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SCUTTLEBUTT 3277 - Friday, February 11, 2011

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: Quantum Sails and North U.

By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor
The Scuttlebutt poll this week about the Starting System and Penalties may have caught readers off guard. Actually, I am not sure if I have ever seen it suggested that the current system is inadequate.

While the Racing Rules of Sails describes only one system for starting a race, it does offer a menu of options on how to assess penalties for aggressive starters that are typically found in larger, competitive events. Why so many options? I wonder if this has more to do with personal belief, thus remaining flexible toward the various preferences of the Principle Race Officer (PRO).

Here are the rule options that exist in Rule 30 - Starting Penalties, that when used, affect boats that are over the line in the final minute before the starting signal:

I Flag - If over line or extensions, round end to restart
Z Flag - 20% penalty if within triangle (start marks and first mark)
Black Flag - Disqualified if within triangle (start marks and first mark)

The use of these penalties varies, as some PROs go to them quickly while other PROs look for other options (eg, starting line management). But when the Z or Black Flag fly, the message to the sailors is always clear: “The PRO has lost their patience.”

Reviewing the poll comments, many contend the current starting system provides necessary options so as to manage the wide variety of boat types and races that occur in the sport. Maybe, but the reality is that most of our races never see Rule 30. So I’m not fully convinced that the sport cannot have one system that everyone knows about, and would cover the full spectrum. In the interest of simplifying the rules of sailing, I remain curious if the three pages in the rule book that describe how to start a race can be reduced.

The poll results found that just over a third of the participants would consider a single system of starting. Certainly not a mandate, but enough to open the door. I will reveal my single starting system next week.

Anybody else want to submit their idea too? Email it to the editor for consideration, or post in on the Forum for immediate exposure:

Here are the results and comments:

By Carol Cronin,
Sailboat racing over the border or overseas? To get the most from a championship in another country, get started early.

Next August Kim Couranz and I plan to go to the Snipe Worlds in Denmark, my first regatta outside of North America since 2006. For international events like this, the sailing is the easiest part: once we push off the dock, it’s just like home. It’s the shoreside stuff that can be distractingly different, which could affect our performance.

So I pulled out my old Olympic lists, to remind myself of all the details that add up to international success. Here’s a peek at my notes, reorganized into a pre-event time frame:

Long term (6 months to 1 year out):
Medium Term (1-6 months out)
Short Term (1-3 weeks before departure)
After Arrival (3-5 days before event begins)

Once the regatta starts, my ultimate goal will be to relax and enjoy the great team, fantastic meals, and fun competition. Isn’t it amazing where sailing takes us? And with all this great planning, the sailing will indeed be the easiest part. Follow this link for the tasks prescribed for each time period:

The ability of a sail to maintain its shape is proportional to the strength and stretch resistance of the materials used. Shape affects upwind sailing and is instrumental in controlling heel and the amount of weather helm. A woven sail begins to deteriorate with its first use. After 5 or 6 years it will be intact, but the flying shape will be poor. A membrane sail holds its shape for most of its life, but after 5 or 6 years the sail is likely to break and become unusable. Choosing between longevity and performance depends on individual needs, requirements and expectations.

Vasco Vascotto, who was skipper of Mascalzone Latino Capitalia during the 2007 America’s Cup, is not happy. A former World champion in the J/24 and Farr 40 classes, Vasco finds that a ‘bait and switch’ has occurred with the Cup. “I wouldn’t say I ‘m angry but rather disappointed. It seems to me that the team that legitimately won the 33rd America’s Cup then didn’t act in a way to help the sport of sailing.”

In an interview Vasco held with, he responded to the self-interest of Oracle Racing. “If they want to do whatever they want, that’s fine with me but then they should expect criticism from the sailing world. I think my opinion is shared by 98% of the world’s sailors. Maybe the remaining 2% are happy with the changes but 98% of them strongly oppose them, as well as at least 80% of the journalists I talked to. Now, if those journalists don’t openly write their opinion because they might be afraid or feel under pressure, that’s another issue. I think I have never seen such level of discontent with the change to catamarans in the America’s Cup during my 40 years of sailing.”

Concerning the parity in the field for the 34th America’s Cup, Vasco finds the playing field severely tilted. “It won’t even be a fair America’s Cup because we already know who is going to win and this is quite evident. Oracle fought hard in the 33rd edition to have a fair regatta. That’s very good but I don’t think they are now acting in the same way. I’m not convinced there has been any discussion between them and the Challenger of Record and this comes from good friends I have inside the team.

“Given all those factors, I don’t think this America’s Cup will be a success and so far it has failed to live up to its promise. I don’t think they have waken up the interest for a new and different America’s Cup.... This is my personal opinion, I don’t wish this edition of the Cup to fail, on the contrary, I wish enormous success. However, I think we’re heading the wrong way. The discontent of the sailors was seen in Key West when during the prize-giving ceremony a person (Russell Coutts) went on stage and was booed.” -- Full interview:

CHINESE CHALLENGER: With six challengers now entered, will a Chinese team make it seven? Representatives from a prospective Chinese team have been in Auckland, New Zealand to review the AC 45 platform and to meet with Regatta Director Iain Murray and America’s Cup officials. “We are getting closer,” said veteran Thierry Barot, who was with Team China in the 32nd America’s Cup. “We hope to start training soon with the Chinese team.” --

(February 10, 2011; Day 13) - As Sodebo skipper Thomas Coville explained, "Every cloud is a seller of dreams." However, the reality is the road through the South Atlantic continues to be full of pitfalls, and while Coville’s latitude is now below that of Good Hope on the African continent, his inability to get east keeps his position nearly 3,000 nm from the cape. And the route to set a new solo round the world record is ... to the east.

Current position as of February 10, 2011 (23:00 UTC):
Ahead/behind record: -790.8 nm
Speed over past 24 hours: 15.4 knots
Distance over past 24 hours: 369.7 nm
Distance remaining: 19,400 nm

Team website:

BACKGROUND: Thomas Coville (FRA) and the 105-foot trimaran Sodebo is seeking to set a new solo round the world record under sail. Coville began the attempt Jan. 29th and must cross the finish line off Ushant, France by March 28, 2011 at 00:40:34 (UTC) to break the record (57:13:34:06) set by Francis Joyon in 2008 on the 97-foot trimaran IDEC.

(February 10, 2011: Day 42) - Suspicions that second placed MAPFRE have not been quite as quick as they had been were explained this morning when the team revealed that Double Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez have had their ingenuity and boat building skill, as well as their sheer strength of character, put to the test after damaging one of their dagger boards five days ago.

Iker and Xabi are world renowned as 49er and Volvo round the world sailors, but it is their new found boat-building skills which have helped them hang on to second place in the Barcelona World Race after an epic battle to rebuild as much of a snapped daggerboard as they could.

The MAPFRE team revealed this morning that Martinez and Fernandez had hit something and lost 1.5 metres off their port daggerboard five days ago which goes some way to explaining their recent drop in speeds.

After cannibalising foam from the helm’s seat from the cockpit of MAPFRE to rebuild some of the broken section back to a useable profile, the Spanish sailing heroes are back up to speed this afternoon, quickest in the fleet and catching miles on the leaders Virbac-Paprec 3.

Race Tracker:

Standings (top 5 of 14 as of 20.01.07)
1. Virbac-Paprec 3, Jean Pierre Dick/Loick Peyron (FRA/FRA), 13,271 nm DTF
2. Mapfre, Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez (ESP/ESP), 461.3nm DTL
3. Estrella Damm Sailing Team, Alex Pella/Pepe Ribes (ESP/ESP), 516.7nm DTL
4. Groupe Bel, Kito De Pavant/Sebastien Audigane (FRA/FRA), 748.3nm DTL
5. Renault, Pachi Rivero/Antonio Piris (ESP/ESP), 1146.8nm DTL

Full rankings:

BACKGROUND: This is the second edition of the non-stop Barcelona World Race, the only double-handed race around the world. Fourteen teams are competing on Open 60s which started December 31st and is expected to finish by late March. The 25,000 nautical mile course is from Barcelona to Barcelona via three capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, Cook Strait, putting Antarctica to starboard. Race website:

The North U Tactics Seminar teaches the tactics you need to win. How to get consistently good starts. How to catch up when behind. How to extend a small advantage into a comfortable lead. How to take advantage of wind shifts and current. Positioning that allows you to sail full speed. How to slow your rivals. How tactics change from one-design to mixed fleet racing. Top instructors, multi-media curriculum, a take-home Seminar-on-CD, US Sailing member discounts plus a free Tactics Tour Long Sleeve T to the first 20 registrations at each location. Learn more:

* The legacy of renowned naval architect Bill Langan (1955 -2010) will live on not only in the yachts that he designed over a career that spanned more than three decades but also in the yachts that will be completed and conceptualized going forward by the newly formed Langan Design Partners LLC, headquartered in Newport, R.I. Langan passed away on December 31, 2010, but his long-time associates Thomas Degrémont, Antonio Ferrer, and Samuel Howell have formed an equal partnership that will move forward with the same vision and purpose that has been cultivated over their 32 years of combined dedication to Langan Design. -- More:

* (February 10, 2011; Day 5) - Race leader Brad Van Liew (USA) is ahead of Zbigniew Gutkowski (POL) by 69 miles as the VELUX 5 OCEANS fleet head deeper into the Southern Ocean en route to Cape Horn. They are almost at the latitude 50 degree south, parallel with the first of leg three’s safety gates which the skippers must pass north of to avoid the danger of icebergs further south. Van Liew’s birthday is on Sunday, February 13th. --

* From Memorial Day (May 30) to Labor Day (Sept. 5), US SAILING will be traveling along the east coast to yacht clubs and community sailing centers from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to interact in a variety of events, including regattas, junior program clinics, community outreach programs, adult learn to sail seminars, and more as part of the US SAILING Road Show. Details here:

* Racine Yacht Club in Racine, WI has been awarded the Wisconsin Clean Marina certification. As a Certified Clean Marina, the Racine Yacht Club has agreed to adhere to Best Management Practices (BMP) as developed by University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, UW-Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Center with support from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. The Racine Yacht Club is the first yacht club to join the ranks of 10 other Certified Clean Marinas throughout Wisconsin. There are over 260 clubs and marina facilities in the state. -- Full report:

Some of the random photos from the sport received this week at Scuttlebutt include winter fundraising, America’s Cup spectating, race starting, Charlotte Harbor racing, ski kiting, QR Coding, Wally superyachting, and the one and only EzyBoat - a compact pod that quickly and easily opens to becomes a 14-foot fiberglass runabout, fishing boat or daysailer. Here are this week’s photos:

BONUS: The third of the four event Etchells class Jaguar Cup series had 50 boats on the line last weekend in Miami, FL. Here are photos from John Payne and Marco Oquendo:

SEND US YOUR PHOTOS: If you have images to share for the Photos of the Week, send them to the Scuttlebutt editor:

The racing rules of sailing are not based on style points or freedom of expression. The rules are intended to encourage fair competition amongst sailing craft. But racing can be too restrictive for some people who seek alternative forms to demonstrate their creative and technical prowess.

This week's video is a clip from a made for TV documentary of the 2011 "Lord of the Wind" Showdown in Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Held in January, this was an international kiteboarding, windsurfing, and stand up paddleboard competition with high degrees of beach attitude and no degrees of proper yachting.

"Having read on Scuttlebutt all the talk about getting the audience back into events, we brought all races along the beach in front of the crowd," explained Wylie Nisbet. "Talk about a crowd pleaser. It couldn't have been better. It reminded me of a slalom ski race in Europe. People were cheering as the sailors came downwind in front of them."

Click here for this week’s video:

SEND US YOUR VIDEOS: If you have clips to share for the Video of the Week, send them to the Scuttlebutt editor:

Scuttlebutt strongly encourages feedback from the Scuttlebutt community.Either submit comments by email or post them on the Forum. Submitted comments chosen to be published in the newsletter may be limited to 250 words. Authors may have one published submission per subject, and should save their bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.


* From Sherry Welch, St. Pete Yacht Club, Snipe Fleet 801:
I would like to second Doran’s comment in Scuttlebutt 3276. I have been the back of the fleet, the middle of the fleet, and on the rare occasion, the top of the pile. It was always a terrific team building boost to have an honorable mention, especially when it included team members by name and position. It was rare, but what a treat! Huge for fleet building and attitude improvement.

In today’s sailing coverage, the time and cost and effort required to cover more than just the trophy holders, is less by far, than when we relied on print media only; weekly, monthly, etc. And we have a constant theme of ‘how do we encourage’ and ‘how do we recruit’ articles in every online and print server out there.

So simple and easy to say “nice sailing, good try, great effort” or whatever, to the teams that are always there, slugging it out, trying to improve, and making a fleet for the few who trophy. And it’s not that hard to make it happen. Make the effort. It will do wonders.

* From Cory E. Friedman:
With all due respect to the proponents of mid fleet awards, the sailor needing the most encouragement is the one placing DFL.

* From Jefferson Hall, Toronto, Vice Commodore Canadian Albacore Assn: I really enjoyed the article on acknowledging more participants than just the podium finishers. During the summer in Toronto the Friday night Albacore series averages 45 finishers with a high of 65. It is unique in another way, the results are read from bottom to top every week - finish position, skipper, crew and club are mentioned. This takes awhile but ensures that everyone gets some applause as well as the occasional good willed mockery. Each club scores their top eight finishers over 19 weeks to challenge for the season series. We are looking at ways to recognize more participants in all of our regattas and series.

* From By Baldridge (re, top ten emergencies in Scuttlebutt 3276) The list appears to be compiled by a power boater. While I have experienced every situation on the list, it is far from complete. My top five are:

5. Mast breaking
4. Rudder falling off
3. Keel falling off
2. Boat sinking
1. Running out of rum

The Mr. Bean Guide to Fun in an Elevator: Lay down a Twister mat and ask people if they'd like to play.

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