News & Views

2013 AMERICA'S CUP FINALS: The Writing on the Wall

AC Final Race 5

I was going to blog about the Cup again after watching race 4 on Sunday and planned to cheerfully announce how wrong I was in my last post on the subject. I am an optimist at heart, and I was ready to drink all the Kool-Aid in sight after watching Oracle finally beat Emirates Team New Zealand in a fair fight. I recalled the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees, and how I was chatting with my best Sox buddy right after the Yanks went up three games to zip in the series. "You know what," I said to him, as the marvelous premonition of what was about to happen swept over me. "I think we have them right where we want them."

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SMOKING A BONE: Freighter Full of Hash Burns in the Med

Gold Star fire

This methinks is the denouement of a Cheech and Chong movie that never got made. The facts, predictably, are a bit hazy. The ship, M/V Gold Star, owned by some Syrian guy, flagged in Tanzania, had nine crew on board. They allegedly set fire to something on board the ship Friday night when they were 30 miles north of Malta. The cargo, maybe? Then they jumped overboard.

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DEAD GAL: Ruth Wharram

Wharram and women

Another multihull pioneer bites the dust. Unfortunately, I just received an e-mail this morning from Hanneke Boon, Jim Wharram's design partner, regarding the passing of another of Jim's partners, Ruth Wharram, who crossed the Atlantic and back with Jim and Jutta Schultze-Rohnhof (see photo up top) back in 1955-58 on the catamarans Tangaroa and Rongo. She always played an integral role in the development of Wharram's career and business and was an accomplished ocean sailor.

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UNCONTROLLABLE URGE: Survivors Share Their Story

Uncontrollable Urge dismasted

I have previously opined on the other recent West Coast sailing tragedies (the one America's Cup fatality in May, the four fatalities on Aegean in the Ensenada Race last April, and the five fatalities on Low Speed Chase in the Farallones Race also last April), but have only mentioned in passing the incident aboard the Columbia Carbon 32 Uncontrollable Urge, wherein one crew member, Craig Williams, was killed after the boat lost its rudder and was driven ashore on San Clemente Island during the Islands Race this past March. Just yesterday the four surviving crew published their account of the accident in a joint statement released online. It's worth taking a look at, as it contradicts, implicitly and explicitly, some earlier published accounts.

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ACCUSED CHILD MOLESTER: Wanna-Be Cruising Couple Nabbed With Arsenal On Boat In Miami

Van Gundys

Van Gundy boat

The "cruising dream" can manifest itself in many strange and different ways. Say, for example, you're living in Arizona and are due to appear in court to face 16 counts of messing around sexually with an underage boy. Might be a good time to take a little road trip to Florida with the wife and the dogs and the assault rifles and look for a boat to buy, wouldn't you say?

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DEAD GUY: Dick Newick

Dick Newick

Word has it that Dick Newick, one of the great pioneer multihull designers, passed away on Wednesday night. I met Newick a few years ago here in Portsmouth (he once maintained a home across the river in Kittery Point, Maine) and was struck by a fundamental boat-design axiom of his that he shared with me. There are, he claimed, three desirable characteristics that most clients would like to see in any boat--performance, low cost, and comfort. "You can have any two," he told me. "But you can never have all three."

Pretty much every time I test-sail and review a boat for a magazine I think of that and remember Dick. So far I have yet to find a boat that proves him wrong.

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RICH WILSON: Looking Ahead to the 2016 Vendee Globe

Rich Wilson

I stopped by Maine Yacht Center in Portland earlier this week for a quick visit with Rich Wilson aboard his new Open 60 Great American IV, ex-Mirabaud. Rich, you may recall, became only the second American ever to finish the Vendee Globe back in 2009, at age 58 no less, and is now preparing to compete again in 2016. Once again, the ultimate purpose of Rich's effort will be to build a multi-disciplinary educational program around the voyage and share it with school kids around the world via his non-profit Sites Alive Foundation.

Brian Harris, general manager at Maine Yacht Center, will be helping Rich prep the boat, just as he helped prep Great American III, ex-Solidaires, for the 2008-09 race. "This new boat makes the last one look like a Catalina 36," notes Brian, who in the past has managed shore teams for top IMOCA competitors in Europe.

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LV FINALS RACE 1: Busted Board and MOBs

Is this a harbinger of what's to come? First race yesterday of the Louis Vuitton finals to determine who will challenge Oracle for the America's Cup and the Italians are crippled straight off with a busted daggerboard. The Kiwis, meanwhile, stuff their bows, lose two guys overboard, yet still finish the race.

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FASTNET VICTORS: Father-Son Crew Take Overall Honors

This isn't quite as cool as Dorade winning the Transpac, but it's close. A French Corinthian father-son crew, Pascal and Alexis Loison, sailing Night and Day, a 33-foot JPK 1010, beat out an enormous fleet of 336 boats to become the first doublehanded crew ever to win the Fastnet Race (on corrected time, of course). Not too shabby, considering they were sailing against some biggest, fastest multi- and monohulls on the planet.

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