SCUTTLEBUTT 3664 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012
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Today's sponsors: Gowrie Group, North Sails, and KO Sailing.
"WE SHOULD DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS FUN"
It's an occasional rant fueled by the editorial staff at Scuttlebutt that
our sport suffers from its pursuit of the perfect race course. This quest
has delivered us to the Windward-Leeward course where we now fear to leave.
While the sausage course does prove to provide a quality test of skill, it
does not leave much to the imagination. And without some variety, in our
humble opinion, our sport becomes stale.
So it was with excitement that we received this correspondence distributed
to college sailors and race managers by Ken Legler, long time sailing coach
at Tufts University and principle race officer extraordinaire. Read on...
After running this idea by a number of agreeable people, here is an idea
worth trying. At any event other than championships and intersectionals,
make one race per division a longer race with some interesting legs. Such
courses could include a long windward leg or long reach leg to create a
more interesting race. Here are some possible examples depending upon wind
direction and strength:
Maine Maritime: a long downwind leg around the rotation dock.
Bowdoin: a long beat out toward the ocean and back.
Vermont: a long leg out into the middle of Lake Champlain.
Tufts: zig-zag reaches in heavy air.
MIT or Harvard: a bridge to bridge leg.
Roger Williams: a course through the bridge at slack tide.
Salve Regina: lots of possibilities.
Yale: out into the Sound or up the shoreline and back.
Fordham: part way across to Long Island and back.
Navy: up to the Severn River bridge in a NW or SE wind.
St. Marys: going well up river or down river.
Old Dominion: a giant triangle.
Charleston: under the bridge at slack tide.
On a river: a really long W-L if winds parallel the river; a wide butterfly
course in cross winds with three shorts beats and two long reaches.
At any site: the usual W-L but then turning toward the rotation site and
going as far as a fair wind allows.
And so on, you get the idea. Yes, it should count. Reaching on a long leg
is a good test of sailing skill, not a parade. Most important, we should do
this because it is fun. It is also a challenge for the race committee to
pick a great course and diagram it in the morning so sailors can figure it
out without any confusion. It is also a challenge to pick a course that is
fair, challenging and about 20-30 minutes long instead of the exact same
standard W-L of 15-18 minutes every single race at every single regatta.
In short, setting and sailing long reaches is becoming a lost skill. Racing
on a long reach once in awhile can be really challenging and fun in any
wind speed. There is some reaching in the Olympics and plenty in distance
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In Scuttlebutt 3663, Derek Bower asked of those who question the wearing of
a life preserver while sailing: How long can you tread water? When wearing
sea boots and foul weather gear, he said the answer is not very long,
though the good thing is it only takes 5 minutes to drown.
This prompted two interesting reader responses...
* From Rich Hayes:
If you fall overboard in sea boots and foul weather gear, don't try to
tread water. Turn onto your back and float; you are more buoyant than you
* From Roger Marshall:
The things I learned, while jumping into the ocean during the research for
my book, Rough Weather Seamanship, are:
1. You can't swim in a lifejacket unless you are good at backstroke. The
Coast Guard suggests you lie on your back and wait to be rescued. Not an
approach for a self-reliant sailor. A half-inflated lifejacket allows you
to swim breast stroke. I use a Stormy Seas vest/jacket for precisely this
2. Getting back onboard is a lot harder than virtually anybody realizes.
All my cruising designs now feature steps on the transom to facilitate
getting back aboard. Unless you have amazing arm strength, you cannot pull
yourself back aboard without help wearing a lifejacket and wet clothes.
3. You can't get into a liferaft wearing a lifejacket without help. I
tried, hard. I figured the easiest way is to semi-deflate the lifejacket
(not to be recommended) and kick hard to slide into the liferaft.
4. Liferafts turn over easily when you try to get into them.
5. It is very hard to see anybody in the water. If you drop anybody over
the side, leave a debris trail - cushions and anything that will float.
This serves two purposes. It gives the MOB something to swim toward and it
gives the boat a trail to the MOB. Plus it shows the helmsman where the
debris and the swimmer might have been carried by wind and current.
6. If you put on a survival suit and go into the water, getting out
requires a crane or ladder. The suit is super heavy when it is waterlogged
and it takes a strong person to climb out of the water.
7. Finally, wear a harness but you need a quick release. We found that a
swimmer towed at more than 4 knots could not keep their head above water
and would drown if the boat was not slowed down.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULES IS ESSENTIAL
By Jordan Spencer, Australian Sailing + Yachting
Sailing is a unique sport, in that generally, we are self regulating. Of
course there is on-water umpiring, but at most events participants rely on
their competitors to act fairly and if they don't, we can protest them.
However, this system can cause frustration. Some push the rules, relying on
peoples' lack of desire to go to the room. Others insist on enforcing the
rules no matter what, causing frustration because of a lack of common
So let me lay it out nice and simply.
First read your rules - people are still out there calling mast abeam.
There are only 23 rules that affect the interaction of boats whilst racing.
That's about six pages and it will take you 15 minutes to read them.
However, you must read the definitions and you must read the pre-amble for
each section which tells you when each set of rules apply.
Second, plan ahead! This is all part of race management. Racing requires a
focus on what is happening now, (the micro) and what will happen in the
future, (the macro). By planning ahead, you can recognise potential threats
and plan to avoid them, because avoiding them is always faster than forcing
Avoiding an incident can be as simple as communicating with a competitor
ahead of time. If you receive a negative response, it gives you a chance to
eyeball a witness should your competitor try their luck.
Third, don't force a rule just because it is there. Just because you have
rights doesn't mean you will benefit from using them. -- Read on:
The local Bermuda sailing community is mourning the death of pioneer sailor
Howard Lee, 77, who passed away earlier last week after a long bout with
illness. During a distinguished career, Lee set the benchmark for black
sailors to strive for after representing Bermuda in the Finn dinghy at the
1976 Montreal Games.
"Representing your country is one of the greatest things a man can ever get
involved in because first of all you have to fight to get there," Lee told
The Royal Gazette during an interview in 2006. "When I got to the Olympics
and walked into that big arena it was a hell of an experience for me.
Travelling overseas to compete in the Finn class enabled me to broaden my
horizons and experience many wonderful things."
Lee's success inspired other black sailors such as Glenn Astwood to take to
the sport. Astwood later went on to represent Bermuda at the 1988 Olympic
Games in Seoul, Korea in the Tornado catamaran. "I am so sorry to hear that
Howard has passed because we always used to chat whenever I saw him whether
it be at the yacht club or in the street," he added.
Alan Burland, who also represented Bermuda at the Olympics in the Tornado,
described Lee as a good sailor and wonderful ambassador for Bermuda. "I had
an awful amount of respect for Howard Lee who was a tremendous man," he
said. "He was a hard worker in an era when things were not easy for blacks
in the sailing world. -- Full story:
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* (August 27, 2012) - Tropical Storm Isaac is gaining strength as it gets
closer to predicted landfall along the northern Gulf Coast. The National
Hurricane Center reported Isaac's top sustained winds had reached 70 mph,
up from about 65 mph the evening before, and nearing the strength of a
Category 1 hurricane (74 mph). A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan
City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line. Isaac was expected to make landfall
as early as Tuesday, possibly in Louisiana south of New Orleans. A state of
emergency has been declared in Louisiana to prepare for Isaac. -- Full
* Detroit, MI (August 26, 2012) - In an exciting first-to-three point
Final, Josh Junior and his team of Matt Steven and James Sandall won the
Detroit Cup, second stop on the ISAF Grade 2 US Grand Slam Series. The
Wellington, New Zealand-based team defeated runner-up Taylor Canfield
(USVI) only in the fifth and final match after first leading 2-0 in the
series. In Petit Final action, David Gilmour from Australia beat American
Stephanie Roble. -- Full report:
* San Francisco, CA (August 26, 2012) - Twenty teams competed at the 2012
Melges 24 North American Championship, all getting an early look at the
venue for the 2013 World Championship. Winning with a race to spare was
Warwick Rooklyn and his team from Australia sailing Bandit of tactician
Jeremy Wilmot, bow Daniel Nixon, spinnaker trimmer Doug McGain and jib
trimmer Sean O'Rourk. In second was Australian Nathan Wilmot helming Embarr
for Ireland's Connor Clarke with Alan Field (USA) on WTF in third. -- Full
* Hyannis Port, MA (August 26, 2012) - 2004 Athens Olympian Carol Cronin
and her crew Kim Couranz from Jamestown, RI dominated a fleet of 20 teams
to win the 2012 Snipe Women's U.S. National Championship. In 9 races over
three days, they finished with 7 firsts, a seventh and a third. Cronin and
Couranz have now qualified for the Western Hemisphere and Orient
Championship to be held in Argentina in November. -- Full report:
* White Lake, MI (August 26, 2012) - Jamie Kimball won one of the largest
U.S. one-design championships of 2012 sailing season when he conquered the
94-boat MC Scow National Championship. At an event where consistency was a
challenge, Kimball was so solid that he won with a race to spare. In second
was Bill Colburn with Andy Burdick in third. -- Full report:
* (August 27, 2012) - Following a win at ICSA/Gill Coed Dinghy Nationals
this Spring, Georgetown starts out the Fall 2012 season at the top of the
preseason coed rankings. After winning Sperry Top-Sider/ICSA Women's
Nationals, Boston College starts off the season ranked second behind Yale,
and followed closely by third-ranked Dartmouth. Complete ranking here:
* The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) has made a submission to
the ISAF annual conference regarding the selection of equipment for the
kiteboarding events of the next Olympic Games. The proposal is based on a
box rule that defines the design parameters for the board and the number of
boards and kites allowed. It is the belief that this approach, versus
strict one design standards, would insure the engagement of the top sailors
to compete in the Olympic Games. Full report here:
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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 Bruce Munro:
The AC World Series in San Francisco has been a huge success, even better
than most of us expected. It raised the bar to a new level and brought the
non sailing public into the arena like never before. But Paul Cayard is
right (Scuttlebutt 3663); sailing is mostly a participation sport with
skippers and crews from around the country getting up and going racing or
cruising in their local venues. It is also about so many yacht clubs --
large and small -- that promote sailing at the local level and create
interest in future generations with active junior programs. These are the
core elements of sailing that should always be nurtured.
* From Olof Hult:
I was there! With apologies to Larry Ellison, I take back everything I've
said about turning the America's Cup into NASCAR. It works, or at least it
works on the water when it blows. I was in San Francisco last Friday for
the AC World Series, standing on the tip of the breakwater, with the AC45s
passing just "inches" away both up and down wind. The fleet racing was more
exciting than the match racing, but the crowds were cheering and hollering
for both. Fun, fun, fun. There was plenty of free parking and plenty of
spots to view.
What could have been improved? There needs to be a means to hear what the
commentators say and for there to be real concession stands out there.
Can't wait for the next ACWS event in October.
* From Richard Jepsen, OCSC Sailing:
Regarding Peter Swanson's letter in Scuttlebutt 3663 about training to be
self reliant without technology, as an owner of a commercial sailing school
and a volunteer leader for education and training at US Sailing, I'd like
to amplify the remarks and answer the Peter's questions of regarding how
sailors are trained in this country.
At US Sailing certifying schools: commercial/non-profit, small
boat/keelboat, basic sailing students are learning the techniques that have
kept sailors self-reliant for decades. Good boat handling and sail trim,
understanding of the forces at work, marlinspike seamanship, chart reading,
reefing, heaving to, person overboard recovery and rescue, capsizing
recovery, hypothermia prevention, etc., etc.
We are VERY focused on the foundation of our novice sailors' skills so they
see technology as simply one more set of assets rather than the first and
only option to prevent or recover from an emergency. Furthermore, Safety at
Sea seminars, given around the country, are LOADED with education and
training that helps improve the self-reliance of offshore sailors at the
top end of sailing's experience levels.
* From Marc Jacobi:
Regarding Bill Schanen's post on self-reliant sailing (Scuttlebutt 3663), I
am flabbergasted that people would call the marine equivalent of 911 for
something as petty as a fouled prop. When I was 16, my family was awoken by
our Columbia 36 banging against another boat due to the anchor dragging. In
Dad's haste to extricate us from the situation, the prop got fouled by a
With the boat still bumping its neighbor in the lumpy mooring field, I was
tasked with clearing the prop. Was pretty scratched up and tired after the
experience, but otherwise fine, and you can darn well bet I check for lines
all the time before motoring now. In addition, there was a satisfaction
with knowing I helped in a tense situation, and that I had/have the ability
to rise to a task even though I might be scared and uncertain.
Lessons like these were once the desired and expected consequence of going
to sea, but they are lost on people who can just call or buy their way out
of them. It's a societal trend for individuals to be increasingly less
willing (and therefore able) to take responsibility for themselves. We
would be wise, however, to remember the sea could give a damn about
* From Rich Hayes:
I thought I would take a look at the actual figures in the PFD issue, with
a surprising result. These figures are the latest available for the UK
(2010, published Feb 2012) and come from the National Water Safety Forum,
whose members include the Maritime Coastguard Agency, RNLI, Fire Service,
and other organisations in the front line of pulling people out of the
In 2010, there were 420 drownings in all UK waters, of which six (1.43%)
were classified under 'sailing'. There were 17 drownings from 'manually
powered boats' in coastal waters, including harbours.
To put this into perspective, there were 20 drownings from scuba diving, 15
in a vehicle of which 1 was a suspected suicide, and 24 in a bath, hot tub
Therefore it should be compulsory to wear a PFD in the bath or hot tub at
home; you are four times more likely to drown there than when you go
sailing. I hope I have interpreted the figures correctly, but if anyone
wants to check the detailed report, here is the link:
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