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April 2 - Valencia, Spain

Today was a practice day in Valencia.
©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget

America's Cup Coming to San Francisco

Okay, maybe not the actual Auld Mug. That depends on whether Larry and the boys make it to the 32nd America's Cup match in June and then successfully remove the Cup from the hands of Alinghi. But regardless of who wins, "a number of current and prospective" America's Cup teams are planning to race on San Francisco Bay later this year in a combination of fleet and match racing. Until now, the September event was a well-kept secret among a few local circles, but according to publicly-available minutes from last week's meeting of the Challenger Commission (the organization representing the 11 teams vying for the right to challenge Alinghi for the Cup), mum's no longer the word. Under 'Future Events', the minutes read: "Russell Green [a CC representative for BMW/Oracle Racing] reported that progress continued on plans for an event in San Francisco in late September 2007, to be held in ACC yachts with a combination of fleet and match racing. Letters of invitation have been circulated to current AC teams, a number of current and prospective teams have indicated they will participate..." We're told that more details will be available soon. Stay tuned.

©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Speaking of the AC, Sunday was "Unveiling Day" in Valencia - the day by which Cup protocol required all 12 teams to drop their skirts and reveal their secrets under the waterline for the current Cup racing. Nothing revolutionary debuted this year - no hulas, tandem keels or forward rudders. In fact, despite many of the brightest engineering minds toiling for three or more years to eek every last tenth of a knot out of IACC boats, the current generation of yachts appear rather similar upon first glance to the untrained eye.

Photos Courtesy the Corenmans except as noted
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Jim and Sue Corenman of the Friday Harbor, Washington-based Heart of Gold sent the following report and photos from Valencia: "No radical designs that we saw, but lots of variations on the basic themes. To the casual observer they were subtle differences, to the designers there were huge variations in shapes and volumes - much larger than expected. Monday is a practice day, and then fleet racing starts Tuesday, with wind and rain in the forecast." Word on the street is that the inclement weather will likely force Act 13 racing into the reserve days. The conditions are expected to improve once the Louis Vuitton challenger series gets started.

- latitude / ss


What Are Your Feelings on the America's Cup?

April 2 - San Francisco Bay Area

On a scale from 1 to 10, indicating extreme indifference to extreme excitement, we'd like to know how you feel. But please, write 50 words or less about why you feel the way you do. (Email to Richard.)

- latitude / rs

Spring Crew List Party

April 2 - San Francisco

Looking for a boat to crew on for racing, cruising or daysailing? Need crew for your boat? Attending Latitude 38's spring Crew List Party this Wednesday at San Francisco's Golden Gate YC (6 to 9 p.m.) can solve either problem.

Don't be bashful, this is your chance to meet new sailing mates and swap a few tales in a friendly, low-pressure atmosphere. Free to those who signed up for the crew listings in the March or April 2007 editions of Latitude 38; $7 for all others. Free munchies, cash bar and door prizes. For the first time ever, representatives of the Yacht Racing Association will be on hand to answer questions and help racers get signed up for the 2007 season.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of sailing prowess. Casual dress - come as you are. For more info and to download a color flyer, see www.latitude38.com/crewlist/CrewParty/CrewParty.html. For directions and a map, see www.ggyc.com/directions.php. See you there!

- latitude / at & cw

The Saltiest Sea Dog?

April 2 - Mangaratiba, Brazil

Moana, now 84 in dog years, is one salty pup. She's seen here crossing the Strait of Magellan.
Photo Courtesy Lord Jim
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

As reported last week, the famous Alden schooner Lord Jim sank off the coast of Brazil two weeks ago, was refloated, and is currently undergoing repairs at a small yard in the town of Mangaratiba. One key crewmember wasn't mentioned in our previous account however: Moana, the great schooner's longtime canine mascot.

We don't usually get too worked up about ship's dogs, but this one is the saltiest we've heard of in a long while. Having sailed with owners Holger and Tracy for years, she has tens of thousands of sea miles under her, ah. . . collar. Previous to her most recent voyages from San Francisco to Brazil via the Marquesas, the Chilean fjords and Strait of Magellan, she sailed from Fiji to San Francisco, much of it in nasty conditions. And while Holger, now 69, might be called an old sea dog himself, Moana is actually 15 years his elder - in dog years, at least.

If you have a pet that you think is s saltier than Moana, we'd love to hear about her/him. Write to the editorial department.

After basic repairs are made, Lord Jim's fate is unclear. The owners have had to admit that the task of thoroughly refitting her may be beyond their emotional and financial means. With that in mind, a special email address has been set up for those who wish to make serious suggestions regarding refitting her or possibly even purchasing her.

See the April issue of Latitude 38 for a complete report on this tragic incident.

- latitude / at

Weather Sucks, No Surf, Stay in California

April 2 - Banderas Bay, Mexico

If you were thinking of coming down to Punta Mita for a Mexican surfing vacation, we offer you this photo as evidence that it would be a bad idea. Unlike Northern California, which is being inundated with glorious springtime weather, it's overcast and frankly quite cold. Last night it even got down in the high 70s. As for the surf, you can tell from the photo of Profligate anchored in 20 feet of water that there's no swell whatsoever.

- latitude / rs

Photo Latitude/Richard
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

What's a Life Worth?

April 2 - Mexico

About $15,000 to $25,000 - at least south of the border.

During the last year or so, we know of two accidents in which people - neither of them cruisers - were killed. In one case, a worker walked off the fourth floor of a building site. His family got $25,000 in 'compensation', although we're not sure how much of that went to lawyers.

In the other incident, a woman, the mother of several children, was killed in a car crash. The driver of the other vehicle, whom we presume was the guilty party, had to pay $20,000. Of that total, $15,000 went to the family of the deceased, and $5,000 to the lawyers. Unlike in the States, where the negotiations for such a settlement would have droned on for years, this whole 'transaction' was completed in less than a week. Once the compensation was paid, the driver of the vehicle was free to go.

While on the subject of accidents in Mexico, we're told that in the pre-dawn darkness a few months ago, the driver of a panga slammed into cruising boat that was anchored off La Cruz on Banderas Bay. We're told that a crewman in the
panga was severely injured, and the panga driver began screaming that the cruising boat hadn't been showing an anchor light. And apparently, she had not. When people are told they should have liability insurance for their boats while in Mexico, it's often hard to imagine why it would be necessary. This is a good example.

We have no idea who was declared at fault in the incident and/or if any compensation was agreed upon. But we can tell you that both high speed at night and unlit boats are factors that frequently lead to accidents. For what it's
worth, when we anchor near the active panga marina near Punta Mita, which is about five miles from La Cruz, we do the following to prevent being hit by a panga: 1) We don't anchor in the paths pangas use to come in and out of the
harbor, and 2) We illuminate our boat like crazy.

Specifically, we show an anchor light, a bright light in the main cabin, lights in each hull, and solar panel lights on both bows and both transoms. It makes no difference to us that panga drivers may sometimes operate their boats too fast or otherwise recklessly at night, we just want to avoid a collision.

Mexico is a wonderful, wonderful country, but no matter if you're riding in a car or sitting on a boat, the 'system' doesn't insure safety as much as it does in the United States, so it's up to each individual to live defensively.


April 2 - 'Lectronic Latitudeville

In the last 'Lectronic, we screwed up the copy on Alicia Bickham and Lisa Zittel. Alicia is the one who has crewed on the 100-ft Maximus and is friends with around-the-world record-holder Bruno Peyron. Lisa is the wife of Wayne Zittel, owner of J/World in San Francisco and Puerto Vallarta, and the one who can't wait for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha

That's Alicia on the left and cover girl-to-be Lisa on the right.
Photo Latitude/Richard
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

By the way, the votes for whether or not Lisa should be on next month's cover are running very heavily in her favor. Is anyone surprised?

- latitude / rs

Eight Bells: Gary Clifford

April 2 - Pt. Richmond

Gary and his two friends, Bruce Powell and Ward Latimer. Gary is in the middle.
Photo Courtesy Deb Castellana
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

We're sorry to report that Gary Clifford passed away Saturday morning after a long battle with cancer. Gary, a former San Rafael sales executive, put thousands of miles on his Express 27 Light'n Up - perhaps the most legendary of those miles being the ones he and Jonathan Livingston sailed during the 1984 Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Kauai, when the doublehanders kept the 27-ft boat in shockingly close range of the 67-ft TransPac record-holding Merlin. During the 25 years he owned Light'n Up, Clifford entertained - in his words - "gazillions of friends on the boat," giving many their first taste of sailing on the Bay.

He and his boat were both well loved, and there's no doubt he will be missed. As fellow Richmond YC member John Dukat noted, "RYC's motto is 'This club was built for fun.' No one at RYC ever made racing more fun than Gary." Plans for a memorial service are still in the works; we'll pass them along when they're finalized.

- latitude / ss

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©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.