About Kimball Livingston

Kimball Livingston is a former senior editor, and now editor-at-large, for SAIL. His work also has appeared in Sailing World, Cruising World, Soundings, and more. Over three years, Kimball sailed the Centennial Transpacific, Centennial Newport-Bermuda, and 100th Chicago-Mac. His blog posts appear courtesy of his website www.KimballLivingston.com.

Wishes & Dollars, Whither AC?

Shedding more light on why a city in Italy, or Spain, or Rhode Island, or California, might want to host the next America’s Cup, the office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today released the long-awaiting results of their economic impact report on what America’s Cup 34 could mean to the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’m on the road and don’t have time to parse the details, but the document speaks for itself. What’s even more important is a gathering momentum of believers.

When Larry Ellison’s big trimaran won the Cup in February, the follow-on was euphoria for the win, mixed with a wearing skepticism that the City and County and citizens of San Francisco could ever pull together to pay it off. What you see above could have passed for the collective image of San Francisco’s chances.

But the chances were never that. They’re not that now. I’ve been preaching that what supporters of AC-N-SF need most is to convince a skeptical public that we can pull this off, and at last I’m sensing a turnaround.

We can pull this off. It’s going to be difficult, and disruptive, and very cool.


Report finds economic impacts of America’s Cup could total $1.4 billion and create 8,840 jobs.

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the release of a report commissioned by the City describing the economic impacts if San Francisco is named host of the 34th America’s Cup match. The America’s Cup is the world’s third-largest sporting competition, after the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.

“Securing hosting rights to the America’s Cup is a prestigious and economically significant prize for any community,” said Mayor Newsom. “I am committed to the defense of the America’s Cup in San Francisco.”

The report, titled The America’s Cup: Economic Impacts of a Match on San Francisco Bay, was prepared by The Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI) and Beacon Economics. It provides estimates of the economic impact of an America’s Cup match on the San Francisco Bay. The analysis of economic impacts is based on prior America’s Cups, specifically Valencia, Spain, which hosted the 32nd and 33rd America’s Cup regattas in 2007 and 2010, and evaluates direct quantifiable benefits which are unique to the venue of San Francisco Bay.

The report found that the increase in overall economic activity in San Francisco hosting the 34th America’s Cup could be on the order of $1.4 billion, almost three times the estimated impact of hosting the Super Bowl ($300-$500 million). Additional taxes alone to the City’s General Fund are expected to net more than $13 million, based on more than $24 million in revenue, and an estimated $11 million in tourism related costs. The potential increase in employment surrounding the event could be on the order of 8,840 jobs.

“Bringing the 34th America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay would be a huge boon for the Bay Area economy,” said Bay Area Council Economic Institute President & CEO Sean Randolph. “The America’s Cup could easily help jumpstart the economy by generating over a billion dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs for the Bay Area. The spillover effect for the region could be substantial.”

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and his BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup on February 14, 2010, on behalf of the Golden Gate Yacht Club. The club and team are working closely to select the next racing location. They recently announced that San Francisco will be the sole U.S. city under consideration for the next match, scheduled for either 2013 or 2014.

Additional highlights from The America’s Cup: Economic Impacts of a Match on San Francisco Bay include:

· The economic benefits of bringing the America’s Cup to San Francisco would come primarily through expenditures by racing syndicates, and through spending on hotels, restaurants, and retail and other services by both domestic and overseas visitors and Bay Area residents.
· The economic benefits of the race will extend to the greater Bay Area, particularly the neighboring counties of Napa, Sonoma, Marin, and Alameda through related visitor and maritime activity.
· This increase in output and employment would likely yield a benefit to the state and local government coffers of nearly $85 million.
· Looking beyond the Bay Area, California’s economy would see increased economic activity of $1.4 billion and the U.S. economy as a whole would see increased economic activity of $1.9 billion and support an increased creation of 11,978 jobs.
· A local successful defense of the America’s Cup will likely lead to additional such events in the future. San Diego, for example, was the host to three successive America’s Cups in 1988, 1992, and 1995.

San Francisco’s America’s Cup effort has enjoyed generous donations of expertise and resources. The same is true for the report as it was funded by donations from Catholic Healthcare West, Clear Channel Outdoor, Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction, Port of San Francisco, Recology, San Francisco International Airport/San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, United Airlines, and URS Corporation.

Summary of key indicators from BACEI/Beacon’s America’s Cup Economic Impact Report:

The America’s Cup is the world’s greatest sailing competition and the oldest active trophy in international sports, with a history extending back to 1851. And it is the world’s third-largest sporting competition, after the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.

The economics benefits of bringing the America’s Cup to San Francisco would come primarily through expenditures by racing syndicates, and through spending on hotels, restaurants, and retail and other services by both domestic and overseas visitors and Bay Area residents.

Analysis of economic impacts from prior America’s Cups, specifically Valencia 2007 serves as starting point for this analysis. This analysis makes a number of assumptions: the infrastructure costs and spending will be several billion dollars less (Valencia built a massive marina and channel, hotels, transit etc); spectator attendance will be considerably larger (SF is already an established international destination and amphitheater allows for better viewing); the media’s presence will be larger (broadcasting the races is likely to be significantly more desirable for the international media); the presence of super yachts will be smaller (SF not a tradition super yacht destination due to weather and Pacific location).

Increase in economic activity in SF/Northern California of $1.4 billion. This is three times the estimated impact of hosting the Super Bowl ($300-$500 million)

The increase in employment resulting from preparing for and hosting the 34th America’s Cup is on the order of 8,840 jobs. (The jobs will be widely distributed across occupations – food care and serving –related occupations benefit the most, accounting for nearly 25% of all jobs created; and average annual wage for the jobs created is $59,724 – this is substantially below the average wage in San Francisco of $75,000.

This increase in output and employment would likely yield a benefit to the state and local government coffers of nearly $85 million.

Additional taxes alone to the City’s General Fund are expected to net more than $13 million, based on more than $24 million in new tax revenues and an estimated $11 million in tourism related costs.

The economic benefits of the race will extend to the greater Bay Area, particularly the neighboring counties of Napa, Sonoma, Marin, and Alameda through related visitor and maritime activity.

These estimates are consciously conservative and evaluate economics impacts for which there is factual basis and which would be unique to the venue of SF Bay – the impacts are focused on direct quantifiable benefits as opposed to more indirect benefits.

A local successful defense of the America’s Cup will likely lead to additional such events in the future. San Diego, for example, was the host to three successive America’s Cups, in 1988, 1992, and 1995.

[Editor's note: Three successful matches on San Francisco Bay is optimistic. Then again, Rhode Island Sound had quite a run . . . ]

UK Olympians Lead on Fluff, Too

Britain, already a leader in funding Olympic athletes to live and train as professionals, has made a move to sneak ahead on style points as well.

Hard to say whether Stella McCartney would have achieved rank in the fashion industry if she had started out with a different last name, but she is where and what she is, and this announcement

—which should be read breathlessly, I’m ever so sure—

became un-embargoed in the wee hours of Wednesday. Of course, in 2008, Team USA was styled by Ralph, who is no pushover.

(I’m on the road; have time for hasty jottings only and no doubt this qualifies; hope I haven’t wasted your time; I’ll be back soon)

The announcement:

adidas, Official Sportswear Partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, today announces the appointment of leading British fashion designer Stella McCartney as Creative Director for its adidas Team GB ranges, overseeing the design of both athlete kit and fan wear for the adidas brand.

For the first time in the history of the Summer Games, the deal will see a top fashion designer work with a leading sports brand to design competition wear for both the national Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

adidas, which has designed and provided performance enhancing kit to Team GB since 1984, approached McCartney about the role of Creative Director to ensure that British athletes at London 2012 don’t just have the best performance kit but the most stylish too. As a result, adidas will continue to develop the most innovative technical products available with the creative design input of a British fashion icon.

Sports fans can now get in on the act as well with a special adidas Team GB lifestyle range designed exclusively by Stella McCartney. The range will launch in autumn 2010 and will incorporate both women’s and menswear collections.

This appointment is a new development for McCartney who already designs a women’s sports-inspired performance range for the brand – adidas by Stella McCartney.

Tulloch Wins Match Racing Title

Some days you really enjoy opening the Inbox.

Today, for example, I find this from Genny Tulloch . . .

We just finished up four days of racing in Sheboygan, WI where we won the 2010 US Women’s Match Racing Championship and defended our title from last year! In addition to being our national championship, this was an important event for us because it gave us a chance to get racing experience in Sonars in preparation for the World Championship this September, and the win qualified us to represent the United States in the 2011 ISAF Nations Cup in Sheboygan next September. Our team for this event was Genny Tulloch, Alice Manard, Karina Shelton, and Lindsay Bartel. The competition included Sally Barkow, Katy Lovell, Maegan Ruhlman, and several top collegiate sailors and recent grads that are relatively new to match racing but already showing a lot of potential.

The conditions in Sheboygan were less than ideal for the first three days of racing, with fog, light air, and thunderstorms hampering the racing effort. Although the race committee did a very admirable job of getting in as many races as possible, we were only able to complete one and a half round robins in the first three days. We had some close matches in the round robins and used that time to work on our teamwork and communication since we had never sailed together as a team. We went 10-1 in the round robins, with our only loss to Sally Barkow and her team in the first round. That put us in second place after the first stage, and put us up against Stephanie Roble’s team in the semifinals.

Fortunately the conditions for the semis and finals on Sunday were much more cooperative! The breeze started out at about 3-6 knots with pretty big shifts and puffs across the course. We had a close prestart in our first semifinal match against Steph’s team, but managed to pull ahead on the first beat and stayed ahead to the finish. In the second race, we led them around most of the course and were about 4 boat lengths ahead half way down the last leg. A big wind shift and an error on our part brought them right back into the race, and they were able to roll over us right at the finish line to take the race. It was a tough one to lose, but we were ready to take them on again for the last semifinal match. In the third race we executed our prestart strategy well, and led them off the line and around the course to advance to the finals against Sally’s team.


The finals were first to 3 points, and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought series no matter what. The breeze was up to about 5-8 knots for our first race, but was still pretty shifty. We got a penalty in the prestart, but managed to win the boat and get the right side of the course, which is what we wanted. We rounded the windward mark ahead and maintained our lead on the run, which left us on the final beat, ahead but with a penalty outstanding against us. We covered Sally out to the right side of the course and managed to gain just enough lead that we were able to spin our penalty turn on the starboard layline and still barely lead her into the windward mark. We held onto our lead down the final run to go up 1-0.

During the boat swap the breeze started building, and by the start of the second race was up to 10-12 knots. In both the second and third races, we trailed off the starting line and Sally was able to use her upwind speed in the steadier and windier conditions to stay ahead of us around the course. That put us down 1-2 and in a must-win situation for the fourth race. In race four we came off the line fairly even, but Sally was able to get just out to the right of us and had a one boatlength lead at the windward mark. We managed to close the gap down the run and ended up to leeward of them on starboard heading out toward the layline. Just before the layline we did a double-gybe; Sally meanwhile gybed to port and we had to avoid her, which ended up earning a penalty for her. We took her past the layline and then led around the leeward mark. We maintained our lead up the next beat and stayed just ahead of her on the final run to take the fourth race and bring the score to 2-2.

With 10 minutes to spare before the deadline for racing to end, the race committee started up race five of the finals. We wanted the right side of the course and executed our pre-start strategy well to end up with a split start with us on port tack at the boat and Sally on starboard mid-line. The upwind leg was a drag race out to the right side of the course, and we were able to be bow out just enough that she couldn’t leebow us on the starboard tack layline. We led out of the windward mark by a boatlength, but Sally’s team was able to pull up to us and overlap us to leeward as we approached the leeward mark. But they held us up past their proper course, earning another penalty, and we were able to round the leeward mark just barely ahead. On the final beat we again protected the right side and led by half a boatlength at the windward mark. With a penalty outstanding against them, we were in a strong position and were able to gybe to starboard at the layline to the finish and take the win. It was an exciting series and we were thrilled to come away with the win!

We’d like to thank Sail Sheboygan and the Sheboygan Yacht Club for putting on a great event, our housing hosts Mike and Stephanie Larson, the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, Kaenon Polarized; and Gu.

AC-N-SF: Do You Believe?

One hurdle to staging the next America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay is the locals’ expectation that we’ll F it up, given the opportunity. There’s still room for that, but there is no excuse.

I get two things from today’s announcement by BMW Oracle Racing that, “San Francisco has put forward a strong, well-rounded venue proposal, and is now the only city in the USA under consideration to host the 34th America’s Cup match.”
1) Larry Ellison still wants to stage AC 34 on his home waters, in front of Golden Gate Yacht Club, in a natural arena with camera-pleasing vistas and a crowd-accommodating shoreline.
2) If the city can’t get its act together, there are other places that can.

Substitute wing-sailed trimarans into this picture, and you have a very good look for a 21st century America’s Cup . . .

Today’s announcement follows close on the heels of the BMW Oracle Racing tour of the East Coast, where the team was received at the White House and feted in Newport, Rhode Island, former home and would-be future home to Cup competition. Rhode Island wanted this thing in a big way. The implied threat now of an American defense in European waters, as the only alternative to San Francisco Bay, comes as one hell of a statement. That flutter about “500 million euros and a city in Italy” has never quite washed away.

While Newport bid for the Cup match itself, the California cities of Long Beach and San Diego each started out by supporting San Francisco as the venue, while seeking to host pre-regattas (there could be as many as six pre-events each year, starting in 2011). The relevant committees in those cities were informed yesterday of the team’s decision, with Russell Coutts telling them that San Francisco’s bid:

“Includes city-front facilities, extensive investment in infrastructure, and significant sponsor financial support — to say nothing of San Francisco’s strong reliable breeze and a natural racing ‘arena’ which should make for excellent TV.

“There are, however, equally strong offers from at least two European countries, and by ‘countries’ I mean these are national bids. [Spain and Italy, probably: Ed.] To compete with these foreign bids, we need now to let San Francisco ‘nationalize’ their bid so they can pursue support from Sacramento and Washington, DC.”

So, not a done deal. But if Larry Ellison wants to secure his place in history, he will find a way to defend the America’s Cup in American waters.

And San Francisco wants the America’s Cup. And San Francisco needs the Cup. And I’m a believer in making it happen. Once upon a time this was a vibrant commercial port known as Frisco, with longshoremen swarming the docks, onloading and offloading cargo for all of the American West. The city long ago forfeited that heritage and went boutique, letting the shipping industry move to Oakland as it containerized, and leaving the piers to crumble. Tour the San Francisco Embarcadero today and you will find redeveloped piers north of the Bay Bridge (restaurants, entertainment, rides) and other piers south of the bridge rotting away. There’s no other plan for them, and no other likely opportunity to make a redevelopment pay off. This is not a good look . . .

When it could be much more like Valencia ‘07 . . .

BMW Oracle also sent out an aerial view showing a tip of Pier 50 and its proximity to AT&T Park, already a place where baseball fans are accustomed to seeing views of sailboats and the occasional sailing race. Pier 50 is close enough to downtown to draw crowds but sufficiently removed from the hubbub of bridge traffic on the Embarcadero to make excellent sense, and I take this as a strong hint that it is the preferred location for an America’s Cup Village. Pier 50 shows up at the bottom of the image . . .

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office promises to release an economic study next week, appraising the impact of an America’s Cup here, including construction jobs and increased tourism. Part of the value is the long cycle. There will be pre-events, and the racing teams will be in their bases at least a year ahead of the America’s Cup match. Then follow several months of competition, all of it beamed to the world. How much was it worth to the city to have The Streets of San Francisco filmed here?

Valencia spent something close to 150 million euros on the 2007 Cup and claimed a return of 685 million euros, or about $1 billion US. Ellison claims there can be an even bigger boost to the economy of Northern California. And unlike Valencia, which ponied up something like half its total cost just to be named as the venue, San Francisco is not being asked for front money. The cost of infrastructure—shoreside access and one base per team; probably about an acre per—will have to come from somewhere, but the event itself is offered as a gift.

Below are some views of the BMW Oracle base in Valencia, still the team headquarters pending a final venue announcement. There is public interactive space on the ground level, with offices on the middle floor and hospitality suites at the top. Sponsoring companies use these bases for relationship marketing, hosting their best employees, best customers, and best prospects in an atmosphere unlike any other. I’ve let these images get separated from their credit lines, but I’m pretty sure they’re all from Gilles Martin-Raget/BOR . . .

A reliable seabreeze, supporting on-time starts and good television, is one factor that Ellison has cited in favor of San Francisco Bay. I note that the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii has been staging daily starts since Monday, all on time, all with breeze.

(Until those poor suckers got offshore, but that’s a different story. AC 34 will be sailed inside San Francisco Bay, where there’s been wind all week, even under a gloomy marine layer 2000 feet thick. The story on the ocean has been grim, however, with boats struggling along on 60-mile days and 70-mile days. Sea Reine, a Beneteau 34, turned around today, citing work schedules that don’t harmonize with a creepy-crawly start to a passage of 2,120 miles. Per the event’s web site, “Today’s report shows many boats posting 100-mile or better performances.” And that’s the good news, contrasting with previous. A couple of boats, including the Cal 40, Green Buffalo, are even north of their beginning latitude, never a good sign when you’re on your way from California to any port in Hawaii, which in this case is Hanalei Bay, Oahu. Along the way, the going gets good. It’s getting away from the coast that’s ugly, as charted by passageweather.com.


To advance the City’s campaign the Mayor has commissioned an economic impact study that will be released next week that will illustrate the significant financial benefits to the local, state and federal economies should San Francisco secure the host city rights.

The Mayor is also forming a national America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC) to marshal the private and corporate support necessary to win the campaign.

Additionally, the City has already secured significant local support including resolutions, adopted unanimously from: the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Port Commission, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the Recreation and Parks Commission, as well as letters of support from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Water Emergency Transportation Agency, San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, Port of Oakland, the San francisco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and San Francisco Airport, among others.

The City and its partners are eager to work with Golden Gate Yacht Club and the BMW ORACLE Racing team to finalize the proposed racing facilities on the land and water. Working with the State and federal governments the City will secure the necessary approvals and commitments to meet the team’s stated deadline of selecting the 34th America’s Cup venue by the end of 2010.

The 34th America’s Cup match will take place in either 2013 or 2014, depending on the final venue, with pre-regattas
beginning next year.

Normal to Not Be Normal

Jeff Lebesch (left) and Adrian Johnson, first and second finishers in the Singlehanded Transpac. © Kathe Hashimoto Photography

No matter where you go in the world it’s “never like this” when they switch the weather on.

So it goes with distance events as well. The 2010 edition of the Singlehanded Transpac has been slow going much of the time, with difficult seas and opposing sets kicked up by distant storms. A thirteen-day crossing is certainly not the best-possible time for a 54-foot trimaran, but that was the reality for Jeff Lebesch’s Hecla, first to finish over the July 4 weekend.

Hecla had no direct competition over the course, officially measured at 2,120 miles from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The next two finishers were 30-foot monohulls—Adrian Johnson’s Olson 30 and Ronnie Simpson’s borrowed Jutson 30—and the remainders of the 14-boat fleet will be filtering in as the week goes by.

There is incentive to hurry. The awards dinner is Friday, and Hanalei Bay looks like this . . .

© Kathe Hashimoto Photography

This race has nothing in common with the big budgets or big sponsorships of Atlantic singlehanding. This is grass roots, run-what-you-brung sailing, a rite of passage for those with the calling or, for a few, just another bad habit. For example, The General, meaning Ken Roper, US Army (ret.) who is on his 11th Singlehanded Transpac (as ever, announced as his last).

A.J. Goldman is racing a no-frills Cascade 36, Second Verse, in his first crossing, and every day is a discovery. He writes: “Today I changed strategy. I decided to stop running dead downwind and instead run about 25 degrees up. Because I can’t get my VMG above 5 knots no matter what I do. If I run dead downwind, I go 5 knots. If I heat up, I go 6.7 knots over the ground, which makes my VMG—5 knots!

“Fine. The motion of the boat is way better if I’m not sailing DDW. Doing 30-degree rolls all day (not an exaggeration) is just short of torture. And the possibility of an accidental gybe goes down. I’ve already had two of those, one pretty bad. Dave on Saraband broke his boom last night from an accidental gybe.”

Fourth to finish, late Monday, was Max Crittenden on Solar Wind. As he describes his ride, “Solar Wind is my second boat, a Martin 32 built in 1980 in the Vancouver, BC area. It’s a great sailing boat that affords ‘many opportunities’ for creative maintenance and detail design enhancements.”

The thing about the Singlehanded Transpac is that, sure, any and every ocean race represents somebody’s dream but this one is a deeper reach, a bigger ask, a more compelling statement than most any other. That is, how many of us have ever told a boss, a spouse, the people you’ve known since high school, I’m going to race my boat across an ocean all by my sweet self.

Which is probably why the Singlehanded Transpac also brings out the best in people surrounding the participants. The tradition, as photographed by Kathe Hashimoto, is that all gather “under the tree.”

He doesn’t know it, but George (“the 2010 Single-Handed Transpac is my Mount Everest”) Lythcott will not be greeted by the one or two family members he has been led to expect. No, the welcoming party is going to look like this, but a lot more jumpy and feelie in the moment. They just haven’t told him . . .

Photo courtesy Julie Lythcott

Lythcott is sailing an Express 27, Taz!!. On Day 17, he wrote, “I was hand-steering last night about 3 am. The sky was mesmerizing. The moon was behind some clouds, but through the open spaces I could see thousands and thousands of stars and the haze of the Milky Way against the black background. I was lost in the thought of being out in the middle of the Pacific alone, and as I looked straight up I saw an area where there were no stars. Hey. Then I realized I was looking at a black cloud. I looked for the edges, and it was massive, tracking behind me. Probably the size of Manhattan. I went below quickly and suited up. Foul weather pants and jacket, life jacket, harness and hat. I tethered myself as I stepped into the cockpit and all hell broke loose. The wind went from 14 knots to easily 25, and changed directions by 180 degrees. It started to rain heavily. The sails started banging around and the auto-pilot, now confused, shut down. I took the helm and started sorting things out. First, the #1, which was back-winded and poled out on the port side. Luckily, instead of breaking, the pole de-telescoped. I pegged the tiller, went forward, and took the pole down. The sail was now just flapping loudly. Next, deal with the main. Back at the helm, I eased the preventer. I was now steering Taz!! upwind toward Hanalei Bay.

“In the rush, I hadn’t closed the hatch and the inside of the boat got wet again. The only time the dampness still bothers me is early in the morning when it gets cold. I have nothing to cover me. Last night I used the spinnaker, the one I saved from the headstay yesterday. I hand-steered Taz!! another one and a half hours, until the wind returned to 62 degrees magnetic and dropped to 15 knots. Then I reset the sails and let the auto-pilot steer. I sat for a while watching the sky and looking for more squalls. They were there but off my port side and not a worry.

“Today, I’ve been thinking about how wonderful this experience continues to be. I am trying to memorize it. There may be other attempts, but there will never be another first time.”

Pacific: Beginnings and Endings

Consummate veteran Skip Allen, who has won California-Hawaii races crewed, doublehanded, and solo, maintains that doublehanded is the hardest, harder even than singlehanded because when you’re alone, you know you have to make compromises. Doublehanded, he says, “You feel obligated for your partner’s sake to keep pushing as hard as you can.”

The quote is approximate, dredged out of memory, but accurate, I believe, to the intent.

I was thinking about it as I watched four doublehanded entries lead the Pacific Cup fleet out the Golden Gate Strait this morning, bound for the islands where three of fourteen Singlehanded Transpac entries—Hecla, Idefix and Warrior’s Wish—have so far arrived at Hanalei Bay, Kaui after a June 19 start from San Francisco Bay. Of the boats still out, three have more than 600 miles to go, so they are racing to make the awards dinner on Friday.

The Pacific Cup is headed for a different island, for Kaneohe Bay, on the opposite side of Oahu from Honolulu. Up front at the start, with at least a reasonable shot at staying there against the doublehanded fleet, was a sweet-looking Cal 40 from San Diego, Nozomi, with Rowena Carlson and Robb Walker aboard. It occurs to me that, when Stan and Sally Honey did the Pacific Cup doublehanded on their Cal 40, Illusion—combining considerable expertise in boathandling and routing with the light weight of a short crew—they set a time-allowance record.

Carlson and Walker nailed the start and were on their way . . .

Photo by Kimball Livingston

Friends and family were out to see them off from the cityfront start. There are more divisions leaving on mid-day ebb tides on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Photos by Kimball Livingston

After the doublehanders came the Division A start for fully-crewed boats, where the threesome of Ed Mattson, Garrett Coonrod, and William Martin ignored the starboard-tack approach, barging-on-the-ebb tide gang to port-tack the fleet with Mattson’s Laser 28, Mega Hurts. Great attitude, guys . . .

Photo by Kimball Livingston

Also with a threesome aboard was the Wyliecat 30, Nancy, with Pat Broderick, Michael Andrews, and (seen below) Gordie Nash . . .

Photo by Erik Simonson

The entire California coast is covered in a thick marine layer that is likely to last the week. It looks as if the Pacific Cup fleet will have to work through light air and sloppy seas to reach the wind that’s farther out to sea. As of mid-afternoon Monday, NOAA buoy Station 46026, 18 miles off San Francisco, was reporting 3.9 knots gusting to 5.8, with seas from the south-southwest at 5.9 feet.

It’s a robot. It thinks in decimals, even if “sixish” is my 5.9.


There’s not much news coming from the Solo Transpac finish line. I imagine Adrian Johnson and Ronnie Simpson are still sleeping it off.

First in was Jeff Lebesch with the 54-foot trimaran, Hecla. Johnson arrived as first monohull to finish with the Olson 30, Idefix.

Personally, I think we’re well beyond the day when the Singlehanded Transpac was controversial, but the participants maintain the self-deprecating tradition of seeing themselves as not exactly mainstream. George Lythcott on the Express 27, Taz, writes from sea, “We’re ‘Bug Lighters’ because someone said awhile ago that the SHTP race is like a bug light for sailing’s weirdos. These guys don’t seem weird to me at all. I guess that says a lot about me.”

Having his own way with that theme, here is Jeff Lebesch relating his arrival at Hanalei Bay:

“I made my final gybe onto port and came in hot, 12 knots, pointed directly at the breakers crashing on the cliff. I was more nervous at that moment than at any other time in the race, though once across the line there is plenty of room to turn down and depower.

“I never even saw those breakers in my 2008 night-time finish! After 13 days of seeing nothing but water, sky, and 4 other vessels, that was a sensory overload.

“This is likely the last race for Hecla and me. She is for sale. I am moving to another Chris White design, an Atlantic catamaran, and plan to do some serious cruising. I do love the svelt lines and relative lightness of being of Hecla, compared to the loftier catamaran, though the cat makes for a more comfortable platform for guests. Hecla is a solid and swift ocean crossing companion and will make a comfortable performance cruiser for a couple or small family, or for other racing adventures.

“Not that I am finished with the SSS or Transpac. I have swallowed that damn bug and remain attracted to the buglight.

“Help me!”

A Smaller AC Class Mono/Multi

The defenders of the America’s Cup today released narrower parameters for the next racing class, still keeping open the question of whether it will be monohull or multihull.

I’m happy to see a wing mast specifically permitted in the new specs for the multi, and I am only mildly surprised to see a cant-keel included in the spec for a monohull.

A canting keel is the surest route to high performance in a large monohull, and the documents released by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, through the offices of BMW Oracle Racing (still operating out of Valencia, Spain pending a venue decision) make it clear that the smallest-possible motor (“an environmentally-friendly, smart, low-emission engine or power pack”) is intended for moving the keel and appendages on the multihull. Powered winches will not be allowed. We’re back to those camera-pleasing grinders.

And I will argue that those who oppose multihulls for match racing are ignoring the lessons learned in team training in multihulls for AC 33. And the fact that the Alinghi catamaran and the BMW Oracle trimaran were, um, markedly different. And wings are cool.

The ability to race in winds of 5 knots or 30 knots remains a key element, so that broadcasters will find sailing at least as reliable as baseball (my phrasing) and, “In response to feedback from potential teams, the original concepts for both types have been scaled back from 26m (82 feet) LOA to 22m (72 feet) for tangible cost reduction.”

Some sort of “trials” are planned for Valencia in late July to evaluate (again) the relative merits for multis versus monohulls for match racing and media penetration. Meanwhile, in a move that we don’t have to interpret as long-arm’s length to still believe in a reasonable outcome, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Seahorse affiliate was handed the outline specs for a monohull box rule, which are now in the hands of Nick Nicholson and James Dadd for development. Box rule multihull specs went to US Sailing and Pete Melvin of Morrelli & Melvin.

Morrelli & Melvin were consultants, I believe, in the design of the USA-17 trimaran. BMW Oracle nonetheless argues that as designers they are entirely independent. If I don’t quite buy that, I also don’t buy any argument that there is a problem here.

Whether multihull or monohull, the next AC class is intended to produce boats similar to each other, for the sake of close competition. Design Coordinator Ian “Fresh” Burns said, “Unique configurations are the expensive part of the America’s Cup. We don’t want a light-air boat taking on a heavy-air boat.”

Ease of shipping is critical, because this will be a traveling roadshow till we get to the venue of AC 34 itself. The specs allow 13 crew on the monohull, 12 on the multihull. The specs further require that, in 10 knots or less true wind speed (measured at 10 m) the monohull is to go upwind at windspeed, downwind at 1.4 X windspeed; the multi is to go upwind at 1.2 X, downwind at 1.6 X.

“The objective is to publish the new America’s Cup rule by the end of September.”

And we now have a specific statement of the almost-obvious: “Intensive planning for the next edition is underway, with the 34th Cup match expected in 2013 or 2014 at a venue to be determined by the American team.”

I’d bet on 2014.

Sorry if this reads like hasty pudding, but I’m in the Mojave Desert prepping for my role as timer of the DDWFTTW quest, per my previous post. We’ll be rolling soon, so I have to figure I’ll have time later to absorb the fine points.

Details specs are worth the read, however. As in, the multihull is expected to lift the windward hull at 5 knots of true wind speed upwind, 6 knots downwind. For the detailed read:

The Multihull Concept

The Monohull Concept

What’s Never Been Done

The problem:

The wind will carry you Dead Down Wind, but DDW is slow.

DDW is especially “slow” in a fast race boat sailing against similar boats that are using narrower wind angles to generate more apparent wind and additional speed. But would it be possible to create a contraption that captures the wind and uses it (the wind and only the wind) to go DDW faster than the wind?

At this point, I know by report that the answer is yes. But I’m writing in haste, throwing desert gear into a duffel bag and preparing to head out to the California dry lakes to act as a timer on behalf of the North American Land Sailing Association and the Blackbird project.

Here is a cut and paste that sort-of explains things, for the time being . . .

As a sailor for more than 30 years, Rick Cavallaro was well aware that sailboats can go faster than the wind when sailing across the wind. He then got to wondering whether it would be possible for a sailboat to sail downwind at an angle such that the boat’s direct downwind progress would be greater than the wind speed.

With just a bit of research, Rick learned that ice-boats and land-yachts do this routinely. He realized this meant one could release a balloon and race it by tacking downwind in a land yacht—and the land yacht would win the race handily. Given his love for brain-teasers, and this new knowledge of something that seemed somewhat counterintuitive, he wondered if it would be possible to design a vehicle that could use the same principle to go DIRECTLY downwind faster than the wind. With a bit of thought it occurred that one could reproduce the aerodynamics and physical constraints of the land-yacht by simply having the sail follow a continuous downwind tack, while winding that tack into a spiral. Two such sails would simply form a propeller. By gearing this propeller to a set of wheels, the designer could constrain it to follow the same downwind path that the sail of the land-yacht follows on a steady downwind tack.

So it seemed such a vehicle could in theory be constructed quite simply.

Sometime around 2004, Rick posted this brainteaser on an internet forum expecting to get some right answers, some wrong answers, and a few exclamations along the lines of “wow, that’s pretty cool.”
What he got, however, was surprising. This problem raised a stink that ran across thousands of pages over countless internet forums. Many people (including some aero and physics PhD’s and professors) were absolutely certain it could not be done.

Many were insulting of Rick’s intelligence and sanity.

Next report: from the California desert.

More background: fasterthanthewind.org.

Only in San Francisco

Okay, most places where people sail, you wouldn’t see this mix of geography, seabreeze, and sailing types. Beyond that, the quiz of the day goes, why is this truly, Only In San Francisco?

As seen from Crissy Field, Andrew Koch (kite Blue #19) has just tacked short of the rocks and is setting up to dig for speed. Eric Drue (Red #8) is cranking out on port tack and is just about to give up hope of crossing Gerard Sheridan’s starboard-tack Elan 40, Tupelo Honey . . .

Photo sequence by KL

Koch is realizing his own situation . . .

But why do I feel entitled to say, only in San Francisco?

Because these people were all racing in the same regatta.

Not all against each other, no. He who could handicap that would truly have climbed the mountain.

But all in the same regatta. The Sperry Topsider NOOD, staged over the weekend out of St. Francis Yacht Club on three race courses, with 176 entries and 55 race committee volunteers per day (note the ratio) had 17 divisions as different as F18 catamarans versus wooden Folkboats, and kiteboards versus IRC keelboats.

IRC? There’s a reason why the NOOD is the “NOOD” and no longer an acronym for National Offshore One Design, even though the June 26-27 event’s 17 divisions included such usual one-design suspects as Melges 20s and 24s, J/24s, Lasers, and Finns.

The Finn Gold Cup (btw) is coming to these waters towards the end of August, but for this regatta we were looking, not at an international fleet of 2012 Olympic hopefuls, rather at sailors from the Masters end of the spectrum. There, the guys have been beating up on each other for decades, and the bonds have grown deep, and you find people like veteran campaigner Henry Sprague. And you find people like Andrew Casey, who won the series over Erik Lidecus on a tiebreaker. Yep, Andrew Casey, a guy who would do his little walk-up to the sign-up desk, study the form, form a little grin and fill in BOAT NAME as Henry Should Retire.

Further btw, Henry Sprague finished third and may well be contemplating a boat-name change.

Ironically, while grownups were parading around San Francisco Bay in neoprene suits and proudly bruising their buns, across town there was the 40th edition of a very different event that once was “only in San Francisco.”

But that applies no longer . . .

Photo by Jeff Katz


From the posts of Solo Transpac sailors at the SF Bay SSS web site, here is an excerpt from medically-retired young Marine, Ronnie Simpson. Most of his entry is about difficulty here, difficulty there, and then, after a week at sea, being finally able to set a spinnaker aboard his 30-foot downwind flyer, Warrior’s Wish

“After we were nice and settled, the swell began coming more from the stern and the breeze picked up. SURF CITY. We were surfing all day long. It was, without a doubt, the most fun 6-8 hours of sailing in my life. My iPod was crankin’, the sun was out and I had a water bottle and a couple Clif bars readily accessible so that I didn’t have to leave the helm.”

After that, more s***, but if you don’t know by now that we live for those rare, special moments, my friend, you have a lot to learn. And I’m not talking to Ronnie when I say that. The man has seen more as an early-twenty that most people do in a lifetime.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must find my next moment.

Too late for this one, though, for me . . .


The Golden Gate Yacht Club today announced a contest for under-28-year-olds to innovate video techniques to make sailing look exciting on-screen. Here’s the word from BMW Oracle Racing headquarters, which still operates out of the base it used for AC 32 and 33:

VALENCIA, Spain (28 June 2010) – Do you have what it takes to supercharge the media production of the America’s Cup?

So asks a video posted today on the official 34TH America’s Cup web site, americascup.com, that launches the America’s Cup Video Production Competition.

Transforming the video output in a way that excites and engages the biggest ever audience is a primary goal for the 34TH America’s Cup. Fresh thinking for video production is being sought from Generation Y. The America’s Cup Video Production Competition is open to anyone so long as they’re less than 28 years of age.

All that is required is a clip of any length that illustrates production techniques and exciting, new perspectives that could boost coverage of the 34TH America’s Cup. “Transforming television is the single-most important change we can make to this magnificent competition,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing, winners of the 33RD America’s Cup.

Ambition is the main requirement for entry. Naturally, content must be original and 100-percent rights-cleared. Clips may be of any sport or activity and any combination of camerawork, editing and production. The 28-year age limit is in place with a view to blending new talent with the best and most-experienced specialists in sports broadcasting.

“We’re looking to the next generation to help bring the screen alive,” Coutts said. “We expect this competition to open our eyes to some creative concepts that will increase the event’s appeal to younger audiences.”

A panel of extreme sports and social media leaders will review the videos. Producers of the most interesting videos posted by 12 July 2010 will be flown to Valencia, Spain, to participate in the 34TH America’s Cup Media & Race Evaluation Trials slated for the end of July.

The ultimate competition winner, to be announced at the end of September, will get to choose from prizes that include a top of the range Apple MacBook Pro, installed with the latest video editing software, to a high-end, HD camera. Other finalists will receive BMW ORACLE Racing official team gear.

Solo in the Pacific

Solo sailors under way from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay are finding the breeze slowly filling in for them today, after a spell of difficult going in light air. George Lythcott on the Express 27, Taz, noted that some of his fellow racers had begun questioning whether or not they’d make the race banquet on July 9. There’s never a guarantee, but things are looking up.

Lythcott logged, “With the slow passage, I’m starting to take stock of supplies. 2 apples, 10 oranges, 10 gallons of good bottled water, 12 gallons of water in a bladder. I have been drinking the latter every once in a while, to see if it will make me sick. It is less than clear and tastes of plastic. So far, so good.

“My head seems clear, but if it wasn’t, would I know it?”

Jeff Lebesch on the biggest, fastest entry, the 54-foot trimaran, Hecla, should be crossing the halfway point at just about the time this is written on Saturday. He’s been under spinnaker for more than a day.

The north-south spread, meanwhile, could become important. Ronnie Simpson on the 30-foot Warrior’s Wish remains north of the rhumb line, while any veteran of this crossing, with a glance at the layout of the fleet, will likely prefer the positioning of Adrian Johnson’s 30-foot Idefix, some 160 miles south (even though the most recent update showed Warrior’s Wish a few miles better on the distance-to-finish scale). Warrior’s Wish last checked in at 32˚7′ N X 130˚8′ W. Idefix at 32˚3′ N X 137˚3′ W.

That’s a race within a race that I’ll be watching. The animation at passageweather.com looks as if the fleet will have a breeze, but moderate, through Monday.