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August 20, 2010

Flipped Cat Anna Washes Up on Tonga

There are many false rumors flying around Tonga in relation to the capsizing of Anna.

© 2010 Scott Stolnitz

"Anna, the Atlantic 57 catamaran owned by Kelly Wright of Santa Fe, New Mexico, that flipped 125 miles from Niue in the South Pacific the first weekend in August, somehow managed to make her way unscathed through the East Reef passage of the outer reef at Vava’u, Tonga, then washed up against an island and was badly damaged," report Scott and Cindy Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 cat Beach House. "She’s now tied to a mooring in Neiafu, where she looks like "parallel submarines at Disneyland."

With Anna‘s arrival has come a lot more misinformation and baseless speculation. First off, the name of the cat is Anna, not Anna Valdivia as previously reported. Valdivia is the city in Chile where Awolplast, the builder of Anna and other Atlantic 55s and 57s, is located.

There have also been erroneous reports that Anna was a "giant Hobie Cat" that only weighed about 14,000 lbs, and her ultralight displacement contributed to her flipping. Designer Chris White assures us that the 14,000-lb weight rumor is complete nonsense, and that Anna weighed about 30,000 lbs when she went over. We have no doubt this is true, as Bob Smith’s Pantera, which has been sailing all over Mexico for years, weighs 14,000 lbs, and she’s only 44 feet, has a tiny salon, is ultra simple, and was built of carbon fiber.

There have also been reports that Anna‘s spinnaker was up when she flipped, so that she wasn’t just carrying a reefed main and a self-tacking jib. Apparently this belief was based on the fact that the spinnaker, or part of it, was seen at some point billowing around in the water. Only Wright and his crewmember Glen McConchie of Christchurch know for sure, but we believe their claims that the chute wasn’t up. After all, it was nighttime, there were only two of them, it had been squally, and rough weather had been forecast. Unless somebody says they found the halyard attached to the head of the chute and all the other spinny lines had been run, we’re not going to doubt Wright. It’s very easy to imagine that the chute had been in a bag on deck, and some or all of it had come out after more than 10 days of sloshing around in the ocean.

One of the crew of Forum Pacific, the ship that rescued the crew of Anna, took some interesting video while picking up the crew of the cat. Check it out below, because it’s very interesting. You’ll see the two men, Wright and McConchie, each standing up next to a rudder as the ship approaches, one of the ship’s crew firing a really cool bucket-like device that shoots a line, and the two men climbing a ladder up the side of the ship.

The most amazing thing is how both Wright and McConchie, despite having been on the overturned cat for somewhere between 12 and 17 hours — reports have differed — looked like they had just come out of a very warm pool after a pleasant swim. Talk about being none the worse for the experience! As a result, the biggest lesson we’ve taken from the accident is that if you’re going to flip a cat, do it in the tropics. If you’re going to do it in cool or cold water, have a wetsuit or a survival suit handy.

A still from the video of Anna’s crew being rescued show Kelly Wright & Glen McConchie appearing almost as fresh as if they’d just gone for a quick swim.

Forum Pacific
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

There’s a rumor going around Tonga that the owner of Forum Pacific, which rescued the Anna crew, fired the captain. According to the rumor, the owner is mad that the skipper, having a 50-ton crane on the Forum Pacific, didn’t pick up the very valuable year-old cat. Don’t bet the farm on this rumor being even remotely true. Besides, judging from the sea conditions in the YouTube video, the cat would have been bashed to pieces had they tried to lift her aboard the ship.

As it was, apparently there has been a squabble over the ‘salvage’ of Anna. We’re betting that none of the squabbling parties know anything about salvage law — not that it tends to matter in the more remote parts of the world.

A is in Da House

A parked just off Sausalito Wednesday morning.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A surprise guest anchored off Sausalito Wednesday morning — the 394-ft megayacht A, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko. We first wrote about A in March when the publisher saw her anchored at St. Barth, then again about a month later when The Wall Street Journal disclosed details about the boat and her secretive owner.

If you want to check out this controversial Phillipe Starck design up close and personal, there’s no time like the present. Who knows when she’ll move on.

©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re not sure if Andrey and his model wife Aleksandra are simply taking a tour of the West Coast — they’ve spent the last week or so in various Southern California ports — or are here on business, but the futuristic A is certainly causing a buzz. While most Bay Area residents are not likely to be offered a personal tour, we can live vicariously through The Wall Street Journal‘s Robert Frank. Get ready to be astounded.

Who Will Be #150?

I have 147. . . 148. . . 149. Do I hear 150?

Feel like making a getaway to sunnier latitudes? It’s not to late to join the fun.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With only 21 days remaining until the entry deadline of this year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally, the current fleet roster stands at 149. Will your boat be #150? If you’re on the fence about joining our annual San Diego to Cabo San Lucas cruise, you’re apparently not alone. Last year on this date we had a few less entries, yet the total eventually reached 193 — an all-time record. So we anticipate a last-minute rush, as in years past. After all, the event does require a $350 entry fee (or $325 if your age or your boat length are under 35), and it’s human nature to wait until the last minute before paying a substantial bill.

This year’s event kicks off Sunday, October 24 with a grand Halloween Costume Party and BBQ in the San Diego West Marine parking lot (1 p.m.; 1250 Rosecrans), followed by a boat parade through the harbor the next morning at 10 a.m., en route to the 11 a.m. start of Leg One, outside the bay off Point Loma. Most of the fleet will reach Cabo by Thursday, November 4, and the Awards Ceremony will take place Saturday, November 6 at Cabo Marina.

Need a ride south? If so, don’t miss the Crew Party next month at the Encinal YC.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you don’t have your own boat to enter, but would like to crew, let us remind you that Latitude 38‘s free Crew List is online and available 24/7 for both sailors looking to crew and skippers in need. This morning there were over 60 boats offering rides to Mexico this season (some, but not all, on the Ha-Ha).

Let us remind you also, that our annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party and Baja Ha-Ha Reunion will take place September 8 at Alameda’s Encinal YC (6 to 9 p.m.). See you there!

Medium-Range Racing Forecast (Text Only)

The Bay’s Racing calendar is full, as in FULL, over the next few weeks, and we wanted to make sure you got a heads-up on some of the larger events coming down the pipe. We can’t imagine you’ve forgotten about any of them, but just in case you have, here’s a rundown:

The Finn Silver Cup — the class’s junior world championship — gets underway today at St. Francis YC, with 17 boats from as close as San Diego and as far away as Greece, Russia, Brazil and Australia. Over at San Francisco YC, Melges Race Week — the final stop on the three-regatta Melges California Cup — gets underway today also. Twelve Melges 24s have signed up. Thirteen Melges 32s have signed up also as the class gears up for both its September World Championships and the St. Francis YC’s Rolex Big Boat Series — a breath of grand prix air for the Bay in the next month.

Over at Richmond YC, the inaugural Richmond Riviera Regatta will get underway tomorrow. The charity event will be unique in that it will benefit not one — as is typically the case with benefit regattas — but four Bay Area charities: the Bay Area Rescue Mission, Youth Enrichment Strategies, Rubicon Programs and the Richmond Emergency Food Pantry. According to the event’s website, "the regatta is a chance to “give where we live.’"

When the weekend wraps-up, the racing won’t stop, and if you have the chance, you’ll definitely want to make time to visit Crissy Field, where the St. Francis YC’s 18-ft Skiff International Regatta has drawn a field of 16 boats! We can’t remember this regatta getting a turnout this big, and the crash-and-burn, on-the-edge-of-control nature of the racing makes it really fun to watch. The racing gets going on Sunday and finishes up on Thursday. One event the skiffs will be participating in is the Ronstan Bridge-to Bridge on Wedenesday afternoon, where they’ll line up against the kiters, boardsailors, and maybe even a few big boats for a sprint from the Gate to the Bay Bridge.

The following weekend, the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Half Moon Bay Race, the San Francisco YC’s Great Schooner Race and the Berekely YC’s Sarcoma Cup will all get going on Saturday. The Schooner lineup includes Santana, and Yankee and there will be a morning parade along the Tiburon waterfront starting at 11 a.m. with the racing beginning at noon at the west end of Raccoon Strait. The schooners will race across the Bay to the City and back,  finishing off Belvedere Cove at about 3 p.m. The Sarcoma Cup is moving over to Berkeley YC for its third-ever event, although previous host Richmond YC plus South Beach YC will be helping with the on-the water activitites. As has always been the case, 100% of the proceeds of the event will go toward funding sarcoma research, one of the least-funded cancer research areas. You’ll find all the pertinent details at the link above.

On August 27, the Finn Gold Cup — the class’s World Championship — gets underway for the 95 boats — sailed by past, present and future Olympians — from all over the sailing world who’ve signed up. Due to it’s immense size, the regatta will be staged over at Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond, although all the official ceremonies will be held at St. Francis YC.

The Labor Day weekend will feature a whole host of events including the Santa Cruz YC’s Windjammers Race that starts in the Bay on September 3, and takes a 70-mile run down one of the best racetracks in California. If you don’t have a ride for this one, and wish you did, we encourage you to check out a chance to crew on Bill Turpin’s R/P 77 Akela, which is as fast and as plush as they come. Turpin has auctioned off a spot on the race crew for a few years now, with the proceeds benefitting the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Bid on it now, here. The following day, the Jazz Cup — South Beach YC’s annual run to Benicia — gets underway for a 20-plus mile downwinder.

That’s the medium-range racing forecast in a very small nutshell. Although we’d like to be at every one of these events in their entirety, there’s just no way to make that happen. So if you happen to hear any good stories or get any good photos from any of these events, please send them on in! We appreciate it, and want to remind you that all these events can be found in the ’10 Northern California Racing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule!

Daily life in mainstream society can get a bit dreary these days. But we’ve found it helps keep our psyches in balance if we get a little silly once in a while.
We’ll have a report on the adventures of Alameda’s Pimentel Family — Rodney, Jane, CJ and Leo — in the Med in the September issue of Latitude 38, but in the meantime we have a few photos to share with you.
Mike Latta borrowed a portable bilge pump from a passing cruising boat, which helped him get Narwhal to safety.