June 13, 2012

Cause of Aegean Accident Confirmed

In an announcement that surprised few, US Sailing’s Independent Review Panel officially concluded that the Hunter 376 Aegean ran into North Coronado Island during the Newport to Ensenada Race in late April, killing everyone aboard as a result. "The Panel gathered information from race organizers, collected data from the Aegean’s track during the Race, and met with the US Coast Guard San Diego Sector’s investigation team," noted the statement issued yesterday. "The Panel will continue their efforts to document the accident, draw conclusions, share the lessons learned and offer recommendations to the sailing community. A full report from US Sailing is expected by end of July."

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Weather & Tactics Seminar

The 18th Singlehanded TransPac, a 2,120-mile romp from San Francisco Bay to Hanalei Bay on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is slated to start on June 30, which means racers are undoubtedly working furiously to ready their boats, not to mention themselves. Pacific Cup racers have a wee bit more time to prepare, as that race’s first start is on July 16, but they’re likely up to their eyeballs in alligators as well. Regardless, if there’s one prep seminar they all should make time for, the Solo TransPac’s ‘Weather & Tactics’ seminar tomorrow evening is the one. Presented by 15-time Hawaii racer Paul Kamen (one SHTP, one TransPac and 14 Pacific Cups), the talk will cover typical weather patterns for the course and tactics on using them to your advantage.

Waterspouts are a rare occurrence on Hawaii races.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Doors at OYC open tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. and the talk starts at 7. As usual, the event is free and open to the general public — Pacific Cup racers are especially welcome — and will feature a no-host bar.

Two More Cases of Narco-on-Narco Violence

As per our promise to keep Latitude readers informed when we learn that there have been violent narco incidents that might even tangentially have affected cruisers south of the border, we have two more reports from the last two weeks, both from the north shore of Banderas Bay.

The first took place one morning about two weeks ago when two gunman shot and killed a rival gang member in front of the La Cruz Salud (Health Clinic), which is just off the main road in La Cruz about 3/4 of a mile from the Marina Riviera Nayarit and about 10 miles from both Nuevo Vallarta and Punta Mita. No innocent bystanders were hurt.

The second incident took place at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, when narco gunmen battled it out with some other narcos in a white Lincoln with California plates in the parking lot of the popular Mega store — similar to Costco — in Bucerias, which is about six miles from La Cruz, six miles from Nuevo Vallarta and about 21 miles from Punta Mita. One man, who had an AK-47 and two grenades, was killed, while another man was shot but managed to get away. Once again, nobody else was hurt, although several other cars and a bank office were hit by bullets.

Mega is a Costco-like box store popular with cruisers and locals alike.

© Webb Logg

While these are again strictly cases of narcos going after other narcos, it’s nonetheless disturbing that they did so in places frequented by the Mexican public and lots of cruisers. We’re not sure how it’s going to affect other cruisers, but Doña de Mallorca tells us, "It was just one of those random things that happens in the States and in Mexico, so when we provision for the Bash later this week, it’s going to be at Mega." But that’s just one opinion from one person.

We haven’t seen reports in the U.S. press on either of these recent incidents. While some people would like us to keep our mouths shut about them because they were strictly narco-on-narco, we feel it’s our journalistic responsibility to report them. And in the interests of full disclosure, we have both strong emotional and financial interests — Doña rents out condos — in the Punta Mita area of Riviera Nayarit.

You can bet your sweet bottom that these incidents are of enormous interest and concern to the Mexican government and the innocent people of Mexico. For one thing, the Riviera Nayarit area has been home to the highest private investment in Mexico in recent years, mainly in luxury hotels, resorts and vacation homes. Secondly, Riviera Nayarit is adjacent to Puerto Vallarta, which is rated by TripAdvisor as the best destination in Mexico and the 9th best beach destination in the world. Thus far Puerto Vallarta has enjoyed a golden reputation when it comes to safety. Since Mexico lives on tourism, it would be economically disastrous if the reputations of the Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta were tarnished.

Remember that Mexico votes for a new President on July 1. The winner will almost certainly be Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party which, up until 12 years ago, ran the country for 71 years. Historically, the PRI has been known for being somewhat corrupt and authoritarian — which a lot of people seem to think might be just what’s needed to end narco violence. We don’t know if that’s true, but Nieto, who appears to have an insurmountable lead, has already said that he, unlike current President Calderón, will not go after the narco trade. His emphasis will be on other kinds of violent crime and general public safety. We wish him luck.

And we’ll keep you informed if there are more incidents.

One of the best things about owning a boat, especially on weekends like this past one, is taking the road less traveled and sailing to a favorite destination.
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How Much and How Complicated [Editor’s Note: This is a long piece and only applicable to those who will be clearing out of Mexico for the States or some other foreign country.]