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August 13, 2010

Warriors Wish Loses Her Keel

Ronnie is no doubt wishing for a fat shot of rum with a beer chaser right about now.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A little after two weeks and more than halfway into his passage back to San Francisco after completing the Singlehanded TransPac, Ronnie Simpson reports that the keel on Warrior’s Wish fell off Wednesday night. "All is not well aboard the good ship Warrior’s Wish," Simpson wrote on his website yesterday. "Unfortunately, the keel broke off of the boat last night. Fortunately, it didn’t take part of the hull with it, so we are not taking on water."

Owned by SHTP vet Don Gray and loaned to Simpson for the race, Warrior’s Wish is a Jutson 30 that was built for ocean racing and has done a lot of it. Simpson reportedly dived on the boat yesterday morning expecting to see the keel sans bulb, but says the entire keel has gone AWOL. "I don’t know any details but assume the bolts broke at the hull-keel joint," Gray told us.

Warrior’s Wish was just under 800 miles away from the Bay last night.

© Google Earth

In the meantime, Simpson and his crewmember, Ed McCoy, are motoring toward the Bay — they received a 50 gallon fuel drop from a passing container ship — and are on a two-hour comm sked with the Coast Guard. "Life raft and ditch bag are in the cockpit, on the ready, in case the boat capsizes," Simpson said. "We are doing everything in our power to get this boat back to California."

Knowing a little about Ronnie’s levels of determination and fortitude, we have little doubt that, if it’s at all possible, he’ll do just that.

Dutch Teen Sets Sail

Just when you thought you were going to get a break from the much-ballyhooed teen circumnavigation debate, it’s about to rev up again. After recently being granted permission from Dutch courts to persue her dream of circumnavigating at the tender age of 14, Laura Dekker set sail from the Den Osse, Netherlands last Wednesday aboard her 38-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch, Guppy.

The solo sailor is seen here with her dog Spot – his companionship is the thing she anticipates missing most during her two-year cruise.

© 2010 Laura Dekker

While mainstream media blowhards and child-protection advocates will undoubtedly pontificate tirelessly on the irresponsibility of Laura’s cruise, we expect that the debate among sailors will be a lot less heated. After all, she is not attempting a nonstop, unassisted circuit via the Southern Ocean, as Australian Jessica Watson did (and American Abby Sunderland attempted), but a cruise primarily through the tropics — and via the Panama Canal rather than Cape Horn — with many stops along the way (as did American Zac Sunderland and others). And, as has been widely reported, Laura was born during a circumnavigation, and made her first solo offshore voyages at age 11 — across the English Channel and back.

Stay tuned, because this is a story we won’t hear the last of for many months to come. If Laura completes the trip within her planned two-year time frame, she will become the youngest person to have circumnavigated solo, by any route.

Dinius Sues for $1 Mil

Elizabeth Larson of Lake County News reports that Bismarck Dinius has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Lake County and a number of its employees for violating his civil rights when they prosecuted him for manslaughter in the ’06 death of Lynn Thornton. Thornton was killed after the sailboat she and Dinius — who was on the tiller — were aboard was hit from behind by a speedboat driven by then-Sheriff Deputy Russell Perdock. Prosecutors alleged that Dinius’s blood alcohol content of .10 made the accident his fault instead of Perdock’s. A jury found him not guilty last August, but Dinius was left with legal bills totaling over $300,000. His lawsuit is seeking punitive damages and legal fees.

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Is S.F. Kissing the America’s Cup Goodbye?

When BMW Oracle Racing brought the America’s Cup to City Hall for an introduction with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, all signs pointed toward the 34th match coming to the Bay . . .

BMW Oracle Racing
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

From the very beginning, we at Latitude suspected that the politicians in San Francisco didn’t have the capacity to keep the America’s Cup from getting away from San Francisco Bay, the stated venue of preference of BMW Oracle Racing’s Larry Ellison — the person who gets to choose. For awhile there was a bunch of happy talk from various politicians and officials that made things seem promising, but now, not so much so.

According to a report by Katie Worth of the Examiner, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has just been brought up to speed that they have until the end of September, not until the end of the year, to come up with the basic proposal for the event, with the draft due in about three weeks. Trying to get the mayor and the board to do anything in three weeks, particularly a mayor who is running for statewide office and a board that is just coming off vacation, is hoping for an awful lot.

Kyri McClellan, a very responsive project manager in Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office, called the BMW Oracle timeline "ambitious." When we fed ‘ambitious’ into our Google government-speak translator, it came up with "absolutely impossible."

We don’t know how accurate that translator is, and maybe Ellison is just trying to put the squeeze on the Board, but we fear our initial skepticism about local government being able to take care of business was all too valid. We hope they prove us wrong, but we’re not holding our breath. Of course, it’s not like the Board of Supervisors hasn’t been doing anything. They are currently considering legislation that would make it illegal for kids to get toys with their meals — unless those meals consist of tofu, raw cauliflower and pomegranate juice — and are passing a resolution denouncing the price of lettuce in the northwest corner of West Timor.

By some estimates, the America’s Cup is the world’s third biggest sporting event, topped only by the Olympics and the World Cup. If San Francisco can’t get off its duff, Valencia, Spain, which already has the facilities, and an unnamed city in Italy, which reportedly has offered big money for the chance to host the event, are reportedly eager to step up.

We hate to say it, but if we were gamblers — as opposed to being ‘buy and hold’ investors in U.S. equities — we’d put our money behind Italy. Unlike Americans, Italians love sailing as much as they love big and glamorous events, and they can do things with the kind of style billionaires seem to find agreeable.

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