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Photo of the Day

May 21 - San Francisco Bay

Whether you're a cruiser or a racer, this weekend was a delight.
Photo Latitude / JR
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

This weekend Bay Area sailors saw some of the loveliest weather so far this year. Moderate winds and balmy temps gave the Bay a decidedly Med-like flavor for the lucky ones able to take advantage of it. We can't promise anything, but the weather forecast looks just as nice for next Saturday's Master Mariners Regatta, a don't-miss event if ever there was one.

- latitude / ld


Louis Vuitton Cup: Requiem for a Heavyweight

May 21 - Valencia, Spain

Spain (in green livery) stayed alive on Sunday with her second win against Emirates Team New Zealand.
© 2007 Chris Cameron/ETNZ

In a turn of events hard to imagine just a week ago, Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing syndicate was eliminated yesterday from the semi-final round of the Louis Vuitton Cup by Italy's Luna Rossa team - thus evaporating the sole hope that the America's Cup might return to American shores for the first time in a dozen years.

The racing itself featured the Italian boat once again dominating the proceedings - winning the start in 10-15 knots of breeze, picking the correct side of the course and never really looking back. Luna Rossa's turnaround from the Round Robins - where BMW beat them in both meetings - could not have been more dramatic. In each of the six races of the semi-finals, ITA 94 led the Americans around every mark. BMW's only win came when they overtook the red-and-silver boat on the final run in Race 2.

Even though the writing has been on the wall for several days, we remain in a bit of shock as this is written. While Ellison's mega-budget team has not always been a press darling, there was a connection to America, and to the Bay Area - the syndicate's yacht club of record is the Golden Gate YC. Also, largely due to the combined vision of Ellison and AmCup defender Ernesto Bertarelli of Alinghi, the initiation of a series of pre-Cup 'acts' sailed in various world ports has kept the America's Cup in the public eye and imagination as never before. To see them go down to such ignoble defeat was hard.

BMW Oracle's Chris Dickson (right) congratulates Luna Rossa helmsman James Spithill (left) and skipper Francesco di Angelis.
© 2007 Gilles Martin-Raget

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ellison, skipper Chris Dickson and the entire BMW Oracle Racing team for fighting the good fight and bowing out as great sportsmen. We sincerely hope they will be back in the fray, stronger than ever, in 2010.

Oh yes, there was another match-up yesterday. Desafio Español once again defeated the top-ranked Emirates Team New Zealand to extend that match-up at least one more day. Monday is a reserve day (no racing), with the best-of-nine semi-final series resuming on Tuesday. After six races, ETDZ leads that series 4-2.

For all the background and play-by-play, log onto www.americascup.com and/or check out TV coverage of the LVC, which airs locally on the Versus network (www.versus.com/americascup) on race days.

- latitude / jr

Advertisement: It's May Madness - 25% Off Caribbean Charters

May 21 - Caribbean Sea

Get a hot deal this month with 25% off Footloose sailing vacations in the British Virgin Islands or The Grenadines. Sail between now and July 14, 2007, and book by May 25, 2007. Choose from the Footloose 433 and 463 monohulls or the spacious 4700 catamaran and get ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

© 2007 Footloose Charters

Call (888) 952-6013 or visit www.footloosecharters.com for more details and
other specials.

Sportfishing and Other Interests in Baja in An Uproar

May 21 - La Paz and Cabo San Lucas, BCS

As reported in Jonathan Roldan's La Paz newsletter: "This past week the Mexican government passed NOM 029, the new shark regulations for commercial fishermen in the Sea of Cortez. On its face, it sounds great."

According to supporters - which originally included Greenpeace and still includes some environmental groups in Mexico such as Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, COMARINO (Conservation of Marine Mammals of Mexico), Defenders of Wildlife Mandeacute xico, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Greenpeace Mandeacute xico - NOM 029 "will make it possible to regulate one of the fisheries with the greatest impact on endangered marine species such as sea turtles, whales and sea lions."

No way, say Roldan and almost all sportfishing interests in the Sea of Cortez. "NOM 029 will basically devastate the Sea of Cortez and all sportfishing as we know it. The law went into effect May 15, and has already resulted in huge protests in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. More than 150 sportfishers jammed the harbor in protest, and one boat was burned. Huge demonstrations have taken place. Both political parties, PAN and PRI, have backed the protestors. One Mexican senator has declared it illegal. Numerous unions - including those for hotels, sportfishing, transportation and others - plus the city council of Cabo San Lucas, have banded together in solidarity and have acknowledged that violence is not out of the question. As the new regulations went into effect on May 15, there were reports of as many as 50-70 commercial boats waiting to enter the Sea of Cortez and start "harvesting."

Will NOM 029 result in the dramatic decrease in catches of dorado such as this?
Photo Courtesy Miela
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

NOM 029 permits the more than 3,000 operators with permits - each permit can have as many as six boats working for it - to:
1) Fish within the 50-mile protected zone from shore.
2) No bag, size or weight limits on any "incidental catches." Incidental catches can include dorado, marlin, and other pelagic species, which means these commercial boats can take all they want.
3) Lay miles and miles of hooks up and down the Sea of Cortez.

Sportfishing and other interests in Baja are demanding the immediate cancellation or suspension of this shark norma until the following modifications are included:
1. That the 50 mile zones already in the law be respected. This protects sharks as well as all other species which live inside 50 miles of the coast.
2. That incidental by-catch be clearly defined, so that sport fish aren't commercially targeted.
3. That the sportfishing species which have been set aside by the Ley de Pesca for sportfishing be respected and not commercialized.
4. That there is Regionalization of Permits, so that Sinaloa or Sonora boats, where there are even fewer fish, can't come fish Baja.
5. That the Armada de Mexico be in charge of (inspection and vigilance) enforcement.
6. That solid stock assessment and fishing effort data be compiled in a comprehensive environmental impact study which should have been included.

- latitude / rs

Cutty Sark Burns in Greenwich Drydock

May 21 - London, UK

The world's last remaining tea clipper, Cutty Sark, was badly burned this morning by a substantial fire of unknown origin. She had been hauled out at a Greenwich dry dock since last year undergoing a $50 million renovation.

An initial interior inspection of the hull by Ian Bell, manager of the refit project, indicated that she is salvageable, as the blaze did not cause major distortions to her iron frame. Luckily, 50% of the ship had been removed for refurbishing, including the masts, the coach house and a significant amount of planking.

Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Cutty Sark has been visited in her Greenwich berth by several million people a year.
© 2007 UK Tourism

Launched in 1869, the 280-ft ship made eight voyages to China in the tea trade via the Cape of Good Hope, some in record time. After being put to use in a variety of later endeavors around the world, she was returned to England and put on public display in 1957. See www.cuttysark.org.uk for more info on this historic ship.

- latitude / at

National Safe Boating Week

May 19 - The Nation

Just as most of us nowadays would never think of driving without a seat belt or biking without a helmet, boating without a lifejacket seems downright silly. But lots of people do it. That's why the North American Safe Boating Council decided to make the wearing of lifejackets the main focus of this National Safe Boating Week, May 19-25.

It's hard to argue the statistics - in 2004, 90% of the 676 recorded boating-related fatalities were not wearing lifejackets. And it's harder every year to argue discomfort. Today's lifejackets are light years beyond your father's kapok Mae West. Modern lifejackets are lighter, less bulky, higher tech, more diverse in design and operation, more efficient and (dare we say it?) occasionally verging on stylish.

The Safe Boating Week campaign will use contests, pledges and even film personalities to get the message across to "Wear It!" For more on the campaign, choosing a lifejacket ,or activities in your area this week, log onto www.safeboatingcampaign.net.

- latitude / jr

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