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Oops! AC72 Down

October 17, 2012 – Mouth of the Golden Gate

AC72 capsized
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Owww! That wasn't supposed to happen. But we're not too surprised that it did. The power generated by the AC72's massive wing is beyond anything we've seen in previous America's Cup designs. © 2018 Oracle Team USA / Guilain Grenier

Ever since Oracle Team USA’s AC72 catamaran was launched recently, many racing fans — and crew members — have been wondering when and if the radical speed machine would capsize in San Francisco Bay’s strong winds. They needn’t wonder any longer, as the big cat nose-dived and flipped yesterday at roughly 3 p.m. just inside the Golden Gate.

“We called for a bear-away as we were out training,” recalled tactician Tom Slingsby. Winds had built during the afternoon to about 25 knots, accompanied by a strong ebb. “We started the bear-away, and as the boat accelerated it pitch-poled.” Per the rules established for America’s Cup 34, each team is only allowed 30 days of training prior to January 31, 2013. This was the the team’s eighth practice day.

“When the nose went down,” Slingsby continued, “the wing hit and a few guys went in the water. We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.” Fortunately none of the crew was injured, but the crumpled wing appears to be all but a total loss. Oracle support boats were on the scene, so crew were picked up quickly, with Coast Guard assets standing by also.

hanging on
Like a kitten hanging from a curtain, an Oracle Team USA crewman clings to the trampoline aboard USA 17. © 2018 Oracle Team USA / Guilain Grenier

But with the force of the strengthening ebb — which reached a max of 5.5 knots around 5:30 p.m. — the capsized hull was swept about four miles outside the Gate before it could be righted and towed back to its base along the Cityfront, arriving early this morning.

“There’s no question this is a setback,” Spithill said. “It’s going to be a big test for this team. But . . . this won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.” For complete info on America’s Cup 34 see the official site.

- latitude / andy

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A Modest Proposal

October 17, 2012 – San Francisco Bay

Thankfully no crewmembers were injured in yesterday's capsize of Oracle Team USA 17. © 2018 Oracle Team USA / Guilain Grenier

It took yesterday's capsize — and recovery, such as it was — of the Oracle AC72 to make us fully appreciate just how gigantic and unwieldy these catamarans are. Actually, it wasn't the capsizing in 25 knots of wind that shocked us — at some point we all expected that to happen — but rather the video of the nine Oracle rescue boats struggling in vain to keep the askew monster from drifting a reported four miles outside the Gate on a strong ebb. "We're a little out of control here!" the video screamed at us.

Thank god nobody was seriously hurt or killed. Let us repeat that: Thank god nobody was seriously hurt or killed.

We were even more surprised by the fact that — while the capsized Oracle was still drifting out the Gate, and bits of her main were becoming souvenirs all over the Bay — it was announced that nothing has changed, and that the America's Cup 34 will continue as planned.

In the past, Oracle honcho Russell Coutts has seemed to confess that maybe they had gone a little too extreme with the parameters of the AC72s in an attempt to make the America's Cup competition more exciting. Ya think? As such, it crosses our minds that the capsize of the Oracle cat, and the total destruction of her main, might signal a perfect opportunity to take a week or so to digest what has happened, what it portends for the event as planned, and what possible alternatives there might be.

At this stage of the game, it would be extremely embarassing, very poor form, and create an uproar if dramatic changes were made to the very fundamentals of the 34th America's Cup. On the other hand, would it not be even worse form and more humiliating if not even two of the 72s, and their mains, survived their trials for there to even be an America's Cup?

If we were Russell Coutts, and more importantly, Larry Ellison, we would take this opportunity to suggest an alternative to all interested stakeholders. The alternative is that the huge — as well as hugely expensive and hugely complicated AC72 cats — be scrapped as of right now. To make up for what the other teams have invested, Larry would purchase a MOD 70 trimaran for each of the teams that has participated so far. Given the much less expensive option, other syndicates might decide to jump in.

VPLP's MOD 70 would be a cheaper, and possibly safer, alternative for the America's Cup. Photo Courtesy Gitana Team
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite having only soft sails, these brand new extremely high performance trimarans from VPVL have proven themselves, both when sailing across the Atlantic and in inshore races in Europe. We're talking over 700 miles in 24 hours in their first ocean race, and lots of mid-30s at other times. The MOD 70s are only two feet shorter than the AC72s, damn near as fast, and cost a fraction of the price. And having raced across the Atlantic at 30+ knots, have what it takes to race safely on San Francisco Bay.

Since the MOD 70s are one-designs with soft sails, they are compartively easy, quick and inexpensive to build — particularly when compared to the AC72s. And because the first batch was made in Europe, we're sure another dozen could be made in time for next year's slated World Series in Venice, Italy, in April and Naples, Italy, in May, and be already in Europe for those events. After the European World Series, they could be shipped to Newport, Rhode Island, and then San Francisco, for additional World Series events in the summer of '13. That means the America's Cup 34 would be postponed until '14, which is fine with us, as we think it's a much better prospect than what we're sailing toward now. And one last thing that we think every spectator would agree on — the America's Cup should be fleet racing, not match-racing, which is so last century.

Spectators agree - fleet racing is the way to go. Photo Courtesy Gitana Team
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We want to know what you think. But you have to tell us in less than 100 words.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: Full-Time Harbormaster

October 17, 2012 – Richmond YC, Pt. Richmond, CA

The Richmond Yacht Club is pleased to announce an immediate opening for a full-time Harbormaster. The Harbormaster is responsible for the “hands on” management of the harbor and small boat yard. This includes safety, security, maintenance, repair, and space rental of the harbor, dry storage, and other assigned club facilities.

Founded in 1932, the Richmond Yacht Club is privately owned club and yacht harbor located at 351 Brickyard Cove Road in Point Richmond, California. The club boating facilities consist of approximately 450 marina slips and dry storage spaces, two hoists, and more than 200 lockers. The club hosts a variety of dinghy and keelboat racing events annually, supports cruise-ins, and has a very active social calendar.

Interested applicants should visit the Richmond Yacht Club website at and click on the Harbormaster link to view the complete job posting and details for applying.

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Racing Round-Up

October 17, 2012 – Gulf of Cagliari, San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay

Erika and Johnny Heineken
San Fran sibs Erika and Johnny sported matching gold medals in Sardinia this month. © 2018 /

San Francisco siblings Johnny and Erika Heineken are the 2012 Men's and Women's Kiteboard Course Racing World Champions, after the championship regatta held on October 2-7 in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. Johnny, age 24, defended his 2011 crown; fellow San Franciscan Adam Koch placed second. Erika, age 26, defeated European champion Steph Bridge of the UK to win her first title in a battle that went down to the last race. See

Melges 20 Nationals
Bacio squirts out ahead in a tight start in the Melges 20 Nationals on the Berkeley Circle. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

On October 5-7, 23 Melges 20s competed for their National Championship at Corinthian YC in Tiburon. By the seventh of eight races, Michael Kiss, Chris Rast, and Willie McBride on Bacio, hailing from Holland, MI, had won the regatta for the third year in a row. StFYC's John Kilroy, Jr., on Samba Pa Ti, came in second. See

Whitney and Tom
Tom Purdy and Whitney Feagin launch their V15 at regatta host Inverness YC. Three-year-old Whitney joined mom Melissa and uncle Tom for morning practice on Tomales Bay. © 2018 Melissa Purdy Feagin

Who could possibly sail 31 races in only two days? Vanguard 15 Fleet 53, that's who. They held their Fleet Championship over the weekend of October 13-14 on Tomales Bay amid the pastoral beauty of West Marin. Melissa Purdy Feagin and Tom Purdy topped the 15-boat fleet with the low-point score of 106. "They're a brother and sister team from San Francisco YC, and have been sailing together for about 30 years," said co-PRO Sarah Deeds. Kevin Richards and Neha Bazaj captured second place (169 points), and Andrea Cabito and Andrew Kobylinski came in third (188). For complete results, see

Vanguard 15 race
The Purdy sibs (#82) posted eight bullets on their way to win their fleet championship. © 2018 Sarah Deeds

The Santana 22 Oreo is on a roll. On October 6, owner Garth Copenhaver singlehanded the racy Tuna to an overall win in the Singlehanded Sailing Society's Vallejo 1, beating a varied assortment of 51 other boats. (We'll have more on the Vallejo 1-2 in the November issue of Latitude 38.) Then Copenhaver crewed for Emily Selke in Tiburon YC's Joan Storer Regatta for women skippers on October 13. Although the J/105 Joyride took line honors, Oreo again corrected out to first place overall.

This Santana 22, seen here at Saturday's Joan Storer Regatta, has no problem with light air sailing. © 2018 /

Last weekend was a busy one for San Francisco Bay racing. You'll find full coverage — and lots of pictures — of the Jessica Cup, the Pink Boat Regatta, and much more in the November issue.

The early entry deadline for StFYC's Fall Dinghy & Olympic Classes Regatta is tonight. If you sign up now you can avoid a $25 late fee. 29er, 49er/49erFX, 420, 5o5, F18, Finn, Laser 4.7, Laser Radial, Laser Standard, Moth, Kiteboard, Windsurfer, and Weta classes are invited to compete. See for the Notice of Race and to register.

Also tonight, the Singlehanded Sailing Society concludes their 2012 season with a trophy meeting for the Vallejo 1-2, awards for the Singlehanded and Doublehanded champions, and tall tales from this year's crop of Singlehanded TransPac racers. Oakland YC is the place, and 7:30 p.m. is the time. See you there!

- latitude / chris

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The Div Bar Welcomes Cruisers

October 17, 2012 – Newport Beach

For many years it was Josh Slocum's, then Dennis 'Sexual Chocolate' Rodman took over — and built a bedroom upstairs — and now it's the Div Bar. Despite the name, it's also a smokehouse with great BBQ, wood-fired pizza, and the like.

This dock at the Div Bar is for you southbound cruisers. But only until noon. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Div Bar is situated between the Pacific Coast Highway and the western end of Newport Harbor. It has a big double dock for patrons to arrive by boat. Since nobody comes to eat before noon, Markus Mrakovcich, the restaurant manager, had bright idea. Why not let southbound cruisers, many of whom anchor at the temporary anchorage — because of Newport Harbor dredging — use the docks for free until noon?

"We welcome cruisers to come into the dock," says Markus, who is an enthusiastic sailor. "If they have a hose, they can fill their water tanks or even wash down their boats. They can also run to the banks across the street, hit the stores, or even make the short trek up to Minney's Marine Surplus on Newport Blvd. Everyone just has to promise that they'll leave before our customers arrive at noon."

Markus the manager. He's not only a sailor, he's a great host. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

How about that kind of hospitality?!

The Div Bar is easy to find from the water. Just look for Ernie Minney's DownEast 38 Anita. "She's named after my fourth wife," Ernie told us.

Ernie, who has probably had more schooners than wives, including one he circumnavigated on, now sails a DownEast 38. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you're a southbound cruiser looking for bargain on marine gear, Minney's has the biggest selection on the coast. He's probably got more line, anchors, blocks, shackles, charts, lights, flags, and used sails than the U.S. Navy. Tell Ernie you'd like the 'Ha-Ha discount'. There really isn't such a thing, but knowing Ernie, he might give you one anyway.

- latitude / richard

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