Monday Morning Digest

A Look at the Week Behind and the Week Ahead

Swan Cup
Fresh out of the box, Thierry de Passemar’s Swan 70 won the Swan Cup, which finished on Saturday with a single buoy race. “”We had great boatspeed,” said de Passemar. “So we didn’t need to take any risks. Our starts were good, and then we just had to look for the better pressure to make sure that we did well. We had a fantastic set of Cuben sails and the only real code zero in the fleet. Each day we set the boat and rig up better, and learned a bit more about sailing her. Once we have spent six months with her we should be able to take two minutes off our time for most of the races that we had here.”

American boats placed strongly, with Frank Savage and the crew of the 56-foot Lolita placing second, and Tom Stark’s 45 Rush taking third.

Big Boat Series
San Francisco lived up to it’s reputation as a great place to go yacht racing during this year’s Big Boat Series. 109 boats, racing in nine classes, got seven races off in four days.


In Americap II A division, John MacLaurin’s Pendragon IV, a Davidson 52 ULDB, won, beating Cita Litt’s Schock 40 Cita by 4 points. The Perry-designed 66-footer Icon, took third. In Americap II B, Paul Kent’s Chance, a Farr 395 claimed top spot by one tenth of a point over John Siegel’s Scorpio, a Wylie 42. In the 20-boat Farr 40 class, James Richardson and the crew of Barking Mad won, with David Thomson’s Peregrine winning the 37-point tiebreaker over Peter Stoneberg’s Shadow to take second.

The largest class in the event, the 33-boat J/105 fleet, had a runaway victor as Good Timin’, owned by Phil Perkins and Dave Wilson, nailed a 1,3,1,4,7,1,2 scoreline, finshing 20 points ahead of second-placed Blackhawk, owned by Dean Dietrich.
For complete results, see

Neil Graham Joins the Offshore Challenges Team
Australian-born Neil Graham has joined Offshore Challenges Sailing Team as overall Operations Director overseeing racing projects including Ellen MacArthur’s Jules Verne record attempt on board the maxi catamaran Kingfisher II. Graham was shore manager for Assa Abbloy‘s Volvo Ocean Race campaign and oversaw the build and technical developments of the Volvo boats for Assa.


“Joining Offshore Challenges gives me the opportunity of working on projects that are much more interesting from a development point of view,” said Graham. “Open 50s and 60s, monster catamarans, and cutting-edge trimarans are not bound by the same rules as other projects I have been involved in. There’s a much cleaner sheet of paper to start with and I’m looking forward to that and working with a team of very committed people who show great passion for this sport.”

Graham will have his work cut out for him; Last Tuesday, Bruno Peyron and his crew completely destroyed the rig on the maxi-cat L’Orange during a practice session in the Mediterranean. Kingfisher had purchased Orange for a run at the 64-day Jules Verne record in early 2003, but the official hand over of the catamaran is not scheduled until the middle of October. Under the terms of the contract the purchase is subject to the condition of the boat. Ellen MacArthur, who will skipper during the attempt, and Mark Turner, manager of Offshore Challenges, have begun the process of reviewing the options open to the team and the viability of attempting a Jules Verne record attempt early next year.

More Offshore Challenges News
Nick Moloney successfully completed his 1000-mile solo qualification for the Route De Rhum, but not before he paid some dues. His first leg, an upwind slog in heavy air, had conditions very similar to his painful and disappointing introduction to solo sailing in the 1999 Mini Transat. “Sometimes you think this is a crazy discipline,” said Moloney. “After having spent my whole life racing with a crew, when confronted with immense fatigue your decision making process has to be completely different–there’s no one to say ‘hang on a minute, lets do it this way instead.’ The pressure is immense from the fear of messing up, going aground, hitting something; these are all things that make sleeping very difficult.”


On returning from the qualifier to Offshore Challenges’ base in Cowes, Moloney’s ride, OC1, the ex Cray Valley, underwent a complete refit. The rig came out for complete replacement of standing rigging, and some delamination in the carbon mast was repaired. The Route de Rhum, which begins October 11(monohulls),12 (multihulls), is a solo race that starts in St. Malo, France and finishes 2,800 miles later at Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

New Open 60 Race on for 2003
The EDS Non-stop Round Britain and Ireland Race will start on Sunday, July 26, 2003 from the Solent. The timing of the fully-crewed race will also mean that the fleet will finish during Cowes Week, which will enable them to also compete in the Fastnet Race. “There is an active fleet of more than 20 IMOCA Open 60s right now,” said Offshore Challenge’s Mark Turner. “They are the largest fleet of offshore racing boats in the world, split currently between the Route du Rhum race (17) and the Around Alone (5). The EDS Round Britain and Ireland race should attract a good number of these campaigns.”

America’s Cup
Shipping difficulties are slowing the delivery of the new bow for Team Stars & Stripes boat USA-77, which will certainly affect the team’s hopeful timetable for the re-launch of 77. According to sources at New England Boatworks, as of Monday morning, the bow had not yet arrived in New Zealand.


Dennis Conner is back in New Zealand, even if the bow isn’t. Fresh from his victory in the Etchells North Americans, DC will celebrate his 60th birthday in the Southern Hemisphere.

On Saturday, Victory Challenge lined up with Oracle BMW racing and raced in “extremely gusty and changing” conditions. The wind was blowing 12-18 knots and shifted through 30 degrees. For the test races, the course had been laid with the first leg upwind and the second downwind, just as it will be for the America’s Cup starting with the Louis Vuitton Cup challenge competition on October 1. “We had an incredibly hard fight in the first match, especially the first run”, said Victory project manager Mats Johansson. “The matches developed into a good training session for the strategist as well as the tactician.” But it was Oracle/BMW that took the initiative ahead of the last run.

Magnus Holmberg was the helmsman with Espen Stokkeland navigating, Stefan Rahm doing tactics, and Mats Johansson on strategy. Besides Saturday’s match against Oracle BMW Racing, last week’s opponents for the Victory Challenge team have included Mascalzone Latino, Le Défi Areva, and Prada.

Kiwi sailors who left Team New Zealand and signed up with challengers for the 2003 America’s Cup may have felt that they’d successfully dodged the local public opinion bullet, especially after a series of complementary articles in the New Zealand Herald recently. Think again. A New Zealand effort that goes by the name Blackheart is ramping up a fundraising campaign for Team New Zealand that targets the defectors.

According to, Dave Walden, spokesman for Blackheart, says the campaign came out of a feeling that Team New Zealand is battling on an uneven playing field in its defense of the Cup. He says that the other syndicates not only have more money, but an intimate knowledge of Team New Zealand’s technology. Walden states that there will be a bit of ribbing of the defectors on t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Rumor Central
The latest rumors floating around the Hauraki Gulf include such gems as:

A possible forward rudder on Team New Zealand’s boats, substantiated by a comment by German Frers Jr. on CNN’s most recent Inside Sailing–a show not broadcast in the U.S. “I think TNZ probably have a single forward rudder (and not two). There are some advantages with this design that a big well-organized syndicate could try.” There are also some references being made about a canard or rudder on one of the Swedish boats but that particular bit of info could be a spoof by the Victory Syndicate themselves.

With a lot of practice racing on the Hauraki Gulf, there are some unsubstantiated results escaping the press lock-down. The boys on Alinghi are hard to beat, the French had some headsail and rule problems while racing Victory Challenge, and even though the Swedes are under an agreement not to release results, they just can’t help saying things like:
“The other syndicates do not want us to tell the results from our racing with them because that would frequently be bad press for them.”

Laser Worlds
The last day of the qualifier series at the Laser World Championship belonged to Brazilian Robert Scheidt. The five-time world champion won both his heats easily in 18 to 23-knot winds that eased by five knots for the second race. “I had a perfect day,” said Scheidt. “In the first race I started in the middle and went five minutes to the left until I could cross the guys on the starboard side. I rounded the top mark in second place behind Mark Howard who I passed on the downwind. After that I just protected my lead.” Howard, from Great Britain, said with a smile on his face, “I was pleased to round first, but when I saw Robert behind it was a case of ‘after you sir’ because he was so fast.” Scheidt continued “In the second race I started again in the middle but the breeze moved a little bit more to the right. When I tacked I crossed behind two boats but because they overstood I was able to round first and then again I just protected my lead.” Scheidt now moves 9 points ahead of his nearest rival Brendan Casey from Australia.

Frederick Westman from Finland had nearly as good a day as Scheidt finishing a close second to Karl Suneson SWE in the first race of his fleet and having an easier first place ahead of Luis Martinez from Spain in the second race. In the same fleet overnight leader, Ed Wright from Great Britain, lost his edge. Capsizing on the downwind leg when lying fifth he could only manage a ninth and a tenth which on any other day is good result but in this very competitive fleet it was sufficient to drop him 6 places on the overall leader board.

The fleet now carry their results forward to the final series of six races in gold and silver fleets for the next 3 days when a further six races are scheduled.

A-Cat World Championship
Strong breezes forced the cancellation of the first day of racing for the A-Cats as a cold front blew through New England on Sunday. Check out the website for some good video of the practice day and to follow the rest of the championship. The same website will be used for the Tornado Worlds that begin on Sept. 21.