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May 23, 2008

Fair Winds for Ted

The media went nuts on Wednesday when Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy went sailing aboard his 50-ft Concordia schooner Mya just hours after being released from the hospital where he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. They used words like "brave" and "vigorous" to describe the 76-year-old Kennedy, which he undoubtedly is, but he’s also just a sailor who finds peace on the water. And we can’t think of a time when someone would need more peace than when facing what some believe is a death sentence. We wish the Senator many more days of fair winds and calm seas.

Dinius Prelim Hearing Delayed

In Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, we reported that Bismarck Dinius’ preliminary hearing on vehicular manslaughter charges had begun. After just three days of testimony, the hearing has been put on hold until June 10 due to scheduling conflicts.

One of the more interesting pieces of information to come out of the hearing was Deputy James Beland’s testimony that, after Deputy Sheriff Russell Perdock — who slammed his powerboat into the drifting sailboat Beats Workin’ II at 40+ mph on a pitch black night on Clear Lake, killing Willows resident Lynn Thornton — had given a blood sample at the local hospital, co-worker Beland "drove him around" for more than an hour before taking him home — with the blood sample in the car, no less. Beland couldn’t recall what they did or talked about during that hour, but he insisted they didn’t talk about the accident. Really? Did they talk about the weather or how the Red Sox were doing? Perdock testified the next day that he was "certain" Beland didn’t drive him home, but he didn’t say how he got there.

Outside the courtroom, Deputy District Attorney John Langan told a reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee that his job was "to evaluate the evidence as it is and determine if we can go forward. The issue is whether or not Mr. Dinius committed a negligent act or omission while operating the boat, and whether that act caused the death of Ms. Thornton." In other words, if Dinius could not have predicted or foreseen the accident, he cannot be held liable. Could it be that someone in the Lake County DA’s office is finally thinking rationally?

As we were writing this up for today’s edition, we got a call from Dinius. "Everyone keeps asking that," he said when asked how he was doing. He said the support he’s received from the community — and complete strangers — has renewed his faith in human nature. "I didn’t cause this accident or Lynn’s death — my conscience is clear. I’m not going to let it run my life."

Indeed, Bismarck Dinius is another study in resolve and bravery. "I’m getting married in June," he revealed, "and will be racing in the Catalina 22 Nationals next week in Grapevine, Texas." Look for his report on the event in a future ‘Lectronic.

If you’d like to help a fellow sailor, you can donate to Dinius’ defense fund by sending checks made out to Bismarck Dinius, writing “Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund” in the memo section, to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.

Another way to help was brought to our attention by ‘Lectronic reader Will Sitch. “An analyst at the Public Investigations Unit of the Attorney General’s office said they were following the case to determine if there has been some impropriety in the actions of the Lake County DA, and that the general public should email their opinions. He said that no one would reply but that the responses would be used primarily for statistical analysis purposes to determine the scope of the level of public interest in the case.”

Going North? Go Now!

If the weathermen (and their computers) are correct, sea conditions off Pt. Conception this weekend should be even mellower than this.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you have a need to travel north along the California coast soon, we suggest you consider casting off your docklines and taking off ASAP, as the next few days are predicted to bring ideal conditions for a northbound transit.

Off Point Conception today, for example, winds are expected to be light and southerly, with moderate swells at 11-second intervals, and similar conditions continuing into the weekend.

Off the Big Sur coast, light westerly winds Friday are expected to turn southerly Saturday morning, with smooth seas and moderate swells at 10-second intervals. Sounds ideal, right? Then again, the weather gurus don’t always get it right. In any case, be careful out there.

Peyron Closing in on a Record Third Win

Loick Peyron’s Gitana 80 is closing in on the Boston finish of the 2008 Artemis Transat.

© 2008 onEdition / The Artemis Transat/OC Events

LoÏck Peyron is closing in on an unprecented third win in The Artemis Transat. The Frenchman, sailing his Farr designed Gitana 80, is one of only two people to have won the race twice. If he can finish, and continue holding off the charge of fellow countryman Armel Le Cléac’h on Brit Air, he will cement his place in the canon of his country’s offshore sailing heroes. The two are in the home stretch toward Boston. As of noon eastern time, Gitana 80 is 100 miles from the finish and 30 miles ahead of Brit Air, with both sailing at about 10 knots. Peyron is expected to finish late this evening and Le Cléac’h sometime early tommorrow morning.

Loick Peyron studies his final approach to Boston.

© 2008 Loick Peyron Gitana 80/Yvan Zedda

"This is our last day in the Transat, which is always a bit sad, because it’s the last day at sea," Peyron said. "At the moment it’s not very nice, everything is grey, humid and cold, but in a few hours, I hope we’ll arrive in Boston."

In the Class 40 division, Giovanni Soldini’s strategy through the ice gate has more than doubled his lead to over 120 miles as he powers Telecom Italia away from the gate with a 2-knot boatspeed advantage over second place Boris Hermann on Beluga Racer. Stay tuned at

Prosecutors still insist that the person with his hand on the tiller of a drifting sailboat was at fault for being hit by a speeding powerboat in the dead of night.
Vincent Riou’s PRB is the third race leader forced to abandon in the IMOCA 60 division of The Artemis Transat.