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July 13 - BC & BVI

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

Seems like the conditions are pretty idyllic wherever you happen to be sailing this summer. We snapped this shot of a double rainbow at Jones Marine State Park while gunkholing through the Gulf and San Juan Islands last month.

Photo Kent Benedict
© 2007 Latitude 38 Publishing, Inc.

About the same time, Santa Cruz sailor and occasional Latitude contributor Kent Benedict grabbed the second shot at Cane Garden Bay in the British Virgins. No, it's not a nuclear explosion, just a typical BVI sunset.

- latitude / at


TransPac Update

July 13 - The Pacific Ocean

The second group of TransPac starters - Divisions 4 and 5, as well as the Santa Cruz 50s and 52s - got underway on Thursday under a fresh 12-knot breeze and a rash of excitement. Unbelievably, for the start of a 2,300 mile race, there was considerable chaos and at least one protest flag flew as the fleet made its way toward the only mark on the course, the west end of Catalina. The Newport Beach-based SC 50 Adrenaline protested On the Edge of Destiny, the 1D-35 sailed by the race’s youngest crew, for barging at the committee-end of the start line. Reports TransPac press officer Rich Roberts, “Several boats did 360-degree turns, apparently not for penalties but because they couldn’t find room to get through the gridlock of what looked like West Los Angeles’ 405 freeway at rush hour.” One collision was heard in the chaos, though the boats involved remain unknown. Two other boats started an hour late - Richard Mainland’s Ross 40 Paddy Wagon blew out its mainsail before the start and returned to port to replace it, while James and Chris Gilmore’s Columbia 30 Uncontrollable Urge had an engine problem.

Thurs. TransPac start
Everyone was flying at Thursday's TransPac start.
© 2007 Rich Roberts

Things seem to have settled down in the last 24 hours as both Thursday’s and Monday’s starters have found their groove. Early this morning, Thursday’s group reported speeds in the 7-10 knot range as they work their way offshore. Meanwhile, most boats in the Aloha A and B and Division 6 classes that started Monday have dug even deeper to the south. Their speeds are finally averaging six to seven knots. A welcome relief for all. Thursday’s official position report showed Lady Liberty, the slowest-rated boat, had a finish time ETA of 9:20 a.m. on the 1st - September 1st!

Tabasco nearly lost a crewmember before they even crossed the starting line.
© 2007 Rich Roberts

Come hell or flat water, one crew is determined to arrive in Honolulu in time for the parties. Frustrated and not seeing an end in sight to the dismally light conditions, Gaviota, Jim Partridge’s Cal 2-46, retired from the race and stopped in Catalina’s Two Harbors on Wednesday to take on 250 gallons of fuel - and probably a few dozen jerrry jugs. With marina fuel at $4.50/gallon, we have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been cheaper to fly everyone there. Then again, doing something like this is usually more about the experience than the tab at the end.

Race tracking and position reports online at

- latitude / ss

More on the Pyewacket Controversy

July 13 - Long Beach

Steve Dodd, a longtime member of Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 team, wrote us an angry letter about our Wednesday report on Pyewacket's entry in the TransPac on some of the unpleasant things a few people have been saying about owner Roy Disney. So we phoned him, and he accused the Pyewacket team of using undue influence on the TransPac Board to both change the rules after the fact to allow Pyewacket to compete, and to prevent 30-meter boats such as Alfa Romeo and Diabetes (ex-Nicorette) from being able to race. While asking us to do research to confirm it, Dodd suggested that the rating deadline was extended for Pyewacket only, and that the stability requirement was dropped because Pyewacket wouldn't have been able to pass it. (For what it's worth, and what would appear to be in Disney's defense, Dodd also said he'd been told long ago by a Pyewacket team member that they'd found a huge loophole in the rating rule for boats over 90 feet.)

However, when we talked to a very knowledgeable and technical TransPac insider, who must remain anonymous, but who is not a fan of what Disney has done, he said that Dodd isn't exactly right. He explains that the rating deadline for all boats with canting keels was extended because of a problem with the VPP for those boats. However, he points out that while it didn't apply to just Pyewacket, Disney benefitted from the extension far more than anyone. For example, if there wasn't an extension, Pyewacket's new mast wouldn't have made it through customs in time for the boat to be rated.

This insider's complaint with the Pyewacket effort is largely based on the fact that at least four of the members of the team are wearing two hats. As entrants in the TransPac, they are ardent competitors, but as members of the TransPac board, they are also supposed to be stewards of the race. As a result, he feels that when the Pyewacket team learned there was a huge loophole in US Sailing's rating rule for boats over 90 feet, they had a responsibility to not just tell US Sailing, but to also tell the TPYC board. Unlike Dodd, the insider says the board only learned of it when they got a letter from Hasso Plattner, who said he wasn't about to cut up his MaxZ 86 Morning Glory to optimize her for just one race. US Sailing's Pat Nolan, by the way, apparently didn't inform the TPYC board of the problem because he felt the ratings were confidential. He's no doubt right, but talk about a sea of ethical dilemmas.

While US Sailing has apparently had problems with their rating program for some time, this insider says they are not entirely to be blamed. He says that US Sailing has asked for money to fix the loopholes, but none has been forthcoming. The original funding for work came in the form of $5,000 donations from Disney, Plattner and others with similar boats. He notes, accurately, that $5,000 is a drop in the bucket to top flight TransPac efforts.

According to our insider, Disney has been a great figure in the TransPac, and no doubt believes he hasn't done anything unseemly. But in the insider's opinion, Disney and the Pyewacket team members have looked after their own interests more than they have the TransPac's interest. He notes that the owners of Alfa Romeo and Diabetes would have been willing to spend at least half a million each - including Alfa Romeo cutting their mast in half and ordering another one for later use - just to be able to compete. Both were prevented from entering because the 24-member TPYC board, four of which are part of the Pyewacket family, voted not to allow boats with powered winches and tungsten keels - which would have only applied to Diabetes and Alfa Romeo. It's all very complicated because, money being just money, Neville Crichton apparently would have been willing to replace Alfa Romeo's tungsten keel with a conventional one - except that tungsten keels are grandfathered under the IRC, and he wouldn't have been able to put it back on for buoy racing.

As our insider pointed out, the whole situation is anything but black and white, and that there is plenty of 'blame' - if you want to call it that - to go around. There are no devils, but there's lots of personal interest on the part of everyone involved. Many of these problems can be resolved in future TransPacs, but no race is ever going to be completely fair, and there always will be criticism.

- latitude / rs

Silver Eagle Race Canceled

July 13 – San Francisco Bay

We received word yesterday that Island YC was forced to cancel this weekend’s Silver Eagle Long Distance Race because of a lack of entries. “The face of racing is changing, so we’ll change with it,” said Race Chairs Ben Mewes and Joanne McFee. IYC has tentatively scheduled next year’s event for July 19.

- latitude / ld

America’s Cup: The More Things Change . . .

July 13 - Valencia

Why is it that nothing about the America’s Cup ever seems simple? Or fair? Or, as long as we’re on the subject, logical? But perhaps we’ve answered our own questions - this is, after all, the America’s Cup.

To catch you up, Switzerland’s Alinghi team won the Cup on July 3 in an exciting 5-2 contest over Emirates Team New Zealand. The champagne spray had barely been washed off SUI 100 when they announced that 1) the next America’s Cup would be raced in 90-foot boats of yet-to-be-determined design, and 2) the new Challenger of Record was Desafio Español. There was also some other stuff, but those were the two main ones that - predictably - invoked hue and cry from just about everyone who was not associated with Alinghi. Why? Because the new boat design parameters would not be finalized until the end of the year, effectively giving Alinghi a six-month head start on everyone else. And because the Desafio Español deal was done through a ‘paper club’, Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, which was established for the express purpose of being the Challenger of Record.

Or was it?

You may recall that banker Michael Fay pulled a similar stunt when, in 1988, he created the giant 132-ft sloop New Zealand and - under the auspices of the ‘Mercury Bay Boat Club’ (a paper club whose rumored clubhouse was an old car) - challenged Dennis Conner to a match race within a year of his successful recapture of the Cup in Fremantle in 12 Meters. After a gargantuan court battle in New York - where (also according to the Deed of Gift) all America’s Cup arbitration ultimately must be settled - the big boat went down to defeat by Conner’s also-somehow-legal 60-ft catamaran. Somehow we thought that the Deed of Gift was rewritten to eliminate the possiblity of ‘tween-years’ challenges forevermore. Apparently, we thought wrong.

On Tuesday, Golden Gate YC presented a challenge to Societe Nautique de Geneve (Alinghi’s home yacht club) for the 33rd America’s Cup. Anyone with the remotest interest in the AC knows that GGYC - and significant club member Larry Ellison of the BMW Oracle Racing syndicate - was the Challenger of Record for the recently completed AC 32. But wait a minute: didn’t Desafio Español beat GGYC to the punch?

Not necessarily. Desafio has done little to hide the fact that they main reason for their COR deal was to keep the Cup in Valencia. To that end, they’re prepared to sacrifice just about anything else - read: agree to anything Alinghi suggests - to ensure the venue, which is worth millions of dollars to the local economy.

Upset at what they perceived to be an invalid protocol, the remaining AC32 challengers met informally earlier this week to discuss their options. Working on its own, but as we understand it, with significant moral support from the other challengers, Oracle Racing, Inc., on behalf of GGYC, drafted and delivered in person its challenge to SNG in Geneva on Tuesday. Predictably, they challenged the validity of the Spanish COR deal. Unpredictably, GGYC’s challenge states that it would race in a 90-ft single-masted, sloop-rigged boat with a 90-ft beam - that’s not a typo - and draft of 3 feet (boards up) to 20 feet (boards down). Can you say “multihull”? The first race would be on July 4, 2008.

In other words, put on your skinny jeans and big sunglasses because it’s deja vu to 1987 all over again. Although the GGYC’s challenge is reportedly intended to open the door for further proceedings (acceptance by SNG/Alinghi so that the two can further discuss and agree upon rules), it could also default to the original rules in the Deed, whereby a challenger can still be brought to race the winner of the America’s Cup within 10 months, with a boat defined by the challenger! There’s also the possibility that this whole thing will once again end up mired for months in the New York state court system.

We’ll bring you updates on this as we learn them. In the meantime, you can read the full text of GGYC’s challenge, as well as the letter it sent to SNG explaining why it believes CNEV’s challenge is a sham, at

- latitude / ss & jr

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