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SCUTTLEBUTT 3278 - Monday, February 14, 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: New England Ropes and IYRS.

By Carol Cronin,
One of the leading sailmakers in the country recently took over as director of the College of Charleston sailing program.

For the past 20 years I’ve been hanging around Greg Fisher, hoping some of his incredibly positive attitude would rub off. I’ve crewed for him in a variety of small race boats, attended his clinics, read his book Sailboat Racing with Greg Fisher, and swapped politically incorrect jokes over quite a few adult beverages. Once he even told me he would crew for ME. (The regatta was later cancelled, so he got off easy.) Through it all, I’ve marveled at his ability to help people of all levels get better at sailboat racing.

I never imagined he’d go back to college.

Last October, Greg left North Sails One Design to become the Director of Sailing at the College of Charleston. C of C’s varsity team is a two-time winner of the Intercollegiate Nationals and the top-ranked team in their district. But that’s not the part of this new challenge that gets Greg the most excited.

“I’d like to help the team, but one of the ways I can help most is not to get in the way,” he explains. “Where I can make the biggest difference is with the community sailing program.”

Greg started work as a sailmaker while still in college and set up his own loft in 1978. By the time North Sails One Design acquired the Fisher Sails brand in 1991, Greg had developed such a broad and loyal following that North devoted an entire ad (on the back cover of Sailing World) to his picture.

The reason for that following? He teaches well, but he never lets things get too serious. “I’d want to make sure people were learning. But I was also really conscious of whether they were having a good time.” -- Read on:

MORE: 2004 Olympian Carol Cronin is now helping the next generation of aspiring U.S. Olympic athletes with her work on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Committee. Carol also has two books in publication ("Cape Cod Surprise" and "Oliver's Surprise"), with these fictional tales rooted in her native New England coastal region. If you’re looking for a good tale that gets you on the water, take a look at her website:

Stephen Colbert knows just enough about ocean sailing to realize, in all "truthiness," that it's no place for an amateur. But he's coming home to sail in this year's running of the Charleston to Bermuda race anyway. And that could significantly raise the profile of the city's biennial sailboat race.

Colbert, raised in Charleston and host of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, announced Friday that he would sail on one of the OnDeck yachts in the 777-mile race that begins May 21. "The ocean has had a free ride too long," Colbert said in a statement. "Well, it has to deal with me now. Brace yourself, Atlantic!"

J. Richard Speer, CEO of OnDeck Group US, met Colbert at Thanksgiving when the comedian was visiting family in town. Speer said Colbert spoke affectionately of the race, even though the last time he sailed in it -- 2005 -- the experience could be charitably described as a disaster.

The boat Colbert sailed on lost its sanitation system, ran out of fuel and reached Hamilton, Bermuda, two days after the awards ceremony festivities were over. "They had to listen to the awards ceremony on the boat's VHF radio," Speer said.

Still, Colbert had the idea to sail in the race again, and will in all likelihood promote it heavily on his popular television show. That should help the race tremendously.

The biennial Charleston-to- Bermuda race began in 1997, the idea of two local sailors and marine industry professionals, David Browder and Rick Hennigar. In the previous seven runnings, up to 20 boats have competed. The economy left the race with a small field of six boats in 2009, and light winds forced race officials to allow the boats to use their motors on the final stretch to Bermuda.

This year, the sailing company OnDeck US is running the race in partnership with the South Carolina Maritime Foundation and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Already, there are more than six boats committed to the race. OnDeck is committed to growing the race's profile, Speer said, and Colbert's participation will probably lead to more entrants. He said Colbert is going to talk some other celebrities into hoisting sail for Charleston.

"We can't think of anyone better qualified to represent the spirit of this event and take command of the fleet in this exciting race to Bermuda," Speer said. -- The Post and Courier, read on:

=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: A Google search of “Stephen Colbert” resulted in about 3,820,000 results, making Colbert a pretty well known guy. The Associated Press story about Colbert’s participation the race got picked up by about 1,230 online sources, which now makes this partnership of Colbert and the race pretty well known too.

New England Ropes and Annapolis Rigging partnered recently to outfit USMMA's “Simon Spurr” Genuine Risk with a new cordage package. New England Ropes turned around some custom cordage solutions in less than one week, and the combined team of Genuine Risk and Annapolis Rigging did the rest. From custom covers to a new concept on the take-down line, our engineers helped design and provide products that meet or exceed our customer's expectations. From all of us at New England Ropes, congratulations on the “Win”. For more information on New England Ropes, visit

THE WIN: King's Point's Genuine Risk won the prestigious 811 mile Pineapple Cup - Montego Bay Race from Ft Lauderdale, FL to Montego Bay, Jamaica for best corrected time in the 50th Anniversary of one of the world's classic yacht races. Here is the team blog:

On the America’s Cup to-do list for the next two years: Make plans and review the heck out of them. Demolish some buildings, build others. Design and erect yachts, then race them. Attract hundreds of thousands of people and then entertain them. And what else?

Oh yeah - pay for it all.

Two entities - the America’s Cup Organizing Committee and the America’s Cup Event Authority - are tasked with raising a total of $300 million.

Six weeks after San Francisco was chosen to host the 2013 race, neither has yet raised a dime - mostly because they have been trying to hammer out who is responsible for raising what - a question that, until Friday, elicited different answers from each agency at this point.

On Friday, the leaders of both entities sent in a statement saying they consider “the entire 300M a shared responsibility” and that ever since The City won its bid to host the event “we have worked jointly to raise this money and are aligned in our fundraising efforts.”

But just the day before, Mark Buell, the chairman of the ACOC, a nonprofit volunteer board made up of mostly local business and government leaders, said his organization needs to raise about 10 percent of the $300 million total. That $32 million raised by ACOC will cover the city of San Francisco’s costs, which will come in the form of police security, transportation and environmental review. The rest would mostly be left up to the for-profit Event Authority, mostly through sponsorship contracts and TV rights.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

(February 13, 2011; Day 16) - It wasn’t so much that the winds were too weak for Sodebo and skipper Thomas Coville to excel in the South Atlantic, it was that the course the winds provided caused Sodebo to sail so much extra mileage compared with the routed taken by solo round the world record holder Francis Joyon. However, the train now appears to be back on the tracks.

Coville is not yet under the African continent, but he is at least now on the path of Joyon. And as Coville reported a week ago, "When doing parallel edges with Francis, I can be faster than him, no matter the conditions."

Current position as of February 13, 2011 (23:15 UTC):
Ahead/behind record: -1055.8 nm
Speed over past 24 hours: 23.6 knots
Distance over past 24 hours: 566.4 nm
Distance remaining: 18,020 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 13, 2011: Day 45) - The initial leg of the Barcelona World Race from Barcelona through the Mediterranean Sea to the Gibraltar Strait was humbling, with light winds and strong current creating big splits in the fleet. Since then, the course out the Straits south to Good Hope, and then east through the Indian Ocean has not be extraordinary. Full of tricks, yes, but nothing unusual. However, the next big stunt could come soon.

While the route requires the fleet to pass south of the capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, the rules do stipulate a passage through Cook Strait in New Zealand, passing between the north and south islands. Virbac-Paprec 3 is expected to start their passage of the Straits on Wednesday afternoon/evening. Their arrival to the northern corner looks set to become increasingly slowed by the light winds of the high pressure.

Race Tracker:

Standings (top 5 of 14 as of 20.01.08)
1. Virbac-Paprec 3, Jean Pierre Dick/Loick Peyron (FRA/FRA), 12,099 nm DTF
2. Mapfre, Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez (ESP/ESP), 513.4nm DTL
3. Estrella Damm Sailing Team, Alex Pella/Pepe Ribes (ESP/ESP), 618.6nm DTL
4. Groupe Bel, Kito De Pavant/Sebastien Audigane (FRA/FRA), 906.5nm DTL
5. Renault, Pachi Rivero/Antonio Piris (ESP/ESP), 1450.2nm 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:

IYRS is the go-to school for marine professionals who want to advance their careers, but the school also runs classes for boat owners who want to advance their knowledge. Two of these boat owner courses offered on nights and weekends are being offered this March on marine diesels and electrical systems. The diesel course covers commissioning, maintenance, winterization, and hands-on troubleshooting. The electrical course covers troubleshooting, system upgrades, and alternative power sources for AC and DC systems. To learn at the same place where the pros go and register for a Continuing Ed course in Marine Systems, visit:

* A Greenwich, CT lawmaker has introduced legislation that would cut the sales tax on boat purchases and give buyers a $1 million a year break. State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a private equity millionaire who has refused his legislative salary in an attempt to cut state expenses, wants to cut the 6 percent sales tax to 4 percent for boat sales in attempt to help the ailing industry. Frantz, who owns the 72-foot wooden ketch "Ticonderoga," admits the tax-cutting proposal could be discounted as an elitist proposal within the General Assembly. He has also proposed reducing rates for corporate and personal income taxes. Read more:

* (February 13, 2011; Day 8) - Nearly half way from New Zealand to Cape Horn, VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader Brad Van Liew (USA) has increased his margin on Zbigniew Gutkowski (POL) to 99 miles, with just under 4000 miles to the leg 3 finish in Punta del Este on the southern tip of Uruguay. --

* A second Italian Challenger for the 34th America's Cup has announced that they have selected a club - a very preliminary step to reaching fully fledged and funded Challenger status. In contrast to some other teams who have chosen to be very secretive about their intentions, Venezia Challenge have announced that they have signed an agreement to challenge for the 34th America’s Cup with a Sicilian club. When (if?) the Challenge is lodged they will become the second America's cup Challenge from Italy, now Challenger of Record, Mascalzone Latino, being the first. -- Sail-World, read on:

Events listed at

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 Stephen Caulfield:
Ah, the unconscious even exists in editors who allow wonderful malapropisms to sneak into copy. What better place to switch like sounding words with wonderfully appropriate different meanings than in the "Bait and Switch" article on Vasco Vascotto's views on the America's Cup (Scuttlebutt 3277). Using "parody" (to hold up to ridicule) when you meant "parity" (the condition of being of the same power, rank, etc) was brilliant, if unintentional. Editorial mistakes are rarely this good. Congratulations.

=> Curmudgeon’s Comment: Not all letters are this good either. And while the website has been revised, email subscribers still hold the evidence.

* From Kristen Lane:
Got kids? Envision them enjoying sailing together? Well, then check out the sister and brother team of Paris and Hans Henken shown in the link below sailing the 29erXX in Miami at the second annual Superbowl Regatta held by Coconut Grove Sailing Club. In the 7-race series Paris and Hans recorded 7 wins. Yes, these siblings will have memories to talk about for many years to come and you can bet that sailing will be part of their lives for many years to come! Great photo here:

* From Hugo William Hoffman:
Among the labels harbored by US SAILING is they are an east coast centric organization. While they may have been guiltier of this in the past, it does seem less true the more you look into its committee members. But combine past history and their Rhode Island offices, and you have a stigma that’s hard to shake. Or maybe they just don’t care.

In Scuttlebutt 3277 there was an announcement of a new (?) outreach program called the US SAILING Road Show. While it was short on specifics, I am guessing the program is hoping to raise the organizations profile while supporting sailing events. However, what the announcement was very specific about was that only “clubs and community sailing centers located from New England to the Mid-Atlantic are eligible”

For an organization that painstakingly calls itself the “national governing body for sailing”, their announcement failed to explain why the rest of the country will not benefit from this program.

* From Brian Austin:
Regarding Cory Friedman's DFL comment (in Scuttlebutt 3277) and others - many years ago our local club handed out some special awards at the annual get-together. Among them was recognition for our (very) slow boat: we did not get a stopwatch or other helpful aids...we received a hand-made "starting calendar." The humor (and appreciation) was not lost, to this day.

* From Tom Coleman: (re, "middle of the fleet awards")
Here's where the US Optimist Class really gets it right. Their "green fleet" for beginner and 'not ready for competitive fleet' sailors is a great example of encouraging sailors across the leader board. The official USODA green fleet policy is to NOT award trophies for top finishers, but to present ‘Participation Awards’ to all skippers sailing in the green fleet.

Participation awards usually amount to a medallion on a ribbon or a nicely printed certificate. And you should see their faces...even the kid who finished last. Everyone is proud to be there and been a part of the regatta.

Some may say this is a dumbing down of competition, but hey, this is where most of the first time racers start and the object is to keep them coming back. Eventually they move up to their age level fleet (there is NO official criteria for them to HAVE to move up; they can stay in green fleet until they age out of Optis). This all makes perfect sense to those of us who are trying to teach sportsmanship, good racing skills and keep kids sailing.

* From Rick Bernstein:
As a loyalist to anything American and the keeping of the Cup on U.S. soil, I can't believe I'm going to write this. As an AC fan for 30 plus years, I'm siding with Mr. Vascotto and his ‘Bait and Switch’ article (in Scuttlebutt 3277), who I've never met, only read about.

The reasons and statements as to why BMW Oracle so radically changed the regatta, when obviously most of the world seemingly rejected the notion, simply don't add up anymore. Why did they not heed to warnings and listen to the sailing world? So they're taking their successful technology advancements from winning the cup to the next regatta, then what? It seems pretty obvious because Mr. Vascotto brings incredible knowledge and respect to his article, the next cup is not what the world wants, not what the sailing community wants and it seems like the sailing world is rapidly losing interest. Hasn't anyone contemplated organizing a set of Cups, one mono-hull and one multi? Make them every other year like the Olympics. Talk about monster growth world wide as a package deal to the sponsors, donors and potential challengers; but I digress.

Then to read that Mr. Coutts was booed at Key West; was this action truly related to his role in altering the face of the greatest yacht race on earth? -- Read on:

* From Michael Clough: (re, starting systems and penalties)
A black flag start is not as bad as it sounds. Boats know when they are close to the line and in a black flag start they can see the line in most cases because there are not a bunch of boats over the line blocking their view. I and many of my fellow sailors would be happy with a black flag start every time. Together with series with no discards, this would clean up a lot of our racing. Boats cannot afford to be over the line so they hold back. They cannot afford a protest either so behavior on the course improves too. Try it and see the difference.

* From Eric Robbins:
I like the current starting system. It has flexibility to accommodate the various classes and events. Starts for Lasers are very different than for big keelboats, and starts for club-level races need different methods than Olympic qualifiers.

The preparatory flags often say a lot about the competence and attitude of the Principal Race Officer. Those who understand that they have volunteered to serve the competitors will be much more reluctant to use the Z and Black flags than those who think the sailors need to show them respect and subservience.

Race officers, like Judges, should seek to minimize their role in the outcome of races. It is not about how many boats you can penalize, but how much you can contribute to fair races being decided on the water. All regattas should start with at least one P-flag each day. If the competitors demonstrate that their aggressiveness needs more control, then progress to the I and Z-flags. I-flags are effective, especially when accompanied by hails from the signal boat, and the Z-flag is very effective. Those who say the I-flag forces the boats to congregate at the ends have not been paying attention. In most cases, it is just not true.

The Black flag is way too often a crutch for a lazy race committee, and it should be reserved for when it is critical to get a start off before the cutoff-time on the last day.

Let's leave the rule 26 starting system alone for awhile. It works. I would like to see race committees make it clearer whether they will be doing rolling starts, or individual starts, and I would like to see that when the Z-flag is used, the I-flag is used with it, but we do not have a problem that needs to be solved by rules changes.

If there isn't a law, there will be. Cooperation and decency just isn’t enough for some people.

New England Ropes - IYRS - North Sails - West Marine - Lewmar
Doyle Sails - Team One Newport - US SAILING
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