On Friday we challenged our readers to take advantage of the forecasted good weather and get out on the water — and to send us photographic evidence. While Saturday was lovely, Sunday turned into a bit of a bust with thick fog rolling in from the east. But it seems San Diego sailors lucked out, according to Rosie Eberhard of the Roberts 44 Valkyrie.
"Yesterday was perfect sailing day," she writes. "The temperature was around 78 degrees, and the wind got up to 20 knots so Valkyrie was able to do around seven knots. We girls tried to hike out by Point Loma but I think we need more weight on the windward side to flatten our 22-ton steel boat!"
Though they are now based out of San Diego, Rosie and her husband David were longtime members of Stockton Sailing Club. David spent more years than he’d like to count building — and rebuilding — Valkyrie, and personal touches can be seen throughout, such as heart-shaped handholds placed at just the right height for his diminuitive bride.
Closer to home, Max Crittenden sailed his Martin 32 Solar Wind in the South Beach Island Fever Race this weekend. "I got this shot of Christian Lewis’s Catalina 42 Carmelita sliding past us in the race," he said. "They nipped us this time, after we beat them last month. What a beautiful, warm day." He must have been talking about Saturday.
There was some exciting news in the America’s Cup realm over the weekend. First was that John Craig has been brought on as the PRO for the 34th America’s Cup and all the regattas leading up to it. If ever there was anyone qualified to take this on, it’s Craig. In the 11 years he’s served as the St. Francis YC’s Racing Manager, Craig has orchestrated many truly world class events. And it’s not as though he’s done like one per year . . . most years it’s more like one a month! We’ve helped out on Race Committee for a couple St. Francis events, and have never ceased to admire Craig’s professionalism, level temperament and ability to juggle so many competing demands on his time. In Craig, the ACRM gets someone who already has well-established relationships with the Coast Guard and Vessel Traffic Service, not to mention someone who is a Bay Area resident with deep ties to the sailing community here. Congratulations to both Craig for being chosen for, and taking, the job, and to ACRM for making a slam dunk on what was a really important call.
The second piece of exciting news was that the AC45 was finally launched in Auckland, and if the video above doesn’t have you salivating over a high-octane America’s Cup 34 — and the pre-regattas leading up to it — make an appointment with your doctor!
The cold and dreary winter weather broke just in time for the 60th Corinthian Midwinters to get underway this weekend under sunny skies and temps that seemed to get up into at least the high-60s. One hundred and ten boats in 12 handicap divisions and 26 boats in four one design divisions made it to the starting line.
After a short postponement, racing got underway on Saturday with most of the larger-boat classes being sent on a Bay tour that started at Knox. After a short fetch to Yellow Bluff, they headed down the Bay toward Blossom. To their dismay, the Central Bay was the site of a battle royal between the northerly that had carried the first starters to Yellow Bluff, a weak southerly, and a weak westerly. The first few classes reached Alcatraz only to park up in a big transition zone. While many boats carried enough breeze to eventually become even with the southern tip of Alcatraz on their first try, a combination of the breeze shutting off completely and the massive, runoff-fueled ebb meant that entire classes were getting flushed all the way back to the northern tip of the island no matter which side of the Alcatraz they tried to pass. It took some boats multiple tries to get past the island and down to Blossom, and those who were able to successfully negotiate that part of the course ended up getting pretty launched. From Blossom it was an easy fetch up to Southampton Shoal in a 8- to 12-knot northerly, before a primarily starboard-tack beat to a race deck finish off Corinthian YC.
Sunday’s race started off much the same way, albeit minus the sun, which had a hard time penetrating the thin carpet of valley fog that accompanied the 8- to 15-knot northerly breeze. Sailing the same course as Saturday, the fleets found that getting past Alcatraz was a much easier task with the breeze holding pretty much the entire way around the race course. After a little over a half-hour, the bigger boats were already around Blossom; the day before, it had taken them about two hours! The results are already up on the Corinthian YC’s Midwinters page. With some tight leaderboards, there should be some good battles next month.
There’s a new "largest privately-owned yacht in the world." She’s the 533-ft motoryacht Eclipse, which is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The title was formerly held by a boat owned by a fellow from Dubai, whose boat is now about two feet too short.
The 44-year-old Abramovich, who started his fortune by selling rubber ducks out of his apartment in Moscow, and is now said to be worth something like $11 billion, has long been a connoisseur of mega motoryachts. Up until he gave one to an ex-wife and sold another, he owned five. While Roman is single, he has a long-time girlfriend in 29-year-old Daria Zhukova, who graduated from our old school, UC Santa Barbara, and to whom he gives things like $50 million paintings.
Eclipse, which was built by Germany’s Blohm + Voss at a cost rumored to be in the $500 million range, has every luxury and safety feature — bomb-proof master cabin, for example — known to man. She was launched in early December, a year behind schedule, but just in time for Roman to rush her across the Atlantic to the tiny island of St. Barth in the French West Indies — where last year he paid $95 million for an estate just behind Goveneur’s Beach. Abramovich offered to build senior housing for everyone on the island if local officials would only deny public access to the beach. "Non!" was the emphatic response. This even after Roman had tried to soften up resistance by building a state-of-the-art soccer field and track for the residents of the island.
St. Barth has always been a really big deal for rich New Yorkers, Hollywood big wigs, movie stars, super models, and that kind of celebrity riff-raff. That’s why about half the editorial space in the January issue of Vanity Fair was devoted to a land-squabble in St. Barth between the locals and the despised ‘metropoles’ from France.
This year’s New Year in St. Barth was a bigger deal than ever because, not only was Roman going to be there with his giant yacht, he was going to spend a rumored $5 million for a New Year’s Eve bash at his new digs for 250 of his very best friends, with music provided by the Black Eyed Peas. Among the guests were singer Alicia Keys and her rap hubby, Salma Hayek and luxury goods business-owning hubby, Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi, Demi Moore and boytoy hubby Ashton, P. Diddy, George Lucas, Stephanie Seymour and about 200 very rich and extremely famous people we’ve never heard of.
For 20 years, we spent just about every New Year’s at St. Barth, either on the Ocean 71 Big O we used to charter out, or ashore waiting for ‘ti Profligate, our Leopard 45 in a yacht management program, to come off her lucrative holiday charter. Last year we decided on a change of pace because it seemed like it blew like stink every time we went out sailing at St. Barth in December and January. The Christmas Trades, you know. So we spent this New Year’s Eve on Profligate, anchored in the lagoon at humble Barra de Navidad, Mexico. Having declined the invitations of Doña de Mallorca and many cruising friends to go ashore and party while watching the fireworks, we got to ring in the new year by communing with our beloved catamaran. We’re sure everyone at the ritzy parties in St. Barth had a fantastic New Year’s Eve. Ironically, so did we. Contentment is a wonderful thing.