June 7, 2017

Cupdate: Racecourse Carnage

Team Emirates New Zealand suffered a dramatic wipeout yesterday just before the start of a Semi-Final race against Land Rover BAR — all crew were accounted for and reported safe. Racing has been canceled for today, giving all the teams a chance to lick their wounds.  

Team New Zealand pitchpoled yesterday just shy of the starting line. There were "just a few bruises and cuts . . . and a a fair bit of broken carbon," according to New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling. 

© 2017 ACEA/ Martin-Raget

Bermuda’s Great Sound saw gray, mean-looking conditions with 20-plus-knot gusts and rain yesterday. Every team suffered some kind of minor damage. During the starting sequence of their second race of the day, Land Rover luffed up Team New Zealand and held them head to wind for several long seconds after the gun went off.

Land Rover finally bore away, got to speed and flew across the line; New Zealand followed, instantly popping up on their foils as they came off the wind. But the boat dipped, their bows stabbed the water, and the 49-ft catamaran pitchpoled, slamming the wing into the water and sending three crew flying, while the remaining three Kiwis clung to the cockpit.

Land Rover BAR took a point for the abandoned race. The Brits are down 3 to 1 against New Zealand while SoftBank Team Japan leads Artemis Racing 3 to 1 — the first teams to amass five wins advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals. 

When asked what went wrong in the post-race news conference, New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling politely shrugged his shoulders, said his main concern was that his crew was safe, and said that the team was still analyzing the crash. "You’ve probably got a better understanding of watching it from the outside than we do," he said.

"Team New Zealand was between a rock and a hard place," said former Kiwi America’s Cup skipper Chris Dickson. "They had that incredibly hard bear away maneuver to do through the ‘death zone,’ and they didn’t survive it. It’s not the end of the world." Dickson said, adding, "It might cost Peter Burling a bit of money for pizza for the shore team to work all night."

Yesterday’s highlight reel was a montage of carbon-fiber carnage. Nearly every boat got a little shredded in the breezy conditions, with lightweight fairing peeling off as the catamarans were engulfed in white water.

While the boats of the modern America’s Cup may seem especially fragile, let’s not forget that the 70-ft IACC yachts were also susceptible to heavy seas. In 1995, One Australia sank on a 20-knot day in San Diego. And in 1999, Young America suffered damage to its deck and threatened to go under, but was eventually towed safely back to shore.

In a post-race interview yesterday, Sir Ben Ainslie was asked if he was comfortable sailing in such big breeze. "Umm, to be honest, this is the first time we’ve sailed this boat in this much wind, so we’re learning as we go," he said. "The boats are so twitchy. They have to be perfectly sailed, as you can see. But if you get it right, it’s rewarding."

Has your 2017 America’s Cup experience been rewarding? Are you watching it on TV, on the Internet or your phone (we’ve heard that some people are having difficulty finding it on the NBC Sports Network)?  

And are you enjoying this rendition of the Cup? Who’s your favorite team? Were you skeptical of the new format, but now can’t get enough of foiling cats? Do you like the idea that sailing is reaching a wider audience? Are you still bitter that we’re watching it in Bermuda, rather than seeing it live in San Francisco? Let us know; we’d like to hear from you.   

Save the Icom 802 from the FCC

Is the sailboat-friendly Icom IC-M802 SSB an endangered species?

© Icom

Stan Honey, in addition to being probably the world’s best navigator, is the guy who created the incredible graphics that for the first time in history made sense of the America’s Cup and other races. The Bay Area resident also loves cruising Mexico with his Cal 40 Illusion. Jim Corenman, originally from the Bay Area, is a radio and weather expert who did a circumnavigation with the Schumacher 50 Heart of Gold a number of years ago.

Jim and Stan, who have altruistically given so much to sailing over the years, are the ones who created SailMail, which revolutionized communication for cruisers, particularly when they were far from land. So when they speak, it’s worth listening.

These two members of the pantheon of sailing greats have no commercial interest in Icom radios, but are asking you to help them try to keep the radio legal in the United States. We’ll let them explain:

“The FCC regulations covering HF SSB DSC radios have evolved in such a way so that Icom is no longer permitted to sell the M802 SSB in the United States, which was the only remaining marine SSB available in the United States that is affordable and reasonable to install on a sailboat.

"Icom has requested a waiver from the FCC to allow Icom to continue to sell the M802 until they are able to introduce a new radio that meets the new FCC regulations. The FCC is requesting input from mariners on whether they should grant Icom this waiver.

"Most SailMail members likely already have a SSB, but the SailMail membership is nevertheless uniquely qualified to provide expert input to the FCC on this topic. If you have access to the Internet, and are willing to help, please access the FCC website and submit comments on the question of whether Icom should be permitted to continue to sell the M802.

"Our thoughts are that the M802 is the only remaining marine SSB that is affordable and reasonable to install on a recreational vessel. The M802 implements DSC, which now that the USCG (and most other international SAR authorities) no longer monitor voice channels, is the only reasonable way to summon help in an emergency via an SSB. We recommend that the FCC grant Icom a waiver so that they can continue to sell the M802.

"If you’re willing to help by submitting a comment, go to the FCC website at 
https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs. In the ‘Specify Proceeding’ box, enter ’17-122′ (without the quotation marks). Then press the ‘search’ button at the bottom of the page. When the screen updates you will be able to review comments posted by us and others.

"To submit your own comments, in the box on the left of the screen, press ‘+ Express’ and fill out the form and add your comments. (Or click ‘submit a filing’ at the top. Select ‘standard filing’ to submit a PDF or Word doc file, or ‘Express’ for a brief comment).

"Please submit your comment by June 8.

"Thank you to those of you who are willing to help existing and future small boat users of SSB communications.” Signed Stan Honey, Jim Corenman and Shea Weston.

Shea Weston is an SSB expert who checks Profligate’s SSB radio system prior to the start of each Baja Ha-Ha. He’s probably the most active SSB expert on the West Coast.

Under Your Keel: World Oceans Day

 Some of the best of the sailing life lies below the keel.

© 2017

Tomorrow is World Oceans Day, which also aligns with this week’s UN Conference on the Oceans. June 8 will be a day to remember that some of the best reasons to go cruising — as our November 2014 cover reminds us — are below the keel. As sailors, we’re always in awe of our incredibly beautiful oceans, and how many opportunities for racing, cruising and adventure the sea provides.

We recently saw Chasing Coral, an excellent, sobering documentary reminding us how fragile and threatened the world’s oceans are, and how we as sailors can come to the rescue. Whether it’s taking part in beach cleanups, acting as ‘citizen scientists’, or reducing our environmental impact by selling the house and cars and moving onto a boat, sailors are at the front lines of ocean conservation.   

In addition to the work of individual mariners, big events like the Volvo Ocean Race are also on board. The impact of plastics in the ocean so impacted participants in the last race that organizers dramatically ramped up efforts to expand awareness for the 2017/2018 event, which will start in October. 

Volvo Ocean racers are out there to win a grueling round-the-world challenge. But they’re also taking on the challenge of ocean sustainability. 

© 2017 Volvo Ocean Race

If humanity lived like cruising sailors and were driven by wind power, used less fossil fuels, less water, less energy and less plastic (yes, we know the irony of sailing in fiberglass boats) and had more fun on the ocean, the world’s population would be living far more sustainable lives. June days are long, so how about an evening sail for World Oceans Day on June 8? Send us a photo with the hashtags: #latitude38 #worldoceansday 

BOLO for Sea Nymph

US Coast Guard station Oahu is seeking information on Sea Nymph, a Morgan 45 that had been sailing south from Oahu to the Marquesas, and is now considered long overdue. The blue-hulled vessel was last heard from on May 3, and was reported missing May 19. Our understanding is that Sea Nymph was traveling independently, with two crew aboard.

Meanwhile, some vessels participating in the annual Pacific Puddle Jump are also converging on the Marquesas, and one of that fleet is also long overdue. As reported earlier, singlehander Richard Carr, 71, aboard the Union 36 Celebration, is believed to be in distress. Carr left Puerto Vallarta May 2. His last contact on May 28 located Celebration at 06° 53’N, 127° 35’W, traveling on a course of 247° true at 0.7-1.1 knots.

If you have information on either vessel, please contact the US Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu at (808) 535-3333 or email jrcchonolulu@uscg.mil.

If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit, then you know Jack O’Neill. Any surfer (or dinghy sailor) staying warm in frigid water owes their comfort to the pioneering O’Neill.
Pacific Ocean passagemakers are asked to be on the lookout for singlehander Richard Carr and his 36-ft Union cutter Celebration, which are missing.
A special Study Session of the Alameda City Council will take up the topic of development of Mixed Use sites, including Alameda Marina. A volunteer from Save Alameda’s Working Waterfront believes that "this is the meeting where we should be arguing for more dry-storage space.