July 2, 2008

Puddle Jumpers Gather at Tahiti-Moorea

Hundreds of paddlers were competing in the Tahiti lagoon as part of the annual Heiva Festival.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Each year dozens of boats ‘jump the puddle’ from the west coast of the Americas to French Polynesia. Because they arrive over a three-month period, it’s impossible to stage an end-of-passage celebration which all Puddle Jumpers can attend. But those who were lucky enough to be passing through Tahiti last week were given a splendid two-day welcome by Tahiti Tourisme board and its partners called the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous.

Following opening day dockside festivities at the Papeete Yacht Quay and an evening cocktail party Friday, the fleet set sail for Moorea Saturday morning past hundreds of local canoe racers.

When they entered the Moorea pass, cruisers received a classic Polynesian greeting.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Once ashore at Moorea, Puddle Jumpers enjoyed a traditional Polynesia ‘maa’ luncheon then joined in a wide variety of age-old Tahitian sports. The highlight was the canoe race, where cruisers are teamed up with local paddlers in six-person outrigger canoes. Paddling the course was quite a workout, but well worth the effort.

The Charisma crew, with a little help from local paddlers, won their heat in the canoe races.

latitude/Andy
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
A young surfer girl from Sunshine won the women’s heat in the ‘fruit carrier’s race’.

latitude/Andy
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude 38 is proud to have been a partner in this two-day fête, and we’ll bring you a full report in next month’s magazine (also available online after August 5).

Local dancers showed the cruisers a few new moves.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Don’t Blame the EPA

A 2006 U.S. District Court ruling is forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a ‘discharge permit’ for every recreational boat in the U.S. — including sailboats, kayaks and rubber inner tubes. The ruling came about because of a lawsuit addressing the issue of commerical ships dumping potentially polluted ballast water into local waters, possibly introducing invasive species (the zebra mussel is a good example). The EPA has historically exempted rec boats from ‘clean water’ laws applied to commercial shipping.

BoatUS has been screaming long and loud about the ruling, which is slated to go into effect September 30, and we think you should too. Here’s an excerpt of their latest press release:

"In response to a federal court order, the EPA has issued a draft permit for millions of recreational vessels for ‘normal operational discharges’ that could open a Pandora’s box of compliance problems and unfairly subject recreational boaters to potential nuisance lawsuits.

"The EPA draft puts boaters and anglers squarely under new Clean Water Act regulations that go into effect September 30, 2008. The permit requires boaters to comply with a set of worrisome national requirements as well as additional state requirements ‘to be determined.’ Penalties carry up to a $32,500 daily fine for each violation.

“The draft permit would allow the EPA, the US Coast Guard, a state authority or some private contractor to inspect a boat and take discharge samples. If requested, a boater would be required to provide such government officials with information to determine permit compliance.

“Also included in the draft EPA permit is the onerous requirement that every state must approve the federal permit before this September 30. Each state may add on its own regulations, potentially creating multiple requirements for boaters cruising between states. After the initial permit this fall, the EPA will then outline for the states how they can implement their own permit systems, which could result in additional state modifications of the permit requirements as well as fees for boaters.

"BoatUS is urging all boaters and anglers to contact their federal lawmakers to bring corrective legislation to the Senate and House floor for a full vote as soon as possible. The Clean Boating Act of 2008 — S. 2766 in the Senate and H.R. 5949 in the House of Representatives — would restore the federal exemption for recreational vessels for ‘normal operational discharges’ that has been in existence for the past 35 years until the federal courts recently determined otherwise.

"To contact your federal legislators, learn more about the Clean Boating Act of 2008, or to make comments on the draft EPA permit by August 1 go to BoatBlue.org or BoatUS.com/gov."

Final Day Jumbles Finish at Youth Champs

Jake La Dow and Brooks Clark go down the mine at the US Sailing Youth Champs. The event was hosted by San Francisco YC and sailed on the Circle.

© 2008 Peter Lyons

The US Sailing Youth Championships, hosted by San Francisco YC June 29- July 2, concluded yesterday and it didn’t even need a medal race like the Olympics to create some down-to-the-wire drama — two of the fleets were decided in the final race. We mention the Olympics, because if the roster of past winners of the event is any precedent, some of these sailors will probably end up there at some point — especially since, despite hailing from lighter-air venues, they proved capable of mastering the 15- to 20-knot breezes and Berkeley Circle chop they saw this weekend.

In the 22-boat Laser fleet, Cam Cullman, sailing for the American Yacht Club out of Rye, New York, pulled off an upset victory. Early leader Luke Lawrence of Jupiter, Florida, was OCS in the eighth and final race — his second of the regatta — which dropped him to fourth place overall. The victory was especially sweet for Cullman who was sailing in his last Youth Champs before becoming ineligible due to age. "I feel amazing," he said. "This is the best feeling in the world!"

Weymouth 2012 anyone? Youth Champs sailors got a taste of the conditions sailors will be seeing in the next Olympic Cycle. Will we be seeing any of them there? You never know.

© Peter Lyons

In the 38-boat Laser Radial fleet, early front runner Chris Barnard from Newport Beach dropped to third place after a 16th in the final race. Philip Crain of Houston, vaulted into the top spot with solid second- and third-place finishes on the final day. Colin Smith of Ft. Lauderdale, who won the Laser division last year, took second. Saratoga’s Claire Dennis was the top female and top singlehanded Nor Cal finisher in ninth.

A 29er team prepares to send the kite.

© 2008 peter lyons

San Diego’s Tyler Sinks and Briana Provancha romped to an 18-point win in the 36-boat Club 420 after they each won the event in previous years, Sinks in the Club 420 and Provancha in the 29er. San Diego’s Judge Ryan and Hans Henken won the 9-boat 29er division by five points over the top Nor Cal finishers in the event, Max Fraser and David Liebenberg of Capitola and Livermore respectively. "We went out the first day and posted some pretty good scores," Ryan said, adding that the final day of racing was the most challenging as everyone was "finding their groove." Ryan and Henken used the event as a tune-up for representing the U.S. at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, coming up in a couple weeks in Denmark. Although the US Sailing Youth Champs traditionally functioned as the qualifier for the world event, this year saw a change where a separate qualifier was instituted to allow the teams heading to the Worlds more preparation time.

Superyacht Rescues California Sailors

Matt and Judy Johnson of Antioch, along with their grandson Tyler, were rescued last Saturday after running their 40-ft Elsewhere onto the reef surrounding Aur Atoll in the Marshall Islands group. They were trying to enter the lagoon at the time of the accident. The Johnsons were saved by the 100-ft power yacht Blue Star, owned by
Russian-Israeli media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky. The Blue Star had stopped in Aur for some diving and fishing when the crew heard the distress calls from Elsewhere and went to their aid. Gusinsky then called his shipping agents to send a salvage vessel from Majuro. But by the time it arrived on Sunday, Elsewhere was deemed too badly damaged to be pulled from the reef. Ironically, the Marshall Islands’ official rescue vessel, the Lomor, had departed for a refit in Australia on Friday.

Gusinsky has become a regular visitor to the Marshall group in the last few years, and one of its benefactors. He is involved in talks with local officials in Rongelap Island to set up a marine science lab, and has paid full scholarships for four Rongelap Islanders to attend college in Israel. Rongelap leaders, with U.S. funding, are still trying to clean up nuclear residue from nearby hydrogen bomb testing in 1954, as well as rebuild facilities and housing in the hope that exiled islanders may one day return.

Happy (and Safe) 4th!

Wings takes flight last Independence Day.

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Independence Day is one of the most popular sailing days on San Francisco Bay — hundreds of boaters take their family and friends for a great daysail in the Slot followed by a quiet picnic behind Angel Island. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our country’s birthday but want to remind everyone to make sure your boat complies with Coast Guard safety requirements (registration, lifejackets, flares, etc.) — nothing spoils a day faster than getting a ticket. Well, one thing does: getting arrested for BUI. Play it safe and let the beers chill till you’re safely anchored or at the dock. Then crank some Jimmy Buffett and celebrate your independence!

Have a great time on the water this weekend but sail safe . . . and sober!

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Jeanne Socrates credits the 2006 Singlehanded TransPac for giving her the confidence to set off on a 15-month solo circumnavigation.
Patrick Whitmarsh, Kevin Richards and Joe Penrod won the inaugural American Sailing League Championship off Pier 39, and with it a check for $10,000.
Entries for the ‘Fabulous Fifteen’ Baja Ha-Ha have been pouring in since we decided to ‘tip-toe’ into the 21st century by offering online sign-ups at www.baja-haha.com.