August 26, 2009

Brit Singlehander Hours Away from Record

Having previously earned his stripes by soloing across the Atlantic, Mike Perham secured a slick ride and serious sponsorship for his record attempt.

© 2009

As we write this, British solo circumnavigator Mike Perham is roughly a day’s sail from crossing his tracks off England’s Lizard Peninsula, thus snatching the status of ‘youngest around’ from Southern Californian Zac Sunderland. Perham’s age at the finish will be two months younger than Sunderland’s when he arrived home at Marina del Rey on July 16.

Sailing eastabout, aboard the chartered Open 50, the 17-year-old Brit originally intended to sail the Southern Ocean route via the so-called Great Capes in order to break the nonstop, unassisted record set by Australian Jesse Martin when he was 18. But after serious autopilot problems forced Perham to make pit stops at Portugal and the Canary Islands, he lowered his sights and simply aimed to become the youngest around via any route — a feat Sunderland was pursuing at the same time. Ironically, the two young men crossed paths — and shared a cordial lunch together — in South Africa while racing the clock in opposite directions.

Just as Sunderland knew he probably would not hold the record for long, Perham can already feel the heat from three younger challengers — all of whom are female. Australian Jessica Watson, 16, plans to set sail next month and return before her 17th birthday, and Sunderland’s younger sister Abby, now 15, recently picked up the gauntlet, hoping to depart this fall also and return before her birthday 17th birthday in October, 2010. Both Watson and Sunderland intend to sail the ambitious southern route, nonstop and unassisted. As if those campaigns aren’t controversial enough — "What age is too young?" many critics are asking — 13-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker has now thrown her hat into the ring with the full support of her parents, who are circumnavigators themsleves. Even in the Netherlands, however, which is arguably the most open-minded country in Europe, Dekker’s intentions have sparked a substantial controversy. In fact, government agencies are vying to put her in protective services in order to block her record attempt. We should note, however, that Dekker’s route will be via the Panama and Suez canals.

We’ll bring you further updates on all these campaigns. But for the moment, though, we’ll join Mike Perham’s countrymen in saluting his remarkable achievement. Zac Sunderland, of course, will remain the youngest North American to go ’round.

The Passing of a Sailor

Ted Kennedy, who loved sailing and being at sea about as much as he loved anything else, passed away last night at Hyannis Port, MA. He was 77. Kennedy owned several sailboats over the years, the most recent being Mya, a blue-hulled Concordia 50 schooner that was built by the Duxbury Boat Yard in 1940.

Ted Kennedy at the helm of his schooner Mya. Perhaps even more than his brothers, Ted loved sailing.

Orange Bow Photography
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Last May, a week after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, Kennedy raced Mya in the Figawi Regatta off Nantucket. He’d won the class several times in previous years, but took second. Then, the day after being released from the hospital following brain surgery, he went sailing again. He continued to sail frequently during the summer, sometimes many days in a row. Reportedly going against doctors orders, Kennedy continued to sail frequently as late as October, when the conditions were colder and often rougher. When it got too cold, he had Mya trucked to Florida so he could sail in warmer water. He sailed there until April, at which point Mya was trucked back to Hyannis Port so he could spend his last sailing days in his home waters.

Mya heads to Florida for warmer sailing. If you’re a senator, you apparently get a state trooper to escort your boat.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Local sailors said they knew Kennedy wasn’t doing well when he missed the first day of this year’s Figawi, although he did sail the second day.

When he wasn’t communing with the sea on his schooner, Kennedy was a United States Senator.

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Hopkins Has Competition

Less than a week after a jury found his case against Bismarck Dinius to be less than convincing, embattled Lake County District Attorney Jon E. Hopkins received the news that he will not be running unopposed next year for the D.A. seat. Lake County News’ Elizabeth Larson reports that Lakeport attorney Don Anderson has thrown his hat into the ring.

“It’s just disheartening to see what Lake County has been through over the last several years, especially recently," Anderson told Larson. He cites the travesty of justice that was the Dinius case, though he says that’s not the only reason he feels the D.A.’s office needs a shake-up.

Hopkins, who was elected in 2006, when he was the only candidate on the ballot, insists competition is a good thing, and that his many years of experience working as a D.A. will convince voters that he’s the right man for the job.

Highly criticized Lake County Sheriff Rod Mitchell is also up for re-election next fall, and is being challenged by Francisco Rivero. We just hope the people of Lake County remember Bismarck Dinius next fall when they go into the voting booth.

Roxanne to the Rescue

Sausalito sailor Tim Sell caught this great series of shots during last night’s Sausalito YC Beer Cans. In the midst of a spectacular spinnaker blow-out, a crewmember aboard Dale Flaming’s J/133 J/Hawk fell overboard, only to be quickly rescued by the crew of Charles James’ J/105 Roxanne. "It was an exciting night for us," said SYC Race Chair John Mount.

Roxanne shoots into the frame after J/Hawk called a mayday.

© 2009 Tim Sell
The crew readies to pick up the MOB.

© 2009 Tim Sell
Brava, Roxanne! Mount says there were no reports of any injuries, but that the crewmember was probably plenty cold.

© 2009 Tim Sell
Here’s of broader view of the landing at Niue. That’s Greetings anchored offshore.
Assuming this sailboat is not motorsailing, the skipper is running a proper light configuration: running lights but no steaming lights.
Pro photographer Peter “Snaketamer” Lyons rode herd on the runaway Viper until the larger Protector Escapade arrived.