SCUTTLEBUTT 3304 - Wednesday, March 23, 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: APS, Quantum Sails, and J Boats.
ATTRITION FOR CAUSE
Two-time America's Cup winner Peter Isler's newest book, "Peter Isler's
Little Blue Book of Sailing", was released this week by Wiley. Peter was
going to celebrate the occasion by racing from SoCal to Mexico, but instead
he shares a report on why he's on the sidelines.
I'm sitting at home in San Diego logging into the Newport Harbor YC's
website to follow the 800-mile Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas race instead
of sailing downwind on John and Susie MacLaurin's 70-foot Pendragon VI. We
were on the final stretch run to the finish, but dropped out due to a
breakdown in the rough conditions encountered on the second day of the
race. However, we were not alone in calling it quits.
Of the 15 boats that started the race on Saturday (the "small boats"
starting the race on Friday missed the storm), 9 withdrew. Broken parts,
broken sailors, and one dismasting have all been reported from the sailors
who have made it back to shore. The attrition can be attributed to some
pretty nasty wind and wave conditions as a cold front and associated low
pressure ripped through Southern California on Sunday.
But over 50% of Southern California's best big boats (and one of top 70
footer from the East Coast) dropping out? Since returning to shore and
talking to sailors, I've had some time to think about the high rate of bail
outs and have amended my first impression (that West Coast sailors and
boats are spoiled with normally great reaching and downwind races and they
are not ready for a good ol' upwind slog).
Here are the facts: While the small boat fleet that got away on Friday was
able to get far enough south to avoid the touch of the approaching
deepening low, the forecast showed that after 12 hours of relatively light
air, the Saturday starters were bound to "enjoy" about 24 hours of upwind
sailing in 25+ knots before the front passed by and the winds came aft.
NOAA had already posted a Gale Warning for winds over 34 knots.
The forecast was pretty much spot on and by dawn on Saturday, the big boat
fleet was beating into increasing 20 knot winds about 50 miles south of the
border. Initially conditions were pretty manageable. There was a huge 2.5
meter NW swell - and the building SE winds had yet to really kick up much
in the way of a wind driven sea state. At 9AM on Pendragon, our jib
cunningham broke and we suffered some headstay damage. With the forecast of
at least 15 more hours of windy windward work, we chose to turn north and
beat the front into San Diego.
By the time we made it into the harbor, there were reports of other
withdrawals, with Bella Mente, Hap Fauth's internationally renowned 69
footer from the east coast, having been dismasted. In the ensuing 24 hours,
the picture came clearer. While we bailed out before the wind driven waves
had built up, in a few more hours, the 25-30 knot winds blowing over the
open ocean had made for some good sized waves that were stacking up against
the NW swell and creating a really nasty sea state that further took its
toll on equipment and the morale of the sailors. Dave Ullman, who was
aboard Brack Ducker's Santa Cruz 70 Holua, said that conditions were plenty
rough - enough to give them cause to turn back to San Diego too. -- Read
* (March 22, 2011) - Ed Feo's Andrews 45 Locomotion was the first boat to
finish, arriving today while the sun was shining and the margaritas were
chillin. The remaining 19 boats are expected to finish by Thursday. --
QUOTE / UNQUOTE
Southern Californian Craig Fletcher, who served as tactician last weekend
on Steven Ernest's Beneteau 36.7 Aimant de Fille at the 2011 Sperry
Top-Sider San Diego NOOD where they were the overall winner: "If every boat
was like Steve's boat - he's a great owner, he gets great people to sail
with him, and he does what it takes to get the boat ready for racing -
there would be thousands more people sailing. It's an enjoyable way to
spend the weekend. There's good vibes on board, and we have fun. I've
sailed a long time. I've gone back and forth with pros and amateurs at all
different levels of sailing. If we all sailed like this - it's how the
sport should be. It takes the pressure off, knowing that the boat is
prepared and that you can depend on everyone on the team to do their job."
SAVE THE CHEERLEADERS!
They'll see your boat on the course, but how will they find you as you make
your way to the beer tent? Team shirts, that's how. We want to save your
fans from wasted time spent looking for you. In honor of the upcoming
Charleston Race Week - APS, "The World Leader in Outfitting Performance
Sailors" hosts a Crugear special on decorated tech shirts. Show your team
spirit while they break out the megaphones! PS - Your boat needs outfitting
as much as you do. Save 10% off already discounted prices on Harken
Hardware through the end of March ;-) http://bit.ly/HarkenCrugear
MAINTAINING SPEED TO SUCCEED
American Graham Biehl is seeking to compete in his second Olympics. Along
with skipper Stu McNay, they were the U.S. representative in the Mens 470
at the 2008 Games, and they want to improve on their 13th place. They had
stumbled hard out of the gate, and despite them being the low score team in
the second half of the event, the damage was done.
When seeking to succeed at the Olympic level, there is no substitute for
speed. For Graham, who is currently 24 years old, he has been seeking speed
in the class since he was 16. "The 470 is an extremely technical boat,"
explained Graham. "There are a lot of things to learn about the rig and the
sails, and the technique as well. It takes a lot of time and a lot of
discipline to practice on all the elements, and it starts from a youth
standpoint to begin understanding these variables."
Part of Graham's success can be attributed to an early start toward
understanding speed. "I started sailing Snipes when I was quite young, and
that certainly helped fast track the things I needed to learn," noted
Graham. "By the time I got into the International 420, I had already
learned a lot about rig tune set-up and sail shape, and was able to pass
that on to my skipper who had less experience in this level of boat. When I
moved on to the 470 (at 16 years), the transition was made easier again by
the experience I had already attained."
From the outside, a doublehanded boat like the 470 does not look that much
unlike other youth boats. Main, jib, spinnaker, trapeze... simple, right?
"When working with our training partners, we find how significant small
adjustments in the 470 are in producing boat speed differences," said
Graham. "Maybe an inch on the vang, or a half turn on the spreader, can
have a huge impact on your speed. Variances in technique also are very
apparent. There are very small details that might not be apparent from
outside the boat, but when you are in the boat sailing against other
people, they are definitely noticeable and it really makes you sail to the
But there is a difference between being fast when tuning, and being fast
when racing. Graham explains, "Sometimes in the middle of the race the wind
may drop, or may increase substantially, and you need to know how to
prioritize the sail controls, and what adjustments are necessary. We have
all the controls at our fingertips, so we can make the changes to get the
boat to act like it should for the new conditions. But this comes from
sailing in every condition possible, and knowing when things aren't quite
right and then immediately making the correct adjustment to get the boat
back to norm."
VIDEO: Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck interviewed Graham in the Member's
Lounge at the San Diego Yacht Club. Here is the complete video:
TOUR: Graham will be joining his American teammates at the third event of
the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Spain - the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE.
Over 600 teams from 53 nations have already registered for the first
European event of the Olympic and Paralympic season to be held in Palma de
Majorca from April 2-9: http://www.trofeoprincesasofia-mapfre.org
MOSTLY CHALK AT CONGRESSIONAL CUP
Long Beach, CA (March 22, 2011) - As Ian Williams of Great Britain steered
his Catalina 37 past the transom of Long Beach Yacht Club's new race
committee boat during a pre-start sequence on Day 1 of the 47th
Congressional Cup Tuesday he noticed the principal race officer tending the
barbecue. "How about a couple of burgers?" Williams asked Randy Smith.
He didn't get any snacks but he did fill his racing plate with a half-dozen
wins to share first place with two other former winners, Francesco Bruni
and Mathieu Richard, all scored 6-0 records in sidestepping harm from the
flurry of 23 penalties inflicted by the on-water umpires.
The racing conditions were ideal, starting before noon at 5 knots from the
south but quickly shifting to 12 and ultimately a chilling 15 from the
southwest source of Long Beach's notorious sea breeze funneling down the
San Pedro Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the mainland.
Racing continues Wednesday sometime after 11:30 a.m. The race course is off
the end of Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier in east Long Beach, well inside
the breakwater of the outer Long Beach Harbor. The total purse is $40,000,
with $10,000 for the winner.
Standings after 6 of 18 flights
1. Francesco Bruni, Italy, 6-0
1. Ian Williams, Great Britain, 6-0
1. Mathieu Richard, France, 6-0
4. Johnie Berntsson, Sweden, 3-3
4. Dave Perry, USA, 3-3
6. Evgeny Neugodnikov, Russia, 2-4
6. Simone Ferrarese, Italy, 2-4
8. Staffan Lindberg, Finland, 1-5
8. Phil Robertson, New Zealand, 1-5.
10. Taylor Canfield, U.S. Virgin Islands, 0-6
LIVE UPDATES: On Tuesday there was live video of the races, though the
audio commentary was difficult to hear. Maybe Wednesday will be better.
Racing is expected from 12:00 pm until 4:30 pm PST (-7 Hrs UTC). T2P will
also be producing a daily video at the end of each day.
HELP NEEDED: If you're looking for a 'Match Racing for Dummies' explanation
to help acquaint (or reacquaint) youself to this area of the sport,
Airwaves Editor Jen Vandemoer Mitchell has written a report titled
'Demystifying Match Racing And A Look At The Chicago Match Race Center'. --
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A MEMBRANE SAIL?
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.
CARDS TO PLAY
(March 22, 2011, Day 80) - Consistent northern trade winds for the
front-runners is currently leaving few tactical options open. "We are going
two hundred per cent," explained MAPFRE co-skipper Iker Martinez (ESP).
"Anytime we are nearer from the leader, she just moves away. Here on MAPFRE
each position report is awaited with bated breath. We've still got some
cards to play with and the first one will come most probably in the Canary
Islands. If it goes well, we will face a new battle. If not, the French
pair will run away once and for all. It is clear that we have to do
something carefully considered, nothing crazy. We'll see if it is possible
to catch them! To be honest, we are quite surprised at how fast she is
going. But we hope to turn things around. We keep trying!" -- Event
Race Tracker: http://tracking.barcelonaworldrace.org
Standings (top 5 of 14 as of 20:01:03)
1. Virbac-Paprec 3, Jean Pierre Dick/Loick Peyron (FRA/FRA), 2308 nm DTF
2. Mapfre, Iker Martinez/Xabi Fernandez (ESP/ESP), 229.9 nm DTL
3. Renault, Pachi Rivero/Antonio Piris (ESP/ESP), 982.9 nm DTL
4. Estrella Damm Sailing Team,Alex Pella/Pepe Rives (ESP/ESP),1243.1 nm DTL
5. Neutrogena, Boris Herrmann/Ryan Breymaier (GER/USA), 1265.9 nm DTL
Full Rankings: http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/en/ranking
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:
* (March 22, 2011; Day 53; 23:00 UTC) - Thomas Coville and the 105-foot
trimaran Sodebo continue to sail extra distance in the North Atlantic to
remain in good wind, which has seen deficit grow to 653.5 nm behind the
pace set by solo round the world record holder Francis Joyon. With 2711 nm
to the finish, Coville must arrive at Ushant, France by March 28th to
establish a new standard. -- http://www.sodebo-voile.com/
* The eighth edition of the Van Isle 360 International Yacht Race, now
renamed the TELUS Van Isle 360, will take place from June 4-18. This year's
sold out event features 42 boats, ranging between 25 and 65 feet, for the
10-leg course that takes the fleet on a 580 nautical mile race
circumnavigating wild and rugged Vancouver Island, B.C. --
* The fourth ocean sprint of the five leg VELUX 5 OCEANS solo round the
world race will take the fleet of Eco 60s from the Uruguayan port of Punta
del Este northbound for 5,700 miles to Charleston in the US. Charleston
resident Brad Van Liew is the overall race leader and winner of all three
sprints. The start will commence at 1pm local time (1600 UTC) on Sunday,
March 27, 2011. -- http://www.velux5oceans.com/
INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES
The Industry News category of the Scuttlebutt Forum encourages companies to
post their personnel, product and service updates. Scuttlebutt editors
randomly 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: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/forum/industry_news
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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 David Barrow:
Oh Dear Elaine (in Scuttlebutt 3302) seems to be off on one over the
equality of the sexes. That could be the start of a reply from a sexist pig
who was just against women getting into the sport.
Who knows the answer to the ever changing question of equality - going from
getting the vote, to hopefully, in most civilised country's equal pay, to
now equal rights on the water in the professional arena of yachting. I have
always found that women learn quickly, try harder, are probably in most
cases mentally stronger, and generally tone down the men's bum scratching
and swearing as an added benefit. So do not think I am a detractor.
Let's look at the word professional, at the top level the guys are good,
very good, and they are fit, train hard, and use their muscle bulk to good
effect. There lies the possible problem at that level... strength. It is
the same in golf. Women have played in men's competitions at the top level
and the only thing they are lacking is the strength to play off the men's
tees. I am not sure if one of the few women that have played in top men's
events have ever made the cut. This is not sexism; it is purely physiology.
I really do not know how you counter that one.
So I guess at the top level of the sport for AC, TP52's, World match
racing, etc. the strength issue could be a real problem.
Then we come to the next level of professional sailing, whatever that is;
perhaps Elaine knows better than I. They travel the world at the owner's
expense and collect a daily rate. As you say it could possibly be a men's
club, but what the entry fee is, and what the qualifications are, who
knows? -- Scuttlebutt Forum, read on:
* From Victor Beelik:
I heartily agree with Rob Britton's letter (Scuttlebutt 3303) that 40+
years ago yacht racing was truly a "gentlemen's amateur sport. Let's
recreate the 'Corinthian" spirit that dominated the yacht racing in those
* From David Redfern, Kent, England:
Regarding Patrick Twohys urge (in Scuttlebutt 3302) to "drop the arcane
language that sailors use to describe what they do", it reminded me of the
time when I was in charge of media in an America's Cup campaign for the
I was a novice in sailing, but a good publicist, and I tried as far as
possible to eliminate jargon which though accurate, sent confusing messages
to the general public and the national media. I remember being on the radio
to the boat one day and hearing of a calamity which was totally
understandable to sailors, but meant tiddely spit to anyone else. The
message was "We are limping home with a jury rig". In my report to the news
networks I said "The rudder fell off, so they have tied a pole to the back
of the boat with some rope and are steering with that."
I would also always refer to the front or back of the boat instead of bow
and stern. Many sailing journalists treated me as a moron, but the public
understood me! I was proud of the comment by a then Sportswriter of the
Year, Ian Wooldridge, who said of my efforts: "the eyes of Coronation
Street (a British soap opera) as well as the Squadron follow this
* From Al Johnson:
I have to take exception to Steve Pyatt's contention (issue #3301) that
closing start/finish lines is a bad idea. There were a couple of follow-on
posts that supported his opinion. Perhaps racers (and committees) have
differing perceptions based on what kind of boats and how many classes are
running, and that the right answer may be different depending on the type
of boats, and the number of classes that are using the same S/F line.
For safety reasons, some of the Seattle clubs regularly close the start
line as well as the finish line for PHRF boats doing W/L races. The
50-footers in the first start frequently round the top mark and are back
down to the area of the committee boat before the fifth or sixth classes
start. If the wind goes left, there is a significant advantage gained by
going downwind through the start line and trying to squeeze through a class
in the middle of their start sequence.
One perspective is that this should all be fine because the right of way
rules cover all circumstances that could be encountered, and people
shouldn't be out there if they aren't responsible for their actions or
aren't in control of their boats. However, mistakes can happen, and at some
point common sense tells you that it isn't a good idea to create a
situation that significantly increase the probability of a fifty or
hundred-thousand dollar mistake.
* From James Tyson:
I totally agree with Steve's observations in Scuttlebutt 3301 about
start/finish line restrictions being a bad idea. I would suggest that one
tool that helps mitigate this problem is the removal of the starting mark
shortly after the sequence. When it is later deployed (normally) when the
fleet is well up the second beat (assuming) a four legged race, we then
reset the mark at a much reduced length.
Never hit a man with glasses. Hit him with a baseball bat.
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