SCUTTLEBUTT 3374 - Thursday, June 30, 2011
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providing a digest of major sailing news, commentary, opinions, features
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RESOLVING TWO CONFLICTING REALITIES
By Garry Hoyt, sailing innovator
Young Olivia Constants tragic death that occurred last week while sailing a
Club 420 in Annapolis reveals a need to analyze the unique differences
occasioned by small boat downwind capsizes. In the usual upwind capsize the
boat tips over to the point that the stabilizing power of crew weight
becomes useless - the rig hits the water and skipper and crew literally
fall out of the boat - usually on top of the sail. This is generally a slow
motion process where all involved can see and feel what is going to happen.
In contrast, the small boat downwind capsize to windward (grimly labeled
the 'death roll') is very sudden, with the rig slamming hard into the water
with enough force to often invert or 'turtle' the boat. And instead of the
crew falling slowly out of the boat and onto the sail - both the sail and
the hull crash violently on top of the crew.
In this instance the life saving flotation force of the mandatory life
jacket abruptly becomes a life threatening force that pins the wearer under
the boat and sail, blocking the necessary under water escape. You literally
have to dive under the water to get out and your life jacket will
perversely prevent that. This situation is exacerbated by any hook up like
a trapeze, and all floating or dangling lines of halyards create an
immediate threat of entanglement.
The dilemma here is how to resolve two conflicting realities.
- A life jacket is essential to preserving life when separated from the
- A life jacket can become a death jacket when its flotation power prevents
the wearer from separating themselves from the overturned boat.
I can report from personal experience that it is very difficult to
visualize the extreme underwater chaos presented by an upside down fully
rigged sailboat with halyards, sheets and loose gear all dangling down in
ways to ensnare the unwary. The fact that this situation is mercifully rare
is of small comfort if your son or daughter is involved.
Nor is the prompt presence of a rescue powerboat a solution in this
situation. For a crew trapped under a turtled hull and rig, somebody has to
be ready to very quickly dive under to get them out in conditions of low
visibility. That somebody also has to be a very good swimmer and free diver
- equipped with mask and flippers - and preferably unencumbered by a life
All sailors need to be made aware that when their craft capsizes to
windward when sailing downwind, special dangers of entrapment are created
because the rig and hull come over on top of you. This calls for quick
release life jackets and training that makes all participating sailors
aware of how quickly that situation can turn fatal. This is a new burden
that all responsible regatta organizers should provide for. -- Scuttlebutt
I AGREE AND I AGREE, OH; AND I AGREE A THIRD TIME
By Brad Van Liew, 2010-11 Velux 5 Oceans winner
I read the Sailing World report by Tim Zimmerman's in Scuttlebutt 3373, and
as the title above states, "I agree!" I wish Joe Harris all the best with
his new effort to compete in the Class 40-based Global Solo Race 2013-14,
and to anyone else who wants to commit to the astronomically difficult task
of professional grade shorthanded racing as an American. Bring it; we need
you and want Americans involved in this part of sailing.
As the first American to finish three solo circumnavigation races I am now
in uncharted territory and am ready to dig deeper if the interest in
American participation is real. That means that I feel ready to engage at
the highest level with the Europeans (and feel that I can)! But we need to
be able to find the financial support to fund a competitive Vendee Globe
program (solo, non-stop in Open 60s) to make that a reality. The
sponsorship and the experience is what Americans are missing.
Fortunately, I have the experience part, but unfortunately, we don't have
the corporate investment. Which by the way, I find a bit shocking. Over the
last 15 years we have done everything under the sun to find corporate
partners to support top tier U.S. solo racing: hired US sponsorship agents,
European agents, personally invested, borrowed and employed more creative
financial strategies than you want or need to know about. but the U.S.
corporate environment remains risk averse.
Without the selfless abandonment that it takes from people like Bruce
Schwab, Tim Kent, Rich Wilson, Derek Hatfield, Steve Pettengill, Dodge
Morgan, Mark Schrader, David White (who by the way created the BOC
Challenge back in the day) and Mike Plant, North America would be dead in
this form of competitive sailing. I find it very sad when Joshua Slocum
invented the idea as an American!
There is nothing more radical than blasting around the planet on an Open 60
by yourself. It is as extreme as the world gets, and I would love the
chance to do it again at the highest level. But, guess what? For that to
happen, and really try, and I mean really try, to kick some very well
trained and prepared European ass, it is going to take a well funded
program with real financial support. There is just no way to compete at the
level the high end European programs compete at without the same resources.
And while Tim's comments on the evolution of the BOC/Around Alone/Velux 5
Oceans indicate a valid decline in entries and interest, I also believe in
supporting the brave and loyal sponsors that continue to invest in the
sport for good reasons. The racing was intense and more competitive than
you may think (to still be seen at www.velux5oceans.com). So, kudos to
Velux for their HUGE investment in the race and all they did to activate
their sponsorship with meaningful branding and client hospitality
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By Lenny Rudow, Boats.com
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently considering regulations that would make
engine cut off lanyards mandatory on boats 26 feet and under. Everyone's
surely seen these cut off lanyards, which attach to a kill switch and are
triggered if the captain is thrown from the boat. In fact, it'll be tough
to find a boat under 26 that doesn't already have the lanyard and kill
switch installed - all of the major engine manufacturers have been using
them for decades.
The down-side? Tethered to the helm you can only move a few feet in either
direction before triggering the kill switch, and it's quite common to
accidentally trip it. This issue can be overcome with the use of an
aftermarket wireless kill switch, like the Autotether, which uses a
personal sensor you can clip to your clothing and a wireless receiver that
clips onto the boat's ignition switch. It isn't triggered until you fall
overboard, giving you full freedom of motion around the boat.
Considering the prevalence of kill switches on modern boats, some people
will wonder why a government agency feels it's necessary to create mandates
that are already being fulfilled. The answer lies in Coast Guard proposal
Docket No. USCG-2009-0206 RIN 1625-AB34, which consists of 6,147 words yet
covers precious little ground we haven't already touched on in the above
two paragraphs. Can you say: boring? Lucky for you, I've already slogged
through it to find the one tidbit of info that counts... read on:
* Sylt, Germany (June 29, 2011) - After two days of racing at the 2011 IKA
Kite Course Racing World Championship, the American contingent is holding
four of the top five positions in the Open Division Men after five races.
Leading the charge with four first place finishes is John Heineken. -- Full
* Cagliari, Sardinia (June 29, 2011) - Clear skies and a gentle breeze
welcomed the 15 teams competing in the RC44 Cagliari Cup, third of the five
event 2011 Championship Tour. With one day of match racing scheduled into
the event, the fleet raced six flights with four teams coming away
undefeated; Team CEEREF, Oracle Racing, Katusha and Team Aqua. Fleet racing
will commence Thursday through July 3rd. -- Full story:
* U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) recently gave public support to a
proposal to ban boat waste discharge in Lake Ontario. Untreated waste
discharge is already banned in Lake Ontario, but the state's Department of
Environmental Conservation is pushing for no discharge whatsoever.
According to an article in the Democrat and Chronicle, boaters would have
to use one of the 37 pump stations on the New York side of the lake to
remove wastes from on-board holding tanks if the DEC proposal is approved.
* More than 160 of the World's top Paralympic sailing talents are ready to
stake their claim for supremacy as the IFDS Disabled Sailing Combined World
Championships 2011 get underway in Weymouth and Portland. No fewer than 96
boats from 30 nations will compete in the three Paralympic classes - 2.4mR,
SKUD and Sonar - in what is the final opportunity for athletes to qualify
for the 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition. Racing gets underway on Sunday
3 July with 11 races in total scheduled for each class (two races per day
Sunday-Thursday and one race on Friday 8 July). -- Full story:
* In Scuttlebutt 3373, it was reported that the 2011 Transpac Race from Los
Angeles to Honolulu would have three staggered starts. Actually, the race
will have only two starts, with the slower boats starting on July 4th and
the faster boats beginning on the 8th. -- http://www.transpacrace.com
* In Scuttlebutt 3373, Bob Black said "Tom Ehman was the honcho of the U.S.
Sailing Team at the 1984 Olympics which went on to win a record of three
golds and four silvers out of seven classes..." This led to a flurry of
emails from members of that team - Robbie Haines, Edward Trevelyan, Carl
Buchan, Robert Hopkins, and Gary Knapp - to clarify the information.
Each of the sailors echoed the comments of Jonathan R. Harley, who was the
Olympic Director for USYRU in 1984: "Sam Merrick was the Chairman of the
U.S. Olympic Yachting Committee and Team Leader of the 1984 US Olympic
Yachting Team. He was the individual behind the success of that team,
having worked tirelessly to rebuild the program following the 1980
boycott." As for Tom Ehman, his role in 1984 was significant too, as he was
the Executive Director of the US Yacht Racing Union (now US SAILING) and
was the Secretary to the Olympic Jury.
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INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES
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A SOLID SCORECARD AT LONG BEACH RACE WEEK
Ullman Sails customers proved their prowess on the racecourse last weekend,
collecting hardware in several one design and PHRF classes at 2011 Long
Beach Race Week! Tim Carter's "Team Viral" dominated the Viper 640 class
with Chris Winnard securing second. David Michaelis' "Mako" sealed his
Schock 35 win in a 7-boat fleet, and John Laun's "Caper" won a fierce
battle in the J/120 fleet in a tie-break. Geoff Longenecker returned to
racing with a bang, winning PHRF 3 by 10 points. And Ullman Sails powered a
clean sweep of the J/105 podium led by Gary Mozer's "Current Obsession 2".
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 Greg Fisher, Director of Sailing, College of Charleston:
Thank you for posting the 'Eight Bells' for Edgar Cato in Scuttlebutt 3372.
I met Edgar only once this winter at Carolina Yacht Club during a tribute
to him hosted by his longtime sailing team mates. It was obvious that the
friendships and relationships they all had developed over the many years of
racing together meant much more to him than all the regatta wins they had
accumulated (and that was quite an impressive list!).
Edgar was a gracious sportsman and he enjoyed all the right things that the
sport had to offer, and supported it in areas that meant the most to him.
The College of Charleston Hissar Sailing program (apply named for his many
Hissar boats) is one program that Edgar supported and we are forever
grateful for his enthusiasm. Because of his generosity, our program, like
Edgar's legacy, will remain strong and be able to offer many students the
continued opportunity to enjoy the sport just as Edgar had.
* From Mike Mergenthaler: (re, junior safety thread)
I'm a former member of Severn Sailing Association, have every confidence
the Jr Program will survive and thrive after this tragedy. Hal's statement
makes clear the Club has the leadership and dedication to pursue any
changes possible to improve safety.
As we all go to the "Fourth of July Regatta" held at every sailing club
around the country, I humbly suggest three things: a moment of silence for
Olivia Constants at the Skipper's Meeting; to not use this tragedy to scare
our children but as a teaching moment on safety; and to hug our Junior
sailors an extra time before pushing them off the dock.
* From David Elliott:
As a Canadian and a long-time follower of the America's Cup, I admit that I
am sensitive about the "Arm of the Sea" requirement, as it was added after
two very disappointing Canadian challenges based on the Great Lakes.
So I would like to remind those writers who feel that Alinghi's challenge
didn't meet this requirement, that the requirement was first relaxed in
1987 for Buddy Melges' Wisconsin-based challenge.
* From Tom Priest:
In the story 'Racing Solo For America' in Scuttlebutt 3373, Tim Zimmerman
said, "Brad van Liew deserves enormous credit and respect for flying the
flag over the past few years, and for being the one American to get to the
top of the podium in a major solo global race, albeit the increasingly lame
BOC/Around Alone/Velux 5 Oceans, and soon to be Purina Cat Chow Global
Cruise (kidding, but it feels like it's headed that way)."
WOW! That is a bit harsh! True, attendance may have been down...and the
world economy was certainly of no help...but the competitor's who DID show
up put their best foot forward and commentary like that is simply not fair.
Count the number of Mount Everest climbers and compare that to the number
of solo sailors who have circumnavigated..."If it was easy, everyone would
do it"...These people do not deserve to be described in such terms, as
their achievement is beyond reproach. The format (BOC/AA/Velux) may be
struggling (for now) but the competitors were NEVER 'cruising'.
* From Steve Reed:
Regarding real-time vs delayed position reporting in ocean races such as
the Transpac Race (as mentioned in Scuttlebutt 3373), I lost interest in
ocean racing because I could not see the competition. Would you enjoy buoy
racing with invisible opponents? Real-time position reporting might make
ocean racing fun again.
* From Andrew Troup:
"Many people find themselves on a boat that misses a few shifts and is
pretty far behind early in the race with a long way to go," notes Alan
Andrews' in Scuttlebutt 3373, arguing for a three hour delay at most before
position reports become public in the 2011 Transpac Race.
I wonder what's better: to try and decode the mystery for yourself at the
risk of stuffing it up, or to traipse along in the footsteps of the sport's
giants, forgoing the uncertainties attendant on trying to forge your own
path, and trading them away for a remarkably pallid alternative to
Isn't it the difficulty which makes the occasional success (relative to
expectations) truly rewarding? And given that sailing runs second only to
swimming as the slowest way to get across an ocean, what's so terrible
about being one of the less fast slowpokes?
Finally, anyone who makes the decision to demystify makes it on everyone's
behalf. It would be pretty artificial to pretend that demystification was
not a mouse click away.
* From Matthew Reid: (re, story in Scuttlebutt 3373)
I am really happy to see that Laird Hamilton is going to be part of the
Puma Team. He is by far, the definitive waterman and someone most surfers,
paddle-boaders, tow-in surfers, etc. aspire to. I have lived in Hawaii for
26 years now, and in the same way that sailing does, living in Hawaii has
given me a couple of chances to rub shoulders with a living legend.
Laird and others like him - Buzzy Kerbox, Mark Foo, Jose Angel, Eddie
Aikau, Nainoi Thompson, the Kealoha's, etc. - have all gone beyond what
people thought possible. I foresee great things for the Puma team,
especially now with Laird is 'at the helm' of fitness and nutrition.
Pomaika'i, Team Puma!
Man blames fate for other accidents, but feels personally responsible when
he makes a hole in one.
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