Monday Morning Digest

A quick sweep through the world of racing

Steve Fossett and the crew of Playstation have broken the Fastnet racecourse record of 35 hours, 17 minutes, 14 seconds, taking five hours off the 1999 record set by Loick Peyron aboard Fujicolor II. Playstation averaged 17.1 knots over the 605-mile course. The record is not official until it’s ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

“We left Cowes in light to moderate conditions of 16-20 knots of breeze sailing with the blast reacher and full main sail,’ said watch captain David Scully. “As we approached Fastnet Rock at 10:30am on Saturday, we changed to the Solent headsail as wind speeds increased to the mid 20’s. We were then slowed up by headwinds and had to tack short of the Scilly Isles and bear off around Bishop’s Rock. But the 12-15 knot wind increased to 20-25 knots and we made very good time into Plymouth covering the 100 mile stretch in just 4 hours.”

Further record attempts contemplated for Fossett’s spring’s program include Plymouth to La Rochelle, Marseilles to Carthage, and the Route of Discovery from Cadiz to San Salvador.


**Speaking of giant multihulls, ** the wounded Geronimo limped into Brest harbor Sunday, two weeks after the eleven-man crew abandoned their attempt at the Jules Verne record while sailing off the coast of Brazil. The following press release, issued shortly after skipper Olivier de Kersauson pulled the plug on the attempt, vividly describes the problems the crew encountered.

“Geronimo was travelling at over 28 knots when the helm locked solid with a horrendous noise like a pneumatic drill, accompanied by violent vibrations. The crew slowed her and changed her trim, but nothing seemed to work: the rudder blade was shaking itself violently for several seconds at a time, without warning and at random intervals.”

The naval architects, designers, and engineers of Geronimo will now conduct a thorough investigation to determine how and why the 111-foot tri, which uses only one rudder, had such bad control problems.


Despite difficult wave and wind conditions that are sometimes forcing them to head ENE, the crew of Orange, Bruno Peyron’s big cat, are still two days ahead of the record for the Jules Verne record. A high-pressure zone with fluky winds is the culprit. “I didn’t expect to encounter such difficult conditions in the South Atlantic,” said Peyron. “It’s not good at all but we are getting through it quite well. In view of the conditions we are doing alright.”

Bruce Schwab and the crew of Ocean Planet have successfully transited the Panama Canal on their trip to deliver the open 60 monohull to Newport, R.I., for the start of the Around Alone race in September. On the way, they’ll stop in Antigua for Race Week. To follow the voyage, and to keep up with Schwab and his efforts, see

US SAILING President Dave Rosekrans has presented the organization’s One-Design Awards, given annually for outstanding contributions to one-design class leadership.


Bernie Kuse of the Jacomo Sailing Club (Kansas City, MO) received the John H. Gardiner Service Award, given in recognition of distinguished service and exceptional leadership in the promotion of one-design sailing and class organization. Joseph Sullivan (New York, NY) received the One-Design Leadership Award given in recognition of individual initiative, enthusiasm, organizing ability and leadership in creating the one-design fleet-building program of the year. The Corinthian Yacht Club (Seattle, WA) received the Club Award for administrative excellence, fleet growth, creative programming, regatta support, and member contribution. For the complete breakdown, see:

**At the Sailing World San Diego NOOD regatta, ** Etchells racer Erik Bentzen of Seattle entered the final day of racing with a three-point lead over San Diego’s Andy LaDow. But a slim points lead is never large enough in this class, notable around the globe as a minefield of world-class talent. On the final day of racing, Bentzen held his edge with finishes of 4-10. That final record was enough for a class win over second-place LaDow, a local racer who won the class at the 2000 NOOD.

Two classes used this event to compete for class championships. Zach Berkowitz, a San Francisco sailor clearly in his element in the strong breeze, captured the International 14 West Coast Championship by 18 points, the largest points margin in the regatta. Berkowitz won all six races to take the class title.


Greg Hamm of Las Vegas topped a fleet of eight Holder 20s for the class’ 2002 National Championship title. Hamm was one of two skippers who successfully defended his class win from the 2001 NOOD.

Chick Pyle and Chuck Nichols of San Diego also successfully defended a class win from last year’s event, to capture top honors once again in the J/120 class.