Monday Morning Report for Week of 17 October

Team Trouble Upsets World Champions at Hinman Trophy, ISAF World Match Racing Championship Underway, America's Cup Team China Season Summary

Russell Coutts on His New Boat With this new boat, your endorsement and development relationships, and your sailing schedule, have you gotten back to a comfortable level of activity? It's too much right now. I'm still trying to sail a lot because I think that's important for the whole design aspect. I want to be out there seeing what the latest technology is and how the new boats perform. [The new boat], which started off as a bit of fun really has developed into a bit more than that. I'm just trying to put all the parts together now. What was the design brief you gave to yourself and co-designer Andrej Justin? First of all, we wanted something that is distinguished in the market. And I wanted it to be at the top end of technology. The second thing is I was looking at sort of a reaction to the escalating costs in the sport and hassle factor. People are becoming busier and busier, they don't want to spend time working on their boats and organizing crew so I made the boat as logistically simple as possible. We looked at making the boat more easily transportable. The boats displayed [at the Genoa Boat Show] on its trailer on its side. It's easily storable. For an owner who wants to race his boat in a series of races in the summer, he can put it away for the winter relatively easily. In terms of the build, what we wanted to do was have almost an uncompromised build to provide a boat that was a real race boat, and a fun to sail, especially downwind. It seems that's where people are having the most fun these days, sailing downwind. We wanted a degree of complexity in the design so an owner could experience what a top-end race boat is like. The trim tab, the spinnaker dropping system, and the way the deck layout is laid out-even the way it sails, being relatively overpowered upwind-were all things we did to give the owner that experience. Where do you see this boat going? The one thing that I think is key with this boat is to have a strong class association. There's been some events that have approached us about using this for match racing, but I want the focus to be on fleet racing. I want it to be one-design and I want it to be fun. The concept is you won't be able to change anything on the boat, even the size of the ropes. We are going to provide a little bit of flexibility with the sails because I think that's an area of development. We're going to have limit on the number of sails you can buy, but were not going to have any limits on structure. What about restrictions on professional sailors? It's going to be pretty similar set of rules to the Farr 40. I think that's been pretty successful. We're going to have three pros on the boat and four amateurs. A crew of seven. That won't stop us from having some professional events and maybe that's where the match racing will come in. Definitely owner-driver and definitely amateur owner driver. I will own a boat, but I won't be able to drive it, but that's fine I don't mind being tactician. For more of Sailing World's exclusive interview with Russell Coutts, including his take on the America's Cup fleet racing, click here. Team Trouble Upsets World Champions to Win Hinman Trophy LARCHMONT, N.Y. (17 October 2005) - "Our motto's going to be 'keep our sticks up,'" yelled one boat from Team Trouble to another as they sailed into the final race of the semi-finals, down one race already. With winds gusting to 40 mph at one point, the final day of sailing at the U.S. Team Racing Championship for the George R. Hinman trophy was wet, wild and thrilling. Keeping your sticks up turned out the phrase of the day as sixth-ranked Team Trouble won its semi finals against Team Racing World Champions Cape Cod Whishbone. In another upset, second-ranked Silver Panda lost its semi-final match to eighth-ranked Route 3 Split with Silver Panda capsizing at the start of both of its matches. With the breezes continuing to build, the final races were to be the last of the day. Team Trouble won the first despite having to do spins earlier on. In race 2, Team Trouble once again had to spin and then as a strong puff blew through, capsized. It looked like Route 3 Split had it sewn up and then a second puff blew down one boat from each team. This gave Team Trouble's boat which had by now righted, a chance to get back in the game. With two boats in the water, the scores were tied. It would all come down to how fast the sailors could right their boats and how they would then tactically manage to finish. All of this is a fairly steady 30 knots of wind with higher gusts. In the end, Team Trouble (Matt Allen, Glen Oaks, NY; Timothy Cain, Marlborough, NJ; Brad Funk, Belleair Bluffs, FL; Heather Pescatello, Westerly, RI; Anna Tunnicliffe, Norfolk, VA; and Mark Zagol, New York, NY) had the winning combination and are the 2005 U.S. Team Racing Champions. "Having only squeaked into the Gold Fleet, it's especially satisfying to have won," said Tim Cain. "Especially after then being down 1-0 in the semis," said captain Matt Allen. http://www.ussailing.org/championships/adult/ustrc/2005/Daily%20Update/DailyReports.htm Day 2 of ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship HAMILTON HARBOUR, Bermuda (16 October 2005) - The flat waters and light breeze provided a challenging battleground for the 12 international women sailing teams competing on the second day of The Virtual Specators' ISAF Women's Match Race World Championship. Marje Bjorling and her Swedish crew ended the day as clear leaders with a 9-2 scoreline followed by Betsy Alison (USA) in second place and Nina Braestrup from Denmark in 3rd. While Bjorling has enjoyed a stellar two days of racing, Sally Barkow, the defending American world champion climbed back from a mid-fleet position in the heavier winds experienced on Saturday to take fourth place. American sailing veteran Betsy Alison who won all 6 of her races on Saturday, struggled in the lighter conditions yesterday but is still well placed to make the cut today. Bermudian sailor Paula Lewin, the local favorite, completed Sunday's round robin in eighth place after finishing on the wrong side of a four-way tie. French sailor Claire Leroy enjoyed a comeback to end up in 5th place. Along with the women's championship, a continuous battle amongst 11 men and one woman rages as they compete in the 'open,' unseeded qualifying event for the King Edward VII Gold Cup and a shot at racing against the seeded challengers and a portion of the $100,000 prize money. The unseeded sailors are some of the world's best and include teams members challenging for the 32nd America's Cup such as South African sailor Ian Ainslie of Team Shosholoza, New Zealander Cameron Appleton of the French K-Challenge Team and Poland's Karol Jabolonski who steers the Spanish Desafio Espanol challenge. He won all his races on Sunday. Seeded skippers entering the competition on Thursday include Eight top match race sailors (with ISAF Open Ranking): Ed BAIRD, #2 (USA), Russell COUTTS, #3 (New Zealand), Mathieu RICHARD, #4 (France), James SPITHILL, #5 (Australia), Ian WILLIAMS, #7 (Great Britain), Staffan LINDBERG, #10 (Finland), Gavin BRADY, #37 (New Zealand), and Chris DICKSON, #45 (New Zealand). They will meet the top six finishers in the Grade 3 Qualifying event plus the Virtual Spectator ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion and runner-up. http://www.vssailing.com/index2.html RYA National Ranker And 49er Gold Series 2005 WEYMOUTH, Great Britain (17 October 2005) - 49er World silver medalists and European Champions Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks put up a dominant display at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy this weekend to clinch first place in both the RYA 49er Gold Series and the RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking Series. In their first competitive events since the ISAF Grade W 49er World Championship in Moscow, Russia just over six weeks ago, the Weymouth locals tightened their grip on the €2,500 Gold Series, building on their 15 point lead from the opening weekend on 8-9 October, to finally finish 21 points ahead of fellow RYA Team GBR performance squad members Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes in second place after 14 races. Denmark's Jonas Warrer and Martin Kirketerp were third behind Morrison and RHODES with 76 points, while GBR's David Evans and Rick Peacock scooped the Gold Series' €200 prize for the highest ranked under 20 year old team. The six-race 2005 RYA Olympic Classes National Ranking event for the 49ers also saw Draper and Hiscocks and Morrison and Rhodes occupying the top two steps of the podium, with French duo Alexandre Monteau and Pamieu Guillou taking third place. www.sailing.org With Americas Cup Class Season Over, a Look Back at the SeasonFor the next 12 weeks, we'll examine the performance of each of the 12 teams of the 32nd America's Cup, beginning this week with China Team and working our way up the 2005 America's Cup Class Season Championship. We'll examine how the teams performed this year, and look at their prospects for the future. China Team had the toughest of seasons in the ACC Season Championship 2005. In Valencia they finished both Louis Vuitton Acts in 11th place, ahead of Shosholoza on both occasions. In Malmo they were last in both Acts. In Trapani they were last in the match racing but finished in 11th in the final Louis Vuitton Act, the fleet racing, ahead of K-Challenge. So on paper, there's not much to cheer about. But it's important to remember that this is the only part-time team on the America's Cup circuit. Building, sailing and maintaining these boats at the top level is a high-cost, full-time commitment. Pierre Mas knows what he needs to reach the next level. "To be competitive we have to work hard, and to work hard we need a full time, full team," he says. "And for that, we need to complete our budget. Now the 2005 races are over, the goal of the next weeks and months is to be able to finalise our budget, to enable us to work in a different way in 2006. "What I want for next year is to have everybody involved full time in Valencia. If we can do that, we can be more competitive in 2006 and 2007." The other big challenge for Mas is to build an America's Cup boat in a country with no prior experience of constructing such a hi-tech sailing machine. But having returned from China on a tour of various boat yards, Mas is encouraged by what he has seen. "There is more than one possibility for building this boat, in Qingdao or Shanghai, for example," he says. Even now, Mas rules out the chance of racing a new boat in the Louis Vuitton Acts next year. He is focussed on having a boat completed towards the end of next year. "To be ready for the end of 2006, we need to start building by the end of March at the latest," he explains. "And then we have a delivery problem, because it will take at least a month to ship the boat from China to Valencia." For the rest of the story, please visit http://americascup.com/en/acmag/features/index.php?idIndex=0&idContent=4461 Changes to Volvo Race Forces Skippers to Be Ready for Anything Your average man does not get his thrills from walking down blind alleys, but for Ericsson Skipper Neal McDonald the prospect of thrashing a boat he doesn't know particularly well around a new race course makes this year's Volvo Ocean Race the most exciting yet.

McDonald and the rest of the fleet have been plucked from the VO60 yachts used in the previous few races and are preparing to sail the amended course - with In Port races designed to coax a sprint from the endurance athletes - in the fastest ever monohull built by man. To add some extra spice the race organisers have even changed some of the rules.

But rather than feeling trepidation in the face of the unfamiliar, McDonald has revealed stepping both onto and into the unknown aboard his brand new Volvo Open 70 will make this race more challenging and more fun than ever before.

"There is so much we don't know about the boats. In the previous races we have known a huge amount. If you ask our Technical Director, Magnus Olsson about the VO 60, he has had 12 years experience with them, whereas we have had just over 12 weeks to learn the idiosyncrasies of this current class," McDonald, one of eight British sailors involved in the race, said.

"The Volvo Open 70 is a physically more demanding boat and technically more complicated, and there will be some new skills required to get the best out of them. We have a whole new rule book to learn as to how hard to push these boats and how hard to push the people that are sailing them. The majority of the attraction for taking part in a race like this is that we are racing against other competitors that are in a similar situation. An added bonus for this race is the fact that we will be racing a new exciting class and effectively breaking new ground in terms of fully crewed offshore sailing.

"All the teams have made their own decisions on how best to configure their boat and to optimize the various systems. It is very rare in a campaign like this for none of the boats to have lined up against each other before the start - it certainly makes it all the more exciting.

"The In Port races themselves are an unknown. It will also be tough to finish a leg knowing that in a short space of time we've got to do an inshore race. It will be like finishing a really long rally race then doing a Formula 1 race in between! The last few weeks before the start are always hectic and this time will be worse than previous starts with the addition of the In Port racing and the new class of boat."

Presumably life gets easier thereafter? Wrong. "Right now, it's the calm before the storm," he added.