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November 19, 2021

Fire Aboard Powerboat Threatens Petaluma Docks

Boaters tied alongside the turning basin docks on the Petaluma River were awakened by a fire aboard a neighboring boat early on Saturday morning. Latitude 38’s newest delivery drivers, Dale Land and Bob Boynton, were docked nearby, relaxing over the Veterans Day weekend, when the incident occurred.

“I heard some commotion and talking on the docks [at] about 4 a.m., heard a muffled explosion, and then looked out and saw the flames,” Bob said, and described the ensuing scene as “a little chaotic.”

According to a report in The Press Democrat, the Petaluma Fire Department was alerted at 4 a.m. and arrived to the boat that was “engulfed in flames.” They were able to put the fire out in about 30 minutes. The boat’s two occupants escaped unharmed.

Despite being in shock and visibly upset, the unnamed occupants told Dale they were from Vallejo and had come up for the weekend to visit friends who live in town. Jim Newhall, a friend of the Latitude drivers-turned-rookie-reporters, was even closer to the blaze, staying aboard his 48-ft powerboat, and snapped some photos of the burning vessel.

Petaluma fire
Firefighters were able to quickly contain the blaze and prevent damage to the dock.
© 2021 Jim Newhall
Burned out boat
The Press Democrat reported that “authorities did not believe boat fuel had spilled into the water,” and that “agents from the United States Fish and Wildlife Department and the US Coast Guard were evaluating the environmental hazards Saturday morning.”
© 2021 Dale Land
A typically picturesque Petaluma River evening preceded the calamity of the following early morning. On the right is the powerboat as she looked prior to the fire. Nearby, from right to left are Jim’s powerboat, a Westsail 32, Bob’s S&S-designed Yankee 30 SeaWitch, then Dale’s Beneteau 361 3rd Encore.
© 2021 Jim Newhall

The burned boat was docked in front of the River Front Café.

Has Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson Been Bitten by the Boating Bug?  

For those of you who love boating and basketball in equal measure, we are happy to report that the Golden State Warriors are well represented on San Francisco Bay.

“You can’t have a bad day when you’re on [a] boat,” Klay Thompson was quoted as saying in the New York Times article about his newfound love for boating. “Finally nearing a return to the court for the Golden State Warriors after missing the past two seasons because of injuries, Thompson has found a new hobby that has been especially therapeutic. ‘It’s been so good for my mental health,’ said Thompson.”

The Times added, “Thompson said he could see himself getting into sailing.”

‘Kaptain’ Klay Thompson posted this photo on his Instagram in early November. We’re not sure whose fine-looking, Warriors-blue sailboat this is, but it looks as if a good day on the Bay was about to be had.

Klay Thompson, the Warriors’ all-star shooting guard, suffered a torn ACL in the 2019 NBA finals, followed by a torn Achilles tendon. For the last few years, he’s been spending long, grueling days in rehab. “He knew he needed something to take his mind off his troubles,” the Times wrote. “He needed a boat. It was not until [he] was injured that he was motivated enough to invest in a full-fledged watercraft.” Thompson bought one of those zippy Axopars from yacht broker Kenyon Martin of Seattle Yachts.

Thompson aboard his Axopar just south of the Bay Bridge.

“I loved her lines so much,” Thompson said in the Times, adding that it was several months before he felt confident enough to take out the boat by himself. “To be able to do a hobby that felt refreshing to me and see the world in a different way, it was a dream come true.”

“The ocean and free diving and spear fishing and boating bring me joy,” Thompson said in the New York Times, “second only to winning basketball games, really.”

The Times continued: “‘I fell in love with all the little things, whether it’s navigating, cleaning her, tidying her up — all the stuff you would never think of when driving a car.’ Thompson is well aware that he often refers to his boat as if it were a living, breathing person. ‘I know. That’s how much I respect her.'”

Klay Thompson grew up in Southern California, but was not the product of a “family of boaters,” according to the Times. “But he has always enjoyed the ocean. He finds the water peaceful and calming.” The Times also quoted Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, who said of Klay’s boating, “Being on the water is a safe space for him. He’s outside, and he has that freedom to go wherever he wants to go out there.”

We look forward to seeing Klay Thompson back on the court and out on the Bay — and hope to cross tacks with him on a sailboat some day. And sorry, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Trailblazers and Supersonics fans, but we also look forward to watching the Warriors continue their red-hot streak.

This story has been updated.

Transat Jacques Vabre and Mini Transat Update

Doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre in the Home Stretch

After more than 12 days of racing in the 15th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre from France to the Caribbean, the top boats in each division are now entering the home stretch of what has turned into a long and grueling doublehanded race across the Atlantic. With a complicated weather scenario, this hasn’t been a ‘fast’ trade-wind jaunt where the crews just set the big sails and knock out miles, but rather a prolonged and arduous campaign of sail changes, constant maneuvers, and trimming. The relatively light and mild conditions of the race have, however, served to keep the fleets close and the boat failures to a relative minimum, despite a handful of high-profile dismastings earlier in the race.

Ultime Trimaran Division

At the head of the fleet in the Ultime trimaran division — the fastest boats in the race and also sailing the longest course — Franck Cammas and Charlies Caudrelier on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have been in control of the five-boat fleet since the start. Despite the recent arrivals of François Gabart’s brand-new SVR Lazartigue and Armel le Cléac’h’s new Banque Populaire XI, the two Volvo Ocean Race-winning skippers Cammas and Caudrelier have only further continued their recent reign of dominance. Currently, Armel le Cléac’h and co-skipper Kevin Escoffier on Banque Populaire XI are in second place, while François Gabart and co-skipper Tom Laperche on SVR Lazartigue are in third.

IMOCA 60 Fleet

The 22-boat IMOCA 60 fleet has evolved into a three-way battle for the lead among Apivia, Charal and LinkedOut, with Thomas Ruyant and Morgan Lagraviére on LinkedOut currently leading the pack. Apivia and Charal are hot on their heels. American Charlie Enright and co-skipper Pascal Bidegorry on 11th Hour Racing’s new IMOCA 60 Malama are sailing in sixth place in the fleet. Recent Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven and his yacht Maitre Coq IV are currently in ninth place.

11th Hour Racing
11th Hour Racing co-skipper Pascal Bidegorry analyzes the weather in the fully-enclosed cockpit of the IMOCA fleet’s newest member, Malama, sponsored by 11th Hour Racing.
© 2021 Charlie Enright / 11th Hour Racing

Ocean Fifty Trimarans

Sailing the same ‘medium’-distance course as the IMOCAs is the recently rebranded Ocean Fifty trimaran class. The multi-talented Sébastian Rogues and Matthieu Souben lead the class onboard Primonial, while pre-race favorites Erwan le Roux and Xavier Macaire are right behind but with a bit of leverage. English sailor Sam Goodchild and Aymeric Chappellier on Leyton continue to remain in contention in third place. It’s another very solid performance for Goodchild’s Leyton team, as the English skipper continues to cement his position as the top up-and-coming ‘non-French’ sailor in this very French sport.

Class 40 Fleet

Antoine Carpentier and Spaniard Pablo Santurde del Arco on Redman are still sitting atop the Class 40 fleet after an impressive comeback following the light-air fiasco during the early stages of the race. Sailing a much shorter and more direct route toward the finish in Martinique than the bigger and faster classes, much of the Class 40 fleet is jibing through the turning mark in the Cape Verde islands as this article posts. There is a nice north-south split among the fleet and a lot of race track left — it’s still a wide-open race for the impressively large 45-boat Class 40 fleet. Bay Area sailor Alex Mehran, the only American sailing in the Class 40 division, remains in 35th place sailing with the famed naval architect Merfyn Owen.

Prysmian from the air
Several of the IMOCAs and Ocean Fifty trimarans were spotted by a helicopter from race partner Marine Nationale, offering a rare perspective for this doublehanded race with no onboard media reporter. In this photo, Giancarlo Pedote’s Prysmian Group is looking flash with their A2 spinnaker up.
© 2021 Marine Nationale

Singlehanded Mini Transat Draws to a Close

A two-race transatlantic epic that started in late September in western France has now drawn to a close at the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Pierre le Roy and his powerhouse Teamwork were first into Guadeloupe by about 16 hours and went on to win the overall victory by a shade over 14 hours. Tanguy Bouroullec and his innovative Pogo Foiler finished third, while Californian Jay Thompson and his self-built foiling boat Cocotopia came home in an impressive ninth overall. Thompson never quite had the stars align in his favor for him to showcase his true potential. Frenchman Hugo Dhallenne put on a dominant display in Leg 2 to claim the overall race victory in the 65-boat Series division, while Italian Alberto Riva took home second. Leg 1 winner Melwin Fink of Germany rounded out the podium.

Mini Transat finish
The last finisher in the Mini Transat race was 66-year-old Pierre Meilhat, who finished the Mini Transat 28 years after his first participation in the race, in which he dismasted and did not finish. Meilhat’s son is none other than IMOCA 60 superstar Paul Meilhat, who is currently battling for the lead in the Transat Jacques Vabre onboard Apivia.
© 2021 Vincent Olivaud / Mini Transat EuroChef 2021


America’s Cup 37 Protocol Announced

With the release of the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup by Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Britannia we have learned a lot and really very little at the same time.

America’s Cup 37 Venue Still Unknown

There are several eye-popping changes, and yet the biggest question of all has been put off until March of next year, and that is: Where will the next America’s Cup be held?

Timeline graphic
The timeline for AC37.
© 2021 America's Cup 37

The reality is that with boat design, logistics and — most importantly — fundraising, little can be done until the interested teams, like American Magic and Prada Pirelli, know where the venue is going to be.

We’ve heard that Cork, Ireland; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Valencia, Spain, are in the mix. And of course Auckland, New Zealand, which has generated a fair bit of controversy by the suggestion that anywhere but a home defense is even contemplated.

In the breaking-news department, Richard Gladwell of Sail-World reports that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is going to take up the issue of a home defense to hold a Special General Meeting to consider amending the club rules requiring “that the America’s Cup shall always be defended in the waters adjacent to the City of Auckland.”

Protocol Released

The Protocol sets the foundations and rules of participation for all teams in the 37th America’s Cup and records the items of mutual consent under the America’s Cup Deed of Gift (DoG) agreed upon between the Defender and the Challenger of Record (CoR), which establishes the basis for a multi-challenger event.

Ratcliffe and Ainslie
INEOS Britannia Team principals Sir James Ratcliffe and Sir Ben Ainslie represent the Challenger of Record, the Royal Yacht Squadron Limited.
© 2021 Graham Ella / INEOS

“As CoR, we have sought with the Defender, ETNZ, to make the next America’s Cup less expensive and more inclusive,” said Sir Ben Ainslie, CEO of INEOS Britannia. “The Protocol this time around will see reduced team operating costs without compromising any of the technical development which the Cup is so famous for.

“There is an opportunity for change, so for AC37 we will see the first Women’s America’s Cup Regatta, and we also welcome back the Youth America’s Cup.”

AC75 Class Rule

An updated ‘Version 2’ of the AC75 Class Rule has been released as well. The new AC37 Protocol includes:

  • Teams are only permitted to build one new AC75.
    • The AC75 class of boat will be maintained for the next two events.
    • Limitations on the quantity of foils and componentry that can be built for the AC75s.
  • Race crew onboard the AC75 reduced from 11 to 8 sailors.
    • More one-design elements.
    • Shared team reconnaissance.
    • Supplied starting software.
    • Introduction of the multipurpose One Design AC40 class that teams will be able to convert and use for testing, component development and match-race training.
    • AC40 class will then be converted back to the measured One Design AC40 class for use in the exciting new America’s Cup Women’s Regatta and America’s Cup Youth events. These events have been developed to create new accelerated inclusive pathways into the America’s Cup for the growing global talent pool of female and youth sailors.
boats graphic
The AC40 and AC75 designs.
© 2021 America's Cup 37

The Women and Children

Recent National Sailing Hall of Fame inductee and America’s Cup legend and pioneer Dawn Riley weighed in on the new Women’s America’s Cup, saying, “On the positive, they are trying to do something. From what I read it seems like someone said, ‘Quick we have to do something to help those “women and children”. We’ll just say we are and figure out the details in a couple of years.’

“On its face, separate but equal is not a thing,” said Riley, who was part of the 1995 all-women’s America’s Cup team and the CEO of America True in 2000. “And yes, SailGP [Women’s Participation Program] and The Ocean Race are much better solutions.”

AC40 rendering
The multipurpose One Design AC40 class, which teams will be able to convert and use for testing, and which then will be remeasured for the new America’s Cup Women’s Regatta and America’s Cup Youth events.
© 2021 America's Cup 37

Nationality Rule

The Crew Nationality Rule will require 100% of the race crew for each competitor either to be a passport holder of the country of the team’s yacht club as of March 17, 2021, or to have been physically present in that country (or, acting on behalf of such yacht club in Auckland, the venue of the AC36 Events) for 18 months of the previous three years prior to March 17, 2021.

As an exception to this requirement, there will be a discretionary provision allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from ‘Emerging Nations’. Enter Alinghi?

Clean Support Boats

As part of the ongoing drive for innovation and new clean technology in the America’s Cup, it is now a mandated obligation of all teams to build and operate two hydrogen-powered foiling chase boats for their campaign (subject to proof of concept).

Foiling chase boat
The new prototype hydrogen-powered foiling chase boat, which will have a dramatic effect on the reduction of the teams’ carbon footprints.
© 2021 ETNZ / AC37

“A significant proportion of teams’ carbon footprints is in their on-water operations, through their long days of testing, development and training,” said Grant Dalton, CEO of both ETNZ and AC37. “So, for the past year we have been researching, designing, and are now building a prototype hydrogen-powered foiling chase boat which will have a dramatic effect on the reduction of the teams’ carbon footprints, as well as pushing the development of hydrogen in the marine sector.”

Cross section of chase boat
A view of the innards of the proposed hydrogen-powered chase boat design.
© 2021 ETNZ / AC37

I didn’t think the team had any money — skipper Peter Burling and helmsman Blair Tuke remain unsigned — but, wow, those boats don’t look cheap.

Mark’s Take

Even the British feel that Dalton is dragging his feet on the venue selection process and they, like the rest of us, are waiting with bated breath to get on with it.

“Rules” without a venue is generally a joke. My question is: How is hosting the event outside New Zealand going to help ETNZ raise money for their ‘Defense’?

The potential host is going to have to raise hundreds of millions of dollars just to create an infrastructure for the venue, which may take years for approvals and construction.

Auckland is the only realistic option. Dalton needs to choose to run either the event or the team. He can’t do both. He should concentrate on what he’s good at, which is running ETNZ.

There seems to be confusion that the venue selection is ETNZ’s decision to make. It is not! It is the purview of the ‘yacht club’, the acting Defender/Trustees. Not its racing team. That is where the potential legal action may come from and, in a way, is long overdue.

Cruising with Whales
The weather was perfect: 75 degrees, plenty of sunshine, and light, variable breeze, though we did have to head offshore to find enough to fill the sails.
Sharing Sailors' Stories
John Taussig is a paramedic, USCG 50-Ton Master License holder, adventure sailor, and executive director for Backcountry Medical Guides. He’s been an EMT and paramedic professional for 20 years and is a lifelong sailor.
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