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January 7, 2011

Nereida Knocked Down at Cape Horn

Jeanne Socrates was uninjured in the knockdown that broke her boom and ripped her dodger enclosure from Nereida’s deck.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jeanne Socrates, the 68-year-old grandma who was attempting a nonstop solo circumnavigation aboard her UK-based Najad 380 Nereida, reports that a knockdown near Cape Horn resulted in serious damage to Nereida and has effectively ended her record bid. Socrates says that on Wednesday afternoon, conditions deteriorated enough to cause her to heave to.

"By midday, with occasional waves hitting us and washing the decks, I was beginning to feel decidedly concerned, with the wind back up to 35-37 knots and forecast to increase, and big seas to match. We hove to with triple-reefed mains’l and stays’l. I changed the running backstay over and centred the mains’l. We were well heeled, and there were plenty of big seas, then suddenly, near 2:30 p.m., while I was fortunately leaning against a wall in the head, all hell let loose. Everything that could move was relocated to the starboard side of the cabin. Water was pouring in from under the sliding hatch and there was chaos everywhere."

The worst damage from the knockdown was a broken boom, which has ended her nonstop circumnavigation attempt.

© Jeanne Socrates

Socrates went on to report that, after Nereida righted, she found the instruments were dead and she couldn’t budge the main companionway hatch. She climbed out of the aft cabin companionway only to find that the boom had been broken in half and the entire hard dodger had been washed away. A bag of wet halyards lying on the hatch was removed and entry into the main cabin was restored.

"We were still beam-on to oncoming seas . . . not good. Was another knockdown imminent? I tried eveything to get us to head downwind — a bit of genoa plus some stays’l, downed the remaining main and tried to tie it but that got dangerous in the big seas running, so was forced to abandon that. Later, I decided to reduce all sail since the series drogue shouldn’t need any. The furling line on the stays’l broke. The sail unfurled totally and flapped madly and violently — the whole boat shook with the violence. Had to lower it and keep it inboard and low and together in the strong wind — not easy. As it flapped, it caught the pole and broke it in half. Things were going from bad to worse!"

Nereida’s interior didn’t fare much better: “Even the chart table lid had clearly been flung open and its contents had been thrown across to the galley to mix with spilled items there, including toiletries from the head — wet paper all over everything else. Impossible to deal with and not drying in the cold, damp air.”

© Jeanne Socrates

Socrates contacted the Chilean Navy and Falmouth Coast Guard to inform them of her situation. The fishing vessel Magellanes III arrived on scene to offer assistance, but Jeanne was ultimately able get everything aboard Nereida stabilized enough to start her engine. (An overboard line that she was suspected was wrapped in the propped turned out to be a non-issue.) She should round the Horn today in much calmer conditions on her way toward the Beagle Channel, where she’s expected to stop in Puerto Williams to effect repairs.

Jeanne had slowed down on January 5 to ensure she wasn’t at the Horn in rough conditions. She should round the Horn today and make her way to Puerto Williams tomorrow.

© 2011

The Cup Runneth Over

On a day when the World Series Trophy was trotted out to pose with the America’s Cup, a group of about 250 or so sailing luminaries, America’s Cup personnel, City staff, media and local sailors showed up to celebrate San Francisco winning the right to host the 34th America’s Cup. Wednesday afternoon’s event, held in the City Hall Rotunda, provided some insight into where the Cup is headed and why the venue selection took so long.

In his opening remarks, outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom admitted that he didn’t fully appreciate what a big deal the Cup would be at the outset of the venue selection process before dropping the soundbite of the day: "A race that is often hard to see will be impossible to miss."

Larry Ellison and Gavin Newsom seemed quite at ease with each other as they trotted down the red carpet, which is impressive considering the intensity of the negotiations.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With skiing Olympic Medalist and Bay Area sailor Jonny Moseley passing the mic as the Master of Ceremonies, Newsom was followed by Craig Thompson and Richard Worth, CEO and Chairman respectively of the America’s Cup Event Authority, who outlined the plan for the America’s Cup World Series and the media coverage of the event. Oracle Racing owner Larry Ellison took to the lectern too, explaining his sailing roots and their connection to the Bay. Throughout the course of the three-hour event, there were some interesting revelations. Regarding the 11th-hour and 59th-minute selection of San Francisco, and the volleys between the team and the City, both Newsom and Ellison made it clear that it was business as usual.

"The level of negotiations were appropriate for an event of this magnitude," Newsom said, adding that the process was advantageous for both sides and that what appeared to be significant friction between the City and the team was "wildly overplayed."

Ellison went on to claim that the major delay was caused by having to perform engineering assessments on the Northern Waterfront option at a late stage in the game. Regardless of whether any of that was true, the fact that the two appeared to be on the same page is essential to the success of the event, because as Newsom noted, "There’s still an extraordinary amount of work to be done."

There were plenty of specific tidbits about how the Cup will look on the Bay, but we simply don’t have space for them here. In order to get that information to you, we will be putting up an America’s Cup FAQ on hopefully by early next week — we’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have a question, send it here and we’ll try to address it.

Moonshadow Latest Circumnavigator

"At 1030 hours on January 7, my Deerfoot 2-62 Moonshadow passed under the 17th St. Bridge in Ft. Lauderdale, closing the loop on the circumnavigation I started here in November of ’94," writes George Backhus. "Since then I have covered approximately 70,000 nautical miles and visited around 40 countries on our (mostly) westabout course. The destination has always been the journey, and I am happy but sad that this part of the journey has come to an end.

"I owe the accomplishment of this achievement to my best friend and fiancée, Merima ‘The Admiral’, who joined me on this odyssey in Australia in ’05 and has logged more than 25,000 nautical miles (more than a circumnavigation). Without her strength, determination, companionship, skills and hard work, I would never have made it this far.

The Admiral baked George a cake to celebrate his 16.5 year circumnavigation.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"As difficult as it may be after all the miles and memories, we plan to put Moonshadow up for sale. While we fully intend to continue cruising and racing, our cruising profile will change a bit from the long-distance blue water stuff we’ve been doing to more localized cruising around New Zealand, and perhaps a few other parts of the world that we’ve really enjoyed over the years. We hope to find someone who will continue to love and care for and enjoy her as much as we have for the past 16.5 years."

Backhus is originally from the Bay Area, and based Moonshadow out of Sausalito for several years. He and Merima now spend most of their time in Auckland, New Zealand.

Latitude congratulates George — and Merima — on their circumnavigation. If you or anyone else you know needs to be added to the list of West Coast Circumnavigators, please let us know.

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