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June 22, 2012

More America’s Cup News

The fire that destroyed part of Pier 29 was not considered suspicious. No one was injured in the blaze.

© KGO 7

It’s been a big week in America’s Cup news. On Monday, we wrote about the City of San Francisco coughing up $150,000 for a study to see if America’s Cup boats scare birds, plus another $75,000 for the lawyers who filed the suit. On Wednesday, Pier 29 erupted in flames that took 110 firefighters two hours to bring under control. (The AC Event Authority says the fire should have no impact on their plans for the site.) Then yesterday it was revealed that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has purchased 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. You’d think that’s be enough action for one week.

Think again.

In today’s America’s Cup legal news, we’ve got the scoop on African Diaspora Maritime, a North Carolina-based organization "dedicated to getting more African Americans involved in yacht racing." ADM is about to sue the Golden Gate YC in New York Supreme Court, demanding that they be allowed to compete with Oracle to be the Defender.

ADM did put up the initial $25,000 entry fee, but the Golden Gate YC rejected the entry because the organization "lacked the financial wherewithal to compete" and because it smelled like a publicity stunt. President Charles Kithcart admits ADM didn’t and doesn’t have deep pockets, but claims that money isn’t the sole predictor of success on the water. It might not be the sole predictor, but it’s darn close except in small boat one-design racing. On the other side of the coin, the lack of money is a guarantee of failure.

Had the Golden Gate YC accepted the ADM’s entry, Kithcart believes that such a "buzz" would have been created that they would have been able to raise the funds necessary to field a team and build the boats. He feels they could have created the sailing version of the Jamaican bobsled team of the ’88 Olympics, whose experience was used — very loosely — as the basis for the movie Cool Runnings. We’re not sure if Kirthcart appreciates the difference in expense between an Olympic bobsled team and an America’s Cup campaign.

Kithcart believes that, had his group received enough media attention by being named as a Defender, they could have been sailing’s equivalent of the Jamaican bobsled team.

© 2012 Walt Disney Pictures

Personally, we think an African American contender to defend the America’s Cup is a great idea. And lord knows there are plenty of African Americans in the broadcasting and sports fields who could pony up hefty contributions. Oprah is worth $2.7 billion. Jay-Z and Beyonce, who like to hang around the boats in St. Barth, have a combined net worth of nearly a bil. Robert Johnson, the first African-American billionaire, who with his ex-wife Sheila started Black Entertainment Network with $15,000, is worth half a bil. Sheila is worth nearly as much. Sean Diddy Combs, who likes to charter boats for New Year’s in St. Barth is worth half a bil, as are Tiger, Magic Johnson and others. And contributions would probably be accepted from non-African Americans. As the ultimate underdogs, we think the ADM would be fan favorites.

Then again, we think German-American, Irish-American, Italian-American, and British-American entries would be great, too. Raise the dough and let’s go! Is it hard to raise dough for an America’s Cup campaign? Just ask the ghost of Tom Blackaller, as well as Paul Cayard and Dawn Riley, three Northern Californians whose campaigns were all crippled by having less money than some other competitors.

Far be it from us to criticize ADM’s business model, but it seems to us that if their true goal is to integrate yacht racing — as opposed to publicity or legal extortion — they’d be more successful starting with a grass roots program. After all, it’s small boat sailors who become big boat champs. John Kostecki, for example, made a name for himself in Sunfish. Paul Cayard did it in Lasers. Neither one was born to wealth, but by hard work and demonstrating their skill, they reached the pinnacles of yacht racing.

Do we think the current monetary ante for the America’s Cup is too high, and that money is too much of a determinant of success? Absolutely. It’s something we’ve been writing about for ages. We feel the 34th America’s Cup could have been a much bigger, grander and more successful event had it been set up to be raced in 30-knot one-design multihulls with soft sails, which might have made it affordable for 20 entries instead of the few we have now.

Stormy Seas for Latitudes & Attitudes

There is a lot of confusion in the sailing industry about the status of Latitudes & Attitudes, the somewhat counterculture slick sailing magazine started 15 years ago in Redondo Beach by Bob Bitchin (birth name Robert Lipkin) and his wife Jody.

Earlier this week, Bob and Jody sent out a widely distributed email that read: "As many of you know, we sold Latitudes & Attitudes last January and, as part of the sales agreement, we were to work as consultants. Recently we discovered things were not as they should be. Last week we found out from Editor Sue that the July issue of Lats & Atts did not print, although advertisers had been billed. Yesterday morning the offices were locked with the following sign on the door: ‘Offices Closed Until Further Notice.’ Jody and I put our lives into the magazine, TV Show, Events and lifestyle for over 15 years. It is with very heavy hearts that we have to make this announcement."

This was followed by a general email sent out by Heidi Benson, the former ad rep of Latitudes & Attitudes:

"Heidi Benson and Jim Mather are no longer employed with Latitudes & Attitudes magazine, and we are unable to personally reply to any communications after June 19, 2012."

Next up was an addition to Bob and Jody’s original email that read: "If you would like to keep up with our plans to ‘raise from the ashes’, visit our new Facebook page or follow the changes on the website."

Could it be stormy seas ahead for Bob Bitchin and Lats & Atts?

© Latitudes & Attitudes

We asked both Mr. Bitchin and Mr. Doran for comment on the current situation. We haven’t heard back from Mr. Bitchin. But this morning Mr. Doran sent out the following email to a number of people in the industry:

"As you may or may not know, Latitudes & Attitudes has ceased operations until further notice. Mr. Lipkin (Bitchin) has violated the terms of our purchase agreement from almost the beginning, and continues to act with impunity in violation of the agreement. Mr. Lipkin’s blatant disregard for the integrity of our agreement has regrettably forced us to take this action. I cannot comment further due to the impending legal action being contemplated against Mr. Lipkin, but you can be assured that there is a decidedly different version of events, which are supported by facts, other than what is being propagated by Mr. Lipkin."

In an additional note to Latitude, Mr. Doran wrote: "As you may already be able to surmise, there is a lot to this situation that has yet to be revealed. We are currently exploring all of our legal options against Mr. Lipkin for his breach of contract and libel. Unfortunately, the rumor mill is in full force, and there is precious little that can be done at this time to quell it."

Food for Thought

So how much did this delicious meal end up costing us? Read on to find out.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We had 19 responses to last Friday’s ‘Lectronic about how much the lunch special cost last week at the Ikuai Restaurant overlooking the Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz. It featured a big bowl of vegetable soup or two killer shrimp tostadas, plus the fresh grilled dorado entree with rice and veggies, plus a big piece of cheesecake, plus unlimited ice tea or lemonade. With the price in dollars based on the assumption that the exchange rate was 14 pesos to the dollar, the guesses ranged from $4.30 to "$20 to $40 dollars."

The actual price was 99 pesos or $7.07. The closest guess was that of multi-Ha-Ha vet Craig Shaw of the Portland-based Columbia 43 Adios, who guessed 100 pesos per person. "The food looked delicious, and it would be harder to find a better place on the planet to hang out than the Ikuai," wrote Shaw, a rigger. "By the way, my dad Howie, well into his 80s, has had so much fun sailing with me in Mexico on what used to be his boat, that he wants to bring Camelot, his Hunter 54, down on this year’s Ha-Ha. So I’ve got my work cut out for me getting her ready for the season."

We don’t want to give people the wrong idea about the cost of dining out in Mexico, as there are plenty of places that are happy to charge you U.S. prices. This is most often true at places that cater to tourists or are right on the water. But if you ask cruisers, who tend to be a thrifty bunch, they’ll be able to give you a list of very inexpensive places. In many cases cruisers find that it’s less expensive to dine out than to cook aboard. Women love that!

For example, street tacos, which have nothing in common with what you get from the Taco Bell drive through, are often about $1 each, and two to three, which includes all the trimmings and sauces, are usually enough to fill you up. And don’t be afraid to buy from the ladies who pull food items out of coolers that they wheel around. Their offerings are as delicious as they are inexpensive. Our ‘go to’ dinner in Punta Mita? Hands down, it’s the burrito bowl at Cafe Como No, a couple of blocks up from the water. This big bowl of all fresh and healthy ingredients is about $6. Since Jeff and Abdan, a gay couple from Sacramento, don’t have a liquor license, they look the other way if you bring your own bottle of wine — as do almost all places that don’t sell liquor. The cool thing about Cafe Como No is that it’s both beautiful and spotless, and Jeff and Abdan are two of the nicest and friendlist people you’re ever going to meet.

What does food cost at the Costco in P.V.? Here are a few examples: The roasted chickens are $5.34; eight mini heads of romaine lettuce are $4.37; a big box of spinach is $5.15; two cantaloupes are $4.30; a big box of fresh blueberries is also $4.30. Sam’s Club is even less expensive on some items.

On Friday we ran a photo of the new pool at the marina in La Cruz. But if you’re a pool fanatic, you’ll probably want to take a berth at Paradise Village Marina in Nuevo Vallarta, which has no less than four pools. Slip holders have full access to the resorts pools and other amenities. Check out the options:

This is the pool at the original Paradise Tower, and comes complete with a bridge, a waterfall and slide, and a group hot tub in a cave-like setting.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
The newer Paradise Tower has an even bigger pool with longer slides. But it’s often packed with families on week-long vacations, and home to all kinds of activities such as tequila volleyball. Fun, but crowded during the day.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Are you a lap swimmer? Paradise has a great lap pool behind the tennis courts that is quiet and rarely has anyone in it. Perfect for the dedicated swimmer.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Finally, there’s a small pool and nearby group hot tub beneath the Vallarta YC. There’s nothing better after a Banderas Bay Regatta race than for you and your crew to get the salt off by jumping into the little pool and then relaxing the muscles in the hot tub with a cerveza or two.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
There’s a pretty cool story coming out of Bermuda at the end of this year’s just completed 635-mile Newport to Bermuda Race, the really big deal race on the East Coast.
Rescuers have been scouring the small Tongan island of Late, about 30 miles west of Vava’u, over the past few days in search of two Australian sailors whose Bavaria 50 Navillus broke up on a reef off the island last Thursday.