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August 12, 2011

On the Beach in Cascais

America’s Cup action in Cascais, up close and personal. The next stops are Plymouth, England, and in November, San Diego.

© 2011 Mike McMullen

The America’s Cup honchos wanted to bring the America’s Cup "to the people," and based on this photo by Mike McMullen of Tiburon and the San Francisco YC, that’s exactly what’s being done for the first America’s Cup World Series currently being held in Portugal.

Swept up by America’s Cup fever, the McMullen clan — Mike; wife Karen, who has been interviewing Paul Cayard and others; son William; and daughter Mariel — flew over to Cascais to be a part of it. They have not been disappointed.

"Armed with a press pass and airplane tickets, and emboldened by promises of seeing the first AC Worlds Series up close and personal, I took a week off from my life with the family — all fans of the Cup, including one racing-crazed son, to fly to Cascais and check it out," reports Karen. "Cascais is an incredible international city, with everything one could want.

"The first race on Wednesday was postponed until 4 p.m., two hours after the scheduled time. But once the race was on, the energy was fantastic. Three nine-boat match races and almost all the action was visible from our hotel deck. Although you could watch while strolling down the promenade, or even while swimming at multiple beaches, the best viewing is at the waterfront Jumbotron which offered close-up tack-by-tack action and commentary. Turning one’s head 45 degrees allowed you to watch the action on the water. We were there watching the start when Oracle Racing’s Russell Coutts crashed into Emirates Team New Zealand; when we realized something had happened on the starting line, the replay was right there on the big screen.

"We had aspirations of sightseeing in this lovely country, but I’m having an impossible time dragging my son and my husband — and even myself — away from the excitement. And it’s building. We aren’t going anywhere but here."

The America’s Cup World Series is front and center for the people of Cascais.

© Mike McMullen

Emirates Team New Zealand hasn’t let anyone down this week, having won nearly every race they’ve sailed — including today’s match with Paul Cayard and Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis — with nearly flawless boathandling and comparable speed. ETNZ goes into the ACWS Cascais Match Racing Championship atop the quarterfinal qualifiers, followed by Oracle Racing Spithill, Artemis Racing, Oracle Racing Coutts, Chris Draper’s Team Korea and Loïck Peyron’s Energy Team.

There were some big announcements today from the America’s Cup Event Authority. Newport, Rhode Island, was announced as the first stop in next year’s America’s Cup World Series events. The most storied venue in the history of the Cup will play host to the Series from June 23-July 1, and will mark the end of an eight-month gap that follows the San Diego event in November.

The Event Authority also announced that it will be partnering with YouTube to create a brand new viewing experience for America’s Cup racing. The new system will now offer online viewers the choice of different video and audio streams — instead of just one — thanks to the YouTube multi-screen experience. With the new player, viewers can choose from live footage onboard with a team, a graphical overview, or an eagle’s-eye view as part of the daily livestreaming from race events. The different audio tracks will run the gamut from either expert sailing- or standard sports-commentary. This feature will be available on both the America’s Cup YouTube channel and the America’s Cup website, and will complement the live and highlight coverage offered by traditional broadcasters.

Catalina 27 Amber Overdue

Amber is a Catalina 27 with roller furling jib. Her sail number is 6686. If you have seen her since July 25, please contact the Coast Guard with the information.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Coast Guard has asked for the public’s help in locating Alameda sailor Krzysztof Krasnodebski, 62, who sailed out of Grand Marina on July 25 aboard his Catalina 27 Amber bound for San Diego. Krasnodebski’s son has reported him overdue but has declined to file a missing person’s report at this point, no doubt hoping his dad is just slowly making his way down the coast.

Krzysztof Krasnodebski did not file a float plan with his son, who is now worried because he’s not heard from his father since July 25.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

According to his son, Krasnodebski has no EPIRB or liferaft aboard Amber, and only has a VHF radio. The Coast Guard has suspended the case because they have no specific area in which to conduct a search, but they hope mariners along the California coast can shed some light onto the whereabouts of Krasnodebski, and hopefully pass the word to the sailor to call his son. If you have any information, please call the Coast Guard Command Center at (510) 437-3708.

Ten Points for Originality

Like many boaters, our marina mate, Steve, loves to tinker on boat projects whenever he has a spare moment. Normally, he directs that energy into upgrading his vintage motoryacht, but he apparently got side-tracked recently, because when we came across him the other day he was doing sea trials on his latest invention — an electric-powered sunfish!

It may have seating for two, but Steve’s ‘Electrofish’ might just sink with the addition of another body.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If we’re not mistaken, this is the first electrically powered vessel of its type on the planet, so naturally we had to bring it to your attention. If you look closely you’ll notice that it comes equipped with seating for two, a cooler for refreshments, anchoring gear, and a mast for signal flags (or perhaps a steadying sail). The craft is propelled by two electric outboard motors amidships, which can be alligned in any direction for maneauvering in tight quarters. While we doubt this prototype will ever make it into mass production, we have to give Steve 10 points for originality. (Which is not to say we’d encourage others to follow his lead. Especially since the ‘Electrofish’ only has two inches of freeboard.)

40th Anniversary of Blyth’s Record

British Steel sailed back into Southampton 40 years ago today.

© Chay Blyth Archive/PPL

On this day 40 years ago, Scottish sailor Chay Blyth sailed back into Southampton aboard his Robert Clark-designed 59-ft ketch British Steel after a 292-day West-about nonstop circumnavigation, setting a world record. The voyage against the prevailing currents and winds was arduous, especially after British Steel‘s wind vane conked out at Cape Horn. But Blyth persevered and for his efforts was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). 

Blyth didn’t have an easy time of it after he lost his wind vane at Cape Horn. He hand steered for 20,000 miles!

© Chay Blyth Archive/PPL

A master marketer, Blyth later organized — and acquired sponsorship for — a series of Global Challenges which allowed amateurs the opportunity to race around the world in identical yachts in exchange for a sizeable pay-in. The events proved popular but were phased out when sponsorship dried up. He has since been a vocal supporter of sailing, and for his service to the sport Blyth was knighted in ’97.

On Monday we couldn’t resist sharing the astounding video of the sloop Atalanta trying to squeak past the bow of an 870-ft long supertanker during Cowe’s Week off the Isle of Wight.
It was more than 50 years ago that a young British immigrant to Canada named John Guzzwell made history by completing an unprecedented circumnavigation aboard Trekka, a 21-ft wooden yawl he’d built with his own hands.