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May 12, 2008

Pyewacket Sold

Pyewacket, in her ultra turbo’d mode, as seen approaching Honolulu in the last TransPac.

© 2008 Sharon Green

Pyewacket, the R/P MaxZ 86 built for Roy Disney, then turbo’d relentlessly, has just been sold to Frank Pong of Hong Kong, reports Brad Avery of the School of Sailing and Seamanship at Orange Coast College in Newport Beach. Disney had donated the boat to the college about 18 months ago. While Pong only paid pennies on the dollar for her, it’s still going to bring a huge infusion of money to the Orange Coast’s renowned sailing program.

Pyewacket began life as a MaxZ 86 and, along with Hasso Plattner’s sistership Morning Glory, was one of the first big boats to sport a canting keel. The two boats went at it in various races in the Caribbean, to Bermuda, in Ireland, and in the TransPac.

The original front 30 feet of Pyewacket still sits in the boneyard at Orange Coast College.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Disney eventually tired of campaigning such a large and complex yacht, and graciously donated her to the School of Sailing and Seamanship along with a sizeable maintenance stipend. But once he got involved with his Morning Light Project, a soon to be released feature film about a youth crew competing in the last TransPac on a TP 52 he acquired for them, he got the bug to enter Pyewacket also. So he not only chartered the big yacht back from Orange Coast, but in a controversial move to protect her competitive flank, turbo’d the daylights out of her. He enlisted the services of maverick designer Juan K, who added stacking wings, a much taller mast, and whacked off the front 30 feet of the boat and replaced it with a longer bow. Alas, the resulting 94-footer, that was a lock to establish a legacy elapsed time record for the race, fell victim to some of the lightest winds in the history of the TransPac.

The inner and outer skins of Pyewacket’s composite constructions are very thin. Almost like the skins on a drum.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Frank Pong is big in steel, real estate — and boats. The first we know of was a radical Wylie 77 named Jelik, built in Portland, Oregon, at Steve Rander’s Schooner Creek Boatworks. A few years back Pong won the Around St. Barth Race with the previous Pyewacket, a R/P 75 now also named Jelik. More recently, he comissioned the 115-ft Maiden Hong Kong — also designed by Juan K — which has sat mostly idle since her launching. Other than Michael Fay’s 1988 America’s Cup challenger KZ-1 and now Pyewacket, she’s the only other big boat we can think of with wings. Pong was also a big backer of China’s entry in America’s Cup 32.

In addition to Pyewacket, Pong gets a fortune in old and spare parts, such as the original canting keel.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Avery was a little taken aback when he heard that Pong was thinking about having Pyewacket sailed to Hong Kong on her own bottom. After all, this is a boat that has been so extensively turbo’d that many aren’t sure how safe she would be in rough conditions. Pong is apparently now thinking of leaving her on the West Coast and entering her in next year’s TransPac. Thanks to rule changes, the next TransPac will not only be open to 100-footers, but also multihulls of unlimited length. As such, Pyewacket, or whatever Pong might decide to call her, would not have a lock on elapsed time honors.

Looking for a new mast, canard, or bulbs for your boat? Frank Pong now has a few extra.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Northern Star – An Ocean of Fun

Whee-Ha! John Liebenberg and company light the afterburners on Always Friday for the stretch run.

© 2008 Peter Lyons

OYRA’s Northern Star race saw fifty-some boats head out the Gate for a great day of ocean sailing on Saturday. Conditions were benign compared to some of the earlier ocean races this spring, with light morning breeze topping out in the teens in the afternoon. The race takes boats on a 35-mile jaunt from the Golden Gate YC, around the approach buoy and Lightship, and back to the finish off GGYC.

The five divisions, including a healthy contingent of shorthanders, got flushed out to sea by a strong morning ebb, with a slight northerly bias taking most of them over to the Marin shore. The boats that elected to go straight down the shipping channel eventually fared best when the breeze filled in, first from the west then clocking slowly to the northwest.

Shaman crosses tacks with a big rig on the way out the channel.

© 2008 Peter Lyons

Steve Waterloo’s veteran Cal 40 Shaman had a great ride both ways, finishing second boat for boat behind the Beneteau 45 Ohana, which owes them about 50 seconds a mile. They obviously saved their corrected time on that boat, but almost got them boat for boat, too. "We finished only about 18 inches behind them,” says Steve. "What a great day of racing!" The Shaman guys also enjoy spirited ‘one design’ competition in OYRA’s PHRO-2 Division from four other Cal 40s (although only Azure and Green Buffalo made it out for the Northern Star).

Results had not been posted at ‘Lectronic Latitude presstime. Find them later today at

Oceanside Boat Washes Up in Mexico

The search for an Oceanside couple was called off Saturday, a day after their 32-ft fishing boat washed ashore at Rosarito, Mexico. Josh Hartman, 28, and his fiancée Ana Martin, 30, reportedly left Oceanside Thursday morning aboard Pelican to collect a catch of hagfish, for which a buyer was to meet them at the dock that afternoon. Hartman’s brother said he received a call around 3 p.m. that the couple were on their way back in with a good catch. They were never heard from again.

Hartman’s family reported them overdue that night and searched with the Coast Guard through Friday, finding nothing. Meanwhile, Pelican apparently washed up on a Rosarito beach sometime Friday morning but a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the agency wasn’t informed until around 9 p.m., when a Mexican TV station called them for comment. The Coast Guard and Mexican Navy searched the waters near Rosarito on Saturday but, when the couple weren’t found by late afternoon, the search was called off "based on survivability in 63-degree waters."

Hartman and Martin’s disappearance is a real mystery as the weather was benign and there was no apparent evidence of piracy or violence. Hartman’s family reported that he often motored under autopilot which might explain how the boat made it all the way to Mexico.

Happy Independence Day!

In Israel, Independence Day comes right after Memorial Day. It might seem a little strange to have a somber day of remembrance followed immediately by one of revelry, but that’s the way they do it. As the saying goes: “If not for all the fallen soldiers, we wouldn’t have Independence.”

Our ‘foreign correspondent’ John Skoriak was there with his wife, Miri, to enjoy both days (May 6 and 7). A special treat was watching the huge boat parade that went from Herzliya Marina to Tel Aviv. “There must have been at least 100 boats, and only a handful were powerboats,” he writes. “The rest were all sailboats — including a fleet of windsurfers, sailing dinghies, sailing school boats, charter boats, and everything from racing sailboats to heavy displacement cruisers. It was a wonderful and very colorful parade, with many of the yachts decked out in blue and white flags or banners (the colors of Israel’s flag). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger parade of sailboats, or a larger crowd of (non-sailing) spectators."

On their short hop to Tel Aviv Marina, the boats were ‘escorted’ by a small formation of Navy ships. As the fleet neared the marina, there was an air show similar to our Blue Angels, followed by an exhibition of military sky divers who parachuted onto the beach. "Sort of an Israeli version of Fleet Week," he says.

Miri is Israeli so she and John have traveled and sailed extensively through this area. They urge anyone sailing the Med to figure Israel into their cruising plans, Herzliya in particular.

“Herzliya is an upscale suburb just to the north of Tel Aviv, and has Israel’s largest marina. It is a very nice place, with a beautiful mall of upscale shops and dozens of cafes and restaurants, and a big condo complex, as well. I have never seen a marina anywhere in the world with so many facilities.”

Columbus sailed the ocean blue aboard the Niña — more than 25,000 miles throughout his many explorations —  and now folks along the West Coast will get a chance to see what life was like onboard the famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) caravel.
One of the world’s preeminent singlehanded offshore races gets underway Sunday when a fleet of 13 IMOCA 60s and 11 Class 40s will leave Plymouth on their way to a finish in Boston in the Artemis Transat.
A big part of cruising is diet. And a big part of spartan cruising is a spartan diet.