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“Conduct Unbecoming a Member of St. Francis YC”

We’ve gotten overwhelming reader response to the Wednesday ‘Lectronic report that San Francisco sailor Todd Tholke has had Energy Team’s AC 45 catamaran ‘arrested’ over a salvage claim. The catamaran apparently broke free of her mooring in San Francisco in the wee hours of the calm night of September 30. Tholke spotted it, got his 14-ft Boston Whaler, and by himself towed the cat to Treasure Island. The French thought a little publicity and a ride on their boat in the World Series would be thanks enough. Tholke’s lawyer says his client is thinking more along the lines of $200,000 or more.

The overwhelming Latitude reader response to Tholke’s $200,000 claim has been outrage. A good number of readers wondered why Tholke didn’t simply contact the Coast Guard, who could have easily contacted the America’s Cup folks or the French team, who were certainly better equipped to effect a safe salvage. A good number of readers said that had they been in Tholke’s shoes, they wouldn’t have dreamed of asking anything for towing the wayward cat to safety, that it was a sailor’s obligation, and that they would have been thrilled for the 15 minutes of fame and a ride on the cat. Many others have said that it would make sense if Tholke were compensated along the lines of what it would have cost Vessel Assist to have towed the cat back to port. Only a couple thought $200,000 was a justifiable claim, and one of them only because he thought the legal battle was going to cost the French about that much.

Who is Todd Tholke? As we reported on Wednesday, some time ago he identified himself to the San Francisco Bay Guardian as a street musician who lives on his sailboat. “I work on the docks and I’ve been living aboard my sailboat for fifteen years,” Tholke told the Guardian. “That’s how I supplement my lifestyle as a songwriter and musician in San Francisco. I live on a boat.”

But Tholke also might be the only San Francisco street musician who is also a member of the venerable St. Francis YC, one of the most revered and celebrated yacht clubs in the world. If you think St. Francis members are pleased that a fellow member is demanding $200,000 for the ‘salvage’ of Energy Team, you’d be wrong. Indeed, a very reliable source at the St. Francis YC has told Latitude that a letter is being composed and will be sent to the flag officers of the club asking that Todd Tholke come before the flag officers for "conduct unbecoming a member of the St. Francis Yacht Club."

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