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Photo of the Day: Big Boat Series

September 15 - San Francisco

Photo Latitude/Richard

Today's Photo of the Day comes from Saturday afternoon, when thousands of people came from all over Northern California - Castro Valley, Redding, Manteca - to stand on the beach and watch the the boats race in the St. Francis Big Boat Series. Well, okay, a few of them where there to play in the sand, kite sail, and chase dogs, but a couple were there to catch the racing.

The Moët Cup

September 15 - San Francisco

As promised, Oracle BMW's Larry Ellison brought the America's Cup - in a Brinks armed truck, no less - to the Golden Gate YC and San Francisco Bay on Sunday. But as he joked, he had to ask his friend Ernesto Bertarelli of Alinghi, the winner of the America's Cup, for a little help. The occasion was the opening press conference for this week's Moët (rhymes with 'Not yet') Cup on the San Francisco Cityfront, in which Alinghi and Oracle BMW will square off in a rematch of the Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand, which decided who got to sail against the Kiwis for the America's Cup.

Larry and Ernesto with the America's Cup and the Moët Cup.

The press conference had all the heavy hitters on the dias: Ellison and Bertarelli, Oracle BMW's Chris Dickson, Alinghi helmsman Jochen Schuemann, and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. And there were members of the press from all over the world - including one French photographer who took about 75,000 identical still life photos of the Cup itself.

Ernesto and Larry laugh it up at the press conference.

During the press conference, both Ellison and Bertarelli acknowledged that their boats were in tip-top shape, and they had plenty of great sails. Speaking on behalf of Oracle BMW, Dickson said they had an almost entirely new team from the one in New Zealand, and that Gavin Brady will be the helmsman with John Kostecki also in the back of the boat. On the contrary, Bertarelli said that the Alinghi team is almost the same one as won the America's Cup, except that Schuemann rather than Russell Coutts will be driving.

Alinghi warming up
Photos Latitude/JR

Although both camps said they take the Moët Cup competition very seriously and are out to win - Oracle BMW has had two boats and as many as 65 employees preparing for the event for some time - their real purpose is to take the America's Cup "to the people." Ellison, 59, and Bertarelli, 37, are both relatively young and think young, neither are tradition bound, and they share a common goal of making the America's Cup "like Formula One racing but on the water." In other words, a sport with huge general public following, and with the many sponsors that would come with it. That's why bleachers have been erected between the St. Francis and Golden Gate YCs, and why the two races a day every day through Saturday will only be about an hour long and right on the Cityfront. It should be great! Racing starts about 1 p.m. each day, with the pro driver race first, followed by the owner driver race.

Attracting the general public is also why there will be a big fireworks show tonight at the same location. This week's Moët Cup is only the first in a series of 'bringing the America's Cup to the people' events planned for the next 18 months.
Bertarelli and Ellison are two of the richest men in the world, yet their goal is to keep the America's Cup from being too elitist. Bertarelli, who as holder of the Cup has a great deal of say over its future, said very specifically that his goal was to make the Cup "affordable and accessible" to ensure that there would be many entries in future America's Cups. Ellison, who sails under the burgee of the Golden Gate YC, Challenger of Record for the next Cup, nodded in agreement.
After the formal press conference, both Ellison and Bertarelli mingled with the crowd of 150 journalists and others, happily chatting with anyone and everyone. Our short chats with each suggested that the America's Cup is in for big changes. For example, when we asked Ellison if he missed ocean racing in places like the Caribbean - he'd been very successful at Antigua Sailing Week with his maxi Sayonara - he said, "Oh, I really do! But who knows, maybe in the future there will be two kinds of America's Cup boats, one for offshore racing and one for around the buoys only." While talking with Bertarelli, who loves sailing ultra high performance cats on Lake Garda, we mentioned that we had a cruising cat. His faced brightened and he proclaimed, "Cats are the future of sailing." We asked him if this meant that there might be catamarans in the future of the America's Cup. He opened his mouth wide as if to say something - but then stopped himself. We don't think anybody should read too much into his aborted comment - other than that change will be a big part of the America's Cup in the upcoming years.

Bertarelli also said he'd been out to watch the St. Francis Big Boat Series, and stated something to the effect that San Francisco Bay was the best spectator-friendly sailing venue in the world. When we asked if he was pulling our leg, he challenged us to name a better one. He'd been quite serious.

Once again, hot and heavy America's Cup racing action on the Cityfront starting at 1 p.m. each day through Saturday, with plenty of bleacher seating. And fireworks tonight. Don't miss it.

If a Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words, What's a Streaming Video Worth?

September 15 - Rhode Island

If you want a video explanation of why some people, such as Ernesto Bertarelli, feel that "cats are the future of sailing," you need to check out some streaming video shot by Clint Clemens and sent to us by Peter Johnstone of Gunboat Multihulls. To view the video, click here.

To summarize, it's a video taken recently in Rhode Island of Clemens' Morrelli & Melvin 62 catamaran Safari challenging the R/P 80 monohull Carrera from behind on a close reach in about 22 knots of wind. Although the Carrera - a boat similar but slightly longer than R/P TransPac winners Pegasus and Pyewacket - is doing 18.5 knots and is being crewed by some America's Cup vets, the cruising cat, crewed by "one guy and two women in bikinis on the bow," overtakes the monohull and passes her as though she were almost standing still. Johnstone estimates the cat was hitting 30 knots. It's very graphic stuff.
If anyone really likes what they see, they can charter the sistership Safari for something like the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin the first weekend in March - Profligate and a bunch of other cats are expected to be there, too - for $18,000. For serious inquiries only, call Peter at (401) 662-0204.

Also check out www.morrellimelvin.com/safariinfo.html and www.gunboat.info/home.html.

Mari-Cha IV, Largest Racing Yacht Afloat, in Sea Trials

September 15 - Cherbourg, France

Photo Thierry Martinez

Most of you might remember that Bob Miller, owner of the Duty Free Shops in most airports, entered his gigantic 147-ft ketch Mari-Cha III, one time holder of the Transatlantic sailing record, in last year's West Marine Pacific Cup. Miller has built a new but smaller boat . . . she's only 140 feet. Whereas Mari-Cha III is both a racer and a luxurious cruiser, the new design - a collaboration by Frenchman Philippe Briand, Kiwi Greg Elliott, and American Clay Oliver, and built at JMV in Cherbourg, is a balls-to-the-wall racing machine with a canting keel. In other words, she's similar to the R/P Max 86s being built for Roy Disney and Hasso Plattner - but 54 feet longer! Unlike the sloop-rigged Max 86s, Mari-Cha has a schooner rig in the sense both masts are of equal height. She'll have a crew of 25, and will set 904 square meters of sail upwind, and 1,415 square meters of sail downwind! The whole yacht is made of carbon, and she is going to be a rocket - Miller intends to break all the great sailing records. We'll bet you 10 cents that Miller will have her down in St. Barth this New Year's Eve for the Around the Island Race/Parade. It may not be one of the world's great sailing records, but he'll certainly want to beat the current one held by Mari-Cha III.

Big Boat Series Wrap-Up

September 15 - San Francisco

"I've been to 30 Big Boat Series or thereabouts, and this was the best one ever," claimed John Kilroy, skipper of the Farr 40 Samba Pa Ti, at yesterday's awards ceremony. "The number of boats, the wind conditions, the race management - it was all great."

Kilroy, who also wrapped up the 8-regatta West Coast Farr 40 Championship, was one of five class winners who took home shiny new Rolexes as well as first place trophies. Roger Sturgeon (Rosebud, TP-52), Martin Brauns (Winnetou, SC 52), John Siegel (Scorpio, Wylie 42) and Dick DeVos (Windquest, 1D-35) were the other watch winners. For reasons that escape us, the largest (34 boats) and highly competitive J/105 class was overlooked in the watch sweepstakes this year. Aquavit skipper Tim Russell, sailing with youthful tactician Don Trask, topped the 105s whether or not race five is reinstated (it was tossed by the race committee due to a freighter fracas, but the case apparently may be reopened).

Other class winners in the record 115-boat fleet were John Wimer (Desdemona, J/120), Mark Dowdy (Eclipse, Express 37), Thomas Sponhlotz (Blue Agave, Beneteau 40.7), and Mike Garl (White Dove, Beneteau 40.7, Americap C). Oracle BMW and Alinghi also sailed two quick races, with Larry Ellison's minions getting the best of the Swiss visitors - a preview, perhaps, of the upcoming Moët Cup.

See www.stfyc.com for full results. And don't miss our coverage in the October issue of Latitude 38.

Upwind or down, the first three days were warm and sunny.

Above and below: symmetry in the Farr 40 fleet

Mary Coleman, one of the few women skippers drives her Farr 40 Astra.

A TransPac 52 leads two others on a steaming run.
Photos Latitude/Richard

Take a Sail Magazine Senior Editor on the Ha-Ha?

September 15 - San Francisco

Kimball Livingston, San Francisco-based Senior Editor, West Coast, for Sail magazine, who for many years was the sailing writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, is interested in a berth on the Ha-Ha in order to do a story for Sail magazine. Got any room?

Livingston is an old friend of Latitude, and we can vouch for his sailing skills and excellent manners. Long ago he took third with an SC 27 in the Singlehanded Farallones Race and helped Bob Cole win his class in the TransPac with the Farr 51 Zamazaan, and when Clay Bernard needed rail meat for the Davidson 50 Great Fun in the Molokai Destruction Derby - it blew in the high 40s - Livingston offered his body for slaughter.

You can contact Kimball via email or at (415) 850-9274.


September 15 - 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 www.bitwrangler.com/psn.

Weather Updates

September 15 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

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.

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.

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/Maps/Southwest.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

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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