Photos of the Day

October 4 - Louisiana

Today's Photo of the Day, featuring three well developed waterspouts, was taken on the morning of October 2 in the Gulf of Mexico by a Seacor hand as Hurricane Lili was approaching the Louisiana coastline. It's one of the most dramatic weather photos we've ever seen. Thanks to Tom Lyon, Baja Ha-Ha aerial photographer, for forwarding it.

All Three American Teams Victorious

October 4 - Auckland, NZ

All three U.S. America's Cup teams beat their opponents in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Trials Friday. The second day of racing brought real drama to the contest with upset results in two matches overturning the form books. Pre-regatta favorites Alinghi, of Switzerland, fell to OneWorld Challenge in a cliffhanger, and the defending champions, Prada, were handily beaten by Team Dennis Conner.

The shock announcement that Prada's lead designer Doug Peterson (see story below) was to be removed from his position preceded a difficult day on the water for the crew on Luna Rossa. Prada's second loss in two races added to the air of embattlement surrounding the Louis Vuitton champions.

Alinghi, which gained its favorite status by winning most of the pre-regatta informal races, was beaten off the startline by OneWorld, and the Seattle team led for the rest of the race.

Mascalzone Latino drew another strong competitor in Oracle BMW Racing and notched up their second loss in succession.

The French Le Défi team, which has yet to post a point on the scoreboard, suffered from a ripped spinnaker and trailed the Swedish Victory Challenge team all the way round the course.
After losing two days of racing due to high winds, the weather over the course Friday was sunny and fine, with southerly winds of 15 knots at the start. For the complete story, see

Saturday's racing pairs One World with Wight Lightning, Orn with Stars & Stripes, Mescalzone Latino with Alinghi, and Le Défi with Luna Rossa. Oracle BMW Racing has a bye.

Prada - Down Two Races, One Head Designer and One Helmsman

October 4 - Auckland, NZ

After losing the first race of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, Patrizio Bertelli of Prada - well-known for being an autocrat with a very short fuse - canned American Doug Peterson, the head of his 22-man design team. It's a major blowup for the prestigious event. It comes on the heels of speculation that Gavin Brady, top Kiwi helmsman for Prada, has either left or been kicked off the reservation. In the first race, Oracle BMW beat Prada by being a lot faster downwind but just a tiny bit slower upwind.

Bertelli made the official announcement at a press conference yesterday morning local time, saying that Peterson was demoted from his duties as design director for Prada. During the course of the press conference Bertelli said: "Doug Peterson has not been fired, he simply does not hold any longer the position of Design Team Director."

When asked, "Were you sacked or did you walk?" Peterson responded, "I was terminated."

"He said you were demoted."

"No. That's not correct. That's not what the termination letter says."

Read the complete story at

Luna Rossa dueling with Stars & Stripes Friday

Prada Challenge boat designers Doug Peterson (left), David Egan and German Frers Jr. in Auckland

Photos Courtesy

Thursday's Louis Vuitton Series Report

October 3 - Auckland, NZ

For the second time in three days, the Louis Vuitton Challenger Trials for the America's Cup were postponed on Thursday due to high winds. It was so bad that the racing was called off well before any of the boats had left their compounds. Postponements are nothing new for Auckland, as 11 of the 48 racing days were lost during the last Louis Vuitton. We previously erred by saying the races wouldn't be started when the wind was blowing over 22 knots. In fact, racing doesn't start unless it's blowing more than 7 and less than 19 before the start, and it's stopped if it blows over 23 once the racing has started. Sissies? No. As a group, the challengers don't want to race in heavy air because they know it will tear their boats up before one of them meets the Kiwis in the lighter winds of February.

Pissed off because the OLN television coverage of the Louis Vuitton only reported on the featured race and not the other three? Fortunately, both the Oracle BMW Racing Web site ( and Stars & Stripes Web site ( feature ongoing coverage. The other syndicates may also provide real time coverage.

Richard Van Pham, Survivor - and Stalker?

October 4 - Costa Rica

Vietnamese immigrant Richard Van Pham won a lot of hearts - and television appearances - last week when he was rescued off Costa Rica by the U.S. Navy after supposedly drifting for 3.5 months in his 26-ft sailboat following a dismasting on the way from Long Beach to Catalina. From the outset, we've been skeptical about parts of his story - such as how it was possible he didn't see a ship or plane after the dismasting in the busy waters between Long Beach and Catalina. It now turns out that the celebrity survivor has a shady past, as the Los Angeles Times reports he's been arrested three times during the last 17 years on suspicion of various felonies from one end of the United States to the other. In 1985, Van Pham, under the name Pham Van, was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, for felony pot possession. He was not charged. In 1983, he was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm in Los Angeles, but not charged. In 1998, he was arrested in Tampa on suspicion of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and stalking. He was not charged. When asked about the arrests at a press conference, Van Pham said he can't remember because he suffers from amnesia as a result of a car accident. He then told reporters that they sounded as if they were with the FBI - and then retreated to a bathroom.

Does anyone else think there might be a contraband angle to this story?

Z-Town Pulls Together After Julio

October 3 - Zihuatanejo, Mexico

"Zihuatanejo quickly pulled itself together following Hurricane Julio," reports Craig Gottschalk of Scorpion on October 3. "Although there are still piles of branches on almost every street and the utility companies continue to work overtime to restore services, I would say life for most people here has returned to normal. The first cruise ship of the season arrived Sunday, and the second today. I guess those folks must believe the Northeastern Pacific Hurricane season is over. The news is not good for the Long Beach-based Garden ketch Freedom, which washed up on the beach. Originally, it looks as though she could have been pulled back out, but she now lies about two-thirds buried in sand, and her spars are practically in the water. I have been told the owner has yet to appear. Victor over at the Port Captain's office says a salvage crew from Lazaro Cardenas will arrive Tuesday."

For what it's worth, a lot of the usual suspects are moving forward with plans to hold a second annual Zihua Fest at the end of January and the beginning of February. We'll keep you posted.

The Pardeys' Masochistic Circumnavigation

October 4 - Cape Horn

We've never been big fans of Larry and Lin Pardey's brand of ocean voyaging - which means long voyages in small, engineless, wood boats using traditional methods of navigation - but we sure respect them. We were at Newport Beach many years ago when they launched the 30-ft Taleisin that Larry had built somewhere in the hills of California, a boat in which he and Lin have just finished a circumnavigation, south of the southern capes, against the prevailing wind. It took them 21 days to sail from 50 South in the Atlantic to 50 South in the Pacific. We're not sure who is keeping records, but theirs is apparently the smallest boat to have ever done this. They endured several days of 60-knot winds, and Larry was once on the helm for 16 hours as they beat to windward in a Force 10 blizzard. Then the weather got bad.

Their Web site ( doesn't indicate when they completed the voyage, but they will have a new video out about heavy weather sailing soon.

SOS for Liferaft

October 4 - San Francisco

"We sailed to Mexico in the Ha-Ha last year," report Mike and Karen Cregan of Priceless, "and then sailed to French Polynesia with Philo Hayward on Cherokee - but with our liferaft. Philo was able to get an airline to ship the deactivated raft from Tahiti to San Francisco, but not from San Francisco to Mexico. Is there a Ha-Ha boat that might be willing to take the raft to Mexico for us this year?"

Crew List Party Next Week

October 4 - Alameda

While we're on the subject of trying to get to Mexico, this might be a good time to remind you that Latitude 38's Mexico-Only Crew List Party and Baja Ha-Ha Reunion, a three-hour event with a really long name, is coming up next Wednesday at the Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda. For details, see

Did George Slip One By?

October 4 - Auckland, NZ

In his 'Lectronic report on the Louis Vuitton Series from Auckland, reporter George Backhus used the phrase ". . . cunning Alinghis . . ." Am I a dirty old man or did George slip one by you?" So wonders Dave Wallace of Air Ops.

Smart Ass Photo Captions

October 4 - Auckland, NZ

Remember this photo by the aforementioned George Backhus of an unusual boat design in Fiji, which we published earlier this week?

Photo George Backhus

Here are some of the smartass comments we received:

Mike Brennan - "New cloning technology fails miserably in boatyard accident."
Steve Smith - "Sailboat collides with trawler, proceeds under jury rig."
Doug Schenk - "Hey Mr. Boatyard owner, this year I'd like to take my Swan 52 and my Carver 34 down to Fiji. Any ideas?"
Carl Mischka of Newport Beach - "Looks like another design by committee - with the ass end not knowing what the front end was doing."
Paul Pearce - "One word says it all, hermaphriboat (sic). I mean really sic!"
Bill Elmer - "Gee Martha, that idiot in the Bayliner drove right up our ass!"
Bill Elmer, again - "Husband: I want a sailboat. Wife: I want a powerboat. No problem, we'll get this boat and you stay in the back and I'll stay in the front."
Mark Wiltz - "Having almost finished his degree - and class project - in sailboat design, Sydney dropped out of school and got a job with the Hatteras Sportfishing Boat Company."
Denis Inman - "The rig could use some Viagra. I believe the owner either knew exactly what he wanted, or he didn't have a clue."
Stuart Lochner - "Maybe a Bayliner 45 stuck into a Valiant 40."
Kimball Livingston - "No smartass comments. I just want to know where the designer placed the Center of Effort."

A Whale of a Delivery

October 4 - Oxnard

Ken Fairchild has arrived in Oxnard, having delivered Profligate there from Half Moon Bay. He reports that he was motoring in no wind around Pt. Conception yesterday when the 63-ft catamaran was surrounded by about 20 humpback whales bigger than the boat. They formed a horseshoe around Profligate, and Ken says he was both excited and scared shitless.


October 4 - 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

October 4 - 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 The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at

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 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:
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see

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