire workforce. With no future work booked, there will be nothing left for the 62 staff members to do when their current projects are finished. The company has been around for more than 30 years, with some of the most notable work building boats for Team New Zealand in the America's Cup. -- Full story: read on

* (Feb. 17, 2009) - The funding of Antigua Sailing Week, the headline sponsor for which is Stanford Bank, looks uncertain as news has just emerged that the regatta's backer Sir Allen Stanford has been charged over an alleged $8 billion fraud. America's Securities and Exchange Commission is reported to have said that the Texan billionaire financier had orchestrated an alleged "fraudulent, multi-billion dollar investment scheme". One Caribbean businessman involved in the local yacht charter industry whose yachts compete in the regatta said that Sailing Week 'would be looking for a new sponsor' to the tune of between US$100,000 and US$150,000. -- Yachting World, read on

Reader commentary is encouraged, with letters to be submitted to the Scuttlebutt editor, aka, ‘The Curmudgeon’. Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name, and be no longer than 250 words (letter might be edited for clarity or simplicity). You only get one letter per subject, and save your bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere. As an alternative, a more open environment for discussion is available on the Scuttlebutt Forum.

-- To submit a Letter:
-- To post on the Forum:

* From the Forum: I seem to remember that the idea of requiring US Sailing membership to get a PHRF certificate was shelved. However, I just received my PHRF renewal and the paperwork states that a valid membership in US Sailing is required. Any comments? Click here to post

* From Chuck Bolduc, Newport, RI: Boy, if ever the limelight has failed to shine bright enough on the right spot! I wrote to the Curmudgeon last year saying if I never saw the dirt of AC sailing again that would be fine. Let them clean it up and get the program back where we can be proud of it.

Meanwhile, we might take a hard look at some real heroes: ISAF 2009 Team Racing World Champions. The Silver Panda Team members Clay Bischoff, Lisa Keith, Colin Merrick, Amanda Callahan, Pete Levesque and Liz Hall, who as the New York Yacht Club team (USA 1), defended their world title - once again! There's great story here - a staggering 52 of 57 races won as a team, tactics, rules, split second decision making, physical endurance, heated competition...What more can we ask for? How about a huge round of applause for some awesome sailors??!! (A link to their Worlds diary: read here)

* From Jim Champ: (re, Chicago’s interest to host 2016 Olympics) Speaking as an increasingly concerned taxpayer in Southern England, I'd suggest that right now it appears that the thing to do in these circumstances is to NOT win the bid...

* From Doran Cushing: Regarding the results of the latest edition of the Pineapple Cup race from Florida to Jamaica, and the reference to Rosebud/Team DYT falling short of the elapsed race record by just over an hour, I find it odd that there is absolutely no mention of the Steve Fossett "Cheyenne" campaign/race in 1999 when they bested the race record by almost eight hours. Given that the event invites multihulls (with limitations on awards available to those boats), and takes their entry fee money, one might expect there to be a passing mention of a racing rocketship that set the overall course record. But if there is any such mention anywhere in the "history" or past results of the event, I could not find it. If you invite someone to the party, they deserve more than just a free drink at the finish line. Don't alter history for the sake of the lead-draggers. Steve Fossett and his crew deserve better. -- Race website

Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

Special thanks to JK3 Nautical Enterprises and North Sails.

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