Grand Prix Sailor’s Monday Digest

Melbourne-Osaka Sailors Shipwrecked

Grand Prix Sailor is a 13-year-old racing news publication of Sailing World Magazine (http://www.sailingworld.com).MARCH . . . **. . . came in like a lion, especially in the Northeast, where we saw one of our worst snowstorms in many years during the first part of the month. And just when we here at the Grand Prix Sailor editorial complex, fooled by a week of warm temperatures, had begun making the switch to shorts, we woke up this morning with snow on the ground. So, instead of March leaving us like the proverbial lamb, it departs more like a red-assed baboon. But hope springs eternal in every sailor's heart, and despite T.S. Eliot's gloomy "April is the cruelest month" sobriquet, we're all looking forward to spending April weekends ramping up for the season's racing schedule. Meanwhile, there's lots of racing to talk about, from the coral atolls of the South Pacific to the sheltered waters of Biscayne Bay. The Snipe class is about to complete it's sanity-saving Winter Circuit, the lucky sailors who make the Caribbean part of their calendar have just finished St. Thomas Rolex, the America's Cup has begun its rumble towards 2007, and some unfinished business from the last two year's Bayview-Mackinac races has been attended to.BAYVIEW-MACKINAC RACETwo protests were filed recently against Bob Seger's Lightning, the Santa Cruz 52 that won the 2001 and 2002 Bayview-Mac races overall. When an international jury convened last weekend, it ruled that both protests were invalid, one because the protest was not timely and the other because the incident under protest wasn't identified. The protests were filed by the second-place finishers in each race, Tim Woodhouse's Rumours and Jim Kraft's Power Tripp, because Lightning sailed both races with a significantly larger spinnaker than the local PHRF authorities were aware when determining the boat's rating, a fact determined in the process of a rating review begun last fall.Earlier in March, after completing Lightning's review, the Detroit Regional Yacht-Racing Association PHRF handicapping committee lowered the boat's base rating from 15 to 6, then reduced it 9 seconds more, to -3. The additional penalty is due to the size of the boat's asymmetrical spinnaker and the fact that its spinnaker pole attaches not to the mast but to a deck fitting that allows it to extend well forward of the stem. The boat's original application omitted spinnaker measurements and description of the unusual spinnaker pole position.A lengthy protest submitted by Rumours alleged that Lightning's owner didn't fulfill his responsibility for compliance with the measurement rules of PHRF and in the process violated other rules such as Rule 2, Fair Sailing. J. E. "Mike" Tapert, the international jury chair of both races, appointed a new panel for last weekend's hearing. He said that in the case of Rumours' protest, the panel found that "March 18th was too late to file a protest." Woodhouse said he filed his protest when he learned of the breach of the rules.Tapert said that the Power Tripp protest was submitted on the front page of a standard protest form only and "did not identify the incident." Kraft said afterwards, "I wasn't going to give them my entire argument ahead of time." He said that he identified the race and the rules he thought were broken.Bob Reed, Lightning's owner's representative said afterward that a lot of misinformation had been spread on the Internet. "The whole thing's been such an unfortunate misunderstanding and has been blown out of proportion," he said. "This is the ugliest thing I've seen in sailing in 30 years." Reed also said he'd decided to retire from sailboat racing.Both protestors said they would wait to receive a copy of the written decision before deciding whether to take further action.-- reported by John BurnhamRACERS AWAIT RESCUE FROM SOUTH SEA REEFOsaka Cup sailors James Murchison and Jeff Edward Thomas, the crew of the Elliott-designed 36-footer Mad Max, are safe after hitting coral reefs off Rossell Island on the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea and holing their boat. A Japanese icebreaker, Shirase, transiting the area after a research mission to Antarctica, is standing by to effect a rescue.Maverick II, an Elliott 45 being sailed by Brian Petersen and John Bankart in the Open Racer class is the current leader. With a little more than 2,500 miles to go, they are almost halfway through the 5,500-mile race.The Osaka Cup starts in Southern Hemisphere autumn, from Melbourne, Australia and finishes, about a month later, in Northern Hemisphere spring. For the crews the course, which takes the racers out of Bass Strait, up the East Coast of Australia, through Micronesia, and on to Osaka, a port city on the south coast of Japan, is a navigationally challenging race. http://www.osakacup.com2003 WORRELL 1000 CANCELLEDBlaming a "key investor," for defaulting on a financial commitment and absolving Bimare Catamarans-builder of the Javelin 2, the boat selected for the 2003 edition of the Worrell 1000-Mike Worrell has cancelled the event, scheduled to start Sunday, May 4 in South Beach, Florida and finish in Virginia Beach, Virginia on Saturday, May 17. The announcement came a little over a month after Worrell had announced a million-dollar purse for the 2004 edition of the Worrell 1000, and that 36 teams had entered the 2003 event."Worrell 1000 management will now focus completely on making the 2004 Worrell 1000 the most successful event ever. The 2004 race will start on Sunday, May 9 and finish on Saturday, May 22 and will be sailed on the Nacra F-18, a Formula 18 class boat. "As special compensation for those teams who paid their Worrell 1000 entry fees for the 2003 race in compliance with the rules of entry schedule, a special discount will be made for the 2004 event. Teams leaving the $5,000 entry fee on file in our escrow account shall receive a credit of $3,000 dollars toward next year's entry fee.To receive a full refund, send a request in writing to:Worrell 1000P.O. Box 446Virginia Beach, VA 23458-0446"Teams that receive a full refund will still be credited $1,500 towards next year's entry fee which includes three rooms, vehicles, charter boat, and safety package."The event's website is http://www.worrell1000.com, but as of Monday morning, no information about the cancellation had been posted.HEMINGWAY OCEAN RACE** Despite losing key competitors such as Bob Towse's Blue Yankee and Joe Dockery's Carrera this year, the Storm Trysail's Hemingway Ocean Race from Ft. Lauderdale to Baltimore is scheduled to start on May 9. Three Swans, Antares (46'), Ariel (47') (both veterans of the event), and Aurora have either registered or given verbal commitments to enter the race.Event organizers are hoping that racers planning on competing in the Newport to Hamburg race in June, and yachts heading north after a winter season in the Caribbean, will fill out the entry list by the time the starting gun sounds in May. The challenges of this race are numerous, and include the Gulfstream, Cape Hatteras, and the shallows of the Chesapeake. http://stormtrysail.orgIT ALL DEPENDSKiwi sailor Grant Dalton may be the man to head New Zealand's next America's Cup efforts. "A job like that is a huge challenge and as a passionate Kiwi it's hard to say no to a challenge," said Dalton. "I am interested but it all depends on terms and conditions. I understand Team New Zealand is keen to challenge."One of the post-event criticisms of Team New Zealand was that the team has had no strong leadership figure for the 2003 defense. The team no doubt hopes that Dalton will bring the same energy and enthusiasm that the late Peter Blake brought to the effort, as well as the same sponsorship draw.ST. THOMAS ROLEXFlirt, a custom 49-foot Oyster yacht skippered by Richard Matthews of Ipswich, UK, turned in four victories in seven races to win Spinnaker Racing Class 1. Serving as tactician was Andy Green (Essex, UK), tactician for the recent GBR Challenge for the America's Cup. Turning in a perfect series score of seven with seven wins was Orion/Coors Light, skippered by Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo in J/24 class. Lugo, who last year won his class sailing a Melges 24, said the conditions and competition made his seemingly easy victory a challenge. Another flawless performance was turned in by London's Craig Dymock aboard Serendip in Non-Spinnaker Racing Class, which completed five races.Equation, an Andrews 68 skippered by Bill Alcott of Detroit, Mich., broke its tie with Donnybrook, a custom 72 skippered by Jim Muldoon of Washington, DC, in the Over 50 Foot Class. Donnybrook's early lead on the final race was lost when Equation got inside at the first leeward mark. Needing only to beat Donnybrook by 14 seconds, Equation stretched the victory margin to two minutes by the end of the race. A chance for redemption in a second race was pre-empted by a mishap in which Donnybrook's bowman was injured and transported to shore. Alcott credited his success to his crew, in particular tactician Stu Argo, who served as trimmer for Oracle/BMW Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup. GREAT AMERICAN II ENTERS INDIAN OCEANThe 53-foot trimaran Great American II passed through the Sunda Strait and entered the Indian Ocean at sunrise on March 29. For Rich Wilson and Rich du Moulin, passing through the Strait was a milestone: it marked the end of a slow, frustrating passage through the South China Sea and, hopefully, the dawn of new fortunes in their 15,000-mile non-stop run from Hong Kong to New York. "We first spent four hours tacking among giant oil platforms that congest the area," wrote du Moulin of their passage through the Strait. "Then we had to short tack through the narrow channels of the Sea Conservation Area with its reefs and small islands. This was a shortcut that allowed us to avoid the busy main shipping channel. Then for 40 miles we continued to beat into the ever-narrowing Strait until at sundown we sailed through the narrowest portion. We had a beautiful sunset view of an old volcano on Sumatra and an industrial view of a giant coal burning power plant on the Java side, with smokestacks that must have been 300 feet tall. "We spent most of the night tacking around islands on the Indian Ocean side of the Strait. Rich Wilson and I pretty much had abandoned our watch system 24 hours earlier. We were tired but our work was not quite over. The wind was increasing so we had to put in more reefs to reduce sail area. Strong currents kicked up some unpleasant bumpy waves that had the entire boat jumping and shaking like a dog with fleas. By dawn we were very tired, but the sight of Sunda Strait behind us made it all worthwhile." http://www.sitesalive.comSNIPE WINTER CIRCUITThe Snipe class's yearly winter series, expanded to four events this year with the addition of the PanAm Trials, which ran March 21-23, is almost over. Chris and Antoinette Klotz of St. Petersburg, Fla., won the Pan Am Trials, sailed in Clearwater on March 21-23. Augie Diaz and Jon Rogers, of Miami, won the six-race Midwinters, run March 24-26-also in Clearwater-as well as the Don-Q, sailed this past weekend on Biscayne Bay. The next, and final race of the series will be held in Nassau next weekend. http://snipeus.orgGrand Prix Sailor is compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you'd like to subscribe, see http://www.sailingworld.com Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger (tony.bessinger@sailingworld.com), Dave Reed (dave.reed@sailingworld.com), Stuart Streuli (stuart.streuli@sailingworld.com), John Burnham (john.burnham@sailingworld.com)