Photo of the Day
December 10 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Today's Photo of the Day is of Bonnie Fraik trimming the plastic Christmas tree aboard Impulse, the SC 52 she and husband Bob have in Mexico. It hasn't seemed much like Christmas in Banderas Bay the last week, with evening heat so stifling it was almost impossible to sleep without a fan directed right at your face. Even Santa was noticed walking around in a 'banana sling' rather than a red suit. Fortunately, things are starting to cool down.
Oracle BMW Finally Loses a Race
December 10 - Auckland, NZ
Drama marked the opening races of the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final in Auckland today, with lead changes and broken equipment providing plenty of excitement as the yachts raced in southwesterly breezes of 16-20 knots.
Photo Bob Grieser/Louis Vuitton Cup
As expected, the clash between Oracle BMW Racing (USA-76) and Alinghi (SUI-64) provided a highly charged pre-start, full of action and aggression. Peter Holmberg, steering USA-76, gained a slight advantage off the line, but Russell Coutts at the helm of SUI-64 had the right-hand side and used it to advantage. Soon after the start, the Swiss team gained the edge and then sailed a classic match race, relentlessly covering and playing the windshifts to slowly extend to a comfortable lead - ending the 11-race winning streak enjoyed by USA-76 since Chris Dickson took over the skipper's role. The margin of victory was 1 minute, 11 seconds. Oracle BMW now trails 1-0 in the best of seven series. If Oracle BMW were to lose, they'd have a match with the winner of OneWorld and Prada to see who races against Alinghi.
In the match between Luna Rossa (ITA-74) and OneWorld (USA-67), the Italian yacht, skippered by Francesco de Angelis, gained the upper hand in the start. But, a pattern soon emerged where OneWorld, helmed by James Spithill, had better speed upwind and Prada had the pace downwind. The lead changed five times during the race. Prada's de Angelis drove hard downwind, working the boat down every wave trying to gain every ounce of speed. Drama struck on the second downwind leg when Prada luffed OneWorld and broke their spinnaker pole in the process. OneWorld powered into the lead and extended up the third windward leg, only to break its spinnaker on the final run. Prada closed up, but not enough to threaten the American yacht. Weather permitting, there'll be more racing today. For details, visit www.louisvuittoncup.yahoo.com.
Yacht Abandoned During Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
December 10 - Atlantic Ocean
Peter and Zara Davies of the Plymouth, England, based Hunter Legend 450 F2 have abandoned their boat following rudder problems. On December 1, they'd lost their rudder in big seas that had been characteristic of this year's ARC. Fortunately, a jury rig rudder was put together by the crew of Tenacious, which allowed F2 to continue to St. Lucia. Alas, Sunday night the jury rudder failed also, leaving the boat without steering. Much worse, she was taking on water nearly 1,000 miles from shore. ARC organizers directed the yachts Lorrigray II, Muskrat, and Toutazimut to stand by. Eventually, the Davies, along with their German shepherd Ellie, evacuated the boat in an orderly fashion and joined Lorrigray II, a Dix 65 from South Africa.
Diadem, a Catana 582 hailing from Germany,
arrives in St. Lucia, finishing the ARC.
Photo Tim Wright/Photo Action
In other ARC news, Mark and David Bernhard's Northern California-based Catana 581 cat is believed to have finished in the top 15% of the fleet, despite sailing with youngsters and having lost half their chutes within the first half hour of setting one. More tomorrow.
The Uncertain Future of Balls-to-the-Wall Around-the-World Crewed Racing
December 10 - Planet Earth
These are crucial times for what the foreseeable future of crewed around-the-world sailboat racing will look like. The Volvo Ocean Race, formerly the Whitbread, had always been the premiere around-the-world crewed event, and made international superstars out of the last two winning skippers, Paul Cayard and John Kostecki, both of Northern California. But despite protestations to the opposite by Volvo, the last Volvo was seen as something of a disappointment, both in the number of entries and in garnering attention. As Volvo makes plans for the next race in the winter of 2005/2006, it's uncertain whether they will go to bigger boats or a slightly different course to try to gain more publicity.
The Volvo 60 illbruck
Photo Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race
Meanwhile, Bruno Peyron of France, who put together The Race, the around-the-world event for maxi multihulls two years ago, used the Paris Boat Show to announce two around-the-world multihull events that would be in direct conflict with the Volvo. The events include a second running of The Race, to be held in 2004, and a Race Tour, an around-the-world race with stops, to be held every four years starting in 2005/06.
Club Med in The Race
Photo Courtesy Club Med
What makes the future unclear is that Volvo has all the money, clout, and skills to put together a great event, but Peyron's proposed Race Tour has much more appeal to the prime competitors from recent Whitbreads and the last VOR. Specifically, superstars such as John Kostecki, Paul Cayard, Grant Dalton, Neal MacDonald, Ross Field, and Roger Nilson are reported to be more interested in doing the Race Tour rather than another Volvo. Why? The big multihulls are faster than the Volvo monohulls, they are more fun to sail, and they seem to inherently attract more attention. This the opinion of sailors such as Nilson, who have raced around the world on both the Volvos and the maxi cats. It's noteworthy that Ellen MacArthur, the most bankable sailor - male or female - in the world today, has done her last race with her Open 60 monohull Kingfisher, and has taken delivery of the 110-ft maxi cat Kingfisher2, formerly Orange, and will soon be going after the Jules Verne around-the-world record.
Kingfisher2 emerges from the shed.
Photo Courtesy www.kingfisher-challenges.com/uk
Nilson thinks it would be great if Volvo's money and Peyron's superior vision could be combined in one great event. The fact that this is a no-brainer of a great idea doesn't mean it's going to happen. Even though Volvo officials have reportedly acknowledged that at some time in the future they will probably have to go to multihulls, they don't want to do it now, and rebuffed an appeal by Peyron, with Nilson's help, to join forces. One problem is that Volvo is very conservative, and just last month 15 of 18 multihulls were destroyed, damaged, or flipped in the Route du Rhum.
December 10 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace
Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at http://www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps.
December 10 - Pacific Ocean
San Francisco Bay Weather
To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.
The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.
California Coast Weather
Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.
Pacific Winds and Pressure
The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.
Pacific Sea State