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
A New Volvo Ocean Race Leg
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"We are striving to be fully inclusive this time... men, women, youngsters... but we've never included non-sailors.
"Our beloved shore teams don't get nearly as much exposure for the work they do. This gives them a chance to get behind the wheel, literally, and participate in what we know will be an exciting leg through the Australian outback and on to Melbourne." said VOR CEO Mark Turner
Boat transport drivers have been an invisible, but vital part of the Volvo Ocean Race. Invisible no more as they now have Leg 3 of the race all to themselves.
"We expect most teams will take National Highway A1, a distance of 3400 km." said Turner. The government has waived all speed limits enroute except for within 30 miles of Melbourne. "There's no one out there anyway, you can quite literally drive a thousand miles without seeing another vehicle" said Derin Smunkley-Dith, past Victoria national highway Czar, ISAF Truth Minister and VOR consultant.
Each boat will remain in Perth for just 48 hours before the driving teams take over. This will space out the departures, eliminating much of the risk of collisions between the teams.
Four drivers will be in each transport, running 8 hour shifts; two at a time. Drive, sleep, drive again. The trip is estimated to take no more than 3 days. Drivers will be drug tested for amphetamines and other performance and driving enhancing drugs. "Whites are definitely out, but as for weed and wine we'll turn a blind eye. These are truckers, after all." said WADA consultant George Lowell.
Transports are open class... whether enclosed, open, diesel, gas. There are no horsepower limits, no limits to axles and number of tires. How much fuel is carried aboard vs. purchased along the route is also fully at the discretions of the teams.
"We wanted to introduce a bit of individualisation for the teams, as they're sailing one designs that differ only in paintjobs" said Turner. "This feels a bit like bringing the old design teams back into the fray".
The Germans Stake Claim To Part Of The AC Village
In a stunning development in Bermuda today, Mr. Jens Alers, head of mission of the German Honorary Consultate in Hamilton, has presented papers to Her Majesty's government claiming rights to a portion of the Dockyards pier currently being used by the America's Cup Village.
"All we want is money... we don't really expect to evict any teams, but we have an obligation to all German taxpayers, and in particular to German ex-pats living in Bermuda, to extract usage fees from what is clearly a valid legal claim under adverse possession laws based in Admiralty courts." said Mr. Alers.
The legal situation is quite complicated and dates back to World War II and the seizure of German U-Boat U-505 in the mid-Atlantic on June 4, 1944. The crippled boat's crew was rescued by an American fleet, and the boat towed to Bermuda in complete secrecy. Most of the crew were sent to American prison camps; the German High Command was never informed of the boat or crew's fate until the end of the war.
Allied forces wanted Germany to believe the ship had been sunk so as to not reveal the capture of codebooks and an Enigma machine.
Upon arrival in Bermuda U-505 was covered in camoflage netting and tied up at Dockyards. A skeleton crew of German mechanics was left in Bermuda, living aboard the boat until May 8, 1945, the day after Germany's surrender to Allied forces.
The boat was never formally decommissioned; the Germans aboard in Bermuda were active officers while confined to the Dockyards. The period of time exceeded six months. Thus the maritime "squatters rights" claim basis.
"The ship was crewed exclusively by Germans, tied to a pier for nearly a year. That pier thus became German sovereign territory under adverse possession laws. Those are, and were, quite different for a British Overseas Colony than Britain itself. You can't tie a houseboat to a dock in Southampton for a year and claim the dock for Sealand... but in Bermuda you can with a commissioned naval vessel according to our intepretation of Bermudan Maritime Law." added Alers.
"All the Brits had to do was perform a brief decommissioning service and take ownership, or at least not humour the crew by allowing them to hang the German flag off the shrouded conning tower... but that wasn't done until after the war ended. The Bermudans then gave Germany property to the USA, who shipped it to Chicago where it now resides in the Museum of Science and Industry and is owned by the city" added Alers.
"Arguments about the proper ownership of the ship itself are an amusing bit of legal hopscotch" said Sir Reginald 'Scruggs' McTavish, legal advisor to the British Crown... "but the claim to the dock itself may well be valid. It's certainly a unique and troubling situation."
"Surely Ellison can just toss in a few million dollars that we can distribute to Germans struggling to afford life in Bermuda. He's got that much money in his couch cushions for chrissakes. There is no local sentiment towards paying whatever the Krauts are asking... We just want this to go away." added Sir Reginald.
A Legend Returns
Keith Musto, OBE announces sensational comeback to british sailing as he aims to become the oldest ever olympian
Keith Musto, founder of industry leading sailing brand Musto, has revealed an astonishing return to sailing at the age of 81, as he is announced as part of British Sailing Team squad and is looking to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Providing unrivalled experience, knowledge and skill on the water, Keith is relishing the opportunity for a potential return to Tokyo, having won silver there at the 1964 Games. For Keith, it's unfinished business, and this time only gold will do.
Being such a dominant figure in the history of sailing, the British Sailing Team also dismissed reports of unrest amongst team members at the news of his return, with some reported to be nervous at the thought of Keith taking their spot. To claim gold in Tokyo, the team will need power, experience and precision - and Keith Musto ticks every box, despite the fact he will be almost 85 years old by the time the Tokyo Olympics take place.
Keith said: "It's an exciting opportunity for me to return to the water and aim to go back to Tokyo doing what I love - sailing. My age may raise a few eyebrows, but I bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. Bring on the challenge, I can't wait to get on the foiling Nacra 17 later this year. Age shouldn't be a barrier - the older I get, the faster I want to go".
Not only is Keith aiming to become the oldest Olympian ever at Tokyo 2020, but he is also aiming to qualify in the cutting edge Nacra 17. With Musto kit leading from the front, utilising the latest technology to create revolutionary sailing wear, the game may have moved on, but legends do not.
A New Aspect For IRC
The Royal Ocean Racing Club will be trialling a brand new aspect of the International Rating Certificate (IRC) rule this season to solve the problem of some boats not finishing weekend races in time for the crew to be back at work on Monday morning. With such a variety of boats racing and wide rating bands, it is a problem setting a course length that is suitable for all boats and it would not be fair to deprive the faster boats of a full weekend's racing. However, this means that the slower boats may have to retire if they cannot finish in time - which means unhappy crews.
The proposal is that a target speed of 5 knots will be set, and if a boat's speed drops below that for 30 minutes or more the boat may use the engine to bring the speed back to 5 knots. In order to keep things fair, the IRC Technical Committee has been asked to develop a brand new segment in the IRC software to address the issue, and those boats that have to resort to engine use will have their corrected time adjusted by an Engine Correction Factor (ECF) that will be printed on the IRC certificate.
One issue that the Race Committee will have to consider is that of boats purposely slowing down so that they can use the engine and therefore travel a shorter distance to the finish, so every boat will carry a tracker which will compare their actual course with the predicted course for the conditions and taking into account the expected speed of the boat. Any boat whose behaviour does not fit the expected course and speed configuration will be disqualified.
Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager, is excited about the trial: "There is real disappointment from crews who have worked hard for 36 - 48 hours and find that conditions dictate that they have to retire due to time constraints, not only do they miss out on a result they miss the camaraderie in the bar at the end of the race. Gone are the days of not turning up for work on a Monday morning because the wind died or the tide turned. It sounds radical but could be a real game changer!"
In the long term, if the tracker performance predictions for the wind and sea conditions prove accurate it may mean boats not having to sail the course at all to get a result. This would save on wear and tear on the boat and gear reducing running costs, and time saving for the skipper and crew who can spend the weekend doing other things knowing that their racing result will be calculated without the grey area of human performance.
Have The Kiwis Mastered Anti-Gravity?
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The photo, circulated by an unnamed member of ORACLE, is visual confirmation of rumours swirling around Auckland docks and the physics department at the University of Woolamaloo.
"Those cyclists in the hulls? A lovely little distraction, that. Kept the entire membership of SINS blathering away for weeks while the real breakthrough was right in front of their eyes" said Professor Bruce B. Bruce. "If nautical journalists in Auckland had held off on the gin until after lunch, just once, they might have noticed that the height of TNZ hulls above the water never varied once they rose from the surface... regardless of wind strength or direction. And that the hulls dropped right down even when the wind did not and sail trim did not alter. Hullspeed hasn't a bloody thing to do with these foils. Gravity waves and quantum entanglement are what's going on."
Scuttlebutt Europe has independently confirmed sightings of the hulls rising and falling at the dock, in one instance when the rig wasn't even stepped on the hull. Swarms of dockhands staring into tablets and clutching clipboards are an unusual enough sight... more so when they're clad in lab coats and pocket protectors. "Don't look much like the usual BNs" muttered the ORACLE source.
"We aren't going to need a lot of practice time in Bermuda" smirked syndicate head Grant Dalton.
"We've got a few tricks up our sleeves and are confident that we'll leave with the Auld Mug in hand. We expect the usual squealing and whinging from our vanquished competitors. Looking forward to not giving a single flying feck".
2020 Olympic Sailing Venue Change
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The sailing venue was initially planned for the Wakasu Olympic Marina, a new Olympic sailing marina to be built next to Tokyo Gate Bridge in Tokyo Bay. However, these plans were abandoned supposedly due to cost and an inability to gain clearance for aerial broadcast coverage from Tokyo's nearby Haneda Airport.
The real reason is far more dire.
"It's still out there... and we believe it may be waking up. Rising sea temperatures may be altering its metabolism. We thought when he disappeared from Tokyo Harbour in 1956 it was either dead or nearly so... deep in the Japan Trench. But unusual seismic and sonar soundings lead us to fear that Tokyo Harbor may not be a safe place to hold the Olympics. It might show up." said Dr. Hideo Gump of the Tokyo Marine Research Society.
It has many names... Gojira... Kujira... Godzilla.
"In the past it's been awakened by nuclear weapons, we also believe that the creature may respond to chemical compounds that are man-made, not native to the world of its creation millions of years ago. Those include fiberglass and carbon fiber. It's just far too risky to put those taste treats in its habitat. The millions we'd spend on sailing facilities in Tokyo would be better allocated to civil defence. Just in case."
After the incredible announcement that the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) has banned Emirates Team New Zealand from winning - I know, quite extraordinary for any sport - I thought it would be journalistically good to pick up the phone and talk to both sides. Here's how the conversations went:
"Yo The Russinator, what's with banning the Kiwis from winning the Cup? Seems a bit unsporting no?"
"Ye (assume Google accent translate), well, you know we run the show so we can do what we like. Haha. Suck it up!"
"But can you actually do that in sport? I mean, legally?"
"Mate, mate... (exasperated sigh) this isn't sport. How can I put it? ... This is Game of Thrones. We're sitting on the Iron Throne, we're ruling the seven kingdoms, well, Larry is, I'm his Right Hand, or Iron Fist, or whatever it's called... anyway, we rule, so stuff 'em."
"Why's there such beef between you lot?"
"Oh Diggers, looong history, they were so rude when me and the boys left the team for Alinghi, then came back to beat them. Very rude. And once, when Grant was going through a door just ahead of me, he didn't hold it open."
"Ah man, I hate that. Total pits. My old school's motto was Manners Maketh Man, and I remember... "
"Diggers, sorry to interrupt, gotta go, Larry's on the other line. He only calls once a year."
"Ooooh oooh, tell him we loved the special effects in series 34. Awesome."
"Special effects?! Never mind, ciao, mwah..."
Next call: Grant Dalton.
"Yo Grant, The Granite Man, this is all rather extraordinary from ACEA..."
"Diggers, Diggers, it's all BS! Don't worry about it. They're just hatching a legal plan for when they lose. And we've got a great comeback - we're gonna piddle on them!"
"Piddle on them?! I say Grant, that's a bit strong. Whipping out the old chap and actually pissing on your oppo..."
"No, no, Diggers you numbnut, I said piddle - p e d d l e - not piddle. You're not mocking my Kiwi accent are you?"
"Goodness no... Anyway, listen, Grant, have you seen Game of Thrones?"
"Mate, mate... (intake of breath), I friggin love that show - the chics, the bittles, the migic..."
"Yeah, so, when you get to sit on the Iron Throne, and rule the seven kingdoms, what'll you do?"
"No idea mate. We've got one helluva bittle coming up, and a lot of piddling to do, so we're not even thinking about episode 36."
"Oh, last thing, did you not hold the door open once for Russell when you were walking a little ahead of him?"
"More BS Diggers. I always hold doors open for people. It's a thing."
"OK, thanks for clearing that up Grant. Good luck!"
"Lovin your work mate..." Click.
-- Digby Fox in livethestory.com
The Last Word
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Groucho Marx
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