After opening its doors yesterday, Strictly Sail Pacific is now in full swing. The whole of Oakland’s Jack London Square is currently bustling with all aspects of boating business, and will remain so through Sunday afternoon. Yesterday’s main event was a visit by the America’s Cup and members of the BMW Oracle Racing Team.
Drawing a standing room-only crowd, the 1.5 hour presentation by Tom Ehman, design coordinator Ian Burns, tactician John Kostecki and bowman Brad Webb touched on some interesting topics for those who’d like to see the match for the 34th Cup come to the Bay. One of those is that Burns is now a resident of the Dogpatch, while Webb and wife Karen — a Bay Area native and executive producer for the team’s victory tour presentations — are now San Jose residents. Another was that this is the only boat show the team will do. Another was that Ehman reiterated that the Bay is team owner Larry Ellison’s first choice. We hope all of these are signs that the event will be coming here. As for a timeframe on when that’ll be decided, Ehman said that the team hopes to have everything — venue, boat, format and date — figured out before the end of the year.
While that little gathering is a hard act to follow, we like to think that today’s big event is Latitude 38‘s annual post-show booth party at 6 p.m. Although it’s open to all, we especially hope to catch up with veterans of past Baja Ha-Ha’s, Pacific Puddle Jumps, and Delta Doo Dahs. There’s no particular agenda, other than swapping tales and toasting past and future adventures in a shoulder-to-shoulder, greet-your-neighbor atmosphere.
If who’ve yet to participate in the Ha-Ha, consider attending out seminar today at 2 p.m., "Baja Ha-Ha How-To," in the Windward seminar room. The Grand Poobah himself will be on hand to entertain you and answer questions. The seminar repeats tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., followed by our seminar on "Tahiti and the Pacific Puddle Jump," presented by Assistant Poobah Andy Turpin, at 4:45 in the Regatta 1 room. Thanks to our Tahitian partners, some lucky attendee will take home an eye-popping door prize: an authenic black pearl bracelet! See you there.
Dinghies and their motors are probably the most common target of thieves in the cruising community, and Harry Hazzard of the San Diego-based Beneteau Idylle 51 Distant Drum reports on a rash of such thefts in Barra de Navidad, just south of Puerto Vallarta.
"Barra has always been known as a cruiser friendly town, with its low-key atmosphere, its vast array of pubs and great restaurants, along with numerous little shops, and the natural beauty of the area. However, all of this has been heavily tarnished this cruising season with nine reported dinghy engine thefts.
"Apparently the victims had left their dinghies tied to their boats without securing them with a cable, leaving the outboards on them. Unfortunately these folks awoke in the morning to find their dinghy painters cut and their dinghies gone. Each time a search around the lagoon was conducted, the dinghies have been recovered, but in all cases the motors were gone as well as the contents of the boat. The thefts continued in spite of the situation’s being broadcast on the local cruisers net day after day. The local police and Port Captain have been cooperative in taking reports and providing letters for the owners to present to their insurance companies, but that’s as far as it went. The local police have no boats, while the Port Captain has a boat, but no manpower. It’s been reported that numerous boats have now been by-passing Barra in fear of having something stolen.
"When this situation was brought to the attention of one of the prominent hotel owners, he took the ball and ran with it. There have apparently been two meetings held with the hotel association, local business owners, the mayor, port captain, local police, along the state officials, including the Army and Navy. It’s our understanding that the problem has been taken very seriously by those in attendance, and that measures will be taken to curtail the ‘Barra Banditos’. The local police have been authorized overtime to address shore-based activities and the Port Captain has supposedly been authorized to hire and train additional personnel. This action may have been taken late in the season, but it’s a start in the right direction. The Army and Navy have also taken steps to establish long-term solutions for the upcoming season in October. Local businesses in Barra feel that it’s necessary to get the word out that action is being taken. We’ll just have to wait and see what the overall outcome will be.
"In the meantime, it would be prudent for cruisers anchored in the Barra lagoon to lift their dinghies out of the water and secure their motors."
Back in March, we wrote about the mysterious A, the 394-ft motoryacht that is as staggeringly different from all previous motoryachts as Tom Perkins 289-ft Maltese Falcon was to all previous sailing yachts.
Today’s Wall Street Journal answered some of the questions about the boat and her ultra-secretive owner:
- She’s owned by Andrey Melnichenko, a 38-year old Russian billionaire who has made his money in banking, steel and fertilizer. He and his supermodel wife, Aleksandra — A & A, and hence the boat name A — rarely entertain onboard.
- The megayacht cost $300 million when launched in ’08. The bath knobs cost $40,000, but are custom, so don’t go looking for them at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
- The master suite is 2,583 square feet, and is surrounded by bomb proof 44 millimeter glass. The company that built the glass, like a lot of the subcontractors, went bankrupt because of the novelty of the orders. The total living space is 23,600 square feet.
- Like most Russian-owned yachts, A has extensive security, and is rumored to have an escape pod.
- Two high-speed diesels power the 5,556-gross ton ship at up to 24 knots, at least double the speed of most yachts her size. It costs half a mil to fill the tanks.
- A has a crew of 35 to 37.
- The Wall Street Journal quotes designer Philippe Starck as saying that, while most mega yachts are vulgar statements of wealth and power, A was designed to be in harmony with the sea and nature. "The boat has an elegance and intelligence. It is not trying to show the money," he claims.
The look and style of A is extremely controversial. Having spent a couple of weeks anchored near her in the Caribbean in February, our opinion is that, once you get over the initial shock, she makes all other yachts seem boring and terribly dated. As such, it’s time for Larry Ellison to update his 450-ft Rising Sun, which to be honest, looked pretty dated the day she was launched.
While the market for most yachts has declined, the 250-ft and larger market is said to have grown by 20%. Next up on the megayacht launch list? Eclipse, the 540-ft addition to Roman Abramovich’s already large megayacht fleet.