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505 NAs Begin Today

August 16 - San Francisco

As of this morning, 27 entries were signed up to participate in the 505 North American Championships, which begin today at St Francis YC with measurement and practice racing, with 'counters' beginning tomorrow. Racing will run through Saturday. Local teams to watch include Mike Holt and Carl Smit on Essex Girl, Nick Adamson and Steve Bourdow on Grinder, and the duo of Doug Hagan and Stuart Park on Panic. Former NA and World Champion Mike Martin will also be on hand, with Jeff Nelson riding the wire on Black Boat.

Thad Leib and Mike Smith kick #8731 into high gear. Unlike the light-air 505 Worlds in England earlier this month, action at the 505 North Americans is expected to be fast and furious.
Photo Latitude/JR

If you've never seen 505s sailing in big wind, do yourself a favor and spectate this one some afternoon off the Cityfront. These guys are the fighter aces of sailing and you won't believe what they can make these little boats do.

- latitude / jr


Disney to Charter Pyewacket for Next Year's TransPac?

August 16 - Southern California

Pyewacket, seen here arriving in Hawaii at the end of last year's TransPac
Photo Latitude/Richard

It sounds odd to donate one's state-of-the-art canting keel MaxZ86 to the Sailing School at Orange Coast College, and then less than a year later charter her back to do yet another TransPac - but according to the talk on the docks in Southern California, that's exactly what Roy Disney is going to do. Apparently Disney, one of the nicest guys ever in sailing, has been so enthused about the Morning Light youth TransPac project he's funding, that he's decided he ought to race to Hawaii again as well. You'll recall that the Morning Light project has been all about gathering the best young potential TransPac crew, male and female, and then training them extensively to race the TP 52 Morning Light (ex-Pegasus) in next July's TransPac.

Indeed, another rumor making the rounds is that the group of kids who didn't quite make the Morning Light cut were so charming and enthusiastic, that there's been talk of finding another TP 52 for the second group to race to Hawaii. This second rumor is considered much more speculative than the first, however.

- latitude / rs

Say Good Race, Gracie

August 16 - Alameda

The victorious Tenacious at the finish in front of the Encinal YC on the Estuary

Encinal YC's annual Gracie & George Regatta, a doublehanded race where 'Gracie' dons the skipper's hat, had a solid turnout Saturday with 22 boats racing. The start, south of the Bay Bridge, was delayed 30 minutes to allow the wind to pick up - a decision the racers welcomed considering the 4-kt flood they battled.

Heather Noel on the Columbia 5.5 Tenacious snagged First in Division Three and First Overall, while Joan Garrett on her J/124 Javelin took Division One, and Lucie Mewes won Division Two on her Black Soo Mirage. See www.encinal.org and the September issue of Latitude 38 for full results.

- latitude / lb

Lucie Mewes is pleased with her cabin boy's performance!
Photos Fred Fago

Tale of a Fateful Trip

August 16 - Marshall Islands

On August 9, three Mexican men on a 27-ft panga were picked up by a fishing boat near the Marshall Islands, 5,500 miles from where they said they had set out to do a little shark fishing - last October! The three, all in their mid-20s, claimed they had left San Blas, Mexico, on October 28, 2005, but encountered mechanical problems and were soon at the mercy of wind, wave and current. They said they survived on rainwater, fish - and by reading a Bible they had on board. "We never lost hope because God is up there," said 27-year-old Jesus Vidana. If they were indeed adrift for nine months and nine days, as they claim (they kept track of days and months via one crewman's digital watch), it would be a new survival adrift record. However, the claim is in question after relatives in Mexico said they had been missing for "only three months."

The longest confirmed survival time of anyone adrift is that of 24-year-old Poon Lim, a Chinese steward whose ship was torpedoed in the South Atlantic in 1942. The only survivor of 55 crewmen, he drifted for 133 days - almost 5 months - on one of the ship's liferafts before being picked up off Brazil.

- latitude / jr

Don't Read this while Eating

August 16 - Two Harbors

We heard about one of the most gruesome boating accidents while at Catalina Island last weekend. A late middle-aged woman, with lots of boating experience, returned to her 29-ft Tollycraft in the wee hours of the morning, and somehow managed to slip or fall in such a way that one of the pins of the hinge-like inflatable-dinghy lifting bracket on the transom platform went through her eye and hooked the inside of her skull. Half in the water and half out, and in obvious horrible pain, the woman couldn't detach her skull from the pin. As her boat was closest to the dinghy dock at Two Harbors, several others quickly swam over to try to help, but couldn't figure out how to unhook her skull from the pin either. Depending on the report, the poor woman's skull was hooked for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes before the paramedics could get her loose. She was taken over to the USC center a short distance away, where a helicopter picked her up to rush her to a mainland hospital. The woman survived, but lost the eye.

One of the late night shoreboat drivers told us it was the worst accident he could remember in the 17 years he's been there.

Despite this terrible accident, folks tell us this has been one of the greatest summers ever at Catalina, with air and water temperatures about the highest anyone can remember, and lots of sunshine. We can vouch for the water temps. When we went swimming at Emerald Bay, the water had to be at least 76 degrees. So have fun - but for God's sake, be careful out there!

- latitude / rs

Two Harbors, Catalina, where just about everybody had a sensational time last weekend. Photo Latitude/Richard

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