Scuttlebutt Today
  Archived Newsletters »
  Features »
  Photos »

SCUTTLEBUTT 3529 - Thursday, February 16, 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: Harken and Ullman Sails.

Pre-race predictions for the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race believed the six boat field could present the closest competition the event had ever seen. But between their dismasting and performance trouble, skipper Iain Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team finds themselves drifting south on the scoreboard. Are they concerned? Not yet...
Inside the humble surrounds of a shipping container, the mastermind behind the design of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam has been plotting modifications aimed at improving the team's offshore performance.

Farr Yacht Design president Patrick Shaughnessy is working closely with skipper Ian Walker and his crew, who are yet to post a finish better than fifth place in the three ocean legs to date.

"It's not as gloomy as it would appear," Shaughnessy said, explaining that a broken mast in Leg 1, atypical weather patterns in Leg 2 and a large amount of beating conditions in Leg 3 accounted for the absence of a podium finish.

Shaughnessy is hopeful that Leg 4 race to Auckland will see his team shine, as the race course is expected to have a larger portion of downwind and reaching conditions than the legs so far -- conditions that should better suit Azzam.

"The strengths of the platform are targeting light air conditions and high speed reaching and running conditions,'' he said. "Unfortunately the race hasn't played out well for us so far.

"Nonetheless, we still believe in where we have positioned the boat for the whole race and its strengths and weaknesses. I think we've got some things in store for Leg 4 which will address some of the upwind sailing weaknesses and still allow us to keep some of the strengths in that leg." -- Read on:
WEATHER: The race's chief meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said the six Volvo Ocean Race crews would have no choice to but to enter "survival mode" if man and boat are to escape the early days of the 5,200 nautical mile race to Auckland unharmed. "The weather conditions forming in the South China Sea at the moment will definitely provide the teams with the most challenging start to a leg so far," Infante said.

A monsoon is currently building to the north of Taiwan and by Saturday will have filled the whole of the South China Sea with north easterly winds of between 35 and 40 knots. -- Full report:

SCHEDULE: The Sanya In-Port race is on February 18 and Leg 4 from Sanya, China to Auckland, NZL begins on February 19:


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. -

Oracle Racing, Team USA for the 34th America's Cup in 2013, returned to San Francisco Bay this week, commencing their training on the AC45 wingsail catamarans. Their plan is to train for the next week and a half, but as the Latitude 38 publication reports below, the team is also finding time for some local goodwill...
The team celebrated their return to the Bay Area by holding a little celebration at the Hi Dive in The City. As an incentive to get folks to join them, team CEO Russell Coutts announced on his Facebook page that the first person to ask him for a ride on an AC 45 would get one. It was an offer one Bay sailor took very seriously.

Tom Watson owns the bright pink Pearson Triton Darwind, and is the man behind the popular Pink Boat Regatta that was held at CYC in October. Watson is planning a circumnavigation aboard Darwind and hopes to raise at least $1 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation while doing it. When he caught wind of Coutts's offer, he immediately camped out in front of the Hi Dive so he could be first in line to meet Coutts - 30 hours before the event!

Watson documented the entire 30 hours - plus the goings-on during the party - on his own Facebook page. "It was a fantastic event," he told us today. "Oracle Racing really knows how to throw a party. Everyone was there and they're really approachable - it proves that sailors are the best people!"

While the details are still being worked out between Watson and Oracle Racing, Watson's goal in braving 30 hours on the streets of San Francisco - including when a crazy lady screamed and farted at him when he wished her a good morning - was to ultimately auction off the AC 45 ride to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We'll bring you those details as soon as they're available, but in the meantime you can find out more about Watson's efforts at -- Full report:

Put your order in by February 21st for special combo pricing! The new Hyperseal system features a neoprene outer collar to keep water out and an inner lycra lining to slip easily over your head. The 3-layer fabric is 100% windproof and waterproof while maintaining superior mobility and breathability. The top has 3M reflective accents, stretch fabric at the joints, a wristwatch window, and other performance innovations you'll love! Pick up your set at

Pim Nieuwenhuis, (NED) who competed in the Tornado event at the 2008 Olympics, had up until recently been a member of the sailing team with the Chinese challenger for the 34th America's Cup. But after getting fired this week, he is not optimistic about China Team's prospects going forward:

"Seeing the other teams running around with 20-30 guys, made us look pretty average and for sure that has its effects on the water. But we all believed in the project and all hoped that by time the necessary funds would be found then things would get better. A typical example of maximum input and minimum return, but we were all prepared to take that for a certain period of time because the AC is a dream for a lot of us.

"(But) China team has until now been unable to secure the necessary funds to race the 45's properly and although they might make people believe that all is good, it isn't. Which is a shame because the country obviously has got a huge potential, the way China Team operates now does a lot of damage to our sport and image in China. I sure hope and believe China has a great future in the AC and sailing in general, because it deserves to be there, but I am pessimistic about this particular China Team."

Full interview:

Yachting Australia has announced they will not take any action on the Ben Ainslie (GBR) incident that occurred at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships. As a result of Ainslie being disqualified under RRS 69 at the event, the option existed for the host nation to require additional sanctions on a competitor.

"Yachting Australia does not consider that this is a matter for us to deal with," explained Phil Jones, Yachting Australia CEO. "This was an international event that happens to have been held in Australia and involved a competitor from another country. Whilst under the Racing Rules of Sailing we have the authority to investigate and conduct a hearing, it would clearly inappropriate."

The British sailing authority, RYA, announced on February 10th that after having considered all the evidence put before it, they were satisfied that it would not be appropriate to impose a penalty over and above that imposed by the International Jury at the event.

The remaining authority that can impose additional sanctions on Ainslie is the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Their decision could come as soon as this week.


For the over 35 year old crowd that needed a break from the throes of winter, the Laser class' annual Florida Master's Week is providing the Ginger Rogers to their Fred Astaire. Okay, maybe that's for the Great Grand Master (65+ years of age), but you get the idea.

Last weekend the competitors were hosted by the Palm Beach Sailing Club in West Palm Beach for the Florida Master's Championship (Feb 11-12). This week the herd was at the US SAILING Center/Martin County in Jensen Beach for the Laser Masters Midweek Madness Regatta (Feb 14-15). And this upcoming weekend will see the competition move to the Melbourne Yacht Club in Melbourne for the Masters Midwinters East (Feb 17-19).

If your reality didn't allow for this detour, the year is young (even if you might not be). Here is the Laser North American Masters calendar for 2012:

In the U.S. and Caribbean, there are two ways to get a Rolex watch. You can either buy one or you can win one. Here are the events where you can win a watch:

International Rolex Regatta
March 23-25, 2012
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
New York Yacht Club 158th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex
June 8-10, 2012
Newport, Rhode Island
New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport Presented by Rolex
July 14-22, 2012
Newport, Rhode Island
Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship
July 4-7, 2012
Newport, Rhode Island
Rolex Farr 40 World Championship
September 17-20, 2012
Chicago, Illinois
Rolex Big Boat Series
September 6-9, 2012
San Francisco, California
Rolex event details:

Scuttlebutt Event Calendar is a free, self-serve tool to communicate event information to both sailors and sailing media. View the events at

Ullman Sails has added four new lofts this year! With new full service facilities in Australia, France, Switzerland and the United States, we're pleased to provide better access to our high-quality performance sails and unparalleled customer service. Our latest additions include Matt Simington of Easton, Maryland; and Andrew Turner based near Brisbane, Australia. Matt joins our North American team as Ullman Sails Mid-Chesapeake as one more contact point on the East Coast. In Australia, Andrew Turner brings 20 years of expertise in design and sailmaking as Ullman Sails Brisbane. Learn more at
Ullman Sails - Invest(ing) in your performance.

* Twenty four of the leading U.S. yacht clubs have accepted the invitation of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) to compete in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup U.S. Qualifying Series (USQS), to be sailed in Newport, R.I., September 4-8, 2012. The NYYC will be utilizing the J/70 along with the Sonar for the qualifying event. The top three U.S. teams will join host New York Yacht Club, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, of Toronto, Canada, the winner of the 2011 Invitational Cup, and invited international yacht clubs to compete for the 2013 NYYC Invitational Cup presented by Rolex September 7-14. -- Full report:

* Tampa, Florida (February 15, 2012) - One race was completed in light 4-6 knot winds on the final day of the 2012 J/24 Midwinter Championship, hosted by the Davis Island Yacht Club. Peter Bream and his Team Tarheel from Jacksonville, Florida led the regatta wire-to-wire to repeat as winners of this year's event. Bream's consistent top-five finishes through 9 races allowed him to cruise to victory, finishing with a 9 point margin over John Mollicone of Newport, Rhode Island in second overall. Third place overall went to Tony Parker of Annapolis, Maryland. -- Full report:

* LightSquared suffered a possibly fatal blow today when the FCC said it would indefinitely suspend the company's effort to build a national wireless broadband network using satellite spectrum. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a Department of Commerce agency tasked with overseeing military and government spectrum use, determined that LightSquared's interference with other devices, including GPS devices, was unavoidable. -- Read on:

The Industry News category of the Scuttlebutt Forum provides an opportunity for companies to announce new products and services. Here are some of recent postings:

* Questus Marine Radar Mounts
* Travis Odenbach Joins North Sails
* Jon Wright new Vanderstar Sailing Chair at USNA
* New location for Masthead Enterprises Sailing Gear
View updates here:

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 Cliff Thompson, San Diego:
I liked Chris Welsh's note (in Scuttlebutt 3528), and after sailing offshore for thirty years, I gave up on all the nonsense he is speaking to.

I only carry one PH rating now, did away with the IRC and ORR, and refuse to purchase anymore, the fancy go fast sails.

So, my boat is a little slower now, and I sail with mostly older guys who are retired, but we have a lot more fun. I don't drink scotch, but a rum will do!

* From Joyce Shiarella Andersen:
I have been doing race committee at the St Francis YC for almost 25 years now, and can totally relate to Tim's article (in Scuttlebutt 3528). I've always wondered why boat owners, when putting together their yearly schedule for the crew, don't add dates to volunteer for race committee when not racing.

Don't they realize that when they actually do race committee, they will become much better sailors because they will learn a hell of a lot? There is a method to the madness of the race committee...most things are done for a reason, and sailors can use that time volunteering getting a better understanding of the process and in doing so, learn something, and become better all around competitors.

* From Jane Anne Pincus:
What Andrew Campbell neglected to mention in his article about the Zag Star Masters (in Scuttlebutt 3528) was that his father, William and Andrew as crew won the 1st place Grand Master's trophy for skippers 60 and older.

* From Chris Boome, San Francisco:
I think we tend to get too caught up in promoting sailing to kids, and should instead promote fun and have the sailing be conduit that provides it.

You need to make sailing the thing the kids want to do, not to learn "sailing" because they want to become a great Opti racer, but because they want to have a good time with their friends. The ones that get hooked by the racing bug and are good at it, will progress on their own (with lot$ of help from their parents).

I was lucky enough to grow up at the south end of San Francisco Bay and to be part of a little club that:

- Had a great location for sailing small boats

- Had the club and parent volunteers that made it all work for the kids, which worked for the families because the parents and kids were doing stuff together.

- Was lucky that many of the kids who were there when I was growing up became lifelong friends. We wanted to go to the YC to race, play sailing games like sponge tag and go "cruising" in our El Toros. We would load up some food and sleeping bags in our little 8 foot "yachts" and sail across the bay to camp out for the night, it was a pretty cool thing to do as a 13-14 year old kid, although I must admit, I have no idea why our parents let us do those kinds of things, but we always stayed together to make sure the one kid who flipped a lot was never left on his own. (Ironically, he owns a swim school now.)

Some of our group became world class sailors, but more importantly, MOST of them are still sailing 50 years later.

* From David F. Risch, Marion, MA:
I can only relate my early experiences 40 years ago to what my kids experienced at a like age about 10 years ago. I may be treading on sacred ground here ...but in my opinion it comes down to the universal boat of choice of yacht clubs around the country for beginning sailors...the Opti.

I banged around in a Laser as a kid. My kids were put into an Opti. We could capsize and right a Laser fact we would capsize it on purpose just for fun. With Optis you need a floating pit crew to follow you around.

We sailed the Laser nose down, bow up, on the verge of capsizing, heeling to windward, etc and we learned the critical lessons of balance in the process. Such options are severely limited in an Opti. We could get that Laser up on a plane and whoop it up. Optis, by design, shovel water.

You could get 2 or even 3 of your buddies into a Laser and have a blast. Try that in an Opti. I know few kids, who given a choice, would sail alone.

You can grow into a Laser and continue to expand your sailing skills and move onto new fleets as you got older and better. My sons physically grew out of the Opti almost from the day they stepped in. The Opti window for kids is a short-lived one.

Despite the Opti experience, my kids still sail because we actively cruised and raced the family boat while they were growing up. But that option, obviously, is not available to all kids.

I understand the critical mass and momentum of an established fleet. But with a plethora of FUN, fast, FUN, indestructible and FUN boats available...tell me again why we continue to put kids into Optis?

* From William Tuthill:
At long last "Wet Dream" is off the top ten list (in Scuttlebutt 3528)! Could America actually be getting more tasteful?

I won't forget watching a guy buffing "tle" off the transom of a boat that he just bought, and adding "ital" It was hysterical! The boat's name WAS "Gentle Touch".

The Scuttlebutt store has adult medium 'Scuttlebutt University' t-shirts and sweatshirts which will be given away this Friday. Yes, for free. A notice will be posted Friday at 11am PST on Facebook and Twitter. Must respond to the notice to qualify.


If you mess with a thing long enough, it will break.

Summit Yachts - Hall Spars & Rigging - Doyle Sails - North U
Gladstone's Long Beach - North Sails - US Sailing - Soft Deck
Harken - Ullman Sails - The Pirates Lair - Melges Performance Sailing

Need stuff? Look here: