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America's Cup: Match Point?

July 2 - Valencia, Spain

The outcome of the 32nd America's Cup hangs by a thread, in this case a piece of red sail thread likely belonging to one of Emirates Team New Zealand's spinnakers. Foul-ups with these sails have cost them two races and now there are none left to lose.

As of this morning, the Swiss Alinghi team leads Emirates 4-2, having won Race 6 on Saturday. Were it not for Race 7 being cancelled yesterday, this America's Cup could already be over. Which would be a shame because this is the most exciting matchup between the two best America's Cup teams that we've ever had the pleasure to report on.

The spinnaker foul-ups occurred in Races 3 and 5. In the former, a doused kite jammed in a jib sheet block and hamstrung the Kiwi boat long enough for Alinghi to sail by. In Race 5, the New Zealanders staged perhaps the most spectacular spinnaker fire drill in all of sailing, when one red kite tore, was doused, a second one raised before it was secured on the bottom, a third one raised while the second flailed off to leeward and was later cut loose . . . a bowman's nightmare if ever there was one. In both instances, New Zealand lost the lead. In Race 3, they regained it to win. In Race 5, they couldn't recover. At this level of the game, every mistake costs, some just more dearly than others.

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The Kiwis led the Swiss around the first mark but could they hold the lead?
© 2007 Chris Cameron / ETNZ

Race 6 was business as usual out on the waters off Valencia. For the first time in the series, a nice southeasterly seabreeze in the mid-teens to nearly 20 knots arrived and both boats reveled in it. After an intense dial-up, both boats hit the line at full speed, with helmsman Ed Baird aboard SUI 100 holding a narrow lead over Dean Barker and the Kiwi squad. However, when the boats converged on the top mark, NZL 92 rounded first. The red Kiwi kites - and their lead - stayed intact for the run, but on the second beat, the Swiss found better pressure on the right and edged ahead after a short tacking duel, going on to win by 28 seconds.

© 2007 Ivo Rovira / Alinghi

Race 7 was scheduled for Sunday, but was cancelled when the 5-9 knot seabreeze refused to settle direction, often fluctuating through 50 degrees over the course. Today was a layday. Racing will resume tomorrow at 3 p.m. Valencia time (6 a.m. PDT). If you like to root for the underdog, cross your fingers for Emirates Team New Zealand. Alinghi has, as always, been so well sailed - their only 'mistakes' so far have been choosing the wrong side of the course a few times; easy to do in shifty Valencia breeze - that few pundits hold out hope that Emirates can win three straight, which they must now do to regain the Cup that they lost to Alinghi in 2003.

To follow the racing, get up early and tune into the Versus network, whose excellent coverage is another hallmark of AC 32. Coverage starts at 6 a.m. California time. Or for everything America's Cup, log onto the official Web site at www.americascup.com.

- latitude / jr


Slocum Society Honors Harry

July 2 - Newport News, VA

World cruisers tend to meet a lot of interesting characters 'out there', but one who stands out in the minds of many is singlehander Harry Heckel. Not only is he a warm and friendly fellow with a rosy attitude toward life, but he completed two solo circumnavigations aboard his Dreadnaught 32 Idle Queen - crossing his tracks the second time at age 87.

Harry traces his route prior to completing his second lap.
Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

Although Harry thus became the oldest person ever to complete a solo lap around the planet, the Guinness Book of World Records opted not to enter his feat, reasoning that they did not want to encourage such behavior! The folks at the Joshua Slocum Society, however, take a different stance. They honored Harry, now 91, in a special ceremony last week, where Harry was presented with the prestigious Golden Circle Award.

Ted and June Jones of the Slocum Society present Harry with the Golden Circle Award at a surprise ceremony in his honor.
© 2007 Carl Heckel

"There are few (if any) in my opinion, who are more deserving," said circumnavigator Kirk McGeorge, now of the St. Thomas, USVI-based Gallivanter, who flew up from the islands with his wife Cathy to attend. "The last time Cath and I saw Harry was when he handed me our last dock line in Borneo, seven years ago." Past contributors to Latitude 38, the McGeorges presented an additional award from the magazine proclaiming Harry the "Grandaddy of Circumnavigators."

Sailor Bryan O'Neill sent comments from Australia: "You remain constant in my mind as a true adventurer who has achieved so much to the admiration of so many . . . You amaze me and I am enormously proud of you, and often talk of you as an example of someone achieving the seemingly impossible."

Although Harry's bluewater sailing career has been shelved, he still plans to sail occasionally in East Coast waters with family members and friends.

- latitude / at

Latitude 38 eBooks Available Worldwide in PDF Format

July 2 - Cyberspace

No matter where you find yourself, you can still get lost in the pages of Latitude 38!

You can now view the complete magazine online in PDF format with one small annual fee of $18. To subscribe, go to www.latitude38.com/ebooks.html and follow the easy instructions. We think you're going to love it!

TransPac Countdown

July 2 - Long Beach

Hard to believe it, but the 44th TransPacific Yacht Race kicks off one week from today when the first wave of starters leaves Pt. Fermin for the 2,200-mile westward haul to Honolulu. The remainder of race entries, now numbering 74 in total, will start in two more groups on the 12th and 15th. Ranging from Greenbrae sailor Jon Eberly's not-quite 30-ft Olson 911SE Shanti, which is in the first start next Monday, to Roy Disney's radically modified "Custom 94" Pyewacket in the third start, this year's fleet is as diverse as any the race has seen before. It should make for quite a parade.

And speaking of parades, 60 of the race entries have gathered in Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor for final preparations and a host of send-off parties and ceremonies. Race organizers have set up a 'TransPac Village' there, where the public can stop by to see the boats up close - a great concept since the race largely takes place out of spectating range. If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to pop in. The entire schedule of pre-race events is at www.transpacificyc.org.

The July issue of Latitude 38 features our usual comprehensive race preview, complete with division assignments. Unfortunately, there were two more boats entered when we wrote that preview last week. The Hawaii-based doublehanded Addiction withdrew after encountering problems early in its transit sail from Honolulu. Steve Waterloo's Cal 40 Shaman also pulled out after losing its mast in the Coastal Cup. With rooms and flights already booked, Waterloo will still join friends and family by air for a week in the islands.

- latitude / ss

Puddle Jumpers Gear Up for Tourisme Cup

July 2 - Tahiti

Out in the idyllic isles of Tahiti, members of the Pacific Puddle Jump 'class of '07' are gearing up for a special celebration in their honor. The second annual Tahiti Tourisme Cup will be put on by the local Tourisme organization as a gesture of welcome to visiting sailors, in a forum that encourages them to meet some of the local population and learn about their cultural tradtions.

At the inaugural Tourisme Cup last year, Seattle-based cruisers Bob Bechler of Sisiutl tried his hand at paddling alongside local strongmen. Having made yet another Pacific crossing this spring, he'll give it a go again this year.
Photos Courtesy TahitiPresse/Tahiti Tourisme
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

After an opening party Friday, July 6, at Papeete's Marina Taina, members of the fleet will sail in a rally to Moorea, for an afternoon of cultural fun, including traditional music, dancing and canoe races - with mixed teams of locals and cruisers. An awards ceremony follows with gifts and prizes from various sponsors, including Latitude 38. Here at the magazine we are thrilled to have developed a close relationship with Tahiti Tourisme recently, which will hopefully benefit many 'classes' of future cruisers.

- latitude / at

Have a Blast

July 2 - San Francisco

"What are you doing for The Fourth?" We haven't decided yet but we can tell you one thing: we won't be in the office so the next 'Lectronic will be Friday. It's also safe to assume we'll be on the water, especially if the spectacular weather we've been enjoying holds. If your plans will get you 'out there', be smart, be sober and be safe. There will be a lot of other boats jockeying for prime fireworks-watching position so every helmsperson needs to be particularly alert - save the party until the anchor is set and have a blast!

- latitude / ld

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