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Hostages Taken from Boats Appear in Video

October 14, 2015 – The Philippines


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Hostages Robert Hall, John Ridsdel and Kjartan Sekkingstad, who were kidnapped from Ocean View Marina in the Philippines on September 21, are seen in a video just released by an unknown terrorist group.

© 2017 source unknown

Three weeks after being kidnapped from the Ocean View Resort Marina on Samal Island in the southern Philippines, three foreign nationals and a Filipina woman appear in a video just released by an unidentified terrorist group believed to be affiliated in some way with ISIS.

The male hostages are Robert Hall, John Ridsdel and Kjartan Sekkingstad. In the video they are seen pleading for help from the Canadian and Philippine governments, while surrounded by masked, heavily armed militants and jihadist flags. The Filipina woman, believed to be Hall’s partner Tess, last name unknown, does not speak.

Anti-government activity has long been a fact of life in the southern Philippines, which is popular with cruisers because there isn’t as great a threat from typhoons.

Hall, about 50, is from Canada, and was living aboard his boat Renova. Ridsdel, 68, is the former chief operating officer of mining company TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc., and was living on his catamaran Aziza. He had spent 25 years working in “hostile environment” areas of the world, from Pakistan to Burma to Algeria. Sekkingstad, who is Norwegian and the marina manager, lived on Wiskun. A resident of Vancouver before taking off across the Pacific in 2002, his partner and later wife was Ellen Lee Kwen, a member of the powerful family that developed the Ocean View Resort and Marina. She died in 2013.

The kidnappers had initially tried to seize American cruisers Steven Tripp and his Japanese wife Kazuko Shibata-Tripp of the boat Outstripp on the night of September 21. But the couple struggled so valiantly that the heavily armed militants decided to take the other four, who had come to see what the ruckus was about and were apparently more compliant. A marina video shows the hostages being led to a boat that would take them away.

The just-released video starts with Hall identifying himself and asking that relatives and friends contact the Canadian and Philippine governments to try to get them to stop military operations that affect the southern Filipino province of Mindinao. The camera then pans to Kjartan Sekkingstad, manager of the marina. He repeats Hall’s pleas and says if the group’s demands are not met the hostages might be killed. John Ridsdel, with a machete being held to his head, then appears to confirm they’d been taken from Ocean View Marina.

A terrorist whose face is covered in a green and black scarf then appears, demanding, in English, that the Philippine and Canadian governments cease military actions as a prerequisite to opening negotiations for the hostages' release. The militants then start chanting in Arabic and raising their guns.

A spokesperson for the Philippine government responded by saying there would be no changes in the deployment of police and government troops. He also noted that they hadn’t received any monetary demands yet. Kidnapping for cash is not uncommon in the southern Philippines. 

- latitude / richard

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Dorade and More in Middle Sea Race

October 14, 2015 – Valetta, Malta

Sailing out of Valette, Malta

Valetta, Malta, homeport of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, is called the Fortress City, and its bastions date back to the 16th century.

© 2017 Kurt Arrigo / Rolex

The 2015 Rolex Middle Sea Race, hosted by the Royal Malta Yacht Club will start this Saturday, with 117 entries. This 36th edition has attracted competitors from 22 countries. The 606-mile race starts and finishes in the historical environs of Malta's capital city, Valetta (Malta is an island nation south of Sicily). Competitors will sail close to a number of scenic islands around Sicily and Malta before returning to the Royal Malta YC. World champions and pros from the Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup will race alongside recreational sailors.

Last year proved one of the toughest in the history of the race with storm-force winds in the latter part of the race. Lee Satariano's Maltese J/122 Artie, the overall winner, will be back this year to defend the title.

A record number of 11 canting-keel, carbon-fiber speedsters are all, weather permitting, capable of breaking the course record, which has stood since George David's Rambler 90 record run in  2007 (47 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds). Leading the assault on his own record will be David himself in the Juan K American maxi Rambler 88.

The MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail was to be the first entry from Oman in the history of the race, which dates back to 1968. Sadly, the trimaran lost a crewmember, Mohammed Al Alawi, overboard during a delivery from France to Italy in the predawn hours of October 7, and the team is still searching for him.

Omani MOD70 and Mohammed

Mohammed Al Alawi, 26, went overboard off the coast of Croatia.

Photo Courtesy Musandam-Oman Sail
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Lloyd Thornburg's St. Barth-based MOD70, Phaedo3, will be making her Rolex Middle Sea Race debut. Another first-timer, Californian Peter Aschenbrenner, will be competing against Phaedo3 in his Nigel Irens 63-ft trimaran, Paradox. After MOCRA time correction, Paradox beat both Musandam-Oman Sail and Phaedo3 in the Rolex Fastnet Race, and she beat Phaedo3 on corrected time to win the Open Class of the 2015 Transatlantic Race. "Malta is an amazing place, a crossroads of civilizations for three millennia," enthused Aschenbrenner. "I love the 600-mile format, which is long enough to be a proper ocean race with lots of tactical challenges but an approachable commitment time-wise for those of us who take the occasional week off of work."

An entry in sharp contrast to the carbon-fiber high-speed multihulls is the Bay Area-based 1929 52-ft S&S yawl Dorade. "Dorade is competing in all of the races in the Atlantic series, and of course the Rolex Middle Sea is one of those,” commented her owner, Matt Brooks. "This is our next chapter in Dorade's history, to take on races she has never done before, particularly iconic and challenging offshore races."

Dorade on shipboard

Dorade arrived in Valetta on the deck of a ship. She was splashed on Sunday.

Photo Courtesy Dorade
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Read more about Dorade in a feature in this month's Latitude 38.

A 30-mile warm-up race was sailed today in winds that exceeded 30 knots, giving the fleet a foretaste of the ocean racing to come this weekend. Texan Bill Coates' Ker 43 Otra Vez corrected out to win the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race overall. "It was fantastic today," he reports. "The boat speed was routinely 18-20 knots off the wind, and in the lee of the island the sea was pretty flat for the strong upwind conditions — it was as comfortable a 20-knot beat as you could have."

- latitude / chris

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October 14, 2015 – On the Water



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Pot Calls Kettle Black

October 14, 2015 – Claremont, CA

The following is as funny as it is pathetic. Confirming that they are in need of an education, last month members of the Claremont, California, Pitzer College Student Senate voted to deny instating a yacht club at the school.

Their reasoning was sophomoric at best: “The majority of Senators found the name ‘yacht club’ to have a particularly offensive association with yacht clubs and a recreation known for being exclusive,” said Taylor Novice-Finder, a Pitzer College senator.

Perhaps Mr. Novice-Finder, who likely can’t spell ‘hypocrite’, would like to explain how he can justify attending Pitzer, the $64,000 annual tuition of which surely qualifies it as being ’exclusive’. For the record, it costs a mere $60,000 a year to attend Harvard, the gold standard of exclusivity. And once Novice-Finder finds himself unable to justify his attendance at such an exclusive school, we expect he’ll announce the date that he’ll drop out of Pitzer in order to enroll at a two-year community college.

One of the lessons that could be learned here is that the ‘senators’ ought to get their facts right before passing judgment on questions before them. True, by not doing so they are following the lead of the members of the United States Senate, but that’s no justification.

The first truth the Pitzer senators need to avail themselves of is that only a small percentage of people who sail belong to yacht clubs. If we had to guess, we’d put the number at a mere 15 to 20% — and think it could be much less than that. It’s simply flat-out false that sailing is an ‘exclusive’ recreation because nobody is denied or discouraged from engaging in it. The truth is that most people simply don’t want to sail. For many it’s too hard or dangerous, and the rewards are too ethereal.

Second, the notion that the typical yacht club is ‘exclusive’ is one of the biggest societal misconceptions going. As we recall there are something like 50 yacht clubs in Northern California, of which only two have a sheen of exclusivity. The rest not only welcome all potential new members, most will darn near beg people to join.

The St. Francis and the San Francisco YCs are the only two clubs that anybody might think of as being ‘exclusive’. But it’s hardly a charge that would stick, as countless sailors — many who aren’t members of any yacht club — use the facilities of those two clubs each year, and at no charge. And both of those clubs have low-cost learn-to-sail summer programs for kids interested in sailing. Any kids.

Perhaps the whole tempest could have being avoided if the organizers had wanted to start a ‘sailing club’ as opposed to a ‘yacht club’, in deference to the delicate, politically correct sensibilities of some of the senators. Whatever. One would only hope that the Pitzer senators will read some of the work by socialist/anarchist George Orwell before they graduate. The author of the brilliant Down and Out in London and Paris, which is much better than Animal Farm, was not only a brilliant social critic, he wasn’t afraid to call out his own side for its stupidity, as in the haunting quote, “So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.” He was referring specifically to you, senators.
 

- latitude / richard

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