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SCUTTLEBUTT 3441 - Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Scuttlebutt is published each weekday with the support of its sponsors,
providing a digest of major sailing news, commentary, opinions, features
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IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
Professional sports are played in stadiums. Boundaries intensify the
action. Rules govern the game, and referees insure the rules are followed.
While each sport is different, they all agree the referee is to be
respected. Any player disputing a call risks being removed from the game
and/or financially penalized.
Now that professional sailing has brought its sport into the stadium, it
was only a matter of time before the pressure to perform and the decisions
of an umpire resulted in ugliness. Here is a report by International Umpire
Jos Spijkerman, who was working at the Extreme Sailing Series Act 7 event
last week in France:
It was in Nice, but it wasn't nice anymore. I'm usually quit capable to
find the positive side of and event and write about that. The last couple
of days I wasn't able to do that, so to avoid writing something I would
regret later, I skipped posting altogether.
The wind in Nice was a deciding factor - or better said the lack of wind.
It frustrated sailors who felt it was "pot luck" on the short courses. It
frustrated the RC as they struggled to find reason in starting. It
frustrated the Organisers as they wanted to have some races for all the
VIP's that were invited.
In the morning we did some fairly decent races a little way from shore. In
the afternoon in front of the spectators and VIP tent it was bad. The
Extreme 40s struggled to get some speed, were very slow manoeuvrable and we
had multiple boat rounding's (and incidents) at marks. That cumulated in a
couple of very dubious manoeuvres by several boats. Almost as if they
deliberately were breaking the rules - something that is very hard to
And when we gave a penalty all their frustration came out - you guessed it
- against the umpires. I'm well aware that people need to vent their
emotions sometimes, but being called an idiot in a five minute rant is
un-acceptable. We were very close to getting out the black flag and
disqualifying boats. It didn't get any better in the next races.
It feels like all the effort we have spent to build up a relationship with
the sailors has been wiped away by this behaviour. The CU spoke with
several skippers but found them uncooperative and emotional. We will let
things cool off and pick this up in Almeria (Act 8) next week. But the
border has been reached. If this happens again, it will have consequences.
BACKGROUND: The Extreme Sailing Season is in its fifth season, with this
year's nine event tour travelling through Asia, Europe, and North America.
The platform used is the one design Extreme 40 catamaran, with the format
for event including 'stadium' short-course racing in front of the public.
The 2011 ESS has grown in part due to the multihull format planned for the
34th America's Cup in 2013. -- http://www.extremesailingseries.com/
(October 4, 2011; Day 10) - By Tuesday morning in the Global Ocean Race,
Ross and Campbell Field had cleared the African coast, taking their Class40
BSL 100 miles offshore as they preceded toward the leg 1 finish in Cape
Town. More importantly, however, the second placed team was now away from
the threat of fishing boats and entrapment in lines and nets.
"We've had a few more visits from inquisitive fishermen asking for
cigarettes," Campbell Field reports. "One of them was rather persistent, so
we readied ourselves for some potential evasive action, turning the phones
on and getting a couple of parachute flares at the ready." As the
father-and-son duo prepared to repel boarders, the fishermen reconsidered:
"Once they saw me below deck shuffling through bags, they cleared off, much
to our relief."
"We (also) ran into a long line," he explains. "We were both on deck and
had seen some lights going and thought that we were clear of the end of the
net, when all of a sudden our speed started slowly dropping. It was pitch
black so couldn't really see what was going on, but a torch over the side
showed a line towards the bottom of the keel." BSL suddenly slewed through
180 degrees, head to wind, and the spinnaker was quickly dropped. "Over the
horizon came the fishing boat flashing lights at us, so we yet again
readied ourselves for some action," Campbell recalls. "They made their way
down their line inspecting the floats, then came to us and although we were
expecting a pretty hostile reception, they spoke fantastic English, cut
their own line and cleared us."
Dressed in jeans and leather jackets, the three fishermen politely
enquired where the two white sailors were from and a relaxed dialogue, 35
miles off the coast of Africa, began: "I asked them if they had caught any
fish tonight: 'only one big one' was the response with a smile," says
Campbell. "They asked if we had any whisky for them, I could only
apologise, and they said 'no worries,' and wished us a safe journey before
they puttered off into the night."
BSL continued south-west throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning in
north-easterly breeze, skirting the intensely busy area of shipping around
Mauritania's main port, Nouadhibo; a notorious graveyard of rotting hulks,
cannibalised ships and a staging post for international fishing vessels.
"Observations today were of large areas of oil slicks," noted Campbell
Field on Tuesday morning as BSL sailed through an international fishing
fleet of ships flagged in Panama, Poland, Lithuania, Belize and Japan.
"It's heavy oil I can only assume comes from the huge Russian fishing boats
clearing the oceans up this coast," he predicts. "We passed eight of them
today ploughing up and down the depth contours." -- Full story:
BACKGROUND: Six double-handed Class40's are competing in the Global Ocean
Race 2011-12 (GOR), which started in Palma, Mallorca on September 25th with
an expected finish in Mallorca by May 2012. There are five legs to the
30,000 nm course with stops in Cape Town, South Africa; Wellington, New
Zealand; Punta del Este, Uruguay and Charleston, USA. --
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Who is the only person to skipper an entry in five Whitbread Round the
BERMUDA BEGINS WITH A WHIMPER
Hamilton, Bermuda (October 4, 2011) - ISAF Match Racing World Championship
contenders Jesper Radich, Bjorn Hansen and Francesco Bruni all won their
first matches of the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup on what proved to be a
frustrating opening day of racing in Bermuda.
Despite the promise of wind in Hamilton Harbour, the breeze failed to
arrive and settle. If there was already increased pressure to qualify for
the knock-out stages here in Bermuda, the light winds could yet add to it.
With a tight schedule involving 24 teams, every postponement brings the
increased chance of a shortened schedule when tie-break situations become
more probable - suddenly every race has an even greater significance.
Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing, who lost his opening match against
Bjorn Hansen (DEN) Mekonomen Sailing Team, said: "It gets a bit frustrating
not being able to race and it's especially hard for the teams in group one
as we don't have the chance to watch the others and see how they're
performing. With such little racing happening today, it puts a lot more
emphasis on doing well in each of your early races."
The prospect of a shortened schedule is a long way off and with winds
expected to build over the course of the week to over 30 knots by Friday,
the fleet of IODs will soon be in action. The top eight teams amid the
three groups advance to the quarterfinals.
Current Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo
Group, knows only too well that there is the very real prospect of a
Championship challenger being eliminated altogether before the knock-out
stages. In 2010, Williams himself was eliminated after a three way
tie-break with Adam Minoprio and eventual winner Ben Ainslie. This year
though, he feels the pressure is off his shoulders as his consistently
strong performances this season means he will have five high points scores
to calculate his overall Championship total going into the Monsoon Cup
regardless of his performance in Bermuda.
"We are looking forward to seeing the results from here as it's an easy
event to get sent home from after the first stage," said Williams. "We are
in the enviable position that if we bomb out we are still in good shape on
the Tour but our closest rivals need good results so the pressure is really
on them." -- Read on: http://tinyurl.com/WMRT-100411
BACKGROUND: The World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the leading professional
sailing series, with Argo Group Gold Cup as the seventh stage of the eight
event circuit sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF)
with "Special Event" status. Prize money is awarded for each event, with
event points culminating in the crowning of the "ISAF Match Racing World
Champion". -- http://www.wmrt.com
LASER CLASS GETTING READY TO COME OUT
By Clay Johnson, U.S. Olympic campaigner
I've just returned home after three fantastic weeks of training in San
Francisco. While out there, I was also able to meet up with Tracy Usher,
the President of the North American Laser Class Association. For those who
don't know, the Laser class is currently in the process of coming out with
a new sail and composite top section. Tracy had prototypes of both at his
disposal and allowed us to try them out for a few days.
In my opinion, both the sail and the new top section are "no brainers" for
the long-term success of the Laser. The sail is made from 4.5 ounce cloth
(an upgrade from the 3.8 ounce cloth that we currently have) and is radial
cut. It has a bigger window at the bottom to make vision on the course
easier. It's also much more aesthetically pleasing (ie, there are no ugly
wrinkles between the joint of the top/bottom section and the end of the
We tested two sails while out there: one new one and one that had over 150
days of sailing on it! It was incredible to see that the new sail and the
old one both looked and performed similarly. Most importantly, though, I
think the sail was very comparable speed wise to the old one. It'd be
interesting to try it more in a variety of conditions, but in general it
was pretty even in the conditions we were training in.
The top section is amazing. It weighs the same as a current top section
and has the same bend characteristics, but is made of carbon fiber instead
of aluminum. Everything is the same except that it does not stay bent at
the end of the day! When this top section becomes approved, you will no
longer see people trying to straighten their mast after a windy day; people
won't have to twist their spars precisely to line up the rivets (there are
no rivets with the carbon fiber spar because the collar is epoxied on), and
you won't have to purchase a new top section every other regatta!
During our training, we rotated the spar around to a few different sailors
to try out, and they all said that they didn't notice any difference in
performance. More importantly, our coach said that he couldn't even tell
who had the spar and who didn't when looking at our rigs on the water.
This thing is LEGIT! -- Full report: http://www.claysails.com/node/392
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* (October 4, 2011) - Britain's Tony Langley and his core crew of
Gladiator, complemented this week by American tactician Chris Larson and
Spanish navigator Nacho Postigo, bolted together two excellent races in
very light, streaky winds to lead the Audi TP52 World Championship off
Porto Cervo's Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Sardinia on after the first day of
racing. In second is defending world champion Quantum Racing (USA), tied on
points with Gladiator. -- Full story:
* Yachting World magazine is asking for their active readers attending the
US Sailboat Show in Annapolis (Oct. 6-10) to participate in one of several
reader feedback sessions they are conducting at the show. This would take
about an hour and a half of your time and they will provide refreshments
and two complimentary tickets to the show for each participant. If you are
a regular purchaser of Yachting World magazine and would like to sign up or
learn more, contact Richard Shead at firstname.lastname@example.org
* The number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia has increased, and
NATO is warning that pirates are once again ready to attack ships traveling
through the Indian Ocean. "In the last few years it has been the case that,
come October, when the South West monsoon weakens, the pirates have been
able to put to sea and we have seen the number of attacks on merchant
vessels increase," Rear Adm. Hank Ort said in a statement. -- Soundings,
read on: http://tinyurl.com/TOT-100411
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Swiss sailor Pierre Fehlmann is the only person to skipper an entry in five
Whitbread Round the World Races. A co-founder of the Swiss Ocean Racing
Club, in each of his five races his crew was made up entirely of Swiss
nationals. He established the Swiss shipyard Decision SA in order to build
UBS Switzerland, the first maxi yacht to be built in composite in the
country. -- Full report: http://tinyurl.com/VOR-100411
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 Dennis Toews Oakville, ONT:
When the Rotary Mobility Cup was being held at the Royal Hamilton Yacht
Club, Hamilton, Ontario. I visited as a spectator every day. It was my good
fortune that a longtime sailing friend John Muir introduced me to Nichole
(who was featured in Scuttlebutt 3440).
In my sailing career around the world and at four Olympics, I must say that
Nichole's attitude and her quick study of our sport "blew me away".
With the ready smile, the joyous laugh, the thrill of competition, she
epitomized everything that should be at the core of our being... not only
in sailing but in our everyday lives!
The culture of our sport has changed; I leave it to the reader to render
their opinion on its direction. For myself I hope that the spirit Nichole
exudes will have a prominent place.
* From David Sprague, Toronto, Ontario:
Regarding the Seahorse column and Scuttlebutt editor's comments on the
"Medal Race" Venue in Issue 3438, the Olympics are "THE SHOW" for sailing
once every four years. The IOC pays ISAF about $7-8 million every quad to
manage the Sailing part of the Olympics, the Government and or sponsors in
most Countries give money to their sailors directly or indirectly to
promote their agenda. The money keeps flowing (and it is never enough for
What the IOC wants is eyeballs to watch the events so their media rights
are worth more. That means upsets, stories of courage, heartbreak and joy,
live and on TV. What better way to showcase that than take the top 10 in
the world after the fleet racing, where the chance element is very reduced,
and see how they do in a different location where people are close and fate
It is not what most of us do or want for our own racing, but it does
reflect the interests of the people paying for the regatta. Athletes and
MNA's have to accept when they take the money, they take the conditions
imposed to meet the sponsors' needs. Look at beach volleyball or the 4
snow boarders racing together at the Olympics, that is not how those basic
sports started out but they do attract audiences for the IOC.
* From D.D. McNicoll, Australia:
Should Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts and their friends want to see just
what is missing from their Grand Prix-style America's Cup, they should find
a television network screening the Rugby World Cup now being played in New
Countries from around the world (Italy, Argentina, Samoa, Scotland, USA --
just to name a few) played a series of elimination matches before sell-out
stadiums. Because it was country versus country, the stands were full of
screaming fans bedecked in the colours and outfits of their nations. The
cheering never stopped.
The USA team, The Eagles, was eliminated in the opening rounds but that was
hardly surprising as it was a team of mostly amateurs playing against
hardened professionals from countries such as England, South Africa, France
and New Zealand. Every time they played the stands were full of people
draped in the Stars and Stripes and dressed in Uncle Sam outfits of every
kind. Television showed fans openly weeping as The Star Spangled Banner was
played before the games started.
The Eagles may have lost; but they played with a passion that can only come
from representing your country. They were given standing ovations, by fans
from both sides, as they left the field after every game. What a pity this
passion has been removed from The America's Cup and replaced with a lust
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