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September 17, 2008

Vik’s Greatest Summer Ever Ends

One of the big lessons that Vik learned during his summer of cruising in the Med and Adriatic is that Eastern European girls “love to pose.”

© 2008 Andrew Vik

Some of you will remember that San Franciscan Andrew Vik, who is actually "36 going on 26", not 26 as we previously reported, is the third Northern Californian to own the Islander 36 Geja in the Med. And based on the photos he’s sent us, he’s probably had the most fun with her out of all the owners. In fact, he describes his time there as "the most amazing dream tour." Vik covered 1,700 miles from June to early September, and stopped at 50 different places in 90 days. He had 21 different friends help sail the boat. Kind of makes your summer seem banal by comparison, doesn’t it? But fortune has always favored the bold, and there’s always next year.

Vik also found many beautiful places to visit, such as Hvar . . .

© 2008 Andrew Vik
. . . and Sveti Stefani, Montenegro . . .

© 2008 Andrew Vik
. . . and Kotor town on Kotor fjord.

© 2008 Andrew Vik

But all good things must come to an end — at least for the winter in the temperate zones — and the cruising season in the Croatian part of the Med has abruptly closed. "A week ago it was in the mid-90s," writes Vik, "but now it’s in the 60s and very cold at night. I’m freezing!"

We’ll have much more from Vik in October’s Changes. Until then, we hope you enjoy these photos. We sure did.

But no matter where he sailed, from Sicily to Montenegro to Croatia, there were girls who loved to party through the night. Trendy Russian girls, such as these two, preferred tequila to vodka.

© 2008 Andrew Vik

Piracy Doesn’t Always Pay

While more than 150 people and 15 ships are being held hostage by Somalian pirates, two French yachties are now free. Jean-Yves and Bernadette Delanne were delivering the 50-ft Carre d’As from Australia to France when they were attacked by pirates on September 2. Their captors demanded $1 million and the release of six Somali pirates who were arrested in a similar raid earlier this year. Instead of rewarding such bad behavior, the French government sent in an elite team of commandos on Monday to rescue the couple. During the raid, one pirate was killed and six others were arrested. They’re now on their way to France to stand trial with their comrades.

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to coordinate warships to more effectively patrol the Gulf of Aden, enlisting the navies of 27 nations. There have been 54 reported pirate attacks in the area this year — thankfully not all are successful.

U.S. Paralympians Take Precious Metal

American Paralympian gold medallists Maureen McKinnon-Tucker and Nick Scandone celebrate their dominant victory in the SKUD 18 in Qingdao.

© Dan Tucker

Counting no finish worse than a second, Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker secured a gold medal in the Skud 18 class with two races to spare on Saturday at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Qingdao. Despite not having to sail Sunday’s final two races of the 10-race, two-throwout regatta, the duo elected to sail the first to show support for the rest of the 11-boat fleet before cashing in one of their throwouts and sitting out the last one. Scandone and McKinnon-Tucker were both first-time Paralympians, and the latter holds the distinction of being the first woman to win a gold medal in any of the Paralympics’ three sailing events.

“I feel exhausted, very satisfied and somewhat overwhelmed all at the same time,” Scandone said. “It’s been such a long road to get here. It’s emotionally overwhelming for me to finally realize my goal.”
For the 42-year-old Scandone who hails from Newport Beach and Balboa YC and suffers from ALS — more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, it became increasingly more difficult to train and compete as the years have passed, and simply making it to Qingdao was a huge question mark for the former Rolex U.S. Yachtsman of the year and College Sailing All-American.

“This is something I’ve strived for since I was 20 years old, when I was trying to go for gold in the 470 class," he said. "Now, to reach that goal, it’s hard to describe in words.”

“Sailing and his [Paralympic] goal has kept him alive," said Scandone’s wife Mary-Kate, for whom the advent of the Skud 18, in its first paralympic cycle and designed by renowned skiff designer Julian Bethwaite, had implications beyond simply enabling her husband to keep sailing. At the dock after racing, she thanked Bethwaite "because he gave me four more years with my husband."

Nick Scandone and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker pour on the concentration in Qingdao’s light and fluky Fushan Bay.

© Dan Tucker

For the 43-year-old Mckinnon-Tucker, who was paralyzed after a fall from a seawall in the ’90s, the year leading up to the regatta was fraught with challenges beyond sailing as well. Her two-year-old son Trent was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent brain surgery just prior to January’s Miami Olympic Classes Regatta.

In the singlehanded, 16-boat 2.4 mR division, Peewaukee, Wisconsin’s John Ruf took home bronze in his first ever Paralympic regatta. The 40-year-old Ruf, an attorney, finished the tight series — where the top seven boats were separated by single digit point spreads — with a third, for a 29-point total.

“He came into this as an underdog," said Paralympic team head coach Betsy Allison. "For those of us who know Johnny, his work ethic and how hard he has been working to improve his speed, we are so proud.”

The third American team — Clifton, New Jersey’s Rick Doerr, Marblehead’s Tim Angle and Brick, New Jersey’s Bill Donohue — took eighth in the 14-boat, triplehanded Sonar division which was was also really tight, given that the trio scored a bullet, two seconds a third and a fourth over the course of the regatta.

While the focus of the world of adaptive sailing has been squarely on Qingdao for the past week, you don’t need to go to China to sail. There are a variety of programs available in the Bay Area for adaptive sailing, notably at the Treasure Island Sailing Center and through the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors headquartered at Pier 40.

Women’s Sailing Seminar Coming Up

Every blue moon I get asked how I found my way on to the race scene. It was a Women’s Sailing Seminar in 1999. My boyfriend at the time felt so strongly that I should pursue this interest that he paid for me to go. Ever since then I try to pass the word about the Bay Area’s three women’s sailing seminars.

In the fall, it’s Island YC’s event on October 11-12. This one’s unique as it goes beyond the basic sailing fundamentals into how to moor a boat, diesel engines, and so much more. Find out more at but you’d better hurry — the deadline for registration is this Saturday, September 20!

John Kilroy Jr.’s Samba Pa Ti smokin’ past Alcatraz on the way to a hard-fought win in IRC A.
The man considered by many to be the best known and most successful yacht designer of the 20th century died over the weekend.