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Day Charter Cat Flips in Hawaii, Passengers Saved

March 10 - Maui

On Monday, March 8, the Conser 47 charter cat Paragon I flipped over during a daysail to Lanai. The boat's EPIRB was automatically activated and all passengers (approximately 10) were rescued within two hours, with no major injuries.

Operated by Paragon Sailing Charters of Maui, Paragon I and her sistership, Paragon II, are considered to be among the most high-performance cats in Hawaii, Paragon II having once been clocked at 31.4 knots. According to the company's office staff, however, Paragon I was not being pushed hard during Monday's ill-fated daysail. Prior to her capsize, she was reportedly doing about 8 knots in moderate wind conditions, however, seas were abnormally rough due to recent storms. Although neither the captain nor owner Eric Barto could be reached directly for comment, their staff indicated that while under sail in open water, Paragon I was being lifted by an irregular wave when a sudden strong gust flipped her over with, as we understand it, her rig intact.

The Paragon sisterships. Paragon I, which capsized, is in the background.

Photo Courtesy Paragon Sailing Charters

Designed by John Conser and built in the mid-'90s, both Paragon sisterships measure 47 feet, with 24 foot beams, and have 10,000 lbs displacement. They carry 1,050 square feet of working sail, not counting their wing masts. It is unknown whether Paragon I's 1,900-square-foot spinnaker was being flown at the time of the capsize.

Van den Heede Completes Fourth 'Wrong-Way' Attempt

March 9 - Ushant, France

Having failed in three previous attempts, French singlehander Jean-Luc van den Heede successfully completed a non-stop, singlehanded, westabout circumnavigation yesterday aboard his 84-ft aluminum sloop Adrien, obliterating the previous record by more than 29 days. When van den Heede crossed the finish line off Ushant, France, after 122 days, 14 hours, 3 minutes and 49 seconds, he became only the fourth sailor to complete a solo, non-stop circumnavigation the 'wrong way around' - that is, against the wind. Others in that small fraternity are Chay Blyth, Mike Golding and Philippe Monnet, who set the previous record (151 days, 19 hours, 54 minutes and 36 seconds) in June of 2000.

Photo Benoit Stichelbaut/Rivacom

Van den Heede, a former mathematics professor, became well known in the world of singlehanding through two BOC Challenges ('86 and '95) and two Vendée Globes ('89 and '92). In each of those contests he never finished below third. His previous 'wrong-way' attempts, however, proved much more challenging. Aboard his former Open 60, his first attempt was aborted just past Cape Horn due to keel damage. During his second attempt, aboard the purpose-built Adrien, he suffered a Southern Ocean dismasting and had to retreat to Hobart, Tasmania, under jury rig.

This final trip, by comparison, seems to have been a cakewalk. Van den Heede was quoted in the European press as saying, "I really enjoyed myself throughout the trip, especially off Cape Horn. Rounding that mythical rock with a 40-knot wind behind me . . . is something extremely rare and I couldn't have dreamt of that." See www.vdh.fr/gb/ for more details.

Profligate Looking For Crew

March 10 - Panama

Looking for adventure at sea? Need sea time for a Coast Guard license? Profligate is looking for crew for Panama to San Diego, leaving Panama on May 8. If you arrive a few days earlier, you can join the 63-ft cat for the Canal transit. Planned stops are at Nicaragua, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, and Turtle Bay. The trip is expected to take three weeks to a month.

This is a delivery trip, not a pleasure cruise, and will consist of a lot of motoring. However, Profligate is very comfortable in all but the roughest conditions and is extremely roomy. In addition, veterans of delivery trips get first choice on future downwind delivery trips.

Final Thoughts on the Heineken Regatta

March 10 - St. Martin


This year's Heinie is easy to summarize - four wild races and four nights of wild partying. Bang! could have been the official sound of the regatta, as three of the four races featured true wind to the low 30s, and blocks exploded right and left, in addition to about five rigs coming down.

The photo here shows a couple of the destroyed blocks from Profligate, including the main halyard block. We'd used that puppy on over 400 previous sails without a problem, but it just couldn't take the shock loads of both the wind and the seas in the Heinie, and started raining roller bearings. The wind was no problem; the flying over waves and landing in deep troughs was. The racing on the last day was perfect, with 17 to 22 knots of wind, mostly flat seas, and brilliant sunshine under a blue sky. These are the more typical conditions for the Heinie. What fun!

Party, party, party. Heineken brought seven miles worth of specially canned beer to keep everyone happy, and it was consumed quickly - along with Carib, Stella Artois and other beers, plus God knows how much rum. The Heinie is unlike most regattas in that even all the non-sailing island residents are welcome to enjoy the fun. And they do. It's a nice atmosphere, too. As John Haste of the San Diego based Perry 43 Little Wing told us, "I can't believe how uptight everyone is in California. Life is so much more relaxed down here." He couldn't be more accurate about that. So if you like great competitive sailing and a little partying, make a note that next year's Heinie will be the 25th, and is the first weekend in March. Reserve a charter boat now if you can't make it with your own boat.

One of the funniest moments in the Heinie was when members of the Black Eyed Peas - who are apparently huge in Europe, were nominated for three Grammys, and were the featured band at the regatta - were busted for possession of pot. "We've never been treated so badly by the police," said members of the band.

Photo postscript to the Heineken: The good news for Rex and Celeste Conn of the 50-ft racing tri Alacrity is that their mast - which almost landed atop a Volvo 60 on the first leg of the first race - was found by divers.

Here the mast, with the main, genoa, and screecher still attached, as well as all the winches and blocks, is being towed underwater back to the dock and salvage. It's been a couple of tough months for the Conns. After having a block manufacturer sign off that all their blocks were adequately large, they blew up five of them in the first race back in Florida. After their first-rate sailmaker assured them their main was so robust it couldn't tear, it tore in half. The sailmaker didn't believe it when they told him over the phone, and he still didn't believe it when the evidence was placed at his feet. And then the mast. You bleed money at the cutting edge.

Second Heinie photo postscript: One guy who didn't have any trouble with his boat was Les Crouch, owner of the new R/P 44 Storm. Crouch is known to West Coast sailors as being the owner of Maverick, the bright red aluminum N/M 68 sled he used to campaign on the West Coast, and later sailed around the world in the Expo '98. He keeps her in the Caribbean, but only for cruising. For racing, Crouch had Paul Amon of Soca Boatworks in Trinidad built him a high tech R/P design, and couldn't be happier with the results. "Paul is an absolute sweetheart of a guy, and built the most perfect racing boat I've ever seen - and at 25% less than it would have cost in the States." Crouch and Storm took first in their division at Key West, but didn't do so well at the Heinie. The boat is only three months old, however, so they are still getting to know her. "My wife Judy and I now spend four months a year in San Diego, four months in Las Vegas, and four months in the Caribbean - life couldn't be much better," Crouch said with a smile.

Storm crewman Mark Hamelmann of Las Vegas (who says the Ha-Ha he did a few years ago was his "favorite regatta ever") and Storm owner Les Crouch
Photos Latitude/Richard

Puddle Jumpers Set Sail for the Marquesas

March 10 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Every year about this time westbound voyagers set sail for exotic landfalls of French Polynesia because early spring generally offers ideal sailing conditions for attempting that 3,000-mile passage.

Last month at Puerto Vallarta we caught up with many of the crews who will soon earn their place as members of what we like to call the Pacific Puddle Jump Class of 2004. As you read this, in fact, some have already said "Hasta la vista" to Mexico and are plying their way toward the misty peaks of the Marquesas.

"Yippee! We're goin' to Tahiti!" Gathered together February 24 at Latitude 38's annual Pacific Puddle Jumper's Kickoff Party, held at the Vallarta Yacht Club, two dozen boatloads of soon-to-be passagemakers compared crossing strategies and swapped cruising tales. The shindig was co-sponsored by the club and the Paradise Village Resort and Marina. A dozen or more other boats will be departing from Z-Town and elsewhere along the Mexican coast. Look for a complete report in the April issue of Latitude 38.

Remember Anna? She was pictured in the March Latitude (Sightings) with her friend Miriam. They wrote in about their frustration when their promised ride to Australia fell through. Remarkably, before that issue even hit the streets, Anna had found a solid ride across with South Pacific-bound Bill Cowan aboard the Vancouver, BC-based Gulfstar 44 Antares I.

After longtime offshore racer John Prentice did the Puddle Jump two years ago as crew, he claimed it was an easier trip than the TransPac. At least that's what he told his wife Renee, who will doublehand with him this time aboard their San Diego-based Serendipity 43 Scarlett O'Hara.

Taking the long way 'round: After marrying last year on their home island of St. Thomas, USVI, Don Wilson and Gwen Hamlin crossed the Caribbean; transited the Canal; sailed to the Galapagos; back to Cocos Island, Costa Rica; and north to Mexico. N-o-w they're ready to head for Tahiti aboard their CSY 44 Tackless II.
Photos Latitude/Andy

America's Cup - the Plot Thickens

March 10 - Sausalito

With the next America's Cup still more than three years away, there's no telling how many campaigns will emerge to challenge for the Auld Mug. Two, however, made headlines this week: the South African Challenge and the Sausalito Challenge. For our report on the South African Challenge, see yesterday's 'Lectronic.

A truly unique approach to Cup campaigning comes from Bay Area sailor/entrepreneur John Sweeney, who will stage an online auction on eBay next month to generate multi-million-dollar bids for sponsorship of his Sausalito Challenge. Earlier this week, in an interview with the online newsletter Scuttlebutt, Sweeney explained his novel idea. His fundamental contention is that among eBay's bidders are those with very, very deep pockets, evidenced by the number of extremely expensive items - such as Ferraris - frequently sold there.

Sweeney, who proved his inventiveness in recent years by staging a series of races between veteran A-Cup boats, said, "We know of almost a dozen companies that will sponsor a Cup team," adding that most have not yet declared which team they will support. "So it was logical to create a global marketing idea that got us in front of these decision makers before we missed out." If bidders respond favorably, this could be the biggest auction yet on eBay. While the old guard at the New York Yacht Club would certainly be skeptical of this approach, you've got to give Sweeney credit for thinking outside the box. Who knows? It might just pay off. As he says, "Log onto eBay Motors April 2-9 and watch for yourself."

US Sailing Seeks Coach for Youth Development

March 10 - Portsmouth, RI

The Olympic Sailing Committee of US Sailing has announced the creation of a new coaching position in support of youth development. The new Laser Youth Development Coach will be responsible for creating and coordinating a development program for advanced youth sailors in the U.S. specializing in the Laser and Laser Radial. The coach will also organize and conduct Advanced Training Camps at select junior championships, including the U.S. Junior Singlehanded Championship (Smythe Trophy) and U.S. Junior Women's Singlehanded Championship (Leiter Trophy), as well as the qualifying events to determine competitors for the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship. Responsibilities will also include attending both the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship and the Laser Radial Youth World Championship in the role of Coach/Team Leader.

This seasonal, contractual position would be a good fit for a college or high school sailing coach. The ideal candidate will have completed US Sailing's Level Three Instructor Certification, and have elite coaching experience on the national and international level, along with specific expertise in the Laser and Laser Radial. For the complete job description see www.ussailing.org/ads/ussailing/employment.htm. Interested coaches should apply immediately by submitting a coaching resume and cover letter via email to Olympic Head Coach Gary Bodie.


March 10 - 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 Links

March 10 - 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 old link we had for the Pacific Ocean sea states is dead, so check out: www.oceanweather.com/data/NPAC-Eastern/index.html. Thanks to Keith Cress for calling this to our attention.

For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see www.oceanweather.com/data.

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