CMAC 40: The Admiral's Cup management committee faces an interesting choice for its new mid-sized one design.

When the parameters of this new class were announced, general reaction from designers and builders suggested that few would bother to compete with the then obvious choice of the existing Farr 40. The class is well established, the boat is fast and there is already a well organised owners' association. At the same time the 'beauty contest' had an impossibly short lead time and the investment required to compete seriously was probably not warranted.

However, the industry has proved surprisingly resilient. There are now a number of extremely well accredited proposals sitting at 20 St. James' Place, including at least one which offers an underwritten charter package for up to 15 CMAC entries.

First off, the management committee faces a simple but potentially far reaching decision. On the one hand it has the Farr 40 (the owners' association has now agreed to the class being put forward), and on the other a choice of several good alternatives. The Farr 40 would work, no question. It's a great boat, albeit generously canvassed, as are many of the most enduring one designs. But the danger is to the existing class; quite how a good owner-driven class expects to protect itself against an influx of CMAC professional campaigns is beyond me.

Meanwhile, by taking a clear risk, and going for an alternative class that, due to its newness is less well established, the management committee will give an encouraging sign to the industry as a whole. The truth is that when talking grand prix racer, designers are the best sales people. Narrow the boundaries too far, and you necessarily limit the field, particularly in Europe and Australia where local designers still maintain loyal followings. Don't underestimate the ripples.

Starboats - what can you say?
They might have acted carelessly in allowing themselves to be initially dropped from the Olympics for Sydney 2000, in a tactical voting play during the November 1996 ISAF meetings, but now they fought back. Cayard lobbying in Switzerland, IOC delegations, the whole shooting match.

As this is written the final ISAF vote had yet to be taken but the outcome was looking promising; for a (generously canvassed) boat designed in 1911. The lesson to other aspiring classes is clear; a strong class association can do almost anything. But you need to get the whole fleet involved, especially those at the top. Only truly significant boats can do this.

Sails over the side - an organizer's dilemma
The issue of sails stacked on deck during the current Whitbread Race is a difficult one. No on doubts the dangers of the present trends in ballasting, though few had anticipated the extent of the knock-on effect of destroyed stanchions and pushpits. The implications of sailing a W60 in the South without lifelines are daunting.

The problem, as ever, is of policing the ungovernable. Having spoken to the race organizers, after the carnage of leg two, it is clear they are aware of the dangers but feel powerless to control them. I am certain that the key risk is not of losing sails, or even, hopefully, of anyone being swept overboard by 500 plus kg of wet sailbags sliding aft at 15 knots, but of human damage when moveable object meets immovable object. The organizers have declared themselves satisfied with the additional pad eyes and lashing points fitted by most of the fleet in Cape Town, but this must remain an area of concern for the future.

Royal & SunAlliance
As this is written the 11 women that make up Tracy Edward's crew on Royal & SunAlliance are waiting for routing maestro Bob Rice to say the word, to allow them to start their brave round-the world attempt on the Trophy Jules Verne.

Olivier de Kersauson's existing record of 71 days is a formidable benchmark. But Edward's project is well prepared and well funded. We wish them every success.

SORC 1998 - welcome
As a further step towards supporting our readers in the USA Seahorse is proud to have been appointed as the official magazine at the 1998 Cutty Sark SORC in Miami

We hope as many competitors as possible from this year's Yachting Key West Race Week will stay in the sun for the second major event of the US midwinter season. We look forward to meeting you there.