My brother-in-law, who's in the securities business, called me yesterday to tell me that a financier's Texas offices had been raided and that Allen Stanford may be charged with a "mini-Madoff" fraud of several billion dollars. A story this morning from David Glenn at Yachting World distributed in Scuttlebutt Europe addressed what any sailor would be more worried about than defrauded investors...the Stanford Financial Group is the principal sponsor of Antigua Sailing Week a late-April fixture on the Caribbean regatta circuit. A notice on the regatta's website this morning addressed the situation, reassuring those who planned to sail in the event that the regatta would occur as planned
At the time I heard the Stanford news, I was busy posting a new Brett Becker column, so I couldn't worry about the masters of the universe for long. Brett focuses on Moomba's new Outback V tow boat, which delivers a lot for the money in a 20-footer, a concept that seems on target for most boaters in 2009.
I should add that we've been holding out on you with a few columns that Brett and fellow columnist Charles Plueddeman have written in the last month, so you'll have the chance to read more than their normal output in the next couple weeks.
Two other highlights on my radar screen today are a notice from the megayacht builder Pershing, in Italy, which has launched a new 115-footer for an owner in Brazil. As the pictures shows, the boat can do something like 40 knots -- kind of like watching an Outback V perform on steroids.
On the other side of the world, I've been following the Volvo Ocean Race, which started in England last fall and ends in St. Petersburg, Russia, sometime after it warms up there. The race began with 8 entries, but due to some brutal sailing conditions and/or underspec design and build, some of these 70-foot race boats have fallen by the wayside. Yes, there's an underlying criticism there, but without question these boats are remarkable sailing machines. They may not do 40 like the Pershing 115, but they can easily sail at 30 knots in big wind and waves.
The current leg, which recently left Qingdao, China, for Rio de Janeiro via Cape Horn, is the longest, and could be decisive if one of the leaders (Ericsson 4, Telefonica Blue, or Puma) suffers a breakdown. Currently, Ericsson 4, skippered by Olympic medalist Torben Grael of Brazil, holds the points lead and the lead on the leg, and Torben certainly intends to be first to arrive in his home country. But way out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, his lead is only a few miles over world champion Ken Read of Puma.