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Photos of the Day

July 7 - Marseille, France

As you probably know, today's beautiful Photo of the Day is not of anywhere around the extremely damp Bay Area. No, it's of Noel G.'s Outremer 43 catamaran Laia anchored in the quiet St. Esteve Cove barely two miles from the wild and dynamic metropolis of Marseille, France. The ruins are of the old quarantine hospital, which Noel says served a function similar to Angel Island. It's now being transformed into a classical outdoor performance center. On the right hand side of the photo is the castle at Chateau d'If, where the fictional Count of Montecristo was imprisoned.

A second photo is of the famous calanques, coves with steep cliffs and beaches at the crown, that are located just a few miles east of the 800,000 residents of Marseille. Fortunately, the calanques are in a state park.

Photos Noel G.

Ever helpful, Noel also included a photo of some of the local "wildlife" on a small powerboat nearby. His next stop? St. Tropez.

Mari-Cha IV to Smash West Marine Pacific Cup Record Today

July 7 - Pacific Ocean

Today's Pacific Cup standings won't be available for awhile, but based on yesterday's positions, both Mari-Cha IV, Bob Miller's 140-ft carbon schooner, and Magnitude 80, Doug Baker's Long Beach-based 80-ft sloop, should break Pyewacket's San Francisco to Oahu course record of 6 days and 14 hours.

Mari-Cha looks as though she may beat the old record by a full day. The real pity is that there wasn't better wind this year, for had there been good wind, she would have almost certainly covered the course in under six days. As it is, there are times when she's been almost becalmed. And generally speaking, conditions have been light - as you can tell from the photos posted at www.mari-cha4.com.

For the most current information on Mari-Cha's record run, visit www.mari-cha4.com. For the most current information on the entire Pacific Cup, visit www.pacificcup.org after 2 p.m. today.

Mari-Cha IV as she sailed out the Gate last Friday.
Photo Latitude/Andy

'90-Day Yacht Club' to End?

July 7 - Sacramento

The California state budget is late, as usual, with legislators fighting over how to get and spend more money. One of the battlegrounds is closing the so-called yacht sales tax loophole that is possible when Californians take offshore delivery of boats and use them in Mexico - most often at the '90-Day Yacht Club' in Ensenada. Generally speaking, Democrats say closing the loophole will bring in $55 million in extra taxes. Republicans, on the other hand, say $55 million, which in any event is but a drop in the state budget, is a ridiculously high figure, and that closing the loophole will devastate the state's boating industry.

Our view is this: Sure, it's a tax loophole - one of many thousands in the state budget. For example, why don't people have to pay sales tax when they buy a house? Closing that loophole would bring the state of California about a gazillion times more revenue than would closing the yacht tax loophole. And why should someone buying a house be favored over someone buying a boat? Then there's the tax loophole that allows everyone to buy stuff online from out of state and not have to pay sales tax. Similarly, newspapers and publications such as Latitude 38 don't have to pay sales tax on their printing bills. The sole justification for this loophole is that legislators want to kiss the asses of people who buy ink by the barrel.

We also think the Democrats are mistaken if they think closing this loophole - which would also apply to planes and motorhomes - will save $55 million. When it comes to expensive boats, the simple alternative strategy to paying the tax is to spend a couple of hours and a couple of thousand dollars to form an offshore corporation to buy the boat. It's a little more trouble, but for someone buying a $500,000 yacht and looking to save close to $50,000 in tax, it's almost a no-brainer. As for folks looking to buy expensive motorhomes and planes, in many cases it's not that much trouble to base them in Nevada - where if we're not mistaken, there is no sales or personal property tax. In other words, the state isn't going to collect more money, the tax base is just going to move to a less expensive place.

We'll let you know what happens.

The Semi-Monty to Raise Money for the Olympics

July 7 - Southampton, UK

In order to raise money for their Olympic efforts, 10 members of the British Olympic and Paralympic Team have posed naked, naked, naked for a 'For Gold' calendar by the renowned photographer KOS. For example, check out the fit and attractive Katherine Hopson, a top 470 sailor. Is this all good fun or a disgusting and degrading way for athletes to get the funding necessary to be competitive? We suppose that's something that each person will have to decide for themselves.

Photo KOS

Thanks to this semi-brilliant idea, you can get your own calendar by sending £16.99, including VAT, to the Royal Yachting Association.

Singlehanded TransPac Update

July 7 - Pacific Ocean

Tiger Beetle

The 21 boats in the Singlehanded TransPac are strung out across half the Pacific at this writing - with some great drag races going on. Closest to the finish at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, are the race's two big boats, with Chuck Beazell's Hunter 54 Joe maintaining a slim 15-mile lead over Al Hughes' Open 60 Dog Bark. As of last night's reported positions, both boats have under 400 miles to go and should finish sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening. Mark Deppe's J/120 Alchera is currently in third position about 100 miles behind the leaders. The race for fourth is a real nail-biter, with Rob Macfarlane's N/M 45 Tiger Beetle and Erik Schwartz's SC40 Rusalka in a dead heat about 50 miles behind Alchera. Next in line are Frank Ross's Olson 30 Prankster, and Jim Tallet's J/33 Zapped - whose positions seem to be within spitting distance of each other. Farther back, Ken 'The General' Roper aboard the Finn Flyer 31 Harrier is hot on the heels of Phil MacFarlane's Ericson 35 Sail A Vie, and all three Moore 24s are within about 30 miles of each other. And so it goes.


Time will tell whether the later arrivals in Hanalei Bay will correct out ahead of the early boats - as in 2002, when Jim Kellam's Spencer 35 Haulback finished last but corrected out to first. Jim's still very much in the running again, though not quite at the back of the pack this time. Barbara Euser aboard the Bristol 34 Islander is currently in that position.

Both Kellam and Mark Deppe post long and interesting accounts of the race twice daily on the Singlehanded Sailing Society Web site (www.sfbaysss.org). From those logs, it was easy to see this race differs from previous ones in one big way: fishing. Almost everyone seems to be trying their hand at it, even Deppe, who admits next to no luck in this pursuit over the years. But when he hauled a nice mahi aboard yesterday and had the seasoned filets for dinner, he noted, "I could get used to this."

Al Hughes aboard Dog Bark also got lucky. He was in fluky winds and figured, "I'd try my hand at fishing since the sailing wasn't doing much for me." He got a 7-pound mahi "before the line was even tied down." The resulting meal did much to buoy up his spirits.

And speaking of spirits, it's always good to keep them happy. A couple of days ago, Kellam and Dan Alvarez on the Ericson 30 Miss Laney were chatting after morning roll call. Jim was bemoaning the fact that the wind in his patch of ocean had fallen off to almost zilch. Dan suggested sacrificing a handful of ice might help. (Kellam still had plenty of ice; you may recall that the combo of dry ice and cubed ice in his icebox froze his food into a solid block early in the race.) "He cautioned me not to toss too much over the side as that may bring too much wind," notes Jim. So he carefully scooped up exactly one handful and chanting secret Costa Rican voodoo spells, consigned it to the deep. Shortly after, the wind filled in to a nice, spinnaker-flying type of breeze that held most of the day. Wonder if those guys on Mari-Cha know about this trick?

Photos Latitude/Richard

Quote of the Day: "When you sleep with the kite up going deep, you leave your sea boots on." Erik Schwartz, Rusalka.

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