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SCUTTLEBUTT 3280 - Wednesday, February 16, 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: Doyle Sails, Team One Newport, and US SAILING.

By Chris Gill, WindCheck editor
I became interested in sailing when I was eight years old. My family had little sailing background; we just happened to live near the water. With modest knowledge of the sport, the America’s Cup, in my eyes, was the pinnacle of sailing. The idea of being able to watch it on television for a couple of hours at night during any given Cup year was pretty cool.

I was captivated by the Cup and my growing love of the sport infected my whole family - they really had no choice in the matter. I was young. Sailing was all that mattered. I talked my parents into signing me up for sailing lessons (and buying a second-hand Blue Jay). The rest all came later...the purchase of a family boat, sailing vacations, crewing on race boats, and forging lifelong relationships with sailing friends - just about every framed photograph in our house was taken aboard a boat or with our friends at the yacht club; All that from simply seeing what an amazing sport sailing is on television when I was a child.

Lately, I’ve heard comment after comment, seen post after post, and read article after article about the apparent poor state of the Cup. Though I no longer think the America’s Cup is necessarily the pinnacle of our sport, I believe it remains, in effect, the ambassador of our sport to the general public. If you asked someone on the street if they’ve heard of the Melges 32 Worlds, they’d probably think you were talking about a sci-fi movie. Ask about the teams prepping for the Volvo Ocean Race, and they’d ask how one could possibly race cars on water. For most nonsailors, the America’s Cup is what it’s always been: a bunch of guys racing big, expensive sailboats, crashing through waves (like in the Old Spice commercials), wearing matching crew shirts with zinc oxide on their noses, and spinning pedestal grinders a million miles per hour.

So what’s wrong with the Cup getting a facelift; a perception shift, if you will, that the general public will see as different, exciting and accessible? Yes, the last few Cups were shrouded in a fog of lawsuits and bad blood, but most regular Americans know that our guys in a super-fast, space-age three-hulled boat beat their guys in a super-fast, space age two-hulled boat - and that the Cup is back home. To me, the time is right for repositioning the Cup as an everyman’s spectator event, as exciting as soccer or car racing, or bull riding...all sports that I enjoy watching despite limited knowledge of the inner workings of them, their major players or best teams. -- Read on:

Bruno Finzi (IT), chairman of the ORC (Offshore Racing Congress) affirmed in his speech last week at the second International Yacht Forum Hamburg the intention to unite the organizations behind the formulas ORC and IRC to one single association. After DSV measurer Kay-Enno Brink had explained the technical basis of the ORC formula, IRC master measurer James Dadd presented the background of the IRC formula. Kasper Wedersoe from Danmark introduced the advantages of the Dansk Handicap: Thanks to simple systems and cheap fares, there are quite a few regattas in Danmark which are raced by more boats than there are ORC measuring certificates in whole Germany.

Christian Schaumloeffel from the US introduced the American way: more than 10,000 yachts are sailing the formula PHRF on the American continent. Pelle Lindell reported from Sweden that there could be found race fields with up to 1000 boats due to the simple SRS formula.

Tension rose when it came to the questioning of the time takers. Friedrich Hausmann, vice chairman of the German Offshore Owners Association, wanted to know what yacht owners and sailors really require from a formula. "Would you like a unified measuring formula for races all over the world?” Nearly 100 percent of the participants spontaneously answered with “yes”.

The question whether there should be a new measuring formula did not receive much acceptance: only one-fourth of the participants agreed. The question whether the formula should contain empiric data as well as lead to a stand-off situation: about half of the participants lifted their hands. Should the measuring formula contain aspects to protect existing fleets? This question led to an inconsistent picture, but the majority (about two thirds of the participants) agreed. Cheerfulness and unanimous one hundred percent agreement for the last question: Should a measuring certificate cost lest than 50 Euros? Opinion: “Yes!”

Full report:

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By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor
I do wonder if the system for starting a sailboat race can be simplified. I am not convinced it can be, but at the same time I can’t think of another sport that is as complicated. While there are lots of types of boats, and lots of types of races, they all start the same way - through a start line.

I also suspect there is significant segment of the sport that feels the current system is fine. We do have one system: 5 - 4 - 1 - GO. For lots of races and racers, this works fine. It’s just when it doesn’t work, there are lots of options within the rules with no guidelines on how they are to be applied.

I hear all the time that General Recalls are not fair. They are a time waster, and they penalize people who started fairly. But they are also a reality. Without an electronic system on each boat to register their place on the start line, all boats cannot be visually accounted for.

So how do we limit General Recalls and simplify the entire process? Can we eliminate all the various staring penalty flags and rules, and the inconsistency in their use? Can we get rid of the ‘racer versus race committee’ atmosphere, and follow a starting protocol that is known in advance?

What if a competitor were to gain increasingly harsher penalties for starting infractions during an event? This is currently an option for Rule 42 (Propulsion) when on-the-water umpires are used. For each time a competitor is observed by a race official breaking Rule 42, the value of their penalty increases. Could this be done for starting?

What if we had a system that had no more than one General Recall for each race if there are too many early starters to account for? But for those early starters that were accounted for, they would gain a STRIKE (more on what that means below). Unfair to those that got caught? Maybe, but also unfair to those that got legal starts too. More motivation to stay below the line, right?

Additionally, any boat identified as an early starter in a fair start would also accumulate a STRIKE. In short, any time the starting gun goes off, and a boat is over the line, they get a STRIKE.

So what happens on starts that are considered fair? Any boat identified as an early starter that restarts would be penalized based on the number of STRIKES they have gained during the regatta:

STRIKE 1: No penalty if the boat restarts
STRIKE 2: 20% penalty if the boat restarts
STRIKE 3: Disqualification from that race

Of course, any boat that is identified as an early starter that does not restart would continue to be scored OCS.

Would the fear of gaining STRIKES manage the aggressiveness on the start line? Please post your comments in the Forum:

(February 15, 2011; Day 18) - Sodebo crossed the Cape of Good Hope today Tuesday at 6:02 p.m. (French time) after 17 days, 5 hours, 54 minutes and 32 seconds at sea, travelling 8405 miles at an average speed of 20.31 knots. The growing deficit on solo round the world record holder Idec is partly explained in how its skipper Francis Joyon had traveled 1005 miles less than Sodebo, but was also slower with an average speed of 20.12 knots. Coville trailed Joyon’s pace to the Cape by 1 day, 22 hours, and 41 minutes.

Coville’s problem now is not a lack of wind but rather an abundance. “It’ll soon be four days that I’ve been in winds of over 30 knots with speeds which don’t allow you to put a foot wrong,” noted Coville. “In conditions like that it’s a different ball game sailing single-handed on a big boat like Sodebo. When the boat surfs she generates such a disturbed flow that the leeward rudder ends up in the froth where I can no longer control it. I’m heading off into surfs, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before.”

Current position as of February 15, 2011 (23:00 UTC):
Ahead/behind record: -1160.5 nm
Speed over past 24 hours: 22.5 knots
Distance over past 24 hours: 540.9 nm
Distance remaining: 16,967 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 15, 2011: Day 47) - Virbac-Paprec 3 skipper Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) announced today that he and co-skipper Loick Peyron (FRA) will be making a technical stop in Wellington, having broken two mainsail batten cars in the previous hour as they reefed the mainsail. Virbac-Paprec 3 report that they have already used their other spare batten car to repair a breakage shortly after Recife, where the team first made a technical stop to fix damage to the mainsheet track. They will also take the opportunity to work on some other wear and tear incurred during the race.

The stopover is unscheduled and Virbac-Paprec 3 has no technical support crew in Wellington. The only team member present in New Zealand is team manager Luc Talbourdet who was there to greet the crew during their anticipated passage close to shore. However Luc Bartissol, who was the technical manager for the build of their previous boat, Paprec-Virbac 2, lives in New Zealand and will be assisting with the repair. Other suppliers who were involved in the build of Virbac-Paprec 3 will also be called in to help.

Virbac-Paprec 3 is expected to arrive in Wellington at some point over the course of tonight (European time, equivalent to during the day of Wednesday 16 February, New Zealand local time). The race rules state that any stopover after 140 degrees East must be for a minimum duration of 48 hours once the boat arrives at the dock. This is unlike Virbac-Paprec 3’s previous stopover in South America, after which they were able to depart and resume racing as soon as the repairs had been made good.

Race Tracker:

Standings (top 5 of 14 as of 20.01.07)
1. Virbac-Paprec 3, Jean Pierre Dick/Loick Peyron (FRA/FRA), 11,538 nm DTF
2. Mapfre, Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez (ESP/ESP), 550.1nm DTL
3. Estrella Damm Sailing Team, Alex Pella/Pepe Ribes (ESP/ESP), 652.0nm DTL
4. Groupe Bel, Kito De Pavant/Sebastien Audigane (FRA/FRA), 850.0nm DTL
5. Renault, Pachi Rivero/Antonio Piris (ESP/ESP), 1278.6nm 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:

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On the qualities needed to do a race like the Volvo Ocean Race:
“I think you need to be a broad sailor [multi-skilled], because there are normally four guys on deck so you have to be able to help out in different areas. And that’s probably the biggest difference from the America’s Cup. Then you need to be a little bit stupid and crazy, and shut off your brain once in a while. I think that if you can do this, you’re good for offshore sailing.” - Martin Krite (SWE), who has competed on two America’s Cup campaigns, the World Match Racing Tour, and was onboard Ericsson 3 in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race. --

The Industry News category of the Scuttlebutt Forum encourages companies to post their new personnel, product and service updates. Scuttlebutt editors will select Industry News updates each week to include in the Thursday edition of the Scuttlebutt newsletter. Here is the link to post Industry News updates:

* The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has announced the complete sports competition schedule, including ticket prices, for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Olympic Sailing Competition will run from 29 July to 11 August 2012. Details here:

* (February 15, 2011; Day 10) - With less than 2,000 nautical miles to go until VELUX 5 OCEANS race leader Brad Van Liew (USA) must navigate his Eco 60 Le Pingouin around Cape Horn, his lead over Zbigniew Gutkowski (POL) has now increased to 159 nm. Van Liew has just over 3,000 nm to the leg 3 finish in Punta del Este on the southern tip of Uruguay. --

* Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) now offers a free smart phone "App" that helps the user call for a tow and also adds helpful location and tracking features for boaters. Details:

* The 2010 Charleston Race Week was the biggest ever, with 193 registered entries at the start of the event and 182 of them making it to the line. With 215 racing teams now registered for the April 15-17 event, the newly branded 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week has emphatically smashed that all-time record more than two months before the event’s start. One design entrants in the Melges 20 and 24, the J/22, 24, and 80, and the Viper 640 dominate the field. --

You are invited to Chicago to network with clubs from around the country and learn how they are increasing participation and managing today's challenges. Register today for US SAILING's Yacht Club Summit on April 2-3, 2011:

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 John Rumsey:
Nice article by Michelle Slade in #3279, but the current will play a small role in a race unless the wind is under 5 knot. In Match racing the lead boat covers the trailing boat no matter where they go regardless of the current. Plus, with these very fast cats, the wind lanes will be the most important factor in how the lead boat covers.

* From Denis Farley:
The idea of having a couple of Lightnings with reduced sail area for match racing is a good idea (in Scuttlebutt 3279), but a better solution is buying a couple of Flying Scots which has the added benefit in that the sails do not have to be reduced in size. The Flying Scot is a very stable boat so that many competitive sailors sail with just two people on a regular basis. I currently race a Flying Scot and we are competitive even is heavy air at a total crew and skipper weight of about 290 pounds.

The Flying Scot is roomier that a Lightning and the boom is higher which makes for pleasant sailing for community sailing or for lessons. I took over the Monmouth Boat Club Adult Sailing program in 2005 and we have replaced the Lightning with Flying Scots. For the record, I raced a Lightning for almost 15 years and have sailed in North American and World Championships.

* From Steve Pyatt: (re, "middle of the fleet awards")
The NZ Optimist Nationals has a middle of the fleet award. At the 2003 Nationals a young sailor called David (from AUS but temporarily living in NZ due to family AC duties) touched another boat at the top mark. His father saw this and discussed the situation with him over the lunch break. They agreed between them that 'RAF' was the only option as a rule had been broken (even though no protests) and no 'turns' had been done.

David was very upset and the RAF did drop him down the overall rankings. At the prize giving the mid-fleet (very prestigious) trophy was announced. David was exactly mid fleet (of 200+)! Had he not RAF'd, he would have been just another sailor in the bulk of the fleet. Instead he won a great trophy, but more importantly learnt a good lesson and went on to represent his country several times. The father giving the 'integrity' lesson? Peter Gilmour!

* From Bill Gladstone, North U:
What causes starting problems? Sometimes it is an out of square line. The line may be square for the RC, but out of square for the sailboats. How? Current will not impact the RC (at anchor) as they measure the wind, while the sailing wind for the fleet includes current. For example, in 8 knots of wind and 1 knot of current perpendicular to the wind, the sailing wind is shifted 7 degrees. If that current is running up the line, from the pin toward the RC, then the current will cause a jam up at the boat end both by pushing the fleet up and by shifting the sailing wind right to make the boat end 7 degrees favored.

The reason we believe in "luck" is to explain the success of our contemporaries.

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

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