Photo of the Day

January 15 - Caribbean

Oops! thanks to a post vacation brain fade, we forgot to post yesterday's 'Lectronic. Here it is, in all its faded glory. The only news item from today is marked January 16 and is about Oracle BMW's victory over Alinghi.

Today's Photo of the Day is a quiz. Can you identify either of the faces in the photo? If so, you certainly know your Caribbean sailing characters. Email Richard.

Photo Latitude/Richard

Oracle Nipped by One Second - and Two Penalties

January 15 - Auckland, NZ

Yesterday's third Louis Vuitton Finals race between Oracle BMW and the seemingly invincible Alinghi couldn't have been more exciting. Trailing 2-0, Larry Ellison was off the boat as 17th man, Peter Holmberg drove for the start and the race, and Chris Dickson was back to calling tactics. Oracle BMW had a 28 second lead at the final of the final downwind leg, but needed to do a 270º penalty turn. Blessed with a stronger wind coming down the last leg, Alinghi finished one second ahead of Oracle, although the latter boat had to do another penalty turn after drifting into the finish line buoy.

Photo Bob Grieser/Louis Vuitton Cup

The bottom line is that although trailing 3-0 in the best of nine series, Oracle BMW proved that in flat water conditions at least, they could be as fast or faster than the Swiss boat. Here's the more detailed official report of the race:

"Skipper Chris Dickson and his Oracle BMW Racing crew came in to the pre-start on the favored starboard tack, but Alinghi's Russell Coutts pulled off a masterful start, positioned upwind of USA-76, with pace, on the favored right hand side. For the first time in the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, Oracle BMW skipper Chris Dickson didn't take the helm after the start gun, allowing Peter Holmberg to drive the first weather leg. Although Coutts converted his impressive start into a controlling position, USA-76 kept it close and rounded the top mark just 8 seconds back. Holmberg immediately ratcheted up the pressure by diving down around the mark and setting up slightly lower and inside Alinghi. Both crews can be commended on beautiful sets under pressure conditions and the boats started speeding downwind just a few meters apart. A poor spinnaker drop on USA-76 gave Alinghi a bit more breathing space at the mark rounding. Early in the second beat, the Swiss enjoyed a solid two length lead after being overlapped just a couple of minutes before. Alinghi maintained a lead of 12 seconds around the second top mark with USA-76 chasing hard a couple of lengths behind. After the first jibe, Oracle BMW set up nicely to windward and started to roll over Alinghi. Coutts luffed, and Holmberg responded, but the American boat was eventually able to break through to weather and make the pass. A flurry of Y-flag protests followed, with Dickson claiming Alinghi was sailing above its proper course, but found no sympathy from the umpires. When Alinghi eventually jibed, Oracle BMW jibed to leeward, and, now holding luffing rights, immediately attacked the Swiss boat. The action was extremely close and Dickson and Holmberg made at least two very strong attacks with Alinghi desperately avoiding contact. No penalties were awarded with Alinghi going on to break the overlap. The frustration on the American boat was evident and Holmberg and Dickson attacked one last time, the bow on USA-76 coming up and hitting the stern scoop on Alinghi. The umpires penalized Oracle BMW for violating Rule 17 (sailing above their proper course).

"Dickson and Holmberg recovered from that to sail Alinghi out to the starboard jibe layline before jibing inside and rounding ahead to make the pass, albeit at the cost of a penalty. USA-76 led Alinghi around a mark for the first time in this series, with Alinghi 8 seconds behind. On the final beat, needing to earn enough room to offload the penalty, Oracle BMW Racing made a nice little gain on the left side early in the beat, and covered well to stretch away a few crucial boatlengths. USA-76 made two fewer tacks than Alinghi, and that also added precious seconds to what would be a 28 second lead around the final weather mark. The final run was an incredible test for both boats, with Alinghi trying to close up enough to make a penalty turn impossible for their opponents. "This is all about velocity, sailing our boat," skipper Chris Dickson told his crew at the start of the leg. While the Oracle BMW crew strained for every meter it could find, Alinghi, benefiting from stronger wind behind, followed on its trail. As the finish line approached, the Swiss crew was able to claw in a few more meters to put more pressure on the American crew. At the finish line, the jib went up and the gennaker came down cleanly. Holmberg spun the boat around the pin end of the finish line, and with Alinghi charging down under full sail, USA-76 initially looked as though it might just make it. But after tacking, and needing to bear away to cross the finish line the boat stalled out, and Alinghi swept past to take the gun. Meanwhile, Oracle BMW drifted onto the buoy marking the pin end of the line and copped another penalty for hitting the mark. The end result, a 1:01 win to Alinghi."

Oracle Beats Alinghi in Fourth Race

January 16 - Auckland, NZ

Photo Bob Grieser/Louis Vuitton Cup

For those who enjoy speculating about what could have been, if Oracle BMW would have been two seconds faster in the third race, or not incurred the penalty, they'd now be tied with Alinghi at 2-2 in the Louis Vuitton Finals. For yesterday, sailing in light and fickle winds, Oracle BMW whomped the Swiss, and now trail 3-1 in the best of nine series. Once again, Oracle BMW proved to be very fast in light air and flat water. Here's the official report:

"After another lengthy delay of over two hours waiting for the wind to fill, the Hauraki Gulf served up testing conditions for both crews for the fourth race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals. Oracle BMW scored an emphatic 2 minute 13 second win in a shifting breeze that saw velocities range from 5-12 knots. At the start USA-76 crossed at the pin end buoy with a 1 second advantage, forcing the Swiss to tack away. It was the defining moment of the leg as USA-76 trailed out to the port side of the course whilst SUI-64 gained gauge to windward. As both boats sailed upwind on starboard tack, SUI-64 dialed into a favorable windshift to advance into the lead. At mark 1 and in a dying breeze, USA-76 trailed by 38 seconds. However on the first downwind leg the American boat, led by Team Skipper Chris Dickson, gained separation by jibing off to the starboard side of the course. Alinghi neglected to cover and ended up sailing in a different wind pattern. With increased pressure, USA-76 was able to sail around SUI-64 to leeward and into the lead. Overturning the top mark delta, USA-76 held a 56-second lead going into leg 3. With both crews launching a crewmember high up in the rig to spot for wind, Oracle covered the Swiss boat up the leg to maintain the lead at just under one minute at mark 3.

"The second downwind leg was perhaps the most telling of all, as USA-76 began by consolidating its lead before sailing the angles and the windshifts to perfection, showing great downwind pace. At the final leeward mark, Oracle had stretched out to a 2 minute 34 second lead, or nearly 400 meters, as the wind increased and steadied. Keeping a close watch on their opponents, USA-76 sailed conservatively to ensure the win, and by the final windward mark led by 2 minutes 13 seconds.

"With the evening breeze threatening to slacken, Oracle stayed in phase with Alinghi on the final downwind leg before taking the winner's gun with an official delta of 2 minutes and 13 seconds, over 700 meters in front of the Swiss boat."

West Marine Buys BoatU.S. Retail Stores for $72 Million

January 15 - Watsonville

On Tuesday West Marine announced that it would acquire all 62 BoatU.S. retail stores and its catalog and wholesale units for $72 million cash, including the assumption of some debt. The BoatU.S. name will remain on the stores. Boat/U.S. will continue to offer services to boat owners, such as towing, marine insurance and boat financing. Under terms of the deal, West Marine will promote membership to the association, while BoatU.S. will point its members to West Marine to buy supplies.

As of Wednesday morning, West Marine stock was up nearly 8.5% in a down market.

Buoys Are Saving the Bottom

January 15 - Baie Columbie, St. Barth

Photo Latitude/Richard

Over the years, a lot of sailors have objected to the installation of mooring buoys, suggesting that they were only for sailors too incompetent to anchor safely. However mooring buoys are rapidly becoming a fact of life in the Caribbean, but solely for the purposes of protecting the environment. Anchors dragging through coral and grasses are not good for the bottom. These buoys are at Baie Columbie, St. Barth, a happy little island first discovered by Columbus a little more than 500 years ago. Chris named the island after his brother.

Forget the Giant Squid, Geronimo Is Jamming

January 15 - Atlantic Ocean

Three days into their Jules Verne attempt, Olivier de Kersauson and his maxi trimaran Geronimo have covered 1,460 miles at an average speed of 20.96 knots - despite a slowdown when it was reported a giant squid wouldn't let go of the rudder off the Strait of Gibraltar. The 120-ft tri is now 112 miles ahead of the record pace set by Bruno Peyron in the 110-ft maxi cat Orange.

More on the squid: "Its tentacles were as thick as my arms plus the waterproofs. Amazing! To begin with it was jammed between the top of the rudder blade and the hull, and then it sent two of its tentacles down to the base of the rudder blade and grasped it right the way around at fence level. I saw it astern after it had let go, and I reckon it was about 10 meters long - absolutely enormous. It's the first time I've ever seen one so big: it shook the whole boat, and it was rather worrying at the time."


Photos Courtesy

Is the Around Alone Race Tough or What?

January 15 - Tauranga, NZ

Graham Dalton of Hexagon sailed into Tauranga, New Zealand, from Cape Town third in class in the Around Alone race, having battled 60-knot headwinds and torrential rain the last 24 hours. Just behind him was Italian Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali, who described the conditions as being like "a bad, bad, bad night in hell." In addition to having blown his headsail in the middle of the night, a drop in wind near the finish resulted in his taking four hours to cover the last 10 miles to the line - at a time when he'd been out of food for three days.

As we go to press, Bruce Schwab on the Wylie 60 Ocean Planet and Brad van Liew on the 50-ft Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America were close to each other tacking down the coast of New Zealand. Van Liew will almost certainly win his class honors easily again, while Schwab is battling not to finish last again in Class I. It's been a very difficult event for Schwab, who is terribly underfunded and doesn't seem to have the right horse for the course. But you've got to salute Schwab's gritty determination. With just about nothing going right for Schwab, he refuses to give up. After this, most everything should seem easy.


January 16 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to

Weather Updates

January 16 - 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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