August 20, 2012

A-Cup World Series Kicks into High Gear

"I am very excited about the America’s Cup because I am a descendant of John Stevens, one of the event’s founders," writes Pamela Glassoff. "I was encouraged to write you to see if you have any ideas for a viewing area for the finals in San Francisco this coming week."

Fleet racing should be spectacular. Large catamarans will serve as turning marks.

© 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget

No doubt thousands of Bay Area residents, as well as an untold number of out-of-towners, are thinking the same thing today. As noted in Friday’s complete viewing update, bleacher seating along the Marina Green is already sold out, but elsewhere along the shoreline of the ‘racing box’ (which stretches from Crissy Field to the Marina Green) viewing sites will be open to all, with the early birds undoubtedly claiming the most desirable spots. We plan to spend some time among them, taking the pulse of the crowds, so to speak, and gleaning the perspective of Joe Everyman.

There’s no telling how much of each race you’ll actually see from the spectator flotilla, but at least you’ll be able to say you were there!

© ACWS / USCG

Needless to say, there will be all sorts of vessels maneuvering for a view outside the box — and they’ll be kept clear of the restricted area by an armada of marshal boats. Although it will probably be a bit chaotic out there, the experience of being part of the cheering masses should be unforgettable — especially if the summer winds pipe up and send AC45s into unplanned gymnastics. There have already been several flips during practice sessions. (Tune in to a VHF channel 20 for live on-the-water commentary.)

When the wind machine cranks up, things could get interesting.

© 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget

If you can’t break away to view the action in person, no worries. The most complete views of the full course, and blow-by-blow racing action will be via live streaming video on the Internet or on cable TV broadcasts.

The San Francisco Bay sailing community has been waiting for decades for a Cup campaign to be played out here on the Bay, and now that the dream is finally coming true — in the form of this AC World Series as a precursor for next summer’s ‘big show’ — you won’t want to miss the action. The Bay is being touted as the most audience-accessible America’s Cup venue ever, so don’t miss your chance to say you were part of it, one way or another!

Needless to say, we’ll be rooting for the home team(s) – Oracle Team USA will have two boat in the Series, one helmed by Coutts, the other by Spithill.

© 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget

View the racing lineup at ACWS San Francisco Regatta Format and additional event information at the ACWS San Francisco event page.

Strange Goings-On in Vanuatu

Phocea held the title of ‘World’s Largest Sailing Yacht’ for 28 years. She was launched in ’76 as Club Mediterranee for Alain Colas’s OSTAR attempt.

Phocea
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the great things about having published Latitude 38 magazine for over 35 years, is that we have developed a vast network of contacts all over the world. And those contacts occasionally give us tips on news we might not have known about otherwise. A case is point was an email that came our way recently from longtime cruisers Bruce Balen and Alene Rice of the Southern California-based Cross 46 tri Migration. They alerted us to the strange case of Phocea.

In late July, the 246-ft megayacht was raided by Port Vila police on suspicion of smuggling drugs, arms and money into the country. The yacht’s captain, Richard Malaise, and an American model rumored to be the owner’s girlfriend, Faviola Brugger Dadis, were arrested for entering the country illegally, and then 13 crewmembers were later detained in connection with the case. All paid relatively meager fines and were released.

Faviola Brugger Dadis paid less than $800 in fines in connection with the Phocea case.

© Vanuatu Daily Digest

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It seems two Vanuatuan ministers illegally boarded the vessel before she’d cleared into the country, and it’s been alleged that another high-powered politician delayed the search warrant papers long enough to allow the yacht’s owner, Pascal Anh Quan Saken — who also just happens to have recently been nominated as Vanuatu’s honorary consul to Vietnam — to leave the country before the raid. Prime Minister Sato Kilman denies the allegations of government corruption but gives no explanations for any of these apparent ‘mysteries’ surrounding the case, including the mystery of why the sole police investigator qualified to look into the matter was suspended by a politician.

Laura Dekker, the Dutch 16-year-old who became the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator (with stops) in January, has spent the last several months enjoying the the lush life in the South Pacific aboard her Jeanneau Gin Fizz Guppy, and is now bound for her birth country of New Zealand.