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March 19, 2008

Court Validates BMW Oracle’s Challenge

Yesterday New York Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn struck down America’s Cup holder Alinghi’s appeal in the protracted battle for who gets to challenge for the Cup and when. The decision validated BMW Oracle Racing’s Challenge for the America’s Cup 33 which means that, in order to not forfeit the match, Alinghi will need to meet BMW Oracle in October. Why October? Although BMW Oracle could force the match for July, as originally called for in their challenge from last July, in November they agreed with Alinghi’s since-replaced legal team to meet in October of 2008. According to an interview with BMW Oracle’s Tom Ehman on The Daily Sail website, "As far as we’re concerned it is in October, we won’t go back now, even though Justice Cahn makes it quite clear that the match could be in July, we stand by our agreement."

Apparently no one has informed Alinghi because, according to a statement released by Société Nautique Genève lead attorney Lucien Masmejan, ". . . we have decided not to appeal the decision and we look forward to getting the fight back on the water and meeting BMW Oracle Racing on the start line of a Deed of Gift Match in July 2009.”

This last statement is confusing, because there seems to be little question that Alinghi is now bound to meet BMW Oracle this October. The decision of where the match will be held poses some interesting possibilities. It looks likely that Valencia will get the nod at this point. According to the Deed of Gift, the choice of venue lies with the defender, which means that, for Alinghi, it’s a wild card with huge implications. Also, the deed doesn’t specify when the venue must be decided, a potential wrench in BMW Oracle’s gears. Some pundits have pointed out that if Alinghi wants to play hardball, they could choose to host the match in a place like Iran or Cuba where Americans are decidedly less welcome. Although that doesn’t seem likely, what Alinghi could do is choose a breezy, open-ocean venue when BMW Oracle shows up with a 90-ft trimaran optimized — and engineered for — Valencia’s relatively benign conditions. Conceivably, a choice of venue exists that would present logistical challenges to BMW Oracle Racing launching or storing a 90-ft x 90-ft trimaran — if in fact that’s what they’re building. While the two teams work this out, stay tuned — there’s undoubtedly some more twists and turns in store.

Daisy Commemoration

As you read in Monday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, last weekend two local sailors perished during the Doublehanded Lightship Race on March 15. Matthew Kirby Gale and Anthony Harrow aboard the Cheoy Lee 31 Daisy were last seen about halfway back from the Lightbucket, about six miles from the Golden Gate. They never finished the race and a subsequent Coast Guard search turned up debris from the boat. Harrow’s body, still clad in a lifejacket, was recovered near Half Moon Bay. Gale has not been found.

In a gesture of commemoration, participants in this coming Saturday’s OYRA Crewed Lightship Race (starting sequence off St. Francis YC begins at 9:40 a.m.) will be offered daisy flowers to drop in the water as they round the Lightship in remembrance of Gale and Harrow. The flowers may be picked up at either the St. Francis or Golden Gate YC docks prior to the race. For more information, contact Joanne McFee.

Strictly Sail Pacific Planner Online

Strictly Sail Pacific at Jack London Square in Oakland is coming up April 16-20, and a great way to plan your assault on the show is to download the free Pre-Show Planner. Check out the exhibitor list, seminar descriptions and new show layout. While you’re at it, save yourself from standing in the ticket line by securely ordering discounted tickets online — just click here. For more on the show, go to

Grace Heading West Despite Accident

Sally and Geoff figure the open ocean can’t be more dangerous than highway traffic.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although we know that Sally Heins and Geoff Lane value their privacy, we’re sure they won’t mind us telling you that their Peterson 46 Grace is headed west to French Polynesia this season, despite a major setback.

In early February, the Washington-based couple attended Latitude 38‘s annual Pacific Puddle Jump Kickoff Party at the Vallarta YC in the Paradise Village Resort. Shortly afterwards, while crossing the highway with a group of other cruisers to catch a bus back to the La Cruz anchorage, Sally was hit by a speeding motorcycle and was badly injured.

She was not about to give up on the voyaging dreams that she and Geoff had been nurturing for a decade, however. So they’ve made a compromise plan. Geoff and a couple of friends will sail Grace to French Polynesia, and Sally will rendezvous with them after a bit more convalescing. Sally and Geoff offer this advice to others who may follow in their wake: "Neither the world nor you are getting any younger. Take a chance and go!"

Jonathan Livingston’s Punk Dolphin glides under the Golden Gate. Note the twin pole arrangement.
The local sailing community is in a state of shock over the news that two sailors were lost during Saturday’s Doublehanded Lightship Race.
Jim Forquer had been living his dreams prior to his fatal fall. © Christian Buhl The family of the late Jim Forquer has announced that a memorial ceremony to commemorate his life will be held at 3 p.m.