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March 28, 2011

Chinese Team Joins the Cup Fray

During AC 32, China Team consisted of a bunch of Frenchmen. For AC 34, the bulk of the crew will actually be Chinese.

© 2011 China Team

The country that gave the world the fully-battened mainsail will be joining the modern Cup era for another go. China Team announced today that it will be back in the mix for the 34th America’s Cup, after debuting in Valencia for AC32. But unlike that effort, which was staffed entirely by French sailors — including Bay Area sailmaker Sylvain Barielle — team chairman Wang Chao Yong said that this effort will be feature mainly Chinese sailors on a boat built in China with design input from the country’s universities.

“This America’s Cup will feature the best sailors on the fastest boats, so we’re very happy to be part of this adventure with China Team, a boat which will truly represent China, as most sailors will be Chinese," Wang said.

CEO duties will go to Frenchman Thiery Barot who will be charged with recruiting a large coaching staff to train the team.

Two Dead in San Diego Capsizing

Two men are dead and eight people injured after the 25-ft sailboat they had rented capsized in San Diego Harbor around 5 p.m. yesterday. Details are sketchy as the investigation is ongoing, but Maguerite Elicone from the San Diego Port Authority confirms that a number of the people aboard the sailboat were family. "It happened at Buoy 20, about a half-mile from the Shelter Island boat dock," said Elicone. "The Harbor Police were on-scene within five minutes." They as well as a number of good samaritans pulled the 10 people out of the water, though the Coast Guard searched by boat and helo for another hour until translators confirmed that everyone aboard — none of whom apparently spoke English — had been accounted for.

The cause of death for both men, who were reported to be in their 50s or 60s, is unknown at this time. There is also no word on how the boat capsized — the weather and sea state were very mild. The Harbor Police will hold a press conference later today to report on their investigation.

Accused Murderer/Boat Thief Charged

As reported earlier, members of the Central and South American cruising community have been closely following developments related to the disappearance of American sailor Don North in Panama’s San Blas Islands. This case has been of particular interest to both sailors and Panamanian authorities because serious crime in those islands is very rare.

Life is normally quiet and simple in the San Blas Islands, which makes the Don North case all the more remarkable.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Reporter Don Winner of the online Panama Guide has been the main (English) source of info on this case. The following are excerpts from his report last Friday: "Panama’s Auxiliary Prosecutor has documented sufficient evidence to formally charge the Spaniard Javier Martin in the murder of the American Don North. Don North was last seen in mid-January on Chichime island, in the Kuna Yala area, after having hired Martin to travel to Colombia.

"The investigation indicates they both sailed away on Don North’s boat Windancer, but then three days later only the Spaniard returned. Panama’s Auxiliary Prosecutor Dimas Guevara said although Don North’s body has not been found and Javier Martin denied the charges, ‘There are strong elements which link him’ to the crime, including the discovery of the alleged murder weapon (a gun) hidden inside a television in the room in the hostel where Javier Martin was staying in Santa Fe in the Darien when he was arrested on 14 February 2011. In addition, Javier Martin registered in the hostel using both the name and credit card of Don North. Martin has also been accused for the murder of the Frenchman Jean Pierre Bouhard, who was found dead in Portobelo in February. (According to La Prensa.)

"There is literally a ton of evidence against Javier Martin in both cases. The case file in Portobelo for the murder of Jean Pierre Bouhard is now over 1,000 pages deep. One of the prosecutors told me they will be going for the maximum penalties in the murder cases, and there are also other charges against Javier Martin for the theft of two sailboats worth about $500,000 combined, weapons charges, fraud, clearing out banking accounts, etc. The quote was ‘He will probably get 70 years or more — he’ll die in a Panamanian prison.’"

Don Winner is an American whose residency in Panama predates the handoff of the Canal from the U.S. to the Panamanian government. Anyone heading to Panama should be aware of his excellent online news outlet, which reports on a wide variety of topics — most of them considerably more upbeat that this tragic case.

The Island YC’s Doublehanded Lightship gets going tomorrow, and although the weatherman is calling for rain, he’s also calling for 15 to 25 knots of breeze from the southwest!
Of all the idyllic islands in the South Pacific, none are more famous as honeymoon destinations than Tahiti and her sister islands.