Disaster Strikes Amer Sports Too

December 27 - Sydney, Australia

Disaster struck Amer Sports Too this morning at 0936 GMT when their forestay broke at deck level while sailing in 20 knots winds from the southwest. They were racing in the Sydney to Hobart Race, as part of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 to Auckland, New Zealand. The all-woman crew is skippered by Lisa MacDonald, who reported that an eye at the base of the forestay had failed. The crew hurriedly bore away to the northeast and dropped the sails in an attempt to reduce the loads on the rig and prevent it from toppling overboard. MacDonald said that they had considered putting into Eden, New South Wales, 110 miles away, but instead they would jury rig a system and continue on to Hobart and have it fixed there.

Amer Sports Too at the start of the Sydney-Hobart
Photo Carlo Borlenghi/SEA&SEE

Tyco has been excluded from the Sydney to Hobart race because they failed to call in a mandatory safety check just before entering Bass Strait. They may challenge the ruling and are continuing to race to Hobart.

The eight Volvo Ocean Race boats were closely tied as they crossed the eastern mouth of Bass Strait. Tyco and illbruck were just over a mile apart with Assa Abloy and News Corp, while djuice and SEB were duking it out on the other side of the race course. As of this writing, News Corp has taken the lead from illbruck. The first boats are expected to reach Hobart tomorrow night (GMT).

Whereas conditions have improved somewhat, the fleet has sailed through some really wicked weather. Some of the boats, Amer Sports Too included, saw water spouts. djuice skipper Knut Frostad reports on one: "We managed to hike up and stay to weather of it. At the most we saw about 55 knots of wind. To leeward of us it looked like carnage. Most boats got their mainsails down. It looked like the waterspout was going to hit right in between illbruck and News Corp, but they all managed to get through it. We felt pretty lucky, managing to avoid it by just a mile."

The Norwegians did not get away scot-free however. Soon afterwards they broke their main halyard, and then a had more serious problem, one familiar to the crew of illbruck. "Early this morning the boat felt a bit bow heavy and slow," reported Frostad. "The front deck hatch hadn't sealed properly and the bow sections had filled up with a huge amount of water, spraying most of the communication electronics in the second watertight compartment. It took us almost an hour to get rid of all the water, and four miles lost."

In other Sydney to Hobart news, Nicorette did battle with a water spout and reported seeing 70 knot winds. An excellent Australian Broadcasting Company video of their encounter can be viewed at www.s2h.tas.gov.au/2001/news/newsitem.php?newsID=146&period=day2

Other boats in the race reported being showered by hailstones the size of golf balls. At least 13 have dropped out, most due to damage caused by the gnarly weather. At least two have dismasted. The 66-ft yacht Grundig, from Sydney, has withdrawn due to delamination of their carbon fiber hull. They are limping up to Eden, 120 nautical miles away from where the damage occurred.

For more on the Sydney-Hobart race, see www.s2h.tas.gov.au/2001/home.php

For more on the Volvo Ocean Race, see www.volvooceanrace.com (We find this Web site to be extremely slow, sometimes stalling out our computer altogether. We have the highest speed connection available and pretty whiz-bang equipment, so it's probably due to a high volume of traffic on the site.)

Grundig at the start
Photo Carlo Borlenghi/SEA&SEE

Latitude Contributor and Husband Missing

December 27 - San Francisco and Oakland

In 1994, Ornaith Murphy singlehanded her Cal 39 around Cape Horn and wrote a story about it for Latitude 38, detailing the loss of her rudder and other exciting moments from that voyage. Now, in 2001, Ornaith and her boat are missing, as is her estranged husband, Kieran Murphy.

They are not missing from some exotic port of call, some long ocean crossing, or a dangerous passage. They are missing from right here in the Bay Area. Kieran, who lives in San Francisco, has not been heard from since Saturday, December 15. He did not show up at work on the 17th and has not been in touch with his employer, his family or his friends. His family filed a missing persons report with SFPD. In the course of their investigation, the police tried to get hold of Ornaith, who lives in Oakland, but have been unable to find her or her sailboat, a Cal 39 named Sola III, which is normally berthed at Oakland Marina in Jack London Square. Ornaith was last heard from on Sunday the 16th, when she may have stopped in at Berkeley Marina with Sola III. An Oakland PD missing persons report has been filed on Ornaith.

Kieran has blue eyes and gray hair, is 58 years old, 5'11", 190 lbs. Ornaith is 55, 5'3", 130 lbs. and has striking blue eyes. Her hair is brown with red highlights. The boat has blue and silver graphics. We hope to have recent photos of the Murphys as well as photos of the boat tomorrow.

Not surprisingly, their family is very worried. If you have seen Kieran or know where he is, please contact the SFPD at (415) 558-5508 or 553-1071. If you have seen Ornaith or her boat, call OPD at (510) 238-3641.

Ornaith Murphy in 1994
Photo Shimon Van Collie


December 27 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/

Weather Updates

December 27 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/stuff/southwest/swstmap.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at: http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/RSSA/PacRegSSA.html.
For another view, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data/global.html.

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