Photo of the Day

February 5 - Fort Lauderdale

What we've got here is a photo of some of the boats at the starting line of the 811-mile Lauderdale to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Pineapple Cup. The fleet of 16 boats - 12 of them maxis - was led by the likes of Roy Disney's R/P 75 'Pyewacket' from Los Angeles, Doug Baker's Andrews 70 'Magnitude' from Long Beach, and Robert O'Neill's R/P 75 'Zephryus' from Mill Valley. Other top boats included Jim Dolan's Langan 76 'Sagamore' and Bob Towse's R/P 66 'Blue Yankee'. The amazing thing about the "Mobay" is that the course record - despite previous record attempts by the likes of 'Pyewacket' and Larry Ellison's Farr 82 'Sayonara' - is still the mark of 3 days and 3 hours set way, way, way back in 1971 by the Gurney-designed 'Windward Passage'. As the boats closed on the finish, Roy Disney's 'Pyewacket' continued to hold a slim lead over 'Magnitude' and 'Sagamore.'
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Racing News Flash!

February 5 - Approaching Montego Bay

Email from our Reporter on the scene:
'Windward Passage's' 1971 record grows increasingly mythical.... 'Pyewacket' should finish first, probably about 1 or 3 tonight. No record possible now. 'Sagamore' is a few miles behind them. Both about 160-170 miles away still (noon Monday). 'Magnitude' is third, with 'Zephyrus' right behind. 'Blue Yankee' is next, and looks to be doing well on corrected time. 'Strabo' (PHRF boat of the week at KWRW) hit a coral head earlier in the race and has retired to Nassau. 'Gemini','a yellow Polish one-tonner, is last by miles. Getting ready for an all-nighter as the first boats come in. It seems surreal that the record (3 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes) will stand. Last time 'Pyewacket' missed by a few hours; before that 'Sayonara' missed. All that money can't buy a record unless that wind cooperates! There should be an update on shortly. Will try to send something tomorrow when the boats are in.

That Just About Covers It

February 5 - Pacific Ocean

In the February 2 'Lectronic, we asked 'What's wrong with this picture?'

Lonnie Spencer of 'Bahalana' down in Puerto Escondido, Baja, came up with the following: 1) Dinghy shouldn't be towed this fast; 2) Motor and tank left in dinghy; 3) Motor left in down position; 4) Painter attached at only one point; and 5) The painter is too short. Thanks Lonnie, that just about covers it.

Here's how the dinghy happened to be back there in the first place. The Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca had anchored for the night at Muertos (Death) Cove at Sayulita on Mexico's 'Jungle Coast'. Nobody ever anchors there because it's normally a sloppy lee short. But having a cat that isn't subject to normal rolling, we decided to give it a try anyway. It turned out to be a shockingly bouncy, noisy, sleep-deprived night. When we woke up in the morning, there was an obvious explanation: the onshore wind had come up to about 15 knots and the backwashed water at Muertos looked like something out of a washing machine. Very unusual.

Seeing how unpleasant the conditions had become, the only solution was to sail 10 miles down the coast and around the corner to the smooth waters of Punta Mita. Thanks to an electric halyard winch, the Wanderer and de Mallorca can knock down the dinghy and get all the parts aboard the cat in about 15 minutes - in smooth water, that is. In sloppy conditions such as we were having, it would take considerably longer - and be considerably more dangerous to things such as the outboard, hands and fingers. So we decided to tow the dinghy - and just for an experiment, break all the rules by leaving everything as we'd left it the night before.

We hate to set a terrible example, but the irresponsible tow job worked just fine. The painter didn't break, the u-bolt on the dinghy didn't pull out, the gas tank didn't get bumped over the side, and the outboard didn't get drenched or fall off the back. And, oddly enough, the cat's relatively fast and steady boatspeed seemed to help. At one point we rounded Punta Mita at just under 14 knots, and the dinghy happily planed along as though she were planing under her own power.

Nonetheless, it was only moments later when we got our karmatic payback. Neglecting to shorten the painter while anchoring, we got the darn thing caught in the port prop. So if you're going to tow your dinghy, don't do it the way we did, do it right.

Photo Latitude/Richard

Oracle Racing and the St. Francis YC - What Happened?

February 5 - San Francisco

Several days ago, 'Lectronic reported that Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing and the St. Francis YC weren't able to reach an agreement on an America's Cup effort, and that Oracle Racing is now negotiating to possibly run their campaign under the burgee of Marina del Rey's California YC. We've since talked further to Commodore Steve Taft of the St. Francis YC, and Bill Erkelens, the COO of Oracle Racing, who is currently down in New Zealand.

Taft and Erkelens both reiterated that all the negotiations between the two groups had been and remain amiable, and that it's been a huge disappointment to both that they weren't able to reach an agreement. What prevented an agreement is who would control such a campaign. On the surface, you'd think it would be Oracle Racing, which is putting up $80 million to fund the campaign. But under the terms of the America's Cup Deed of Gift, the control actually belongs to the yacht club. As Commodore Taft said, "Under the current Deed of Gift, the guy who puts up all the millions and wins the event is entitled to a handshake from the Commodore and that's about it. Under the current Deed of Gift, he certainly doesn't get much out of it." Taft also notes that the St. Francis took the lead several years ago in trying to get the dated Deed of Gift revised, but couldn't get all the other yacht clubs to agree.

According to Erkelens, Larry Ellison is really excited about his America's Cup campaign, but also about the America's Cup itself. So the goal of Oracle Racing is not just to win the America's Cup, but to change it to make it more attractive to spectators and sponsors. You may recall that this was also a big theme of Paul Cayard's AmericaOne campaign for the St. Francis. Erkelens says the only way to improve the event is to get control out of the hands of the yacht clubs, which have a long history - starting with the New York YC - of not exactly playing fair or of necessarily making it as good an event as it could be. In order to make these changes and achieve these altruistic goals, Oracle Racing feels they need control of their America's Cup effort.

According to Erkelens, Oracle Racing presented the St. Francis with a proposal that would give Oracle the control they felt they needed. It would have required some changes in the club's by-laws. Commodore Taft said the club and its lawyers studied the proposal, and decided that wasn't something that the club - a California corporation - could agree to. Taft also said there was a part of it that the club's board didn't think they could legally do. This totally exasperates Erkelens, whose family has a long association with the St. Francis. "Oracle Racing's lawyers did the due diligence, and we absolutely weren't asking the club to do anything illegal."

As frustated as Taft and Erkelens are that the two sides weren't able to reach an agreement, neither one is interested in speaking badly of the other. They view it as a case of friends who were unsuccessful in reaching a mutually satisfying business agreement, and who now wish each other well.

Erkelens reluctantly confirmed that Oracle Racing was in negotiations with the California YC about the privately-owned Marina del Rey club becoming the sponsoring club for Oracle Racing. He also said that if that happened and if Oracle Racing did win the Cup, the subsequent Cup would not be held in Santa Monica Bay - because it wouldn't be consistent with making the America's Cup the best event it could be. Our conversation with Erkelens concluded with him saying that Oracle Racing had been very busy in Auckland, that they had a terrific group of really talented people, and they were all looking forward to opening their base in Ventura in March. While visitors won't be allowed into the Ventura compound, they'll be able to see the boats as they're towed through the harbor each day and while out practicing.

Tom Vance of the Freya 39 'Vanessa'.

February 3 - Mill Valley

On Saturday we were eating at the coffee shop across the street from our office, when one of the waitresses mentioned she used to have a boyfriend who sailed. When we asked who this might have been, she replied Tom Vance, who used to build Sonoma 30s and Freya 39s in the Northwest. He also owned the Freya 39 'Vanessa' that he alternately kept between the Northwest and Sausalito. But that was years ago, and it got us to wondering where he is now. If we remember correctly, at last report he was cruising 'Vanessa' somewhere in the South Pacific. Can anybody give an update?

The Race

February 5 - The Southern Ocean

It turns out that 'Innovations Explorer's' many hints that they would stop in Wellington to pick up sails and fix a damaged daggeraboard were a ruse - to try to get leader 'Club Med' to make a stop to repair their lesser damage. 'Club Med' didn't fall for it, and is now back down in the Southern Ocean charging through icy conditions and 40-knot winds - but as little as six days from Cape Horn. Once they reach the Horn, they will have survived the tough stuff, and they will soon be shedding clothes in the warm South Atlantic and thinking of the pleasures of arriving at the Marseilles finish line. Despite a smaller and tattered sail inventory, 'Innovations Explorer' continues to hang tough approximately 680 miles behind. They cut off the damaged part of their daggerboard, flipped it over, and put it back in its case.

Here's Grant Dalton's latest from 'Club Med'. "It's really windy, it seems we are destined to sail in strong winds all the time, all the way around the world. Right now there are 40-50 knots out here, the waves are not too bad yet. We wanted the South and we have kept going South. Right now we are at 52 South and it isn't over yet, we'll be going deeper still. We are becoming more and more confident in handling our boat in these conditions. Our last gybe was executed with the spinnaker set in 40-knots of wind, something we would never have done a few weeks ago. It takes about half an hour to gybe the boat, even with two reefs in. The hairy bit is when the main is on the centreline before we go through the wind."

Vendée Globe

February 5 - The Atlantic Ocean

Michel Desjoyeaux is only 1,935 miles from the finish, while diminuitive Ellen MacArthur - quickly becoming everybody's darling - is just 36 miles back. It's a great battle and a great story. Check it out at


February 5 - 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

Weather Updates

February 5 - 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

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.:

Pacific Ocean Weather

Today's University of Hawaii Department of Meteorology satellite was not available again this morning. You can try it yourself at

Pacific Sea State

Seas are normal in the Pacific. But you might check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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