On April 17 we reported that the Lafitte 44 Ocean Bound and her crew had been missing at sea for around 10 days. Kerry O’Brien, Frank O’Brien and William Gross left Mazatlán, Mexico, for San Diego on April 4, with a planned stop at Cabo San Lucas on April 6, to check in and reprovision. When Ocean Bound missed her check-in and had not been heard from, the crew’s families alerted the US Coast Guard and appealed to the community for news of the missing boat.
Responders spent many days planning and executing search grids and monitoring communications, to no avail. There has been no sight of, or signal from, Ocean Bound since the reported cell phone “pings” on April 4 that were believed to be calls from the vessel to marinas in Cabo San Lucas. “All calls were short and it’s presumed they were trying to make slip/ball reservations. Based on the short calls they were unsuccessful,” Melissa Spicuzza of San Diego wrote in a Facebook post asking for the sailing community’s help.
On April 21 we shared the news that the search for Ocean Bound had been suspended. Mariners, both at sea and on land, have continued to keep watch and maintain hope that the sailors will be found in good health. Meanwhile, their families have had to come to terms with the situation and have published the following statement.
“The families of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien, and Frank O’Brien humbly and gratefully thank everyone involved in the search of our loved ones including but not limited to: Commander Gregory Higgins, District 11 command chief for his unwavering support of our families in this intensely difficult time. We feel as though you’ve become a part of our family and our hearts will always be with you. Everyone at District 11 has given us a level of compassion, kindness and professionalism that is unparalleled to anything we’ve ever experienced. To the men and women serving District 11, Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-27 Spartan aircraft, Coast Guard Cutter Active, and Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms we will forever feel indebted to [you] kind souls who protect the citizens of this country who journey into the oceans here and abroad. The call of the ocean and the call to serve requires a special individual, we thank you for being that person.
“To those serving in the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) Kerry, Frank and William are not citizens of your country and you searched hundreds of thousands of miles of ocean and shoreline to find them and Ocean Bound inside your waters. We are truly humbled and thankful that you treated our family as your own. To those men and women aboard the SEMAR 47-foot Motor Lifeboats, 33-foot Response Boat, SEMAR naval vessels, and Air King 350ER, thank you for providing such an extensive search. Your loyalty, pride and service to the citizens of Mexico and those visiting your famously beautiful cities are blessed to have you protecting her waters.
“To the men and women of the Canadian naval vessel, HMCS Edmonton. Sailors hear the call and sailors respond. Hearing of your efforts to lend a hand in the search of Frank, Kerry and William was awe inspiring, thank you for your service of the citizens of Canada and thank you from these humbled citizens of America.
“Knowing that our family members have been part of a multinational search is not something we take for granted, it shows the kind of commitment and cooperation we all will praise in the years to come. Thank you to all who serve their countries at sea, on shore and abroad.
“The official search for Ocean Bound has been suspended at this time. Although this was devastating news for our families, we support the decision of SEMAR and the USCG. The search was exhaustive, heavily saturated in the Sea of Cortez between Mazatlán, Cabo [San] Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. No evidence of Ocean Bound or her crew have been found thus far. The waters and ports along the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula have been contacted, searched and reported in repeatedly. We understand that the search could not go on forever and the ocean is a big place. We feel confident in the efforts of all agencies and even though we haven’t found Ocean Bound or her crew we can seek solace in that they have done everything anyone could do to find them.
“To the community of sailors of all vessels who’ve searched, reported, reached out, shared and posted to aid in the search of Ocean Bound, Kerry, Frank and William, we know your search will not end. Those with salty air in our lungs and hearts will never stop hearing the call to keep a sharp lookout.
“As stated by the USCG we wholeheartedly support and encourage the use of a sail plan and an EPIRB when you sail or motor away from home. We do not in any way want the story of us and Ocean Bound to discourage anyone from setting sail into the unknown. The world is vast and beautiful and worth the risk of exploration. It’s magical on the ocean, wind in your hair and salt spray on your face. The vastness reminds you of how small one person is, it’s freeing to be with nature in that regard. We would only add: take a satellite phone.
“We, the Gross and O’Brien families request that this be our final message to the media and the public, barring any major developments in the story. We thank you for your dedication to getting our story out there, the message has been spread far beyond our small corner of the world. Ocean Bound and her crew are missing, but they will not be forgotten.”
This week on Good Jibes, host John Arndt is joined by Jim Antrim to chat about his fulfilling lifetime of naval architecture. Jim founded Antrim Associates in 1979 and boasts one of the most diverse design portfolios in the industry, including boats that have set speed records and some of the most innovative boats on the planet.
Hear how to become a naval architect, about sailing and design lessons from Jim’s mentors, how to test and perfect new boat designs, about his most fun races to Hawaii, and why sailing is such a wonderful thing to do.
This episode covers everything from naval architecture to the Transpac. Here’s a small sample:
- What gave Jim the idea of being a naval architect?
- How big a crew will he take on the Transpac?
- What did he learn from his mentors Dick Carter, Britton Chance, and Gary Mull?
- How common is it to use carbon?
- What’s on the drawing board now?
- How have boats evolved over the years?
- What’s Jim’s favorite Bay Area race?
- Short Tacks: Why should people sail?
Learn more about Jim at https://www.antrimdesign.com/.
Check out the episode and show notes below for much more detail.
This episode is brought to you by SailGP. Don’t miss the SailGP Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco on May 6-7, 2023. Get tickets at https://sailgp.com/races/season-3/united-states-sail-grand-prix-san-francisco/overview/.
Over 20 boats braved 30+ knot winds to participate in the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet on Sunday, April 23. This was the 50th anniversary of the annual festival, which usually marks the opening of salmon season (sadly, salmon season has been canceled this year). Decorated boats motored up the channel, and upon their return to the marina, were blessed by local clergy.
Aboard their Beneteau 423, EJ Flyer, Janice Dahms and Evan Gomberg of Occidental were the only sailors in the parade this year — the strong winds kept their colorful pennants flying proudly!
This is the first year since 2008 that the salmon season has been closed for both recreational and commercial salmon fishing. Despite this year’s heavy rains, the low fish stock is caused by the prior eight years of drought. The Golden State Salmon Association is doing what it can, but for now, nature just needs time to recover.
It’s never happened before and is unlikely to happen again anytime soon. Chris Poole (USA) and Riptide Racing, winners of the 58th Long Beach Yacht Club Congressional Cup, sailed a perfect series, winning all 24 of their races in one of the most prestigious match-racing events in the world. Chris and his crew were lined up against 10 of the world’s top-ranked match-racing teams and never lost a match. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, nobody has ever won the Congressional Cup in such a commanding fashion. Jeppe Borch (DEN) finished second, Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL) third.
“I’m still in disbelief that we sailed the perfect regatta: I don’t think it gets any better than that,” said Poole, who claimed victory in his fifth attempt at the Congressional Cup trophy. “To be a part of the winner’s circle of this event, at this club, is an incredible honor. It’s the only Grade One in the US, and one of the most historic match races in the world.”
Sailing with Poole, under the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club burgee, were Matt Cornwell, Luke Payne, Malcolm Parker, Bernardo Freitas, and tactician Joachim Aschenbrenner.
World Sailing ranks Poole as the number-one match-racing skipper in the world. But a Congressional Cup title has evaded him in a decade of trying. Poole first arrived at LBYC in 2013, finishing seventh in the Ficker Cup. He was remembered by some as an over-eager, even abrasive, 24-year-old. “When he first came to LBYC he would yell and scream at everybody,” chuckled Bob Piercy, chairman of the 2023 Congressional Cup. “I’ve watched Chris mature over the years to where he is now: so polite, cool and collected. It’s been a treat to watch that evolve.”
“And this whole season, almost everywhere he went, he seemed to be coming out on top,” Piercy added. “As the 2022 winner of the Grand Slam series his was my first invitation to the 2023 Congressional Cup. I got the letter out that evening. My only regret was I didn’t get to hand it to him in person. And now this result: It’s amazing!”
In fact, Long Beach Yacht Club and Congressional Cup take some pride in Poole’s metamorphosis. This event is more family and fraternity than callous rivalry. “I’ve definitely enjoyed this journey, from my first Ficker Cup 10 years ago,” Poole said. “And 2019 was a pivotal year for me, a big shift and a big evolution, and that has kept progressing.” Finishing third in 2022, he vowed to return to “finish what they started last year,” adding, “I would love to have a Crimson Blazer [an icon similar to the green jacket at The Masters].”
Donning that sport coat at the prize-giving to a standing ovation, Poole choked up. “To sail a perfect regatta, and at this event, is truly a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s a humbling experience.“
At this high level of competition, it’s nearly unheard-of to have one team dominate the entire event. “This was just a phenomenal effort by Chris Poole and Riptide Racing,” said James Pleasance, executive director of the World Match Racing Tour. “He’s been working on this tour a number of years and done a load of events, getting better and better. I’m so pleased for him to get a win of a tour event, in his home country, and one as prestigious as the Congressional Cup. And to go undefeated the whole way through is a testament to his work, his crew’s work, and everything he’s put into this: the effort and time and travel. What an amazing achievement!”
For the final match-up it was Chris Poole against Denmark’s Jeppe Borch. Poole and Borch’s matches started fiery as well. Within seconds of entering the box Poole had a protest on Borch. Spinnakers up and down, picking their way through the spectator fleet … Poole was off the line precisely with Borch astern. Poole took the first match with seeming ease.
In the second match Borch returned the favor, delivering Poole a penalty in the prestart. It was immaterial. Riptide Racing was smoother, faster, higher, from pole to pole. Between races the teams had even swapped boats — a custom fleet of Catalina 37s — to guarantee evenness. Poole dispensed swift justice in all three matches to take the victory in the final.
“It’s been a great week for us, and the boys have showed they can really be at the top level of the sport,” said 25-year-old Borch, whose second-place finish in his second Congressional Cup appearance was impressive. “Chris Poole and his team were amazing: They had the speed, they had the tactics, and we just didn’t have an answer for them today. But that’s why we’re here, to get beaten sometimes so we can learn a thing or two and then we can come back stronger.”
Third-place Egnot-Johnson declared, “What an amazing feeling it is to make it on the podium! This has been a most amazing week for us; we are so stoked to be here.”
“I’ve felt spoiled, honestly spoiled, during my time at LBYC,” said Megan Thomson (NZL), whose second-place finish in Ficker Cup qualified her for Congressional Cup. “Seriously, I’ve had a blast!”
“LBYC has been fantastic as usual,” added Poole. “Everyone loves to race here: The conditions are phenomenal and the hospitality, parties, are second to none. We have never come here and not had a great time.”
1. USA Chris Poole, Matt Cornwell, Luke Payne, Malcolm Parker, Bernardo Freitas, Joachim Aschenbrenner
2. DEN Jeppe Borch, Sebastian Pieters, Gustav Wantzin, August La Cour, Matias Rossing, Thor Malthe Andersen
3. NZL Nick Egnot-Johnson, Alex Higby, Bradley Mclaughlin, Sam Barnett, Alastair Gifford, Zak Merton
4. GBR Ian Williams, Paul Willcox, Jon Gundersen, Richard Sydenham, Matthew Cassidy, Craig Monk
5. SUI Eric Monnin, Ute Monnin-Wagner, Simon Brügger, Julien Falxa, Lukas Gerig, Nick Zeltner, Mathieu Renault
6. AUS Harry Price, Niall Morrow, Harry Hall, Connor Mashlan, Joshua Wijohn, Taylor Balogh
7. NZL Megan Thomson, Daniel Pegg, Steve Flam, Max Mayol, Collin Mulry, Max Brennan
8. SWE Johnie Berntsson, Robert Skarp, Anders Dahlsjo, Herman Andersson, Patrik Sturesson, Martin Berntsson
9. USA Christopher Weis, Richard Van der Weyde, Alex Burrow, Sidney Gathrid, Dylan Finestone, Roberto Stevens, Haydon Stapleton
10. USA Dave Hood, Chris Main, Garth Ellingham, Steve Natvig, Samuel Gilmour, Harrison West
You know what really floats our boat? Clean California waterways. Next time your vessel’s septic tank is running on full, find your nearest pumpout station with the Pumpout Nav app. Download it for free today. http://www.boatcalifornia.com/