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America's Cup Full Speed Ahead

May 15, 2013 – San Francisco Bay


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Despite assurances from Murray and Ehman that the causes of Simpson's death are being studied, many troubling questions remain unanswered. © 2017 Guilain Grenier / ACEA

Yesterday, five days after the tragic death of Artemis Racing sailor Andrew Simpson during an America's Cup training session, event organizers assured the public via a press conference at Pier 27 that this summer's Cup competition will go ahead as planned.

According to Regatta Director Iain Murray, earlier in the day representatives of all four teams (Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge) unanimously agreed to endorse a special committee that will review the breakup of the Artemis catamaran, and make safety recommendations for future training and racing. All four teams, said Murray, are in agreement that the races should proceed on the original schedule. The Louis Vuitton challenger series will begin July 4, and the America's Cup finals will begin September 7.

Members of the Review Committee are: Chairman Iain Murray, Deputy Chair Sally Lindsay Honey, AC Race Management's Principal Race Officer John Craig, US Sailing safety specialist Chuck Hawley, multihull designer Vincent Lauriot-Prévost (of France), and legal expert Jim Farmer QC (of New Zealand). In addition, marine casualty investigator Lt. Jon Lane will act as liaison on behalf of the Coast Guard.

Tom Ehman, Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate YC, which is the sponsoring club of the defending team, Oracle Team USA, shared the podium with Murray. Reacting to Monday's announcement that the German team had abruptly pulled out of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup (slated for September 1-4), Ehman clarified that the German Sailing Federation had withdrawn its support for the German RBYAC team, but that the team members themselves may still compete. If they ultimately elect not to, he said, several other teams are waiting in line to take their place. It should be noted that the German organization's pull-out seemed largely symbolic, as the RBYAC will be raced aboard AC45s which have competed successfully dozens of times in a variety of conditions and have never suffered catastrophic damage or major crew injuries, even during numerous capsizes.


Back on dry land, the mangled remains of Artemis Racing's 'Big Red' is being studied by investigators. This shot shows that the tramp net was apparently cut to retrieve Simpson. © 2017 Erik Simonson / www.pressure-drop.us

Despite the upbeat spin of Murray and Ehman's comments, we find it extremely frustrating that six days after Simpson's tragic death virtually no specific details about the incident have been released, leaving both the sailing and non-sailing public to speculate wildly about the integrity of the AC72 concept, and the safety of the men who sail aboard them.

Our invitation for readers to share their thoughts about the Artemis incident generated a wide range of strong opinions, some noting that tragic loss of life is a calculated risk of extreme sports such as this, and that the races should proceed nonetheless. Some said the event should simply be cancelled. The vast majority, however, voiced strong objections to the unproven nature of AC72s, and urged that the event be dialed back to use AC45s, which were, of course, a huge success here at last year's America's Cup World Series.

But it's now clear that neither cancellation nor use of the 45s is likely. There have simply been too many millions invested in the development of 72s to downshift now (roughly $8-10 mil per boat), and some teams undoubtedly think their unique adaptation of the AC72 'box rule' will capture the Cup.

Despite the sobering impact of the Artemis tragedy, we remain (cautiously) bullish on the Cup. We just hope to God no one else gets hurt. The boats of all four teams are in town now, and training on the Bay will resume tomorrow.

- latitude / andy

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Classy Deadline the 15th


Boat Fest Begins Tomorrow

May 15, 2013 – Alameda

If you're looking to have some fun in a nautical realm this week, check out the free Northern California Boat Fest at Alameda's Marina Village Yacht Harbor.

This annual four-day event, running Thursday through Sunday (Th-F: 12-5 p.m.; S-S: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) will showcase a wide variety of both new and used yachts for sail, as well as marine products and services ranging from marine insurance to custom-made yacht bedding. There will also be free boat rides, live music, and highly informative seminars (Saturday and Sunday), plus free parking on site, in addition to food and beverage vendors.

Sounds like big fun to us. For more info see the website.

- latitude / andy

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Ad: Peace of Mind Boating

May 15, 2013 – Cyberspace


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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

May 15, 2013 – San Francisco, Monterey and San Pedro Bays


As the sun set on last Friday's beer can race, the race deck at BYC was treated to an exciting finish. © 2017 Sharon Hind-Smith

Berkeley YC deftly multi-tasked on Friday night, hosting the Delta Doo Dah kickoff party and their own beer can race. "The winds were around 18-20 knots at the start," said fleet captain Patrick Hind-Smith of the race. "Some extra chop added to the the excitement. As we head into prime time, I ask that skippers check their lifelines and sailors check their PFDs." Before announcing results, the club had a minute of silence and eight bells for Andrew 'Bart' Simpson. "I am sure that we all share the grief and disbelief," said Hind-Smith. "Berkeley Yacht Club sends their condolences."

The next day, busy BYC ran the first two YRA races of the season for HDA (Handicap Divisions Association, sailing under PHRF), Islander 36, and Santana 22 classes in windy, wet conditions on the Berkeley Circle. See www.yra.org for results.

The Flight of the Bulls (El Toros) in the Foster City Boat Park on Saturday enjoyed moderate to light breezes and warm, sunny weather. Thirteen seniors and one junior, Charlotte Lenz, started; thirteen sailors including Lenz finished, with Art Lange leading the herd. The next event for the El Toros is the Fremont Relays this Sunday on Lake Elizabeth. See www.eltoroyra.org.

Aboard Smokin' J
Fred and Hans aboard the J/29 Smokin' J at the San Mateo Bridge in SeqYC's Summer race on Saturday. © 2017 Victor Obreza

The start of Sequoia YC's Summer Series Race #2 the same day had wind of 5-10 knots, which built to 15. Mark Bettis, skipper of the J/29 Smokin’ J, describes the race: "The first windward leg involved several close encounters with other boats, as well as flirting with the shallows at the edge of the channel. We twice crossed aft of the Express 37 Primordial Sloop, but on the final tack had made up time and crossed ahead of them, allowing us to round marker 12 in fourth place boat for boat. The fast boats ahead built their leads, and we pulled ahead of the boats behind, sailing the rest of the race fairly well separated from the rest of the fleet. Our composite 135% genoa served us well. All of our roundings were clean, and we finished knowing we had sailed a great race." Results are available at www.sequoiayc.org. The next race in the series will be on June 1.

Lasers in Monterey
Laser launching in Monterey, a swell destination for a short road trip. © 2017 Nick Burke

The Monterey Laser Championships hosted by Monterey Peninsula YC on Saturday consisted of six once-around races each lasting 20+ minutes. "The start line was short enough that it got crowded and big fleet starting techniques like hovering were useful," reports Nick Burke, the district secretary. "There was some bumping at most starts, a couple of major pileups, and at least one capsize. There were some puff lanes in the middle of the course; very close in to the wharf was light. In the club after racing, one Monterey sailor said that when they go to Santa Cruz at the north end of Monterey Bay, the land is on the right with their usual breeze. So the wind bends are reversed, and they have to continually remind themselves to do the opposite of what they customarily do on the Monterey waterfront." Peter Shope won the standard rigs, and continues to lead the Svendsen's Grand Prix Series. JB Duler won the Radials, followed by teenage sailor Emma Drejes, who had her brand new boat out for the first time. "She came on really strong at the end of the day and was nipping at the heels of the top three standard rigs in the last race," said Burke. See svendsens-grand-prix.myfleet.org for more. The next race in the series is Whiskeytown on May 25-26.

Calamazoo
Calamazoo's winning ways. © 2017 Rick Roberts

Continuing on down the coast, we check in on Saturday's Walt Elliott Harbor Challenge, hosted by defending Long Beach YC, for the Association of San Pedro Bay Yacht Clubs. Scott Holbomb's Calamazoo, representing Cabrillo Beach YC, won the three-race one design challenge sailed in Cal 25s. For a complete report, see www.aspbyc.org.

- latitude / chris

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