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Tuesday Morning Digest

A look at the week behind and the week ahead

September 3, 2002
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Bert Willborg/victory Challenge

Victory Challenge and Oracle BMW Racing got a chance to compare boatspeed Monday, sailing four races with four boats on the Blue Race Circle on the Hauraki Gulf. The results? Top secret, per an agreement reached before the races were held. But that didn’t stop Victory Challenge from letting a little information slip by. “Now we know we’re on a par with and have the capacity to beat a team like Oracle BMW,” said Mats Johansson, skipper and strategist aboard Örn (SWE 63). “It’s an important verification.”

With only 27 days to go before the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, every team is out practicing. Bert Wilborg of Victory Challenge, described the activity in a press release on the team’s website, www.victorychallenge.com. “Mascalzone Latino and Alinghi both passed through the blue course area. Alinghi had just finished their sail against OneWorld. GBR Challenge had both their boats out. Team New Zealand were out as well with NZL 60, winning boat in the America’s Cup 2000, which was testing against their first new boat, NZL 81.

After being tasked by the president of the IOC to review the sports, disciplines and event programs for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China the IOC Olympic Program Commission made their recommendations. The first recommendation was for “the reduction of the athlete quota and number of events.” Another was a reduction of the Olympic keelboat classes, due to “cost and complexity.” Since there are only two Olympic keelboat classes, the Star, and the Yngling, proponents of both classes will have plenty to talk about and lobby for. The decision is by no means final, or complete, and ISAF is strongly against any change, and released a statement yesterday to that effect. “The ISAF will have full discussions with the IOC to achieve what is best for the sport of Sailing in all its aspects.”

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The IOC Executive Board will further consider the proposals made by the Olympic Program Commission prior to making any recommendation, which would then be considered at the full IOC session who meet 26-29 November 2002. To follow the furor, see the ISAF home page, www.sailing.org

Joe Dockery’s Farr-designed Carroll Marine 60 Carrera and Skip Sheldon’s 66-foot Reichel/Pugh cruiser/racer Zaraffa will be sharing space on the Stamford YC’s Northern Ocean Racing Trophy after scoring the top spots in their respective divisions in the annual Vineyard Race, held over the holiday weekend.

What was expected to be a shoot out between Carrera, and Bob Towse’s R/P 66 Blue Yankee, didn’t happen, after Blue Yankee sailed out of the pressure on the way out Long Island Sound. “Things were working out well for a while,” said Steve Benjamin, Blue Yankee‘s project manager and primary helmsman. “The wind was coming out of 210 degrees and we thought about soaking down to keep in touch with the fleet but it seemed like a radical move to head 30 degrees off the course to the mark (Buzzard’s Bay entrance light), so we stayed South. Then, at around 10:30 Friday night, the wind shut down for us.”

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Despite what Benjamin described as the “fastest trip back from Buzzard’s Bay we’ve ever had,” and Blue Yankee‘s hitting over 19 knots, Towse’s team was unable to catch Carrera, which also beat Yankee boat-for-boat across the finish line. Carrera‘s win, combined with Yankee‘s fifth-place finish, assured their win of the NORT. Zaraffa, using points earned by winning the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy in the Bermuda race earlier this year, a strong performance in last Spring’s Block Island race, and a class win in the Vineyard Race, was a shoo-in as the racer/cruiser winner of the NORT. www.stamfordyc.org

Yesterday marked the start of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in the Mediterranean and three classes of maxis, IMS, Wally, and Cruisers sailed a thirty-mile distance race. Line Honors in IMS was claimed by Hasso Platner’s Morning Glory but the corrected time winner was Alexia, owned by Alberto Roemmers. In the Wally Yacht division, Max Jones’ Magic Carpet claimed top spot, as did Vittorio Morettis’ Virielle in the Cruiser division. www.my-photobox.com/rolexpressbox

Graham Dalton received some good news/bad news today from the Around Alone Race Committee. The good news is that they’re allowing Dalton to compete in the Around Alone–as long as he completes his qualification sail across the Atlantic. The bad news is that Dalton will be penalized 6 hours for every day after September 1 that he and his Open 60 are not in Newport.

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Following a dismasting last month during his first attempt to qualify for the race, Dalton has been struggling to arrive on time for the opening of the event. He borrowed a spare mast from Kingfisher and is crossing the Atlantic not only to qualify for the event, but to get his Hexagon to Newport in time to step and tune the new rig before the ceremonial start of the race on September 12.

This isn’t the first time Dalton has run afoul of the Around Alone RC. There was a rule change after Hexagon was completed that forced him to modify the boat, and the committee’s refusal to accept Dalton’s Tasman Sea crossing as a qualifying ocean crossing.

The founder of the Around Alone, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, in an interview with the British sailing magazine Yachting World last week, made clear his concerns about Dalton. “Dalton left on his solo voyage from Auckland before the race committee could respond (to a request to accept his Trans-Tasman sail as his race qualifier), said Knox-Johnston. “He arrived in Sydney with a damaged boat and injuries to himself and announced to the race chairman on the phone that he had completed his qualification. He was advised that trans-Tasman was crossing a sea, not an ocean as required by the rules, and this specifically had been turned down in the past. It was suggested that if Mr. Dalton wished his trans-Tasman voyage to be accepted he should present his logs and proof to the race committee for a decision. He stated he could not do this, as his logs had been soaked, as had his calculations for a sight reduction, which is also a part of the qualification.”

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To see if Dalton makes it to Newport on time, and to follow the Around Alone Race, see www.aroundalone.com

As USA-77 is having its bow replaced and USA-66 is having its first shakedown sail on the Hauraki Gulf, you may have expected Stars and Stripes team leader Dennis Conner to be in New Zealand watching over his flotilla. But DC has other fish to fry this week and will instead be in Long Beach, Calif., defending his Etchells 22 World Champion title. Seven races will be sailed to decide the new champion and with strong players in the fleet like 1998 world champion, Canadian Dirk Kneulman, and two-time North American champion Jud Smith, Conner will have his hands full. To follow the action, see: www.abyc.org/2002REGATTAS/ETCHELLSNA/Etchells.html

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