April 1, 2015

April Fools?

A photo from the good old days of America’s Cup racing, back in 2013.

© 2015 Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

Is it a week-long April Fool’s hoax or simply business as usual at the America’s Cup Event Authority? You be the judge.

In a press release suspiciously dated April 1, the ACEA announced that, "The America’s Cup teams have agreed to make changes aimed at significantly reducing costs for the 2017 America’s Cup." Actually, four out of the six teams agreed. "Central to these changes is the introduction of an exciting new America’s Cup Class — a wing-sailed, foiling catamaran between 45 and 50 feet… A majority of the current teams favored the new class."

The teams in favor of jettisoning the protocol for the AC62 are Defender Oracle Team USA and Challengers Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing, and Team France.

"The changes being made are to reduce the current costs and complexity which are barriers to new teams wishing to enter the America’s Cup," said Iain Percy, the British team manager for the Swedish Artemis Racing. This move could encourage one or two more teams to sign up, but it could prompt one or two other teams to drop out.

Luna Rossa had this to say about today’s announcement: "Team Luna Rossa Challenge is distinctly opposed to the proposal to change the Class Rule for the 35th America’s Cup and therefore the boat that was previously accepted by all challengers on June 5th 2014. Luna Rossa does not believe that a sporting event should be disputed in a courtroom and does not intend to initiate a lengthy litigation process that would only bring prejudice to the event.

"If the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected, Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup. Team Luna Rossa trusts that the Defender will quickly announce a public clarification, also to avoid jeopardizing the organization of the America’s Cup World Series – Cagliari – Sardinia event planned to take place from June 4 to June 7, 2015."

Team Luna Rossa spent two months over the winter in two-boat training with their AC45s Swordfish and Piranha in Cagliari, Italy. The boats are now back in the shop for more mods.

© 2015 Carlo Borlenghi / Luna Rossa Challenge

Apparently the same majority has also now indicated a preference that all of the racing in 2017 be conducted at a single venue, Bermuda. Which brings us to New Zealand. Or, apparently, not. Auckland was to host the America’s Cup Qualifiers. ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton said, "Emirates Team New Zealand have filed an application to the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel in the belief that ACEA has breached their signed agreement and protocol obligations by discarding Auckland." Pending resolution of that issue, ETNZ is still in the game.

Show Boat Abandoned off Monterey

With Strictly Sail Pacific only a week away, several new vessels have been, or are currently being, delivered to the Bay Area from distant ports. Sadly, one of them will be late to the party: a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 55 that was slated to make its West Coast debut at the show.

Although some details are still sketchy, while the big sloop was northbound Friday afternoon, roughly 17 miles off the Central California coast and 60 miles south of Monterey, the two-man delivery crew found eight inches of water in the bilge, and the level was rising rapidly. They reported having "performed all of the water-tight protocols" but could not find the source of what they perceived to be incoming water, so they decided to call in a mayday to the Coast Guard at about 4:40 p.m. Conditions were rough, with 20- to 25-knot winds and 6- to 8-ft seas.

CG vessels were sent out from both Station Monterey and Station Morro Bay, and Air Station San Francisco dispatched a rescue helicopter whose crew hoisted the delivery crew to safety without further incident at about 6:40 p.m. 

There’s more good news, which will hopefully lead to a happy ending. Although the Coast Guard initially reported that, "The sailboat was not salvageable due to the amount of flooding," the luxurious Beneteau evidently did not sink. Late Sunday afternoon, it was spotted by a fishing vessel whose crew recorded its coordinates. Passage Yachts, the long-established Bay Area yacht sales business that had planned to display the boat at Strictly Sail, is currently implementing a plan to retrieve the brand new sailboat.

April Issue Hits the Docks

The Strictly Sail Pacific planner is bound into the April issue.

latitude/Annie
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It ain’t heavy, it’s the April issue of Latitude 38. But actually, it is pretty heavy because it’s our big boat show issue, and it includes the glossy Strictly Sail Pacific guide bound right in for your convenience. And our hard-working delivery drivers are risking hernias to get the overstuffed bundles to our Bay Area distributors today. To find yours, check out our freshly updated list of distributors. The digital editions will be posted early this afternoon.

The Exploits of Jim DeWitt

A portrait of the artist.

© Jim DeWitt

Racer and artist extraordinaire Jim DeWitt will speak tonight at Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. DeWitt’s sailing exploits have included the Mallory Cup in 1963, first in the International Master’s Regatta in 1992, and second in the Master Mariners Regatta in 2003. He was named Artist in Residence by Golden Gate YC, host of the historic 34th America’s Cup. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. It’s free, but RSVP at www.cyc.org or call Ellen at (415) 435-4771.

Dongfeng Race Team’s mast broke above the third spreader — the top section of the mast — during the night.
In an official statement last week from America’s Cup 35 organizers, it was announced that the 2017 competition will likely be sailed in much smaller boats than previously anticipated, in order to "dramatically reduce team operational costs, primarily by racing in a smaller boat." Oracle Team USA training on its new foiling AC45S in San Francisco on February 18, 2015.