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July 23, 2012

l’Hydroptere Day Sail – Fast, Wet & Wild

“So, how’s my driving?” During a test sail over the weekend with Jacques Vincent at the helm, the edgy ‘flying fish’ hydroplanes off Long Beach Harbor.

© 2012 Dave Cort

Here in the Bay Area daysailors have been dazzled lately by the sight of AC 45 cats blasting past them at speeds normally achieved by cigarette boats. But down in L.A., the coolest craft on the water is the ‘flying’ trimaran l’Hydroptere.

Over the weekend, our friend Dave Cort, current commodore of TransPac YC, got some firsthand insights on the mechanics of this revolutionary boat, and how fast she can move, even in relatively light air. "We tooled around the harbor while they checked a few things out, then went over to Catalina and back. Very fast, wet ride! About an hour for the trip over, from the Long Beach entrance to the Isthmus (at Catalina).

There’s no warm, cozy pilothouse, or biminis or spray dodgers on this speed machine. When sailing aboard l’Hydroptere you know the ride will be wet – and will get your adrenaline pumping.

© 2012 Dave Cort

"The boat is pretty damn fascinating, acceleration is amazing, and the sudden stops occasionally are pretty amazing also! Checked out most of the inventory, had a really nice day, pretty warm, wind started out around 18, wound up about 12 as we came back in to Long Beach harbor.
"We will be taking their time at the start, as we did for de Kersauson and Geronimo in 2005. The WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council) has redefined their ‘Transpac’ course a bit, which means we will be timing from shore at the Pt. Fermin lighthouse. Current thinking is they will not head out before the 27th or so. There is a nice enough weather window starting the 23rd but it’s probably too early for them to be ready."

The sight of l’Hydroptere screaming along in open ocean gives new meaning to the exclamation, “Smokin’!”

© 2012 l’Hydroptere

Nice perk for all of Dave’s hard work as commodore. If any boat can beat Geronimo‘s time (4d, 19h, 31m), this could be it. If you see her flying toward you, either inshore or offshore, don’t even think about crossing her bows!

State Parks Debacle

Late last week, the Sacramento Bee broke the news that the Department of Parks and Recreation — the same department that state legislators want to absorb the highly efficient and boater-funded Department of Boating and Waterways — has been sitting on a $54 million surplus that dates back as far as 12 years. Despite the threat of massive parks closures, the department has had in its coffers a veritable fortune that it’s failed to report. The Attorney General’s office is investigating, and a full audit is planned, but already Director Ruth Coleman has resigned over the matter, and Chief Deputy Michael Harris has been fired. While Coleman says she had no knowledge of the surplus, she accepted responsibility for the oversight, writing in her resignation letter, "I am personally appalled to learn that our documents were not accurate." At this point, it doesn’t appear any money was stolen, so it’s unclear if the situation was caused by an accounting error or if there was some motive for hiding the funds. Close on the heels of this revelation, the Bee also exposed an unauthorized secret vacation buyout program that cost taxpayers more than $271,000.

Unfortunately, the surplus is just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to fund the apparently dysfunctional department. So while the 70 parks that were targeted for closure — including China Camp State Park, a favorite of San Francisco Bay boaters — were given a reprieve last month, grassroot groups working to keep the various parks operational aren’t counting on the found money to help them in their efforts. "Working with the Parks’ Marin District, we are proceeding with our plans to operate China Camp," noted yesterday’s press release from the Friends of China Camp. "The park is open daily, and we will expand and improve services and programs for park users. We need your support as much ever in these uncertain times."

Gold Coast Australia Wins Clipper Race

After 51 weeks of ocean racing Gold Coast Australia took first place on Sunday in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. Visit Finland finished in second, while a battle towards the end saw Singapore beat Dutch entry De Lage Landen to the finish by a mere 20 seconds for the third and final podium position.

Event founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world, led a parade of sail in Southampton Water to welcome back the fleet of 10 identical 68-ft racing yachts.

Southampton celebrates the arrival of all ten Clipper Race yachts after the completion of their circumnavigation on Sunday.

© 2012 onEdition

The Tasmanian skipper of GCA, Richard Hewson, enthused, “It has been an amazing adventure. From the start we’ve had plans to dominate the race and we’ve definitely done that. It was very competitive and we’ve been racing against some fantastic tough competition all the way. We’ve achieved so much more than we set out to achieve."

Richard Hewson and the crew of that unstoppable force, Gold Coast Australia, celebrated their victory.

© 2012 onEdition

"This experience has been absolutely fantastic," said Jim Cole of San Francisco, crew on New York. "I have loved every minute of this journey and, other than a little broken finger 700 miles off the shore of Ireland, it has been an incredible experience, especially for someone 72 years of age!” New York, the only American-sponsored boat, finished seventh.

The fleet received a warm welcome this April when they visited Oakland, one of 15 cities on their route around the world. Recruiting is well underway for crew aboard 12 new 70-footers for Clipper 13-14. See

Kiwis Launch First AC72

Now just a year away, ‘the big show’ — America’s Cup 34 — will be raced in San Francisco Bay on the most radical boats ever used in Cup combat. And the first one of them has just come out of the box: Emirates Team New Zealand launched their first AC72 wingsail catamaran in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour on Saturday with a crowd estimated at 6,000 on hand to share in the celebration.

With the launch of Emirates Team New Zealand’s 72-footer the excitement is building in Kiwiland – and it will continue to do so until this time next year.

© 2012 Richard Gladwell

While New Zealand has stolen the spotlight temporarily, we can almost feel the excitement building here in the Bay, as the word on the docks is that Oracle Team USA will launch their first 72-footer here as early as next month. We can hardly wait!

In other AC 34 news, we’ll remind you that longtime A-Cup insider Tom Ehman, currently Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate YC, will give a talk Wednesday at the Corinthian YC titled: "AC34 Cupdate: The World Sets Sail for San Francisco." If you’re an A-Cup aficionado you won’t want to miss it:

Again, it’s this Wednesday, July 25th. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the no-host bar, with the presentation at 7 p.m. And it’s free! Online RSVP requested or call 415-435-4771.

“I’m almost free,” exults Justin Jenkins on the bow of Ichiban. It may be incongruous to have a boat with a Japanese name and Jamaican colors for trim, but why not be different?
Last November, the formerly Sausalito-based Island Packet 380 Triple Stars was abandoned by Rob Anderson during the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) after his wife Jan, 59, was swept overboard when a massive wave broke on the boat.
Sailing and flying are normally considered to be two totally different modes of travel, but not in the case of the revolutionary l’Hydroptere DCNS, which is currently poised to challenge the L.A.