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Near Miss?

"Please enjoy the attached video of our Franchman Alain Thébault‘s 60-ft foiler l’Hydroptère, the latest flying speed freak on the San Francisco Bay," writes Fredrik Hakanson. "The video was shot from the Blue & Gold ferry Bay Monarch last Friday. Monarch‘s captain, Kit Scow, told me the dead-on collision course and high speed of the overtaking vessel made him ease off on the throttle to let the this thing pass ahead."

l’Hydroptere is not just a protected-waters boat. Damon Hulst, owner of Harbor Marine Works, the boatyard in Santa Barbara, was flying along the coast near Pt. Conception about a month ago when he looked down and asked himself, ‘What the heck is that thing?’ It was l’Hydroptere, which was sailing north to the Bay from Long Beach. Keep in mind, the crew on l’Hydroptere have absolutely no protection from the elements  except that when foiling the helm position on the far end of the main beam is 10 to 15 feet above the surface of the water.

© Damon Hulst

The ‘thing’? l’Hydroptère is not just marvel of technology and one man’s sailing passion, she’s the fastest sailboat in the world. Our assumption is that every man and woman of the sea — which we would hope includes Capt. Scow — feels honored that this great and unusual boat has come to play on the Bay for a few weeks. After all, doesn’t she look marvelous in the video?

It’s also noteworthy that Thébault, l’Hydroptère‘s owner, has graciously welcomed guest after guest aboard for speed runs, to share in the joy he feels about his boat. As previously noted in LatitudeThébault has decided to postpone l’Hydroptère‘s assault on the TransPac record until next year. She’ll be continuing speed runs on San Francisco Bay — we think Thébault and crew love the conditions up here — for a few more weeks, then will winter in Southern California. 

As for Capt. Scow’s having to slow the Monarch down, it seems like a case of proper seamanship to us, as he was under power and not in a restricted channel, and l’Hydroptère was under sail.

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