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America's Cup Teams 2-2

June 27 - Valencia, Spain

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

A bowman on Emirates Team New Zealand slipped and wound up spinnaker flying.
© 2007 Chris Cameron / ETNZ

As of this morning, defender Alinghi of Switzerland, and the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, are tied at two races apiece in one of the most 'even' and exciting America's Cup matchups in history. For the first time since the IACC yachts were adopted in 1992, we finally have, by all outward appearances, dead-even boats sailed by the two best crews in Valencia. Match racing simply does not get any better than this.

After splitting Races 1 and 2 over the weekend, and a layday on Monday, Dean Barker at the helm of NZL 92 and Ed Baird steering SUI 100 jumped back into the fray Tuesday afternoon (Valencia time) in probably THE most exciting America's Cup race in living memory. The Kiwis led by a huge 1:23 at the top mark, but a doused spinnaker jammed in a jibsheet block allowed the Swiss to pass on the next windward leg. On the run, they were holding a comfortable lead on the right when a 20-degree windshift in the last 500 meters catapulted New Zealand back into the lead for good. NZL 92 won by 25 seconds.

Even though Alinghi started out in the lead, Race 3 went to the Kiwis.
© 2007 Ivo Rovira / Alinghi

This morning, again in shifty 8-10 knot breeze, Alinghi fought hard for the righthand side at the start, won it, and led around every mark, also winning by 25 seconds. It doesn't get much more even than that. Again, New Zealand rarely gave up anything and made inroads into the Swiss lead over most of the course, stumbling only when they got an hourglass in the spinnaker during a jibe.

Tomorrow is another layday. Racing resumes on Friday. The first team to win five races wins the 32nd America's Cup, and we are happy to say that, at this juncture, we have no idea who that will be. This thing could go the whole nine-race distance before it's decided. For some historical perspective, the last America's Cup race that 'went the distance' was back in 1983, when it was a seven-race series. You may recall that Australia II, a 12-meter with funny-looking wings on the keel, won that one over Dennis Conner's Liberty, 4-3.

You can watch the America's Cup races on the Versus network beginning about 6 a.m. (check listings), or follow all the action at the official Web site, www.americascup.com.

- latitude / jr


Clear Lake Letter Writing Campaign

June 27 - Lake County

Readers have been asking us who they can write to regarding the injustice that's going on regarding the tragic death of Lynn Thornton on Clear Lake last May. They're angry that no charges have been filed against Deputy Perdock, whose Baja 24 was flying through the dark between 40-55 mph when it slammed into a drifting sailboat, killing Thornton.

Sources tell us the most potentially effective tactic would be to contact the California Attorney General's Office and make a very short, calm and rational appeal that the case be reviewed. The key points to hit are that, despite grossly violating the basic rules of the road by operating his boat at an estimated 55 mph on pitch black Clear Lake a year ago, an off-duty Lake County Deputy sheriff, whose boat slammed into a stationary boat on a black night, killing just-retired female California peace officer Lynn Thornton, has not been charged. It's a disgrace to her service to the state that the reckless person responsible for her death isn't being held responsible. Mention that there is no dispute of the facts, just a Sacramento County Sheriff's recommendation that the vessel operator not be charged. Something to that effect.

While emails are good, and the easiest to send, snail mail letters are more effective because everyone knows they take more effort. To send an email to California Attorney General Jerry Brown, visit http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=PL, where you'll find a form. Snail mail should be sent to Public Inquiry Unit, Office of the Attorney General, Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 924244-2550. You might also email copies of your complaints to the Sacramento Bee's Assistant Managing Editor Scott Lebar or the Lake County Record-Bee.

We received a response to our own letter to 1st District Assemblywoman Patty Berg this week and, while not the 'shocked and dismayed' response we'd hoped for, it's a good start.

We'll have more coverage in the July issue of Latitude 38 which will arrive at the usual places on Friday.

- latitude / rs

Advertisement: Charter a 'West Coast Cat' in the Caribbean

June 27 - British Virgin Islands

Three of the four Leopard 45 catamarans in our fleet are owned by Northern Californians. These cats were designed and built specifically for four couple - or big family - charters in the BVIs, as they have four cabins with heads/showers en suite and the most spacious salons and cockpits in their class. Prices range from just $540/week/person in the low season to $820/week/person in the high season. Come find out what your sailing neighbors already know - that sailing a cat in the Caribbean with your friends and family is a blast. We also have a large fleet of monohulls. Having been in business since 1974, we like to think we can answer all your charter questions. So please call us at (888) 615-4006, visit our Web site at www.sailinthebvi.com, or email us.

Baja Ha-Ha Update

June 27 - Mill Valley

As of Friday, June 22, the number of paid Baja Ha-Ha entries is already 28. Those people should be receiving confirmation and their Ha-Ha '07 burgees in the mail in the next few days.

There's only one way to get a Ha-Ha '07 burgee.
Photo Latitude / Annie
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

So far, 168 requests for entry packs. To get yours, follow the instructions on www.baja-haha.com.

- latitude / rs

Never Again in a Boat So Small

June 27 - Alameda

We've covered Encinal YC's Coastal Cup ad infinitum (see Friday and Monday's 'Lectronic Latitudes if you missed the coverage), but we can't pass up just one more item about last week's 277-mile race from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. File this one under the 'lessons learned' category, courtesy of Michael Andrews, who raced his Santana 22 Bonito with Kevin Clark and Tom Rankin. Back on terra firma on Monday, he sent us the following report:

"We raced Bonito hard from the time we started on Thursday morning until 20:30 on Friday night when, about nine miles offshore between Points Arguello and Conception, we stopped racing and began sailing simply to finish with the boat intact and crew safe. We had broken our spinnaker pole in a knockdown earlier in the day, which proved fortuitous in some respects because we weren't tempted to continue trying to carry a kite after. Instead, we put up the class jib - a 120% sail - and continued on with it winged-out opposite the main until 20:30, when we found ourselves in a lull and began plain sail reaching. First we headed further out to sea to find more breeze to help us manage with the large seas, and then towards, and part way down, the Santa Barbara Channel. We sailed into the protection of the Santa Barbara mountains at the earliest opportunity and then sailed in the light onshore breeze to the finish.

Bonito just outside of the Golden Gate last Thursday
Photo Latitude / Sutter
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing

"I have mixed feelings about our doing well in the race, in terms of placing fifth overall. Though the wind was never more than the boat or we were capable of handling, the sea state offshore that comes with up to gale force winds is beyond what a 22-ft boat is capable of being sailed safely through. Kevin, Tom and I will never sail down the coast again in a boat so small. All of my friends who told me that it was not a good idea were right. My mixed feelings about doing well stem from my desire to not inspire anyone else to sail a similar sized boat in a race down the coast. Given the opportunity, I will try vigorously to dissuade anyone from doing so."

For the record, Andrews, Clark and Rankin aren't sailing slouches. They often sail Clark's Melges 24 Smokin' and have extensive inshore and coastal experience on a variety of boats. The trio expanded their repetoire beyond sportboats when Andrews purchased his brand new Tuna several years ago. From their first discussion last year about racing the Tuna down the coast, they worked hard to prepare the boat and themselves appropriately with an eye on winning the race overall. However, with last week's big wind offshore and even bigger seas, it's an understatement to say that the race was more than they bargained for.

- latitude / ss

1D-35 Clinic and BBQ this Weekend

June 27 - San Francisco

The San Francisco 1D-35 fleet invites all sailors interested in this competitive one design class to join them for an on-the-water clinic and BBQ this Saturday. Many local fleet members will have their boats on hand for viewing and sailing during the afternoon. Participants will depart Pier 38 (near Embarcadero and Townsend) at noon, with the BBQ slated to start at 3:30 p.m. There will also be an opportunity to watch video footage from the clinic. RSVP to 1D-35 class coordinator Ellen Hoke.

- latitude / ss

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