Guest Commentary

Scuttlebutt strongly encourages feedback from the Scuttlebutt community. Either submit comments by email or post them on the Forum. Submitted comments chosen to be published in the newsletter may be limited to 250 words. Authors may have one published submission per subject, and should save their bashing and personal attacks for elsewhere.


* From Paul Ludgate:
It makes me want to throw up seeing comments like this in Scuttlebutt 3465:

“The commercial existence of such a system gives Olivia’s family a substantial leg up in a defective design products liability/wrongful death suit against the harness manufacturer, boat builder, vendors, etc., as it proves a safer system is practical, an element of a products liability case. It also bears on the potential negligence of any junior program that
continues with existing hook and ring systems.”

Most certainly it was a tragedy to take the girl’s life, but all that will come of this type of action is that some lawyers will line their pockets and our “nanny state” will try to ensure there is one less thing that may harm us. Perhaps we should not be on the water at all. After all, drowning is a distinct possibility whenever we venture off terra firma

COMMENT: I received several calls and emails today, all critical of Cory’s comments and my decision to publish them. The purpose of this report was not to drum up business or dismantle youth programs, but rather give thought to insure today’s standard equipment remains the best solution, and for sailing programs to review the tools they believe will protect them in the event of an accident. My apologies to anyone who was offended by this intent. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

* From John McNeill:
The debate regarding a requirement for mandatory PFDs, posted for many races, brings up valid pro and con arguments, but they do not necessarily solve the dilemma. After decades of sailing, and seeing or reading of the huge variety of situations, I have become convinced that the only correct solution today is the inflatable (NOT self-inflating) PFD. It may not serve in the case of unconsciousness, but will provide the individual with control over use in case of rigging entanglements or a full turtling.

One issue with these PFDs however, is maintenance, and it is time for some forward-thinking producer to come out with a program that provides the necessary replacement cartridge and instruction on a timely basis for users. In that manner, we may once again defeat Darwin, and survive.

* From Mary-Ann Sharwood:
I suspect that the breakages in the Volvo Ocean Race are more to do with the sea state than the winds. The waves in the Med would have been steep and short compared to the long swells found in the open ocean in 30 knots.

* From Jesse Fradkin:
I know that I wouldn’t want to be sailing around the world in a boat in which I had any doubt about its ability to take a pounding from a mere 30 knots going upwind. It certainly means I do not think it wise to attempt to race around the world in a similarly under-built boat built for speed way over safety or structural integrity in a decent sea state.

When these lightweight super sleds or cats start to break up in 25 to 30 knots of wind in a race, I truly think it’s past time to rethink exactly what we’re doing here for speed at any cost. So far, thankfully, only the race has been lost in these unfortunate incidents.

COMMENT: The VO 70 rule has evolved to improve safety and durability, but the race organizers must now be wondering what more needs to be done. Risk must exist to foster interest in the race, but the business of the race requires boats to be on the water and not on the hard. Luckily, the four remaining boats are all legitimate contenders, and the video production is light years better than the 2008-9 edition ( – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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