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September 17, 2010

Rolex Big Boat Series Kicks Off

Jim Mitchell’s IRC A-leading R/P 52 Vincitore and Dale Williams’ IRC-C leading Kernan 44 Wasabi cross tacks.

© Daniel Forester/ Rolex

The weather didn’t exactly cooperate — the breeze never got above the mid-teens and fog smothered the Bay the entire day — but the 98 boats at this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series made the best of it, sailing yesterday’s scheduled two races.

Melges 32 Class President Jeff Ecklund sends Star downwind during yesterday’s racing.

© Daniel Forester/ Rolex

In this year’s only real grand prix class, Pieter Taselaar’s reigning world champion Bliksem carried a five-point lead into today’s races in the Melges 32s. Bliksem scored a 2-1 to grab a firm grip on her division with Luca Lalli’s B-lin Sailing scoring a 5-3 to slot in at second, ahead of the top local boat: Don Jesberg’s Mill Valley-based Viva (4-7). In this extremely deep and talented class, guys like John Kilroy Jr. and his Samba Pa Ti team could only manage a 15-8 and 10th overall — the level of competition is that high.

Mick Shlens and Mark Jones’ TP 52 Flash blasts past Alacatraz.

© Daniel Forester/ Rolex

In the eight-boat J/120 division Don Payan’s Dayenu holds a slim lead on a division that has been decided on the final run of the final race for three years running. The six-boat 1D35 division lead resides with Masakazu Toyama’s Japanese Ebb Tide team, back for their third effort in the class. Pineapple Sails Kame Richards and partner Bill Bridge’s Golden Moon leads the eight-boat Express 37 division after scoring a 2-1 yesterday. In the 24-boat J/105 division, Bruce Stone’s Arbitrage notched a 1-4 to carry a one-point lead into today’s racing ahead of a three-way tie for second — Scooter Simmons’ Blackhawk, Jeff Litfin and John Case’s Mojo, and Don Wieneke’s Lulu.

Sy Kleinman’s Schumacher 54 Swiftsure II carried the IRC B lead into today’s racing.

© Daniel Forester/ Rolex

According to bow guy Dave Kresge, the program aboard Sy Kleinman’s Schumacher 54 Swiftsure II was ramped up this year — no jokes on the rail and strict attendance requirements for their tune-up events. It seems to be working, as Swifty scored a 1-3 to carry a one-point lead into today over Dan Woolery’s all-conquering King 40 Soozal in IRC B. In IRC A Jim Mitchell’s R/P 52 Vincitore scored a pair of bullets to lead Mick Shlens and Mark Jones’ IRC’d TP 52 Flash by three points going into today.


IRC C is the "sportboat" division instituted this year by the club to try and draw the light, fun-to-sail boats under 50 feet that IRC frowns upon so heavily. Dale Williams’ Kernan 44 Wasabi — the biggest, and solitary fiberglass boat in the division (IRC also frowns heavily on carbon fiber boats under 50 feet) — scored a pair of bullets to lead Andy Costello and Peter Kreuger’s J/125 Double Trouble by two points. In IRC D, Frank Morrow’s IMX 38 Hawkeye holds a slim lead over defending champion Gerry Sheridan and his Elan 40 Tupelo Honey.


Today’s forecast is looking a little better than yesterday, but a cutoff low off Oregon is pushing the ridge down toward us and the thermal suction may or may not develop enough for the seabreeze to really blast. We’re hoping it’s the former.

Body Found in Tiger Shark

In a scene straight out of the movies, an investment banker made a grisly discovery on September 4 while fishing in the Bahamas. As he was landing a 12-ft tiger shark, the banker noticed something sticking out of the shark’s mouth — a human leg! Authorities ashore cut the big fish open to find the right leg, two severed arms and a torso from a human. Finger printing later identified the victim as Judson Newton, 43.

Tiger sharks come in behind Great Whites for the number of attacks on humans.

© Captain Nemo

According to official reports, Newton had been boating with four friends on August 29 when the engine on their 20-ft powerboat conked out — ironically, just off Jaws Beach on New Providence Island. (Scenes from one of the Jaws films were shot there.) Newton and another friend decided to swim for shore but were never seen again. The three others were later rescued. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, authorities say Newton likely drowned before the shark found him. We sure hope so.

Livin’ for the Weekend

If the weekend’s forecast of patchy fog, drizzle, and light winds aren’t tempting you out onto the water to watch (if you can see that far through the fog) the Big Boat Series or to join the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Richmond/South Beach Race, you have options. Check out this quick list of events going on around the Bay, then hop on over to our online Calendar for more details.

  • Today through Sunday: Northern California Fall Boat Show at Jack London Square (Oakland) or the Lake Union Boats Afloat Show (Seattle)
  • Today through Sunday: 4th Annual All Islander Rendezvous (Estuary)
  • Saturday: Boaters’ Swap Meets at Emeryville Marina (7 a.m.) and Port of Redwood City (8 a.m.)
  • Saturday: Sail aboard Alma (1 p.m.)
  • Saturday: Safe Boating class on Yerba Buena (all day)
  • Sunday: UCSC Boating Center Yard Sale at Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor (8 a.m.) — be sure to say "Arrrgh" a lot as it’s also ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’.

One event that missed the September Calendar deadline is a fundraiser for the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS). The non-profit’s inaugural Casino Night will be held Saturday at South Beach YC, 6 p.m. "Like many other non-profits, BAADS is experiencing the impact of the economic downturn," said boardmember Dan Leininger. "For many years, we’ve been fortunate to be the recipients of repeat donations/grants. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to rely on these sources of income." The cost is $65, and includes $25 worth of chips, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dessert, and a prize raffle. See South Beach YC’s website to register, and have a great weekend!

“Sell Stocks, Buy Real Estate in Mexico”

Thanks to all the uninformed hysteria about narco violence south of the border — which does exist, just not where most Americans and most cruisers go — some southbound cruisers have lingering concerns about Mexico.

But not Jim Cramer, the high-energy, bombastic investment guru of CNBC’s wildly successful — 2.5 million viewers — ‘Mad Money’ show. In fact, on July 19, while appearing on CNBC’s ‘The World According to Cramer’ segment of ‘Squawk on the Street’, he told viewers to think about selling stock and investing in real estate — in Mexico! After first admitting that the overall real estate market was abysmal, he said:

“It’s not such a bad idea to diversify away from stocks. I think that out-of- favor real estate in Mexico, that’s easily accessible to Americans, represents a great buy."

And Cramer is walking the walk, not just talking the talk, as he told the audience that he himself acquired three properties in San Miguel de Allende in the previous three weeks. To be honest, he didn’t acquire the property in the conventional way. Someone had stolen money from him, ran to Mexico with it, and bought three houses. After four years, Cramer managed to have him tracked down, and the properties were turned over to him. But having gone to San Miguel de Allende, Cramer became a believer. "People who haven’t been to Mexico don’t know what it’s like," he said. "It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever been."

Unless they go out later looking for ‘hookers and blow’, these tourists and beach lovers will likely never see a hint of drug violence.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When asked about the narco violence, Cramer downplayed those fears by saying, “Mexico is a big country and not every province, every state is involved in the drug trade." In other words, it’s sort of like San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and other big U.S. cities, where there are certain well-known very dangerous areas, and many places that are completely safe. For example, we recently spoke with two lawyers who live in Tijuana, and having heard how dangerous it was there, we tried to commiserate with them by saying, "Things are pretty bad in Tijuana, aren’t they?"

"Oh yes," they agreed, "the traffic has gotten awful."

"Yeah, but what about the drug violence?"

"Oh, that’s not a concern. Unless someone is involved in it, they are not affected."

Anyway, boo-yah! to Cramer.

Perhaps the only thing better than owning real estate in Mexico is owning a nice cruising boat, as it can be a lot less expensive than a house, and allows you to enjoy so many of the wonderful coastal areas of Mexico — from the tropical mainland to the desert-like Sea of Cortez — not just one.

So boat-yah! to you if you’ve got a sailboat and are headed that way in the next couple of years.

By the way, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates there are 600,000 Americans living in Mexico full-time, and between 25,000 and 50,000 live in the Puerto Vallarta area. Friends tell us that Americans in Mexico have gotten so disgusted with the inaccurate portrayal of life in Mexico, that they are starting an email campaign to try to counter the false impressions Americans have been getting from the likes of CNN and the Los Angeles Times. Even Linda Ellerbee, who splits her time between Greenwich Village and PV, has spoken out about the unbalanced reports by the mainstream media. If you’re lucky to be headed south to Mexico for the season, you’ll be able to see firsthand why these Americans in Mexico are so unhappy with the American press.

Viva Mexico!

They say cats have nine lives. But until we heard about the rebirth of the PDQ 32 cat Catalyst — which capsized and was subsequently abandoned off the North Coast July 7 — we thought that old adage applied only to felines, not to two-hulled sailboats.
The first photo in the sequence on The Triton’s website shows Capt. Henry’s boat riding in through Jupiter Inlet, as it had done many times.
Well . . . whaddya think? © 2010 America’s Cup The buzz generated by Monday’s announcements regarding AC 34 from the Golden Gate YC and Club Nautico di Roma is palpable.