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Photo of the Day

April 12 - San Francisco

Photo Courtesy http://oceanfilmboat.com

Today's Photo of the Day is of Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson's 110-ft maxi tri Geronimo doing a speed run on sunny San Francisco Bay yesterday afternoon. If you'd like to have a gander at the great yacht today, you're out of luck, for at 7:30 a.m. she passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge with her owner and crew intent to set a new record for the San Francisco to Yokohama passage. The current record is 19 days and 15 hours, set by Steve Fossett with his 60-ft trimaran Lakota. It's expected that Geronimo, which reportedly hit speeds of around 30 knots on the Bay yesterday, might knock a week off that mark.

In 2005, Geronimo set records for the 6,500-mile Around Australia course with a 15.44-kt average, the 3,298-mile Sydney to Tahiti course with a 10.29-kt average, and the 2,215-mile Los Angeles to Honolulu course with an average of 19.17 knots. Her top speed has been 44 knots.

We'll have more on the charismatic but demanding 61-year-old Kersauson, who is a real piece of work in so many ways. For example, in the PR materials for the record run, it almost boasts that as a youngster he "didn't settle well into school life" and attended 11 different schools. At age 22, ODK, as he is known, became a protegé of French sailing legend Eric Tabarly, and the sea "has become his passion and the justification of his existence."

Why the name Geronimo? "Because Geronimo never gave up." ODK has many great sailing achievements to his name, but few of them came easy, and many of them were very, very difficult. Yet he persevered.


Singlehanded Farallones

April 12 - Gulf of the Farallones

Westbound and down - Bruce Nesbit heads out on Razzberries.

The consensus so far is that the Singlehanded Farallones Race on Saturday, April 8, was one of the most spectacular sailing days outside the Golden Gate that anyone can remember. The usual dreary skies and almost no wind morning start off the Golden Gate YC gave way to bright sun, 10-15 knot breeze and brilliant cobalt-blue seas outside.

Ben Mewes on Mirage rounds the Rocks. Recent rains have made the normally desolate island look almost appealing.

Forty-nine boats started this Bay Area classic, which dates back to the late '70s. Forty finished. Notable performances included that of Synthia Petroka, the only woman in the race, who was late for her start but rallied to win Division 4 on her Hawkfarm Eyrie. In the 'big boat' division, Jim Coggin on Auspice was pleased to have held off Farallones master Dave Hodges' Timber Wolf boat-for-boat in the homestretch, crossing the finish less than a minute ahead (although Dave saved his time to win the division).

And then there was Richard Rollins on the Peterson 323 Libations Too, the last boat to finish, at 11:47 p.m. It was Richard's first solo race, first time outside the Gate and - well, actually, it was his first race ever. He spent a lot of time on the Singlehanded Sailing Society online discussion board (SSS hosts the Singlehanded Farallones) in the month preceding the race, asking questions and getting tips and encouragement. When the wind died at twilight, and most of the DNFs happened, Richard - cheered on by the race committee who could see his lights bobbing ever so slowly toward the finish - hung in to complete what he had started. Good on ya, mate!

passes Point Bonita on the way in to a Division win.
Photos Scott Wells

Here are the winners of the six divisions:
DIV. 1 (multihull) - Wingit, F/27, Ray Wells
DIV. 2 - Timber Wolf, Farr 38, Dave Hodges
DIV. 3 - Ragtime, J/92, Bob Johnston
DIV. 4 - Eyrie, Hawkfarm, Synthia Petroka
DIV. 5 (non-spin) - Svenska, Peterson 34, Fred Minning
DIV. 6 (sportboat) - Sleeping Dragon, Hobie 33, Mark Halman

Look for a feature on the Solo Farallones in the May issue of Latitude 38.

Aero California Shut Down for Safety Reasons

April 12 - San Francisco

"Our bags were packed and we were ready to go ­ a bunch of nuts chartering a Moorings 51.5 out of La Paz - flying down April 7," reports Art Hartinger of the South Beach-based Pied-a-Mer. "Then, on the week we were supposed to depart, we got the following note from Expedia:

"'As of on April 2, 2006, Aero California ceased operations due to a mandate by the Mexican Civil Aviation Department canceling all flights indefinitely.' Unless we each would have been willing to spend thousands on a standby ticket routed through Denver, we were out of luck. So, there are some bummed out sailors lurking in the Bay Area this week. One piece of good news is that The Moorings is willing to permit us to reschedule sometime later this year, at any of their bases worldwide."

Some of Latitude 38's delivery crew from Puerto Vallarta to La Paz were also effected by the shut down of Aero California. Fortunately, it's not that far to fly out of San Jose del Cabo, which has many, many more flights. If you take the mountain route between San Jose del Cabo and La Paz, you'll enjoy spectacular vistas. It's worth it.

Oliver Johnson Dies after Exposure to Polluted Waters of the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

April 12 - Honolulu, HI

We previously reported that 34-year-old Oliver Johnson, described as a surfer, runner, and mortgage broker living in Honolulu, fell into the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor only days after it had been contaminated by the city diverting 48 million gallons of raw sewage into the Ala Wai Canal. Johnson got cuts on his feet and legs, and a short time later began suffering from infections caused by three different bacteria, two of which, vibrio vulnificus and aeromonas hydrophila, result in flesh-eating symptoms. Doctors almost immediately had to amputate his left leg above the knee to stop the infection from spreading. This didn't stop his body from going into septic shock, which caused his major organs to fail. With prospects so terrible, his family had him taken off life support.

It's not clear whether the pollution had any connection with the infections. What is clear is that Johnson wasn't a poster boy for healthy living. It's been reported that he'd been drinking heavily the night of the incident, and got into a fight. Security cameras at his condo complex reportedly show him arriving bloodied, soaking wet, carrying two 40-ounce bottles of liquor, and falling down. He was taken to the hospital, where he reportedly remained belligerent. He was released, but experienced bad leg pains a few days later. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, he was put on life support.

The authorities are still investigating and Johnson's family has reportedly hired legal counsel.

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