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March 11, 2009

Spring Crew List Party

The crew on Liberté took advantage of this weekend’s gorgeous weather to get out for a daysail. If you missed out for lack of crew, stop by tonight’s Crew List Party at Golden Gate YC.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If this weekend’s fantastic weather didn’t get you out on the water for lack of crew, tonight’s your chance to sign up an entire roster of able bodies. To help skippers and crew alike get a jump start on the sailing season, we moved up the date of the annual Latitude 38 Spring Crew List Party by about a month. The party is a great ‘neutral ground’ for folks to make connections, or meet potential sailmates they’ve contacted through our free online Crew Lists.

Take Five’s cockpit is full of able-bodied crew. Could they have met through Latitude’s free online Crew List?

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The party will once again be held at Golden Gate YC from 6-9 p.m. It’s still just $7 to get in ($5 if you’re under 25!) and you’ll get the chance to meet dozens of new prospects, talk to the YRA staff, chow down on some kickin’ munchies and maybe even win a door prize!

Wilson Finishes Vendée Globe

Rich Wilson sailed into the record books once again as the second American to finish the Vendee Globe Race when he sailed into Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday afternoon.

© Olivier Blacnhet DPPI/Vendee Globe

Rich Wilson became only the second American to finish the Vendée Globe when he sailed Great American III into Les Sables d’Olonne at 12:43 p.m. yesterday. At 58 years old, he was the oldest competitor in this year’s race. One of the few true amateurs, his conservative approach nonetheless earned him a ninth — equalling that of the first American finisher in a Vendée, Alameda’s Bruce Schwab — in a race so punishing that over 60% of the fleet didn’t finish.

While Wilson may have sailed conservatively, no amount of conservatism can prevent mishaps in a test like the Vendée; the Marblehead native sailed the race with a cracked rib which he suffered on the first night out of Les Sables. Compounding that handicap was Wilson’s severe asthma, which he’s had since childhood and which forces him to take four medications daily. The race didn’t seem to get any easier as the former math teacher rounded Cape Horn, just a few miles away from where he’d been rescued from his capsized 60-ft trimaran Great American in 1990 while attempting to set a Gold Route record. Every weather system he encountered in the Atlantic punished him with headwinds and nasty sea states. But the indomitable Wilson saw his race through to its only logical conclusion — finished — undoubtedly spurred on by knowing how many kids were being exposed to the world of sailing and the oceans through his adventure and the interactive non-profit sitesALIVE! he founded to share the experience.

Rich Wilson’s run over the years:
2009 — 2nd American Finisher Vendée Globe — Great American III; 9th place
2004 — The Transat — Great American II; Class 2 Multihulls, 2nd place
2003 — Record: Hong Kong-New York; Great American II
2001 — Record: New York-Melbourne; Great American II
1993 — Record: San Francisco-Boston; Great American II
1990 — San Francisco-Boston (Gold Route); Great American capsizes off Cape Horn
1988 — C-STAR — Curtana; Class V Multihulls, 1st place
1980 — Newport-Bermuda — Holger Danske; Overall Winner, Skipper

Who Won Class B in Cabo Race?

It’s not exactly off Mexico in this photo, but we’re pretty sure that Chip Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief took Class B honors in the Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Race.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although we can’t be certain, we think that Chip Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief has won Class B in the 2009 Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas Race. According to the finish log, the ‘Criminals’ finished a little past 2 a.m. this morning after just over 3.5 days of sailing.

The reason we can’t be certain is because none of the other Class B boats had finished as of the last published ‘finish log,’ and the ‘daily standings’ link on the race’s website just leads to the same log, not the actual standings. However, we do know they were in the lead as of yesterday’s sked, and that they finished three hours ahead of their projected ETA from that report — leading us to believe there’s a good chance they finished in the money.

We are sure that top overall honors go to Jim Madden’s Newport Beach-based J/125 Stark Raving Mad IV, which won the race by nearly an hour on corrected time over Paul Casanova’s Newport Beach-based and aptly named SC 50 Flaca. Third up was Chris Calkins and Norm Reynolds venerable Calkins 50 Sabrina, while the top elapsed-time honors went to Doug Baker’s Andrews 80 Magnitude 80, which finished in just under three days. Only 26 boats showed up for this edition of the race — down from about 50 in 2007 — this year’s fleet was high quality with some pretty sexy boats. Considered in the context of the economy, the fact that the race was able to draw this many good boats is really positive.

That’s about all we can tell you at this point. For some reason Newport Harbor YC hasn’t added any photos of the finishers, written any stories about the race, sent out any press releases, or added any content of any kind to the race’s website since the start. Keep checking back to see if anything goes up later today — we anticipate that at least an updated finish log will go up sometime soon.

Unrest in the Caribbean

More than a month of violence on the Caribbean islands of Guadaloupe and Martinique seems to be heading toward resolution. Economic woes precipitated the unrest, and unfortunately the longterm effects may make the economic situation on the French-held islands even worse in the coming months. It began in late January when a union coalition on Guadaloupe instituted a general strike for higher wages and lower food prices. Martinique followed suit with a strike of their own a week or so later. This was followed by rioting in the streets of Point-a-Pitre, the capitol of Guadaloupe, and Fort-de-France in Martinique, and that was followed by a shutdown of most banks, businesses, schools and government offices for weeks. Reports that rioters in Guadaloupe were targeting “all white people” — apparently a reference to longheld racial tensions toward colonial descendants who own 90 percent of the wealth — led to a mass exodus of European and American tourists from both islands. This was at the height of the tourist season and, said one French tourism official, cancellations for vacations in Martinique and Guadaloupe are headed south faster than GM stock. At least 10,000 tourists have cancelled vacation plans to the two islands in the coming months — and that’s just French tourists.

Riots on Guadeloupe have given European tourists second thoughts about vacationing there.

© Webb Logg

We have not received any reports of unrest in any port cities or any violence towards cruisers. However, local sailor Art Hartinger, who just returned from a charter in the area, said the tension was in the air and caution was the byword.

"I’m just back from a charter originating in Martinique and ending in Antigua. I wanted to let others who might be going down there know that there’s an ongoing general strike that’s affecting both Martinique and Guadeloupe. We encountered very long lines for gas, as well as some pretty grumpy people.

"We’d heard of violence in Guadeloupe — we even saw what looked like fires burning on the main island — so we avoided the major ports there, opting to visit only Iles de Saintes, Marie-Galante and Le Desirade.

"It was impossible to clear in and out of customs at these islands, but officials in Dominica and Antigua didn’t seem to care. Regardless of all that was going on, we had a wonderful time and I look forward to submitting a more detailed account of our trip for a future World of Chartering."

John Cota, the pilot aboard the 901-ft Cosco Busan when it hit the Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007, pleaded guilty last week to negligently causing the discharge of 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay and to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by causing the deaths of thousands of birds.