SCUTTLEBUTT 3517 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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: North Sails, North U., and Z Blok.
LIVING IN LIMBO
Ben Ainslie dangles his legs over the side of Lymington harbour, looks out
beyond the bobbing boats to sea, and shakes his head at a predicament he
finds himself in which, on reflection, is too ludicrous to imagine.
He has just returned from Perth where he, of all people, was disqualified
from yet another world championships he was poised to win after diving off
his boat and boarding a TV vessel to remonstrate with a camera crew that
had repeatedly interfered with the racing.
Villified in some quarters for this uncharacteristic loss of self-control,
an apologetic Ainslie still faces a Royal Yacht Association inquiry to be
staged by the end of February at the latest which is likely to result with
a verbal slap or fine, although within the remit of sanctions the absolute
extreme is a ban that would remove his 2012 Olympic dream.
It would be incredible if it came to this and all sources suggest that
final measures will be a great deal less draconian but, even so, it is an
incident that has left an indelible mark on the usually unflappable,
three-time Olympic champion, and one that keeps him lying awake at night.
"Look, what happened with that TV boat and that same crew had happened all
year and at Perth it became the worst situation I'd ever known in all my
time in sailing," he explains. "It tipped me over the edge. There's no
other way of saying it. I just lost it.
"The alarm bells rang the moment I stepped on to their boat. A voice in my
head said: "What the hell are you doing? You shouldn't be on this boat."
That's why I was on and off in just a few seconds. Clearly something was
very wrong but I accept I let myself down."
Ainslie led by eight points with just one race remaining. He had one hand
on a seventh world title but this was taken away from the best sailor in
the world who was told he had brought the sport of sailing into disrepute
(Note: The International Jury issued Ben with non-excludable
disqualifications in the final two races for gross misconduct.)
"Losing that world title really pissed me off. It was the worst moment of
my career. What was equally as disappointing was the response in certain
quarters. I didn't expect the character assassination. I've apologised, the
TV crew have also apologised, I've lost a world title which is no small
thing, so I hope that's the end of it and we can all move on.
"It's certainly been a cleansing process. When you're down you discover who
gives you a good kick and who provides the hand to lift you back up. It's
been a very difficult time for me. I have to go back a long way in my life
to match such testing times. I'll admit I've slept better than in the past
Is he nervous about the action, if any, still to be taken against him? "I
hope everyone will consider what I've done in sailing, that I apologised
and that a probable world title was taken away from me, but until the
matter is officially closed it's always a worry." -- Read on:
FACTS FOUND: The findings and decision of the International Jury from the
incident are posted here: http://www.sailing.org/37518.php
COMMENT: When the RYA considers Ben's actions to determine if further
sanctions are required, I will be curious if they give any weight to his
defense of how a "probable world title was taken away" from him. Should
this matter? Yes, the TV crew was too close, but is it more permissible to
aggressively jump on their boat and grab the driver during a world
championship than if it was a club championship? How do others feel about
this? - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
NORTH SAILS PRESENTS 'STARS & STRIPES' 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
North Sails is proud to present 'Stars & Stripes 25th Anniversary America's
Cup Special' which will air on ESPN Classic this Saturday, February 4th at
2am, 12pm & 7pm ET. Featuring new interview footage with Dennis Conner, Tom
Whidden, Jon Wright and Malin Burnham, you will relive an amazing comeback
story in this one-hour special. The STARS & STRIPES team reclaimed the Cup
in Fremantle, Australia in 1987 by winning four straight, making Conner and
his crew national heroes. Hosted by Gary Jobson and Jim Kelly, don't miss
hearing Dennis Conner talk about his experience 25 years later. For more
information, visit: http://na.northsails.com
A LONG WEATHER LEG TO CHINA
(January 30, 2012; Day 9) - This afternoon Team Telefonica led the Volvo
Ocean Race fleet out of the Singapore Strait and into the South China Sea
where the fleet face more than 1000 nautical miles of tough upwind sailing
to the Leg 3 finish in Sanya, China.
While Abu Dhabi and Camper suffered tactical heartbreak in the Malacca
Strait, for PUMA it has has been the water obstacles. After hitting debris
at the entrance of the channel, they snagged a submerged net on their final
day that cost them a good hour of progress and about 10 on the charts.
As the fleet enters the China Sea, race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said
they will now likely experience a northeasterly monsoon wind of about 10-15
knots until they round an archipelago including Rigan, Nunsa and Selia
islands Tuesday morning.
Infante predicted the going would get tough as the teams trek north towards
the Vietnam coast with a building monsoon surge generating strong winds and
a four to five metre swell.
"It is very going to be very rough racing with gale force winds predicted
and a very rough sea state building,'' he said. "The sailors will have to
try to slow their boats down to try not to break anything. Anything can
Team Telefonica watch captain Neal McDonald said the crew had been awake
for 20 hours in the past 24 and completed as many as 12 gybe maneuvers in
one hour as they negotiated the exit from the strait and defended attacks
from competitors. The promise of open water and upwind conditions was
proving motivating for the team, McDonald said.
"It's quite intense, you can make a mistake so easily and it could cost
miles,'' McDonald said of the Malacca and Singapore straits. "There is a
lot of pressure to keep pushing the boat hard and make sure you do the
right thing all the time. We're getting a little excited about getting out
of here and getting into some straight forward sailing."
A faster than expected passage through the Malacca Strait has seen the
estimated finishing time for the leading boats to now be around February 4.
-- Event media
Leg 3 (4,600nm) - Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China
Standings as of Tuesday, 31 January 2012, 1:04:59 UTC
1. Telefonica (ESP), Iker Martinez (ESP), 1010.0 nm Distance to Finish
2. Groupama (FRA), Frank Cammas (FRA), 3.7 nm Distance to Lead
3. PUMA Ocean Racing (USA), Ken Read (USA), 5.0 nm DTL
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), Ian Walker (GBR), 16.8 nm DTL
5. CAMPER (NZL), Chris Nicholson (AUS), 16.9 nm DTL
6. Team Sanya (CHN), Mike Sanderson (NZL), 157.1 nm DTL
Video reports: http://www.youtube.com/user/volvooceanracevideos
Race schedule: http://tinyurl.com/VOR-2011-12-schedule
BACKGROUND: During the nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race, which started
in Alicante, Spain (Oct. 29) and concludes in Galway, Ireland during early
July 2012, six professional teams sailing Volvo Open 70s will sail over
39,000 nautical miles around the world via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya,
Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajai, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient. Teams
accumulate points through nine distance legs and ten In-Port races. -
THE THRASH TO THE ONION PATCH
By John Rousmaniere
After several days of banging into it, you're feeling a little weary and a
trifle sore. Then Gibbs Hill Lighthouse rises above the blue-green sea,
and, almost tasting the rum punch, you sail a little harder. You're almost
there, at Bermuda.
I've raced to Bermuda nine times and written the race's history (A Berth to
Bermuda), and there are very few tests of blue-water seamanship as iconic,
popular, and accessible as the 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race (this year on
One of few races sailed almost entirely out of sight of land, it was
founded in 1906 as a bold challenge to traditional notions of who should go
to sea in what vessels. Thomas Fleming Day, the visionary founder, was
convinced that blue water is a suitable playground for amateur sailors in
Drifting around in a bay or harbor "will never do for those that have the
love of the great ocean planted deep within their hearts," Day declared.
"Sailors wanted to get a smell of the sea and forget for the time being
that there is such a thing as God's green earth in the universe."
Skeptics predicted those first Bermuda racers wouldn't make it to the
finish. It was even rumored that funeral wreaths were delivered to the
fleet so the sailors would be prepared to make a decent burial at sea. That
didn't scare three crews from starting, or discourage Thora Lund Robinson
from being the first of many women to race to Bermuda.
In 47 races, only two boats have been lost - one in a fire, the other
running aground on Bermuda's reef. Yet the race is a test, and safety rules
have always been enforced. Every crew is evaluated, every boat is inspected
- first-timers (who make up one-quarter of the fleet) and old-timers alike.
Typically, after the start you beat away from Newport into a damp, chilly
first night. On Day 2 the air and water temperature rise into the 70s and
higher, the sea roughens, and you come under the command of your new lord
and master, the Gulf Stream. The race makes good on its nickname, "The
Thrash to the Onion Patch." There are squalls. Reefs are tied in. Sailors
get a little damp or very damp, depending on their duties and positions. --
Read on: http://tinyurl.com/BR-013012
TEXAS, CONNECTICUT, CALIFORNIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA ....
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AS ACTIVE AS EVER
The San Francisco Bay racing scene has learned that a weekend regatta with
perfectly orchestrated windward-leeward race courses may not be the perfect
booby-trap to snare large fleets. The Single Handed Sailing Society has
found its Three Bridge Fiasco race to be just the tonic needed to make it
the largest event of the season.
If you are unfamiliar with the race, its premise is simple. Take one
start/finish line, have three marks located near the SF Bay's three
centrally located bridges, and allow the fleet to choose the order and in
which direction they will round them. This 21-mile reverse start (pursuit)
race hosted 334 singlehanded and doublehanded boats this past Saturday.
The Single Handed Sailing Society originally had only a handful of takers
the first time around and the idea of fiasco was quite contained compared
to numbers of entrants in recent years. But that was then, and this is now.
The race is open to monohlls and multihulls of at least 19-feet, and
permits self-steering gear and stored power devices.
With no college football to compete against, and Northern California's
light winter winds perfect for short-handed sailing, the concept continues
to show that on any given day, the sport of sailing can prove to be as
active as ever.
Race story/photos/results: http://tinyurl.com/PD-013012
* Australian teenage sailing star Tess Lloyd is making excellent progress
in hospital after fears she may have suffered permanent brain damage during
a crash at the national youth sailing championships off Brisbane. Lloyd,
16, one of the nation's brightest young sailing prospects, was skippering a
two-man 29er skiff on January 10 when a sailboarder hit her vessel,
knocking her unconscious. The Melbourne-based sailor was rushed to hospital
in an induced coma, with swelling around the brain and fluid on her lungs.
Lloyd is now fully awake, speaking well and performing physical tasks. --
Read on: http://tinyurl.com/NewsNine-013012
* Sail Newport's 2012 Brooke Gonzalez Advanced Racing Clinic will be held
for the 11th year on June 14-17. Applicants 14 - 18 years of age are
selected based upon their resume. This is a very intense, high level
program. Participation will be limited. Selection is by application and
acceptance only. This clinic is held in Laser Full Rig, Laser Radial,
International 420's, and Club 420's. The 2012 clinic will be held one week
prior to the America's Cup World Series, taking place at Sail Newport as
well. -- Details:
* The berthing rates are now published for Weymouth Harbour during the
Olympics. Vessels up to 15-metres (49-foot) long will be charged 18 pounds
(28.2659 USD) per metre per 24 hours while the Games are on from July 26 to
August 12. This works out to be 164 pounds (257.550 USD) for a 30-foot
yacht for a 24-hour stay. -- Practical Boat Owner, full report:
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FROM VOLVO 70S TO 49ERS, WINNERS HAVE Z BLOK ON BOARD
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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 Paul Henderson:
To my old friend Rodney Pattisson, you state (in Scuttlebutt 3516) that the
ridiculous Medal Race that is now part of the Olympic sailing event was the
concept of "ISAF's previous president". Well, I was the "previous
president" and it would never have happened under my watch.
The idea of the Medal Race happened under the current regime over the last
eight years as a knee-jerk reaction to the pressure of getting additional
television exposure - something that Olympics Sailing will never get.
The motivation for increasing the television appeal comes from the
misguided notion that Sailing would be kicked out of the Olympics. But to
have this happen, 50% of the 120 IOC members must vote to eliminate our
sport, and in all such votes sailing has never received less than 75% of
the vote. So it is a mystery why ISAF insists on prostituting the sport,
particularly since Sailing is one of the top sports on the internet.
The Medal Race has caused a major disservice to our beloved sport. At a
regatta like the Rolex Miami OCR, a participant pays the entry fee to race
all six days. But if you do not make the top ten after five days, you are
eliminated as only the top ten sail in the Medal Race on the final day. As
a result, people leave the event, with no one left to cheer for the
I remember sailing FD's against Ted Turner, when at the end of one
particular regatta we were standing around the boat park and someone
suggested we go out to a nice restaurant instead of attending the trophy
banquet. After considering the idea, Terrible Ted responded with his usual
southern drawl: "I'm goin' to the banquet because somebody has to cheer!"
And we all went to support the winners.
The integrity of our sport has been diminished by these unfortunate
decisions and on that I fully agree with Rodney.
* From Barrie Harmsworth:
There seems to be a sense amongst some sailors, not all, that ISAF is a
mythical sea creature like the Krakin. ISAF is made up of Member National
Authorities, many of whom like the RYA from Rodney Pattisson's country were
and still are strong supporters of the current Olympic format. So were most
of the Olympic classes.
The relationship between ISAF and the IOC is very complex, and the medal
race was not a matter of curtseying to the whims of the IOC but a long
negotiation between the ISAF Olympic classes, the Events Committee and the
Council. It was intended to give the sailors much needed recognition as
well as meet some, not all, of the wishes of the IOC.
Whilst much of what ISAF does and doesn't do deserves criticism, it makes a
lot more sense if those who criticise inform themselves first.
* From Mark Eustis:
Noting your lead story in Scuttlebutt 3516, there are instances when
bureaucratic inertia can be harnessed; this is one of them.
The National Defense Authorization Act, effective December 31, 2011,
requires the US Department of Defense study the potential negative impact
of LightSquared on their use of GPS. This report, which is required to
describe mitigation strategies to overcome negative issues, is required
before FCC may continue the licensing process. As it happens, the DoD
released a "preliminary finding" almost immediately after the bill was
signed that confirmed LightSquared operations will interfere with their use
So now we're into the study phase (.if it ever goes that far). Should
LightSquared continue its pursuit, the DoD is required to commission a
technical, economical, and programmatic study that determines methods to
overcome the issues. The study must develop an estimate of cost to
retro-fit the existing GPS systems in use across the DoD enterprise,
determine other economic/ technical alternatives, and to recommend future
changes to adjust for the presence of LightSquared. This could require
*years* of analysis before a definitive recommendation can be made.
In this case, it appears studying a problem to death is actually a rather
* From John J. Ford:
After reading Ritchie MacDonald's comments in Scuttlebutt #3516, I felt
compelled to respond. I don't know if it is a case of misery loves company,
but I agree wholeheartedly with his analysis of all professional sports.
During my youth, the pros in sport were not only admired for their natural
born skills, they would also inspire a strong desire "to be like them".
Brains and brawn would coalesce into pure competition. No electronics,
drugs, steroids or outlandish compensation packages. Pimping was restricted
to a singular pastime not considered to fall under the heading of sport.
Now it seems that in my more mature status, I find myself comfortably
identifying with people like Ritchie MacDonald.
I am not sure exactly just when pro sports morphed into ENTERTAINMENT, but
a close examination into the science of marketing would yield a close
approximation. The almighty buck has soured the professional level of
sports for me. Change is inevitable and sometimes the result of that change
is positive. The professionalization of sports has in my estimation, gone
too far and you are now seeing a plastic enthusiasm displayed by throngs
individuals who think it is cool to parade as fanatics of their chosen
I use to avidly follow the America's Cup with tremendous interest, but
can't even get a little bit interested anymore. I think I'll go for a sail.
If you don't like my standards of cooking... lower your standards.
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