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Photo of the Day: Mirabella V

September 17 - French Riviera

Today's Photo of the Day has been circulating all over the Internet, and shows Joe Vittoria's much-heralded and brand new Ron Holland-designed 247-ft Mirabella V on the rocks near the entrance to a marina at the lovely old town of Beaulier sur Mer in the South of France between Monte Carlo and Nice. You'll remember that this is the yacht whose mast wouldn't be able to clear the Golden Gate Bridge by about 60 feet. Apparently the huge sloop dragged her anchor in Force 6-7 winds. What her captain Johnno Johnston and the rest of her large crew were doing at the time is unclear. Yachts of this stature would normally have a minimum of two people on duty even in the wee hours of the night while at anchor in calm weather.

Several large private motoryachts tried to pull the big sailboat free, but a 40-ton bollard was ripped off of a 200-footer's aft deck. There are reports that Mirabella's 150-ton lifting keel has either dropped or will not function properly, which could be an enormous problem as it increases the depth to as much as 32 feet. But she's now apparently sitting on her keel box. There have been conflicting reports as to whether or not there has been damage to the hull, rig, and keel. The good news is that the wind is down to about 5 knots. Reportedly a tug is underway that, if possible, will take the boat to drydock.

This is a real blow to Vittoria, the former head of Avis Rent-A-Car. Unlike most owners of mega-mega yachts, Vittoria maintained a Web site that encouraged everyone to follow along with the building and testing of the yacht. Vittoria's attitude seemed to be that while most people would never be able to put up the $250,000 a week needed to charter the boat, they could at least enjoy her vicariously. We wish him and his boat the best.

Mirabella V's salon
Photo Courtesy Mirabella V

Dawn Is Nearly Back in the States!

September 17 - Monterey, Mexico

And down in Mexico, Dawn Wilson has to be about as elated as Mr. Vittoria is disappointed. Check out the report from her sweetheart Terry Kennedy:

"I went into shore this morning to get my usual call from Dawn at 9 a.m. Dawn did call, but she was calling from Monterey, Mexico! Prison officials took Dawn from the Ensenada prison on September 13, to the airport, where she was flown in an eight-passenger Cessna to a prison in Monterey. The plane made several other stops where other American prisoners were picked up. The pilot of the plane told Dawn that she would probably be flown to El Paso on September 20! She will be held at some federal prison in El Paso until there is some kind of hearing. After that, I don't know what will happen. Dawn said the conditions at the facility where she is being temporarily held are better than the Ojos Negro Prison in Ensenada. Dawn added that anyplace would be better than Ojos Negro. For one thing, it's possible to buy edible food at the Monterey prison, plus they even supply a bowl to eat from. Dawn and I hope that this 18-month nightmare will soon be over. But today is finally a happy day for us!"

Thursday Was the Start of the Biggest St. Francis YC Big Boat Series Ever!

September 17 - San Francisco

Photo Dan Nerney/Rolex

More than 1,000 sailors yesterday participated in a distinct moment for American sailing when the Big Boat Series Presented by Rolex kicked off, with two classes of  IRC Handicapping. Racing in the seven-race series was held on San Francisco Bay where the two IRC fleets and an additional seven one design classes competed under sunny skies with steady 12- to 18-knot wind. At last evening's Rolex Commodore's Reception, the fleets designated for each of the six Perpetual Trophies were announced by St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Terry Klaus.

In a successful debut on San Francisco Bay, Nicholas Lykiardopulo's (Athens, Greece) Kerr 55 AERA leads the IRC A class racing for the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy. In second-place is Zephyra, the DK46 owned by Robert Youngjohns (Woodside). Lykiardopulo and his team, which includes as skipper former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Jez Fanstone, are on a quest to sail the world's great regattas, with specific interest in laying claim to the first American IRC event. From this event, AERA will go to the Southern Hemisphere to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, a race the team won in 1998 aboard a previous incarnation of AERA. IRC B class, racing for the Atlantic Perpetual Trophy, is led by Just in Time, a Farr/Beneteau 42.6 owned by Norman Olson (Wayne, PA).

In one design racing, the closely watched TP52 class saw very close and exciting racing among all nine entrants. Karl Kwok's (Hong Kong) Beau Geste traded first and second-place finishes with Makoto Uematsu's (Tokyo, Japan) Esmeralda to tie for three points. BMW Oracle Racing helmsman Gavin Brady serves as tactician aboard Beau Geste, a role he has held since the inception of Kwok's modern grand prix racing program in the late '80s. Brady's America's Cup teammates on board include Dirk de Ridder and Jamie Gale. Defending champion Rosebud, owned by Roger Sturgeon (Fort Lauderdale, FL), is in fourth overall, with Yassou, owned by Jim Demetriades (Los Angeles) is in third.

In the 31-boat J/105 class, a collision in the first race involving a handful of competitors occurred at a mark rounding, causing some damage and all of the boats to retire from racing. Defending class champion Good Timin', owned by the ubiquitous San Francisco Perkins brothers Chris, John and Phil, are in second-place behind Tim Russell's (Novato) Aquavit.

"We were so lucky," said Chris Perkins, who sat out last year's Big Boat due to commitments with Oracle BMW Racing. "In the second race, the big decision was to either to sail toward the shore or close to Alcatraz. We knew that because there was a late flooding tide, the shore would be better, but there would be more wind near Alcatraz. We went to Alcatraz and were passed by about 10 boats. They all sailed into a hole, but we had the speed to pass them by then." One point behind is Tom Coates's (San Francisco) Charade, the West Coast twin of his Masquerade, which won the New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex.

Jim Richardson (Boston, MA/Newport, RI), still riding a high from his win at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds held here last week, won today's first race with his Barking Mad, then combined that with a third to take the lead in the nine-boat class. "It's not a bad start," said Richardson. "We'll definitely take it." Chuck Parrish's (Hillsborough) Slingshot, which is guided by Olympic Bronze Medalist Jeff Madrigali, is in second place, tied on points with Barking Mad. Steve & Fred Howe's (San Diego) Warpath, with John Cutler on board, is in third.

Mike Garl (San Carlos) is one of two undefeated skippers to date. His White Dove leads the Beneteau 40.7 class, while Mr. Magoo, owned by Stephen Madero (Menlo Park) leads the J/120 class.

Photo Dan Nerney/Rolex

Two races are planned for today (Friday) and Saturday, with one final race planned for Sunday. The Big Boat Series presented by Rolex joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events in 2004 including the Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Fastnet Race, Maxi Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Rolex Miami OCR and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. For results and additional information, visit www.stfyc.org.

Javier Southwest of Cabo

September 17 - Pacific Ocean

With all the news about hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean, you may not have noticed that Javier, with 130-knot winds, is only about 250 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas. Fortunately, forecasters expect her to stay way to the west, then cross over Baja near Turtle Bay. By that time, thanks to much cooler water and the mountains, he should lose much of his steam before heading into the Sea of Cortez. But you never can tell about hurricanes.

Graphic Courtesy Unisys Weather
See http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/e_pacific/2004/index.html

Jimmy Buffett to Play San Diego Just Before Start of Ha-Ha

September 17 - San Diego

Sam and Sally Peterson of a San Diego-based DownEast 32, who will be doing the Baja Ha-Ha, want to extend a personal invitation to meet up with them on the lawn at the Jimmy Buffett concert in San Diego five days before the start of the Ha-Ha.

"Attention Ha-Ha'ers: Jimmy Buffett will be playing in San Diego on October 20, which would be an excellent excuse for an unofficial Ha-Ha get-together just days before we sail to warmer waters. We think a tailgate party is also called for. Tickets go on sale Saturday, September 18, and can be purchased at House of Blues or Ticketmaster: www.hob.com/venues/concerts/coors/
or https://www.ticketmaster.com

"If you purchase lawn seats, not only will you get to hang out with the fellow sailors in the Ha-Ha, but you'll also have an excellent view of the stage and get to dance the night away. We recommend getting tickets soon as this show will sell out."

The Ha-Ha Is Closed!

September 17 - Tiburon

As of Friday morning, we'd received the additional four paid entries to the Baja Ha-Ha:

Shearwater / C&C 41 / Steve & Dawn Borwardt, Brookings, OR
Sea Grace / Sweden 38 / Dave Hamilton / San Francisco
Shaka / Blackwitch 26 / Stacey Dobson / Dana Point
Magic Dragon / Tayana 47 / Claude Hill / San Pedro

If your paid entry doesn't arrive in the 21 Apollo Road, Tiburon, mailbox by midnight tonight, Lauren Spindler, the Ha-Ha Honcho, reports you'll be out of luck this year. "Sorry," she says.

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