Yachts and Yachting August 1999
THE STORIES AND NEWS from the recent Champagne Mumm Admiral 's Cup (GMAC) are so wide-ranging that it's difficult to know where to start. But I guess the French Affair preceded everything else, so we'll begin there . Bob Fisher reported on the last minute efforts to find a solution to the dispute - over the IMS rating of 'Krazy K-Yote Two"s radical mast - in the previous issue. Newspaper readers will doubtless know that these efforts came to nothing.
Giving the Admiral 's Cup media a poignant photo opportunity , as the crew of the withdrawn French boat watched the fleet depart for the first race without them. There were plenty of rumours circulating in Cowes about the rating certificate shenanigans going on in the background. Essentially , the ORC withdrew the origina l rating provided for the boat, offering instead a revised rating, based on changes to the Velocity Prediction Program at the heart of the IMS rule. The owner , Ortwen Kandler , refused to race unless the original rating was reinstated - and it wasn't. I understand that a report is being prepared by the French Sailing Federation into the events , which should throw more light on what happened and why.
In the meantime , speculation without knowledge is dangerous . And regardless of the detail of what happened , the bottom line is simple - 'Krazy K-Yote Two' should have raced. I didn't speak to any competitors who thought that the withdrawal of the boat from the regatta was a good thing - though it wasn't what you'd call a statistically valid survey.
The fact that 'Krazy K-Yote Two' didn't race is bad for sailing , bad for innovation and bad for yacht design . It could also be fatal for the International Measurement System (IMS) - and the Ocean Racing Council (ORC), whose raison d'etre is to run IMS (there are those who would say that that would actually be a good thing, but I'm staying quiet) . The actions that they took have surely undermined the authority of the rule. My tacit understanding of the treatment of such radical innovation is that if it complies with the letter of the rules - and I believe 'Krazy K-Yote Two' did - then the boat gets to race under the rule as it currently exists.
The innovation may subsequently come to be banned or to attract a rating penalty during the winter round of meetings and rule changes - but the boat has the first season in which to cover itself in glory . This is what happened with the fore and aft swinging mast introduced by the IMS boat, 'Numbers', at the last . GMAC. It should have been the worst fate of 'Krazy K-Yote Two'. To fudge the rule and penalise the boat after two short inshore races is outrageous . A little bit of the sport died.
Outside of those personally involved in the boat - particularly owner Ortwen Kandler and designer Juan Kouyoumdijian - the biggest victim of the affair was the store of yacht design knowledge . That 'Krazy K-Yote ' was quick on the day that she raced in the Berthon.
Source regatta was unquestioned . It was the cause of the subsequent problems. So we know the concept works in flat water and 10-15 knots. But what about 10 knots and a chop offshore? Or downwind in five knots, upwind in 25? Those questions remain unanswered.
The ripples from the arrival of this particular rock in yacht racing's pond, will spread far and wide . I'm sure the creators of the IRM are already looking at the implications for their rule, and how they will deal with other such radical innovation in the future. And what will the reaction of prospective IMS 50 owners be to the events in Cowes? Is anyone keen to build a new boat now? If this nascent IMS 50- footer class turns out to be still-born, it would make a poor choice for the next Admiral 's Cup. With no new boats launched , then it will be a rather tired fleet that comes to the line in 2001.
It could be 1993 all over again - the last time the International Offshore Rule was used in the GMAC. If I was the GMAC Management Committee, I'd be in no rush to confirm the IMS big boat as a class for the next regatta. And given the French Federation 's report, and ISAF's rumoured interest in the affair, we've far from heard the end of it. Plenty of reason to pause, before backing IMS racing in the Admiral 's Cup in two years' time.
Krazy days at CMAC! THE CHAMPAGNE Mumm Admiral's Cup would be a very ordinary affair without the side issues which inevitably arise and give it a piquancy all of its own. Maybe it's the pressure which makes people do strange things, but they continue with unbelievable frequency, sometimes seemingly hell-bent on self destruction, sometimes quite without reason, occasionally without thought , most generally in pursuit of improvement in one way or another, and, thankfully , often steeped in controversy.
It was bad enough going through the entire French farce which led to Ortwen Kandler deciding to withdraw 'Krazy K-Yote Two' (probably the most innovative boat since Australia II) from the regatta, but it was a subject that wasn't to go away. The Cudmore Peace Agreement (reported in this column last time) almost worked; at least two of ihe three members of the French team agreed to take part, but without their flagship . There were understandable reasons why the big boat didn't appear and the guilt for it is not entirely one-sided, but the major blame must lay in the recalcitrance of two of the owners of the other 50s.
The deal before them was to let 'Krazy K-Yote Two' sail with the rating that was awarded after measurement by the RORC and announced on the certificate supplied by that office. It would have allowed the ORC to examine the performance of the boat rather than issue the second certificate which was hardly based on scientific data, let alone on experience of the boat's performance. After the regatta, the ORC could then resort to Rule 101, should it be shown to be necessary , rather than take the panic action which it undoubtedly did. So what , if 'Krazy K-Yote Two' won every race, the French would have only improved two places, from last to seventh, and no one would have been any the worse off, but the world would have had the chance to assess the performance of Juan Kouyoumdjian 's ingenuity. But in his way stood two of the 50 foot owners (not the British or Commonwealth teams), one of them going as far as to threaten that he would see that all the other 50 foot owners didn't race if 'Krazy K-Yote Two' was allowed to sail with her original certificate. That, in my opinion , was the behaviour of a spoilt child.
Or maybe, you ask, why didn't Ortwen Kandler allow his boat to race with the new certificate? That was quite simple. In its arbitrary reassessment of the boat, the ORC had altered the measurements of the offending mast. They were no longer the actual measurements of the spar and Ortwen Kandler felt that it would be wrong to sign that these were the measurements of the boat that he would race. After all, signing a certificate which you know to have incorrect measurements is a 'hanging offence', one for which the ban from racing is for a considerable period. Maybe the ORC should be banned for supplying Monsieur Kandler with these incorrect figures, knowing them to have been falsified, action being taken under Rule 69 of the ISAF's RRS.
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