Brought to you by Seahorse magazine, Scuttlebutt Europe is a digest of sailing news and opinions, regatta results, new boat and gear information and letters from sailors -- with a European emphasis. Contributions welcome, send to
One Design For The America's Cup!
The America's Cup is famous for many things... including high seas and shore-based drama and skullduggery. But Tuesday's vote on the boat to be used in 2017 puts everything in the past to the status of minor footnotes.
The next America's Cup will be sailed on AC45s... but they will be One Design and supplied by a single builder, Green Marine in the UK. Each team will purchase two boats for a total of 10m pounds. Sails to be supplied by as yet-to-be-named sailmaker but will also be subject to strict one design rules.
The cost savings to teams are going to be huge. A full one campaign could cost as little as 25 to 30 million pounds including salaries and travel, said one America's Cup source.
"This is the game changer to beat all others" said Sir Russell Coutts. "Finally the America's Cup will be properly focused on sailing skills and not whatever titanium-molybdenum-unobtainium composite honeycomb someone comes up with at 10K per square centimeter."
All eyes were on Luna Rossa supremo Patrizio Bertelli, who last week warned that the Prada-sponsored team would leave the America's Cup entirely if the proposed AC62 was not chosen.
"We're in!" was Bertelli's comments at a hastily convened press conference at the Formula 1 Group headquarters in Geneva. In a doubly shocking day, Bertelli said "the cost savings are so immense that I've decided to not only compete, and win, the 2017 America's Cup, but Prada will also sponsor a new Italian Formula 1 team and we are in discussions with Silvio Berlusconi for a revived Mille Miglia in 2016. We hope to get Bernie [Ecclestone] out for a spin on an AC45 at Cagliari soon."
A visibly distraught Martin Whitmarsh spoke to reporters from the BAR base in Southampton: "I left Formula 1 to get away from Ecclestone and others that have turned the pinnacle of motorsports into a billionaires' Death Race 2000. God save this sport now..."
Vestas Damaged During Hull Turn
Loading up the chunks. Click on image to enlarge.
The latest setback occured when the hull was being turned. "On a hull this large we always use two cranes. For Vestas it's not the weight that's the consideration, it's the length. Spreading the hoisting points out across the length of the hull gives us greater control and balance" said one of Persico's crane operators, choking back tears.
"All was going fine until about half-way over... when one of the crane engines failed. In his haste to restart the operator inadvertently reversed the direction. The other operator could not see or hear what was happening on the other side of the hull... so then we had two very powerful cranes pulling in opposite directions, on opposite sides of a lightweight carbon fibre hull. She looked for a moment like a twisted dinner roll... and then she shattered. It's a bloody miracle no one was killed by the carbon shrapnel flying about."
Team Vestas Wind's shore manager Neil Cox said that it looks worse than it is. "OK, I think Lisbon is right out, but I think we can make Lorient. Or maybe we'll just do daysailing in Gothenburg. Maybe without a mast. But we'll be back...."
A Pollution Solution For Rio?
Opening a hydrothermal vent. Click on image to enlarge.
Scientists from Academia Brasileira de Ciencias have discovered a dormant hydrothermal vent near the Olympic sailing venue which could be used to help sterlize waste water that threatens the health of sailors at Rio 2016.
Dredging operators have discovered a number of what some to believe to be large volcano bombs in the bay's waters. Many similar discoveries have been dismissed by the scientific community as the folklore of the Nova Iguacu volcano, a favorite of tourism promotors and sightseeing operators in the region.
But those dismissals are now being reconsidered in light of the discovery of a magma chamber and signs of recent hydrothermal vents.
"If we can use explosives to open the vent, we can then direct the extremely high temperature water into parts of the bay and sterlize the waters" said Ignacio Fiero, head of the research group doing the radar and sonar soundings. "We are sure we could then cap the flow right before the Games and cool the bay to less than boiling. Surely this will be a win-win for all of Brazil."
Royal Ocean Racing Club Branches Out
In its 90th Anniversary year, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has taken a bold move to encompass more boat owners in the sports of Ocean Racing.
Starting with the opening event of the domestic season, the RORC Easter Challenge, the first entry has been received in the newly created POR (Powerboat Offshore Racing) division. The honour of first entry went to the John Corby designed, 42 foot "Short Wave". The Owner, William Tork, was excited: "I think this is exactly the right decision and I'm glad the RORC has finally allowed us to compete in their events. There haven't been that many events for us to compete in."
Likely to be the fastest class in the RORC Easter Challenge, especially with conditions similar to last year, the POR may well become the premier division to race in offshore. With such a high power to weight ratio, the new boats will be exciting to watch, but may initially be quite difficult to control.
Jim Saltonstall, the lead coach, commented:
"This new POR class will be the fastest ferrets up the drainpipe. To help the crews get the best out of this new class of boat, the coaching team has managed to bring in the experienced Captain David Warden Owen. With his specialist knowledge, helming all kinds of boats including the QE2, he will be an excellent addition to the coach team and will concentrate solely on the Powerboat Offshore Racing Class. Not only will power and shifts make the difference for them, but pitch and ventilation will be crucial to success in this class."
RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen commented:
"In RORC's 90th anniversary it is appropriate and right to encourage more boat owners to take up in our great sport of Ocean Racing. When the Club started the Fastnet Race 90 years ago, powerboat racing was in its infancy and boats were unreliable. Modern POR class boats will allow more people to experience the thrill of Ocean Racing than ever before.
The spectacle of the POR division fan-tailing away from the new start line off the Cowes Breakwater during the RORC Easter Challenge will herald a new era for the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and I am proud to be part of it."
The first Warning Signal for the practice starts of this year's RORC Easter Challenge will be given at 10:55 on Good Friday, with the first races to count beginning at 13:00. Follow our Facebook page for the latest news and don't forget to check our website www.rorc.org for updates. It is not too late to enter either IRC or POR classes to race.
Elvstrøng - The New Sailor's Energy Drink From Elvstrøm
Elvstrøm Sails have produced another World first and have launched Elvstrøng, a new energy drink that helps boost sailors' decision making on the race course.
Working with one of the World's largest energy drink suppliers, and by mixing unique DNA from the legendary Olympic sailor Paul Elvstrøm, Elvstrøng means sailors feel more energised and motivated, and infused with tactical knowledge.
Extensive testing with leading international teams has shown Elvstrøng contributes to improved tactical knowledge of individuals and this shows in the sailors recording consistently improved race results.
Initial worries that the new drink could lead to increased tactical arguments in the cockpit were un-founded as everybody using Elvstrøng agreed on identical tactical decisions. In fact, the majority of testers claimed drinking Elvstrøng provided a calming influence and they saw better cohesion within the team on board.
An All-Foiling Olympics
Click on image to enlarge.
Subsequent to the ISAF's visit to Rio to assess water quality and cleanup options, the sailing federation today announced a radical change for the 2016 Games: all classes will be fitted with foils, and no race shall start in "below effective foiling wind range", according to sources in Southampton.
"Surprisingly little outrage from the class associations" is what technical director Simon Forbes informs Scuttlebutt Europe. "Let's face reality... everyone is going on foils, from kiteboards to dinghies, catamarans to monohulls... it is a quantum leap in boat speed. And for Rio... it's one more step to helping our athletes healthy... they will be 2-3 feet, minimum, above the feces and dead fish stew that is Guanabara Bay."
As reported in the Scuttlebutt Europe April 1 2014 issue, the foils for Rio will have a razor sharp dolphin striker ("turd slicer" is the term used in the boat parks) that has been successfully tested in Guanabara.
"She slices through dead fish and furniture like a finely honed Sgian Dubh. As for the human-generated 'debris' commonly mentioned.... it's like a neutrino passing through the earth. It takes no notice!" said Beaurigard "Scruggs" McTavish, the newly hired consultant to the Olympic Management Foiling Governance (OMFG) committee. "We have licensed Zwilling, Wusthof and Rapala to make the striker blades so we have global manufacturing going full tilt."
The ISAF is reportedly renegotiating global television rights given how much more exciting the sailing is sure to be. A source inside SkyNews reports the reaction of Rupert Murdoch as "giddy as a young schoolgirl at the prom". He quotes Murdoch as telling his television rights lawyers to "imagine sailors falling off their boats into the goo and then being sliced up by the strikers. We'd have to breed and release piranhas capable of living in that oxygen-free scum to make this any more exciting."
Foiling Finns? "I wish I'd stayed in for one more go..." said Sir Ben Ainslie.
What's In Your Hull?
Rating officials across the world are pondering the latest innovation to come from composite engineering firm Winchell Thomas and Franklin which promises to dramatically reduce hull weight. WTF's Helium Infused Honeycomb process traps the lighter than air gas in the layup of the hull materials resulting in stunning weight reductions.
Reports from the testing lab include incidences of large chunks of the layups actually rising up above the plug. "Sometimes only the stickines of the resin is holding the hull to the mold, we have learned to afix tethers, or quickly add non-HIH pieces to the build to get the weight to increase enough for gravity to take hold" said one source.
WTF is not the only player in this space. Another firm is reportedly using hydrogen as its space filler, as its atomic weight is one fourth that of helium, and the cost of hydrogen production is a fraction of helium, bringing hydrogen honeycomb into the cost range of "normal" composite construction.
History has taught lessons about hydrogen however... WTF's Sterling Winchell decried its use in marine environments where human activity is bound to produce sparks and flames.
"Imagine Lawrie Smith flicking dozens of Rothmans butts about the boat in port and under sail. Any boat using a hydrogen filler core should be named Hindenburg, by law, with the name prominently displayed so that other vessels are well warned to stay clear of the inevitable explosion".
"White" Diesel Fuel Controversy
Low sulphur, ultra low sulphur, red, green... the marine industry has had a tumultuous decade dealing with European Union regulations and taxes on diesel fuel. But regulators in Brussels are left gobsmacked by the latest version of the fuel... "white" diesel, which claims to be completely sulphur free.
"We simply do not have the regulatory framework in place to determine the proper levels of taxation and whether or not this new diesel variant should be allowed strictly in agricultural use or for road and marine uses" said the European Union's Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
"Why have any regulations at all? White Diesel is quintessentially British, we should ignore Brussels entirely and get on our bikes!" said Lord Norman Tebbit, echoing similar remarks from Nigel Farage.
White diesel is certainly sulphur free. Free of nearly anything as best anyone can tell. Sold by a the Jools Marquiss Fuels Consortium in Leister, it's the first homeopathic fuel to be marketed in the UK.
Completely emissions free and carbon neutral, company executives claim that a single tank will last for years in any marine fuel tank.
US Olympic Trial Venue Change
Newport Rhode Island, USA: In an effort to better match anticipated conditions for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, US Sailing Olympic Managing Director Josh Adams announced a single site for selection to the US Olympic Team for the 2016 Rio Games.
Adams stated, "US Sailing will hold a selection regatta at the Deer Island Sanitation Plant in Boston MA, during the greatest output of the second largest sewage treatment facility in the world, St. Patricks Day in Boston 2016!
Adams has instructed the race organizers to place all marks at the sewage outflow risers as "the best way to duplicate the Rio racing conditions we could find".
Adams' hand has been forced by repeated press reporting of the water conditions at the proposed sailing venue in Brazil.
The second choice for the selection venue was Miami after reports of over 1M gallons of raw sewage have leaked into Florida waters from Miami/Dade Counties over the past six months
Adams ended his comments by stating "Previously announced venues are no longer considered appropriate as our team strategy has shifted from "Podium Finishes with Boat Speed and Tactics" to 'Surviving with Antibiotics'."
Cowes Harbour Dredging Halted
Artists conception of Osborne House with Ark Replica on lawn. Click on image to enlarge.
The ongoing dredging of the eastern side of Cowes Harbour has been halted by regional arts and antiquities boards after the discovery of an ancient boat buried deep below the sea floor. Timbers submitted for carbon dating at Southampton University have reportedly determined an estimated age of nearly 5000 years, far older than any other vessel found in the area.
This is not a dugout or other small vessel. If estimates based on the hull ribs are even remotely correct, the vessel was well over a hundred metres in length, with a 30 metre beam.
"It's clearly the Ark" stated noted creationist Ken Ham from his Creation Museum in Kentucky. "No surprise that it would have slid down Mount Ararat in Turkey, the entire area was just mud, post global flood.
One good nudge from a departing dinosaur could have pushed the boat down the slope, it's simple physics!
After floating across the Mediterranean Sea it lodged itself on what is not the Isle of Wight, as God intended. Cowes has been called the 'Mecca' of sailing for thousands of years, we trace this back to a slight misinterpretation of language but the Ultimate Meaning is clear."
Ham has reportedly opened negotiations to obtain 18m in tax breaks for converting Osborne House into an immense Biblical Flood museum and research center and has initiated a lawsuit claiming all the seabed rights around Cowes "for God and Creationism".
ISAF Launches New Worldwide Handicap System For Offshore Sailing
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) announced today that in light of the inability of the world's major handicap systems to agree on a common format for measurement, ratings and scoring, it would introduce and impose its own system for use in its member national authority constituencies around the world.
Named after a concept first discussed in Germany a few years ago, the OWOR (One World, One Rule) will be a system that can rate any boat, monohull or multihull, with any variety of sail plan or appendage configurations, and generate ratings in time-on-time or time-on-distance formats. Any course model can be constructed, or pre-built courses - such as windward-leeward geometries - may be used, applicable in windspeeds ranging from 4-40 knots.
Technically, the OWOR system will draw on the strengths of several existing systems: the VPP technology of ORC, the guided hand lever-pulling of IRC, the observed nuances in superyacht performances used in ORCsy, the spreadsheet approach for multihulls in MOCRA, the high-performance typeforming of HPR, and the subjective golf handicapping of PHRF. A technical committee will be nominated by ISAF to oversee the new system, and certificates will be applied, paid for and generated all online through a virtual rating office installed on the ISAF website.
"The infighting among rating systems and their rulers must stop," said ISAF President Carlo Croce. "We want ISAF to offer one-stop shopping for the needs of all sailors – dinghy or offshore, professional or amateur, young or old, able-bodied or paralympic, rich or poor. We get accused of not making firm leadership decisions to help guide the sport, and dealing with the big events like the America's Cup and the Olympics is pretty tough. So this is an easy one to solve…how hard can it be anyway, don't boats behave the same way all over the world?"
More details of the OWOR system will be revealed in November at the ISAF Annual General Meeting in Sanya, China.
The Last Word
I have great faith in fools - self-confidence, my friends call it. -- Edgar Allan Poe
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