July 24, 2013

Daisy Cutter Finishes Mini Challenge

While the inaugural running of the Mini 650 Pacific Challenge — a race for Mini 6.50s from Marina del Rey to Hawaii — may have gotten off to an inauspicious start, one sailor persevered and finished the course. Belmont’s Sean McGinn aboard the custom 21-ft Zero Daisy Cutter crossed the finish line at Diamond Head yesterday morning after 17d, 1h, 20m, 58s, and became the second person to ever singlehand a Mini to Hawaii. McGinn surely deserves a ticket to an all-you-can-drink mai tai bar after that performance!

The Kiwis Waltz into Louis Vuitton Finals

In Monday’s ‘Lectronic we mistakenly reported that Emirates Team New Zealand, having given the Luna Rossa Italian team a big spanking on Sunday, had gained a spot in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Finals. We jumped the gun, as the Kiwi team didn’t achieve that until yesterday’s thrashing of the hapless Italians.

Luna Rossa got off to a literally rocky start when they doinked their port rudder upon launching their cat at low tide, requiring the rudder be pulled from the boat, taken ashore for repairs, and put back in the boat. The Italians said their boat was 100% read for the start.

Unfortunately, the Italian crew was not 100% ready for the start, as they were 15 seconds late — about a half-hour late in monohull time — getting onto the course. And when they did, the superior Kiwi team gave them their biggest shellacking in three meetings, with a delta of seven minutes.

Yesterdays Louis Vuitton race between ETNZ and Prada couldn’t have been satisfying for either team.

© Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

In the final humiliation, the Italians were given a DNF because they finished so far — five minutes — behind the Kiwis.

This was not a good race for the Italians. This was not a good race for the 34th America’s Cup. We doubt the Kiwis, who said they’ll sail the next two races even though they don’t have to, took much joy from it either.

In more exciting America’s Cup news, if the African Diaspora Maritime sailing team — such as it is — gets a favorable ruling in a legal action in New York City today, there may not be an America’s Cup Final starting on September 7.

“I want justice!” says Charles Kithcart, a 48-year-old former San Franciscan who is now a North Carolina resident and head of the North Carolina-based ‘team’.

After the Golden Gate YC rejected the ADM’s application to compete to be a Defender for the 34th Cup — our understanding is that ADM couldn’t come up with the $25,000 entry fee — ADM sued. Their claim is that had their application been accepted, they could have mobilized $100 million in support from wealthy African Americans anxious to get into the sport. Kithcart argues that the $100 million wasn’t going to start pouring in until after the ADM entry was accepted by the yacht club. Oprah, Jay Z, Michael Jordan, P Diddy and other wealthy African Americans have yet to comment on whether they would have supported Kithcart’s effort.

“There is no merit to the case,” responded Philip Bowman, attorney for the Golden Gate YC.

To the best of Latitude’s knowledge, the ADM doesn’t have a boat, a regular crew that competes in races, or much start-up money. Which is not to say that a legitimate African American entry wouldn’t have injected a little color into this America’s Cup. After all, look what Cool Runnings did for Olympic bobsledding.

ERRATA RE ABOVE: AFRICA DIASPORA MARITIME

In the above article, posted on July 24 we reported that a lawsuit brought by African Disapora Martime against the Golden Gate YC was being heard in New York City. The North Carolina organization claims that the Golden Gate YC illegally refused their application to be allowed to compete against Oracle to be the Defender in the 34th America’s Cup.

In our report we said that the ADM had not been able to come up with the initial $25,000 deposit needed to compete. This was incorrect. The ADM in fact did present the Golden Gate YC with a draft for $25,000, but were still denied entry because the yacht club didn’t believe ADM had the wherewithal to field a competitive entry. We sincerely apologize for the error. Indeed, we had previously reported the facts correctly.

As we wrote on Wednesday, we’re all in favor of a legitimate African-American America’s Cup team. Indeed, we’re in favor of every kind of legitimate America’s Cup team. We’ll leave it up to the courts to decide whether ADM would have been a legitimate entry.

Aldebaran Floats Again

Earlier in the month, we reported on the sad news that Hayden and Fern Brown’s pirate-style 70-ft schooner Aldebaran smashed into the Richmond jetty on July 4. Sausalito’s Parker Diving Service did their best to stabilze the ferrocement boat until the hull could be patched and the boat raised. They accomplished this Herculean task yesterday.

Aldebaran was refloated yesterday morning but her ultimate fate is still unclear.

© Jim Bewley

Unfortunately, water continued to gush into the boat so the salvors tucked her into the mud on nearby Brooks Island. The other monkey wrench in the works is that the Browns can’t find a boatyard that will take her. If you want to help, pop over to Aldebaran‘s GoFundMe page for updates and to donate to the cause.

Deep Trouble for Troubled Kiwi

While the New Zealand America’s Cup team is basking in the glory of an unbroken string of Louis Vuitton Cup wins, one of their countrymen has been making a very different sort of headline.

As reported Monday, New Zealander David McCormick (a dual national who also holds an Irish passport) was arrested on Sunday 2.5 miles outside the Golden Gate by a heavily armed U.S. Coast Guard boarding party. He was charged in U.S. District Court yesterday with making false distress calls, failure to heave to, and assault on a federal officer: When the boarding party moved to cuff him, he reportedly smacked one of the officers several times — always a bad idea.

McCormick’s vessel Fortune was towed to a Coast Guard facility for inspection.

© 2013 CBS San Francisco

The more we learn about this bizarre case, the more we wonder about McCormick’s state of mind. As reported on SFGate today, at roughly 9 a.m. Sunday morning the Coast Guard received a call "from a male voice with an Australian accent saying, ‘Mayday relay, mayday relay, spots overboard, oh he’s over mate and he needs some help. He’s over, um, in the fog somewhere in the Bay, I don’t know where, but I’m trying to search for him so if you boys got a pretty quick boat to whip over here, get over here, jiffy, cheers, buddy, thanks.’" The USCG launched a search-and-rescue helicopter in response, but found no one, and could not confirm the location of the caller. 

Several hours later, however, they heard the same voice stating that the lost shipmate had been found. Soon after, a CG patrol reportedly located McCormick aboard his boat Fortune, which was moored off the Sausalito YC. When confronted, he told the Guardsmen, "This is a peace ship and any attempt to board my vessel is an act of war." He also claimed to have firearms aboard, so the officers reportedly backed off and called for backup. While other assets were en route, McCormick cast off and made for open ocean, apparently thinking he could outrun the Coast Guard vessels which pursued him — another bad idea. 

But there’s more to the story. According to Sausalito YC member Jeff Zarwell, Fortune had been moored on one of the club’s guest buoys for several days, but by Sunday morning some members had become alarmed by the captain’s behavior. Saying something about an America’s Cup protest, McCormick left his dinghy oars on the club dock — apparently on purpose — and hand-paddled out to his boat. Soon after, he was seen tossing several of his own sailbags overboard. That behavior precipitated a call to the Marin County Sheriff, but their boat was unavailable, so the Coasties were alerted. There the two accounts converge. Due to jurisdictional issues, a Sausalito policeman was also involved with the pre-escape confrontation — he arrived at the club carrying a loaded shotgun.

One thing that still remains completely unclear is the nature of McCormick’s AC protest — and how dumping sailbags into the Bay could possibly strengthen his cause. No doubt we’ll hear more about this embattled sailor because — based on the seriousness of the (federal) charges leveled against him — he is likely to remain in the Bay Area long after his Emirates Team New Zealand countrymen have returned to Auckland.

The Dorade crew are the big kahunas in this year’s TransPac. © Trans Pacific YC While a new elapsed-time record wasn’t set, the 47th TransPac has proven to be one of the more interesting and exciting races to Hawaii in years.
A New Zealander who is accused of making false distress calls may have thought he was perpetrating a harmless prank, but we doubt he’ll be laughing if he is convicted.