Yachts and Yachting July 1999

Yachts and Yachting July 1999

CMAC Chaos WITH A DAY TO GO to the first race, the majority of the nine teams threatened to pull out of the Champagne Mumm Admiral ‘s Cup if ‘Krazy K-Yote Two’, the 50-footer of the French team was allowed to race with the handicap certificate with which she was issued on the previous day. Her owner , Ortwen Kandler, said that he would not race with, a certificate that had been ‘fudged ‘ by the Offshore Racing Council which took a second look at his revolutionary designed yacht, and which gave it a greater time penalty. The standoff was not settled satisfactorily late on the afternoon of the day before the first race.

Kandler put the cat among the pigeons by commissioning Juan Kouyoumdjian to design a boat which would be fast and innovative and conform to the IMS, which is managed by the ORC. The young Frenchman produced a hull with fine lines, but, more importantly for this issue, a free standing mast with no side rigging. He says that the heavier mast favoured by the IMS made this decision for him and with the composite materials technology has been made possible . ‘The aircraft industry figured this out years ago,’ he said.

Not only that, Kouyoumdjian gave adequate notice (six months at least) to the ORC of what he proposed to do, something which it is reasonable to suggest that the ORC with so few new boats in build to consider should have been able to direct its technical branch to review in depth. The ORC says that it wanted to, but when they asked for more precise details they received no answer.

‘Bruce Farr doesn’t have to supply plans of each new boat he proposes to design for every owner ,’ said Kouyoumdjian, ‘and I didn’t see why there was any necessity for me to give the ORC any further details. I had told them what I was proposing to do, and that should have been enough .’ His comments are reasonable and in line with generally accepted principles.

The offend ing mast of ‘Krazy K-Yote Two’ is essent ially a carbon fibre ‘I’ beam, set ath wartships with Kevlar and glassfibre fairings fore and aft to make it into a wing sect ion. It is aerodynamically sound and benefits from the lack of windage of the rigging. The IMS bases its handicapping on the yacht ‘s theoretical speed, its VPP, but was not prepared for a mast of this type , so that when the boat was measured and a certificate issued by the British rating office, it had seemed that everything was settled. But several of the other owners in the ‘big boat’ class, notably Pasquale Landolfi of ‘Brava 08’ in the European team and Paolo Gaia from Italy with ‘Breeze 3’, wrote in protest of the French yacht’s rating and the Chief Measurer of the ORC, Nicola Sironi from Italy, withdrew ‘Krazy K-Yote Two’s’ certificate, and, after a short deliberation and calculation of the benefits he fe lt were gained by the revolutionary rig, issued a second certificate. The ‘fudge’ offended Kandler and he immediately withdrew his boat from the Admiral’s Cup.

The British team was not one of those who were offended. Peter Morton, coowner of ‘Venture ’99’, the British big boat , said, ‘You don’t fly across the Atlantic in a plane whose wings are supported by wires. This is a natural development and the ORC has been aware of it for six months or more. Why should it wait until two days before the regatta to impose its will?’ Kouyoumdjian called the ORC a ‘Banana Republic;’ adding , ‘We have been dictated to by the ORC for the past four days .’ The withdrawal of ‘Krazy K-Yote Two’ effectively withdrew the entire French team , which didn’t please the Champagne Mumm sponsors , who had agreed only to support the event this year if there were ten teams and one of them was French. The company seemed happy with just nine teams , but with the demise of the French, this could be the last Champagne Mumm Admiral’s Cup.

Stephane Kandler, the son of the owner of the boat which has made a technical breakthrough, said that his father was so disgusted with the situation that he stayed in France. ‘We know the boat has been accepted as fully legal, that it was measured and that it was issued with a rating certificate . It was only later that the ORC acted incorrectly. My father was asked to sign a certificate in which the measurements of the mast were incorrect. ‘ Kandler said that he too thought that this was unethical. An hour later, the French team officially withdrew from the championship.

There are, however, more ways of skinning a cat than with a knife. Only an hour and a half after the French team had made its announcement , it had gathered on the lawn of the RYS for a cocktail party to inaugurate the 22nd Champagne Mumm Admiral’s Cup and a member of the French Mumm 36 crew said, ‘I have just telephoned my wife and told her and my son to expect us at home late tomorrow ,’ adding, ‘unless a miracle occurs .’ It was pointed out to him that at that moment, a curly haired Irishman with a mobile telephone to his ear was giving a good impression of trying to be a latter day Jesus Christ, at least in the miracle department. Harold Cudmore , the Chernikeeff British Team Manager , was attempting to mend fences and put the French back into the Admiral’s Cup. ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me earlier,’ Cudmore complained , ‘It only needs common sense to have all nine teams racing tomorrow.’ Off the record, he admitted there were intransigents in the equation, but he didn’t see any reason why all the differences shouldn’t be settled.

‘They have been thorns in the flesh in the past, why should that make any difference?’ Cudmore darted between the various groups on the Squadron lawn, and it became patently obvious that he was slowly winning the battle. The initial frown began to disappear and the necessary journeys between groups diminished. Eventually , it was down to two and it was here that Cudmore found that his mission was going to be difficult.

One 50 foot owner was digging in his heels and refusing to reconsider. Cudmore continued in his reconciliatory mode as the twilight diminished and those invited to dinner in the Castle left the lawn. At that stage, Cudmore was adamant that the French would race, and the recalcitrant owner of one team’s SO-footer (the same one who had instigated the witch hunt against the French boat) was similarly adamant that they wouldn’t. ‘It could be that one team is missing,’ said Cudmore, ‘but I doubt that it will be the French.’ The deal that he was trying to broker was difficult – he wanted the big red French boat to race using the certificate which had been originally issued by the RORC’s Rating Office, and not the ‘fudged’ one. There was no room for negotiation. It was typical brinkmanship with which Cudmore has shown that he can deal with effectively in the past, and only the final tally on the starting line of the GMAC will tell just who has won the day. My money is on Cudmore.