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Spinnaker Cup Is a Go

Ever since a "stand down" order was put into effect by the U.S. Coast Guard several weeks ago, Bay Area offshore racers have been anxiously awaiting word on the status of the annual Spinnaker Cup, slated to begin today. We’re happy to report, it’s a go. First gun for the race, which runs from the Central Bay to Monterey Municipal Wharf, was at 11 a.m. today.

The announcement that the long-established race would be permitted came late yesterday, in combination with the release of preliminary findings of a special investigative panel that was formed in the aftermath of the Low Speed Chase tragedy.

As reported earlier, the panel, which was convened in cooperation with U.S. Sailing, was chaired by Sally Honey and included a brain trust of West Coast luminaries such as John Craig and Jim Corenman. The fact-finding process included input from all Full Crew Farallones racers and analysis of GPS tracks around South Farallon and Maintop Islands. The preliminary recommendations outlined yesterday include: once-a-season safety seminars; enhanced sailor training, including understanding of wave development in shoaling waters; compliance with existing Minimum Equipment Requirements, including post-race inspections; improved communications between race management and sailors and the Coast Guard; and consistency of protocol and requirements for all Bay Area offshore races.

Additional recommendations, plus guidelines for implementing them, are expected to be laid out in the panel’s full report, due to be released sometime in June.

Captain of the Port of San Francisco Cynthia Stowe, who mandated the establishment of a review panel, while making the controversial decision to put a freeze on issuing ocean race permits, seems encouraged by the process thus far. "I am especially pleased with US Sailing’s outreach to the boating community, both by conducting interviews and by briefing the preliminary findings to the newly formed local offshore racing council. The Coast Guard appreciates the tremendous support of the offshore race organizers and sponsoring yacht clubs. It’s the coordination and support from this local community which will ensure we learn all that we can from this tragic loss.”

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Though Hurricane Bud, the first of the Eastern Pacific (Mexico) region, has weakened as it nears shore, it’s still blowing at 100 knots and should make landfall tonight between Manzanillo and Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta).