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July 9, 2014

Singlehanded TransPac Update

The Singlehanded TransPac is again moving into high(er) gear, as much-welcomed wind pressure has developed, giving the 14 skippers an emotional boost. Now into the last third of the race, the fleet is compressing.

Only 55 miles separate the top four boats vying for line honors, with Peter Heiberg’s P/J 49 Scaramouche V leading the pack. Close behind are Al Germain’s Wyliecat 30 Bandicoot, Joe Balderrama’s Express 27 Archimedes, and Steve Hodges’ Islander 36 Frolic. Having taken a flyer to the north a few days ago, previous fleet leader Rick Elkin’s Custom Wylie 39 Lightspeed is making her move.

Yesterday Nathalie Criou on the Express 27 Elise noted that the swell is confused. She was approximately 850 miles from Hanalei Bay at the time. Nonetheless, she’s now making excellent headway, sometimes being "able to surf to 14 knots under spinnaker and 12 knots under the double headsail." Unfortunately there are also waves coming from other directions, so she’s been forced to hand steer the boat as her Autohelm can’t always handle the conditions.

The only recent damage reported is from Przemyslaw Karwasiecki on the Mini 6.5 meter Libra. "In Monday’s pre-dawn squall I broke a guy supporting my bowsprit," he notes. "I will try to fix it somehow, but I won’t be able to do it while carrying the spinnaker, so I will have to slow down."

Bandicoot, only 540 miles from Hanalei, leads the race on corrected time, with Frolic and Archimedes not far behind. Follow the latest developments here.

Pacific Cup Weather Winners and Losers

The Pacific Cup weather looks as if it will be . . . well, interesting.

Passage Weather
©2014Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Boats in the first two starts of the Pacific Cup — Sunday and Monday — have been enjoying reasonably good ‘get away from the coast’ conditions so far. Not so for the three divisions that started yesterday, which are dying not far off the normally breezy California coast.

But as the accompanying Passage Weather forecast for Friday shows, things aren’t looking too promising for the two multihulls that start on Thursday, or the big boats that start on Friday. On the other hand, the lucky-so-far earlier two divisions are soon to hit a massive area of light air, just as strong breezes reach those who haven’t had any wind luck so far. Look for big changes in the standings, so it should be interesting.

Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole(l), Gary Troxel’s Beneteau 423 Tiki Blue (m) and Erik Hopper’s J/105 Free Bowl of Soup in Tuesday’s Weems & Plath Division B start off St. Francis YC.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Currently the lead boat in the Sunday starting fleet is Michael Chobotov’s Jeanneau 49 Venture, some 1,500 miles from the finish. She’s moving at 7.8 knots and is leading the Holo Holo Cruising Division on corrected time.

Jim Quanci and Mary Lovely, Monday starters with their venerable Cal 40 Green Buffalo, are leading the ‘Iwi Doublehanded Division and are third overall. They recently reported doing 7.8 knots.

Another Cal 40, Rodney Pimentel’s Azure, is currently leading the Alaska Airlines PHRF division, with yet another Cal 40, Victoria Lessley’s California Girl, right on Azure’s tail.

We’re not sure how Overall Corrected Time is being figured in this Pacific Cup, but it shows Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole first in Class, first in PHRF and first Overall — even thought she’s stuck near the coast reporting half a knot of boat speed. 

But as we mentioned, the Tuesday starters, including the Kolea Doublehanded boats, which are among the biggest threats for Pacific Cup honors, are dying. They’re going to have to make up a lot of time to be competitive.

For more details, visit the Pacific Cup website.


Yacht, Google Executive, Prostitute, Heroin Overdose

If you’re looking for a catchy news item, the four elements listed above make a pretty good start, which is why the arrest of 26-year old Alix Tichelman of Folsom, characterized as a "high-priced call girl," is making news in print and digits all over the world.

According to Santa Cruz Police, surveillance video from the Santa Cruz-berthed 50-ft yacht Escape show that last November Tichelman, who is originally from Georgia, injected 51-year-old Google executive Timothy Hayes with what proved to be an overdose of heroin. It would seem that act was consensual, but Tichelman casually sipping wine as opposed to getting help for Hayes when he obviously began to overdose was not.

Santa Cruz Police had difficulty solving the case for two reasons. First, Tichelman did a good job of covering her tracks, and second, Escape’s captain reportedly had not come forward with the surveillance videos because of the lurid nature of the case. Once police got the video and were able to identify Tichelman, they were able to lure her to back to Santa Cruz with the promise of a lucrative Fourth of July gig at a high-end hotel. She is being held on $1.5 million bail and was to be arraigned today.

Hayes, who lived in Santa Cruz for years, had worked for tech giants Sun Microsystems and Apple before joining Google. He is survived by a wife of 17 years and five kids. Despite the circumstances of his passing, an obituary provided by his family described him "above all as a loving husband and father," "who more than anything enjoyed spending time with his family at home and on his boat."

Chicago Got the Lucas Museum But Not the Cup

Have hard-bargaining Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison painted themselves into a corner?

You have to wonder, as yesterday it was announced that Chicago has been dropped as a possible site for the 35th America’s Cup. That means only two options remain: San Diego and Bermuda.

San Diego is a wonderful city that has hosted numerous America’s Cups before, and if the Cup is held off ‘America’s Finest City’ the racing would be inside San Diego Bay as opposed to far from land and the view of spectators as in previous Cups. But come on, San Diego is well-known for light- to very light-air sailing. Nobody is going to be hitting 45 knots on San Diego Bay, not even with the new 62-ft cats. And weren’t unprecedented raw speed and danger two of the elements that made the Cup on San Francisco Bay so attractive?

Bermuda? A British Overseas Territory located 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina, Bermuda has a pleasant climate and a long sailing tradition. And it would be the first time the Cup was held in a country where a majority of the citizens were black. On the other hand, it’s in the middle of nowhere, anything but cosmopolitan, and so crowded that car ownership is limited to one per household.

Before the start of the Finals on San Francisco Bay, the 34th America’s Cup had been a complete fiasco. Thanks to balls-to-the-wall competitive sailing between Oracle and the Kiwis on windy San Francisco Bay, plus Oracle’s ‘greatest comeback in the history of sport,’ Coutts and Ellison managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat. It looks to us as if they’re going to have to be even greater magicians this time around.