SCUTTLEBUTT 3543 - Thursday, March 8, 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: Ullman Sails and Atlantis WeatherGear.
PREPARING FOR THE UNKNOWN
While the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is descending south from
China to New Zealand, the 2008-9 edition made this leg over twice that
distance - 12,300 nm in length from Qingdao in China to Rio de Janeiro.
But in both instances, there was very little history of what lied ahead for
the racers as they left China. In an excerpt from Mark Chisnell's account
of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, 'Spanish Castle to White Night', he
describes how eventual winner Torben Grael and the Ericsson 4 team prepared
for the unknown.
If the previous race had broken new ground when it began in Spain, then the
2008-09 event really turned the format on its head, dropping the old
clipper ship trading route through the southern ocean, with stops in New
Zealand or Australia, in favour of sailing around the southern boundaries
Initially, the impact of the change was felt most dramatically by the
navigators and their support teams. In the case of Jules Salter, navigator
aboard Ericsson 4, that meant bespectacled American meteorologist (and
licensed pilot) Chris Bedford, and the Whitbread-winning New Zealand
navigator Mike Quilter. They had to research entirely new areas of the
planet; places that hadn't seen truly hard-pressed sailing boats since the
days of the square riggers.
Salter described the system that the team developed for planning each of
the race legs. It started with Chris Bedford's set of computer weather data
that went back 30 years. This could be modified to take account of the
varying influence of events like El Nino, which can have a dramatic impact
on the weather in the Pacific. Using this data, Bedford then developed a
set of three potential routes for each leg, each one being the fastest for
a common pattern of weather, e.g. low-pressure systems moving along a
particular path; a high pressure sitting in a regular position; and so on.
Meanwhile, armed with his own vast experience, Mike Quilter's task was to
research the non-computerised sources of sailing wisdom such as pilot
charts and the accounts of the old square-rigger voyages, bringing to the
table as much practical knowledge as possible. Then the team would discuss
the pros and cons of each of Bedford's route options, using Quilter's input
to look for things that the computer analysis might have missed: for
instance, the difference that a bad sea state might make. They would
gradually refine their knowledge of each of the options and its risks and
advantages in all the likely weather patterns.
Fifteen days before the start of each leg, Bedford would then begin to run
ensemble modelling. A computerised mathematical algorithm raced a virtual
Volvo Open 70 through the weather forecasts of several different
meteorological offices. The idea was to try and pick which of the three
route options was most likely to be appropriate at start time - a decision
usually made with a couple of days to go.
Then it was a process of gradually refining the detail of each part of the
plan: what angle to approach a weather system; where was the quickest point
to cross an area of light wind; and so on. Finally, when the gun went,
Salter was completely focused on the fine grain of the picture: what sail
and what compass course best executed the plan.
Ericsson 4 wasn't about to make a strategic blunder because of a lack of
preparation, and the process had worked demonstrably well for four legs.
The team had barely put a tactical foot in the wrong place, and sat atop
the leader board with a seven-point lead. The unique problem on Leg 5 was
the sheer scale of it. The three optimum routes were potentially a thousand
miles apart. Early decisions had to be made with absolutely no knowledge of
how the weather might eventually align to determine the outcome, because
the very best long-term forecasts only ran to seven days. Or, as Salter
subsequently put it in an email, "We're trying to line the boats up for
weather that hasn't even formed yet."
To relive the last edition of the race, 'Spanish Castle to White Night' is
now available in an eBook - available at all good eBook retailers, and for
the Kindle at Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/kindle-072811
MORE: Mark Chisnell has recently published his third novel for eReaders - '
The Fulcrum Files'. Author and Olympian Carol Cronin said that "anyone who
likes thrillers, historical fiction, or The Riddle of the Sands will enjoy
this book." Said Yachts and Yachting editor Gael Pawson, "Pacifism, class
discrimination, sailing, intrigue, romance, sailing... this has the
potential to be a real classic." Available at Amazon.com:
AMERICANS GIVETH - SPANISH TAKETH
(March 7, 2012; Day 17) - While the final stage of this leg of the Volvo
Ocean Race is far from over, the hopes of gaining points on overall leader
Telefonica got harder today as the Spanish team successfully consolidated
their westerly track to rise up to second position.
"Things have changed for the better over the last few days," explained
skipper Iker Martinez. "In the end the passage through the Solomon Islands
was quite a success and we were able to get past Abu Dhabi and to position
ourselves clearly ahead of Camper as well as moving in closer to Puma and
Groupama... What more can you ask for?"
If the question was posed to Puma skipper Ken Read, he would be asking for
some love. "We were cruising along minding our own business when on the
radar appears a blob of green the size of Texas," Read explained. "No way
around either of them. We were gobbled up twice over a 6-hour period. And,
we have the proof to show for it. Two scheds in a row that showed us
sailing about half the speed of our competitors, all because we were
drifting for a good chunk of that 6 hours...in pouring rain, in the middle
of a black night."
With a finish now not expected until Sunday, time will be short in Auckland
before the race schedule begins again on Friday (3/16) with the Pro-Am. "We
are already thinking of the stopover," admitted Martinez, "where it's
likely the boat will only be off the water for three days, so we need to
get the job list and the priorities in order beforehand so that when we
cross the finishing line the shore crew can get down to work straight away.
That way we can get the boat ready in just a few days of leg 5 which is
historically the toughest of the round the world regatta because of the
cold and the strong winds."
More from the skippers...
Iker Martinez: http://www.teamtelefonica.com/en/logbook
Ken Read: http://www.puma.com/sailing/news/3-hours-at-a-time
Leg 4 - Sanya, China to Auckland, NZL (5,220 nm)
Standings as of Thursday, 08 March 2012, 1:01:15 UTC
1. Groupama 4 (FRA), Frank Cammas (FRA), 586.5 nm Distance to Finish
2. Telefonica (ESP), Iker Martinez (ESP), 85.8 nm Distance to Lead
3. PUMA Ocean Racing (USA), Ken Read (USA), 114.3 nm DTL
4. CAMPER (NZL), Chris Nicholson (AUS), 150.5 nm DTL
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), Ian Walker (GBR), 243.8 nm DTL
6. Team Sanya (CHN), Mike Sanderson (NZL), 292.7 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 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. - http://www.volvooceanrace.com
ULLMAN SAILS EARLY SEASON TIP: CHECK YOUR SAILS!
The northern sailing season is getting ready to shift into high gear - days
are getting longer, boats are splashing back into the water and crews are
getting into shape. But have you checked the sails?! That forgotten tear
could turn into an ugly and expensive first hoist. So pull out your sails
and give them a thorough inspection long before the boat leaves the dock.
If you find something that needs attention, Ullman Sails provides
comprehensive sail care. We also help with inventory evaluations and
upgrades that can make the 2012 season a memorable one.
Invest in your performance. http://www.ullmansails.com
SEEKING TO SERVE ALL CLASS PARTICIPANTS
By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When I skippered in the 1994 Melges 24 U.S. Nationals on San Francisco Bay,
our second place finish at this high wind venue had little to do with
hiking. The gut-wrenching, lifeline hiking that now occurs in the class was
not yet in fashion. Thank goodness too, as my 63 year old foredeck/dad
would have had even less fun. He was already asking why the boat owner was
so far forward on the rail.
However, the Melges 24 class soon thereafter evolved with an emphasis on
athleticism, and hiking became hardcore. Lifelines were loosened, and gear
was developed to ease the stomach pain. Today, it is hard to find any
competitive keelboat racing where the crew isn't tucked between the upper
and lower lifelines, and stretched out for hiking leverage.
Being a railrider has become a test of endurance. Idle chatter had been
replaced with grunts and moans. But not everyone, at least in the Melges 24
class, was a fan of this new reality. When the 2011 World Championship was
held in Corpus Christi (TX), even the heartiest suffered as boats and
bodies dealt with the big wind and short chop. Some people avoided the
regatta altogether for health reasons.
To better serve all class participants, two rule changes were pushed
forward at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) last November. While the rules
are not yet confirmed, the purpose is to improve the overall enjoyment of
Melges 24 sailing:
Increasing Crew Weight
REASON: The class realise that the crew weight rule has not been working
effectively and that too many crews are sailing over the maximum weigh
having dipped for pre-race weighing. An increase in weight allows crews to
remain together even though they may have been over weight and random
weighing will ensure that dipping is no longer an option with points
penalties for breaking the rule.
Tightening the Lifelines
REASON: The class believes that the hiking methods used in the class have
become too extreme and wish to curb the excess practises. This rule should
achieve this whilst still allowing the boat to be a competitive and hard to
While it was anticipated that both rule changes would be in place for 2012,
it has now been decided that only the crew weight rule change is expected
to be put into force by 15 March. Further review is needed to determine the
new lifeline measurement, with a decision possible at the next
International Melges 24 Class Association World Council AGM on 24 November
Rule change submissions to ISAF: http://tinyurl.com/M24-030712
PRESERVING ONLINE EVENT INFORMATION
Scuttlebutt received a press release this week announcing that the website
of the 2012 A Class Catamaran World Championships has gone live. And then
our heart sank when we saw the web address:
Clearly, this website URL was bought specifically for the 2012
championship. And like we have droned on before about this subject, it is
likely this URL will disappear when the contract expires after the event.
As the release stated, this site will be the main link for the outside
world during the event "to follow all the action. Friends and family can
view daily video reports, interviews, a live on-water Tracking tool, and
Twitter feed." In short, the site will be a complete historical collection
of details for this event.
Since most event website URLs are bought by the local event host on a two
to three year contract, there is little motivation for them to be renewed
indefinitely. So when the contract expires, the links die and the
information is gone.
We don't mean to rip on the A Class, as this practice is very common. For
the future of the sport, we just wish there was a better way to preserve
online event information.
* The planning for twenty-fifth anniversary running of The Storm Trysail
Club Block Island Race Week (June 23-29), both on the water and ashore, is
well underway, but the organizers are asking for help to illustrate the
previous 24 race weeks. Any photo format from past events will do. Contact
Marcy Trenholm with the details of your historic material: email@example.com
* Miami, FL (March 7, 2012) - For the second day in a row, excessive winds
kept the fleet ashore at the 85th BACARDI Cup. Sailable conditions are
expected on Thursday, where the 67 registered Star teams will be joined by
the Viper 640, Audi Melges 20, Melges 24 and J/80 classes. Racing will
conclude for all classes on Saturday, March 10. Here are the results from
* St. Petersburg, FL (March 7, 2012) - After the 41 teams at the Thistle
Midwinter's East Championship had to stay ashore on Tuesday due to
excessive winds, better conditions today allowed for the completion of
three races. Paul Abdullah remains in the lead after pocketing a 6-1-3,
which has built a 10 point lead on Allan Terhune, Jr in second place.
Racing continues through March 9th. -- Results:
* The first Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Training Centre for RYA
Dinghy, Keelboat and Powerboat Courses was launched in Bermuda at the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club Sailing Academy. This is the first of its kind in the
North American, South American and Caribbean region to attain RYA Training
Centre status for the courses mentioned. The Royal Bermuda YC was founded
in 1844 and is one of the oldest Yacht Clubs in the World. Details:
* Charleston, SC (March 7, 2012) - The Maserati racing yacht departed
Charleston, South Carolina this morning at 1:30 a.m. local time heading
north to a weather system off the coast of North Carolina. The waypoint
they are sailing to appears to be prime for reaching maximum speed aboard
the high tech VO 70 which has been optimized for speed. The goal is to find
favorable winds and current to knock off more than 597 miles within a
24-hour period. -- Read on: http://www.oceanracing.org/?p=8278
DISCOVER: THE COOLEST BROTHER-SISTER ACT IN SAILING
As a Gold Partner and the Official Apparel Provider to the US Sailing Team,
we've had a front row seat watching the emergence of Paige and Zach Railey
onto the world sailing stage. Sure, they didn't just suddenly become good.
They've been excellent for years, but siblings gunning for gold in two
different classes? That's new. At Atlantis, we're really happy for Paige
and Zach, proud to support their mission and thrilled to have them wearing
our newest 2012 gear. Check them out at
Who says sailors can't be models?
Discover Life on the Water. Discover Your Atlantis.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO
When Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie (GBR) was disqualified from
the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship for "gross misconduct" in
December, it began a very public process of what occurs from a Rule 69
Following the incident, a report was sent per RRS 69.1(b)(2)(c) to the
national authority of the competitor (Great Britain), the host country of
the event (Australia), and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
Three months later, the process continues.
On February 10th, Great Britain announced they would not impose any
additional penalty. Less than a week later, Australia took a similar
position, stating that any further penalty should now be considered and
determined by ISAF. And that is now where the case still sits, with ISAF
ultimately to decide if Ainslie will be cleared to compete in the 2012
The ISAF Executive Committee began their review of the report during a mid
February meeting in Qatar, and according to a statement last week, "ISAF is
still considering the reports and once Ben Ainslie has been informed of the
outcome then a statement will be made."
The following sailors are published as having their ISAF Eligibility
suspended as a result of a Rule 69 violation:
Alberto Campos Perez, Mexico
Breaches of good manners and sportsmanship; May 7, 2011 - May 6, 2013
Maria del Mar Campos Perez, Mexico
Breaches of good manners and sportsmanship; May 7, 2011 - May 6, 2013
Andrejs Buls, Latvia
Breaches of good manners and sportsmanship; Aug. 2011 - Dec. 2012
Jeff Carter, Australia
Offense not listed; November 3, 2011 - November 2, 2013
Sam Price, Australia
Offense not listed; November 23, 2011 - November 22, 2012
Frank Bode, Germany
Breaches of good manners and sportsmanship; December 1, 2011 - December 31,
A competitor whose ISAF eligibility has been suspended or revoked shall not
engage in any competition in the sport of sailing.
Sailor list: http://www.sailing.org/sailors/suspended-sailors.php
ISAF Regulation, Rule 19: http://www.sailing.org/20162.php
CALENDAR OF MAJOR EVENTS (Sponsored by West Marine)
Is your event listed on the Scuttlebutt Event Calendar? This free,
self-serve tool is the easiest way to communicate to both sailors and
sailing media. These are some of the events listed on the calendar for this
Mar 8-11 - J/105 Mid Winter Championship - Seabrook, TX, USA
Mar 9-11 - Port of Los Angeles Harbor Cup - San Pedro, CA, USA
Mar 10-12 - Lightning Deep South - Savannah, GA, USA
View all the events at http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/calendar
INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES
The Industry News category of the Scuttlebutt Forum provides an opportunity
for companies to announce new products and services. Here are some of
* Atlantis WeatherGear launches new Spring 2012 line
* Kaenon Introduces Spring 2012 Polarized Sunglass Collection
* Body Glove Footwear - Water Shoe with Breakthrough Technology
View updates here: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/forum/industry_news
"I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be
left to the politicians." - Charles de Gaulle
SPONSORS THIS WEEK
APS - Gowrie Group - North U - Atlantis WeatherGear - Soft Deck
North Sails - JK3 Nautical Enterprises - Ullman Sails - The Pirates Lair
Need stuff? Look here: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/ssc/suppliers