Friday, September 27, 2013

The Harbor Report: Kudos to USA for comeback win

By Len Bose
September 26, 2013 | 6:01 p.m.

I am still sitting on the edge of my seat after watching the 34th America's Cup this past week. If you recall my article from two weeks ago, I was ready to shoot the dog.
To quote Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill after going down 1-8, "It's not over. It's a long way from being over."
After hearing these words, Team USA never looked back, and the shore team stepped up. Each time the boats went in early, because of weather conditions being too light or too heavy, Team USA would return to the race course with an increase of boat speed.
At the final press conference and on the Thursday morning shows, the question repeatedly asked was some form of, "What was the change to the boat that gave you such a speed advantage?" Spithill's canned response was, "We made a lot of little changes, and the shore team has been working nonstop. We even set up bunks for them in the boat shed."
Russell Coutts, Team USA's chief executive and an engineer by education, was quoted in a story written by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times as saying: "The major changes in my view were the balance of the boat, where obviously the load sharing between the foils is critical, so we adjusted that quite a lot.
"We changed that loading by manipulating the wing shapes and flaps. So we didn't actually change anything in a physical sense. We just changed the setting, so we more bottom-loaded the wing and more off-loaded that, and that created a different loading for the foils. And that was probably the biggest change we made.
"And then there were a bunch of little changes that just reduced the drag a few kilos here and a few kilograms there, and all the sudden you have an edge."
That edge created boat speed, and boat speed will make any sailor look good.
Some final thoughts: Team USA's replaced tactician, John Kostecki, is the best sailor in the game and, in my opinion, did not receive enough credit for the win. Expect John to be a CEO of a leading contender in the next Cup.
The Cup needs to stay in the Bay Area, but Larry Ellison drives a hard bargain. I would expect an offer to host AC 35 from Long Island, and Larry will come up with a very viable Hawaiian concept using his island, Lanai. The boats will remain catamarans somewhere in the 55-foot size range and will use a type of soft sail to replace the wing. This should substantially reduce the cost of competing in the America's Cup, which, we all hope, will increase participants.
I can hardly wait; it's only going to get better under the continued direction of Coutts.
Diane & Bill Menninger

Speaking of the next big sailboat race, one need only look out the window. This weekend is the Harbor 20 Fleet 1 Championship, sailed out of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Seventeen boats have signed up for A fleet. The favorites are four-time champions Diane and Bill Menninger sailing their boat, Dart.
They will need to keep their eyes open for Elizabeth and Jim Buckingham aboard BuckShot and Tim Hogan and John Cotton. Another team that has shown that edge is Jeff Gordon and Reid Vittarelli sailing Tres Unos. Bob Yates and Phil Thompson aboard Jubilee have also been sailing very consistently. The only chance I have is if I can figure out how to make a H20 hydrofoil upwind.
Nik Froehlich

Sixteen boats will be sailing in B fleet. The heat is Christophe and Chris Killian aboard Sailing Tiger. They will need to keep an eye on Nik Froehlich and John Fuller sailing Wiggit. Rolly Pulaski and Annie Donat are not going to be out there just for fun and will be biting at their heels. One cannot overlook the boat speed that Jessica and Greg Newman had last year.
At this time, five boats are signed up in C fleet, and I am pulling for Roxanne Chan to take the win.
I need to take the video game controller from my shore crew's hand and go work on our boat speed.
Sea ya.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Andrew & Len Bose

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Harbor Report: Meanwhile, doings beyond America's Cup

West Marine's flagship Orange County store in Newport Beach. (Len Bose / February 14, 2001)

By Len Bose
September 20, 2013 | 2:13 p.m.

I have to think that those of you who care about America's Cup have been sitting on the edge of your seats most of this week, and for those of you who don't give a sheet — that's the line that controls the sail — are you wondering what else might be going on around the harbor?
Starting at the Balboa Angling Club, my good friend, secretary Amy Elliott, said the club hosted the 32nd Annual Master Angler Billfish Tournament in the waters within 90 miles of Newport Beach on Sept. 13 and 14.
She said, "A total of 17 marlin were caught and released by the anglers, who had 49 strikes with 31 hook-ups. The water conditions this year have been favorable, as for months large amounts of bait fish have been reported off the Southern California high spots, canyons and current breaks. Water temperatures have remained relatively warm, staying near the 70-degree mark. The table was set and the big game anglers were ready.
"The action started early on the morning of Friday the 13th, but the anglers had good luck despite the myth of it being an unlucky day. First-day totals were 10 hookups with six marlin caught and released. Day two was even better, with 21 hookups and 11 caught and released. Marlin weren't the only fish biting; dorado and yellowtail were caught as well. Even a few broadbill swordfish were tempted with bait."
For a full report on the event, go to
Next stop was the Lido Village Shopping Center and the new West Marine flagship store opening up this Oct. 3. I contacted Laurie Fried from West Marine's public relations office and learned this will be the company's second-largest store. The company's largest store is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Laurie went on to explain that this store will have a huge selection of marine electronics and a spectacular fishing department. There will be a large sailboat hardware selection, with an on-site rigging shop and a fantastic selection of casual and technical apparel.
After talking to Laurie and reading through the store announcement, I leaned against the store wall and wondered if this is what a small town feels like when a Walmart moves in. As a taste, on Oct. 3, West Marine is promoting "Cruising for a Cause" to raise money for several local marine-based charities.
Contact the Orange Coast College Professional Mariner Program or UC Irvine Sailing Assn. for tickets. Attendees will enjoy food, drinks and live entertainment.
Continuing my cruise, I pulled into Newport Harbor Shipyard and checked in with a longtime friend to get a better feel of what's going on. "The boat show, West Marine, Newport marina project across from the shipyard, Marina Park starting soon — there is a lot going on, Len," he said.

While working my way to the other side of the harbor, I noticed the mooring fields looked better than usual, with few code violations. One boat was sticking out quite a ways from its slip on the peninsula side, but other than that, the harbor seemed abnormally quiet for this time of year.
Over at Basin Marine Shipyard, I stopped by to check in with Dave and Derek New. They had a couple of new boats being commissioned for the upcoming boat show.
One of my favorites, "Good News," was getting ready for the Baja Ha-Ha, which will be starting Oct. 28 out of San Diego. I also noticed for the first time a very elegant day sailor by the name of "Relentless," which had the lines of a meter boat, tied up to the dock.
Nice Boat

During my harbor cruise, something was brought to my attention. How can the city make Marina Park pay for itself by adding things that bring in revenue? I had to put my phone down on this one because I almost ran over a mooring line while trying to grasp that concept. More to come on this topic.
I wrapped my harbor cruise up by attending this quarter's Tidelands Management Committee meeting. The big question on the table was how the city is ever going to pay for the Balboa Island seawall. It appears the city can go to school and watch how Alamitos Bay is dealing with it in the Naples area. It's not just about money but also how to deal with the different government agencies.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 25, please come visit me at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club's Yachtsmen's Luncheon. I have been asked to bring in my listing on Zapata II, a 1964 Calkins 50, to the main dock for a classic yacht discussion and presentation on "Classic Boats of the Northwest." A number of classic boat specialists will be on deck marking the presentation.
Sea ya.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Harbor Report: A cub reporter at America's Cup

By Len Bose

September 12, 2013 | 7:18 p.m.

Years ago, I was a bartender, and on Monday nights, a fat lady would come in and sing "Ebb Tide" to close the night's karaoke and the bar.
After watching the Kiwis dominate Oracle Team USA in three of four races last Saturday and Sunday at the America's Cup, I flashed back to those painful moments at the bar and to Monday Night Football when Don Meredith would sing, "Turn out the lights, the party is over."
Let's just hope that Team USA can win one more race so we don't go down in history losing the Cup with a negative number. I am assuming you knew that Team USA was accessed a penalty, negative two points, for a rules infraction before the event even started.
Team USA only win

OK, so that's the bad news. Let's talk about the good news. The streets of San Francisco were full of people wearing America's Cup shirts and hats. It started to feel as though there were Kiwi supporters on every corner.
One New Zealand couple walked up to us with a bunch of bananas, and I had to ask him if they were for good luck. He said, "I am handing them out to the Americans. Would you like one?" Bananas have a long tradition of bringing bad luck to sailors and fishermen.
Later that night, I ran into a couple of friends who brought up the fact that this could be the last opportunity to watch the Cup in California for quite some time. That's when it really hit me how lucky I am to have been able to attend this event.
The San Francisco Bay and the race organizers delivered on a promise that the bay would provide the best accessibility to view the racing in AC history. On the first day of racing, I was on a mark-set boat between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. We had front-row seats for the starting line and the top end of the race course.
"Oh yeah baby, this is what it's all about,"

On Saturday, races one and two, the wind had picked up well above the forecast, and when the Kiwis first lit the boat up and started hydrofoiling, only about 50 yards away from the boat I was on, the words, "Oh yeah baby, this is what it's all about," came out of my mouth. In my mind, this was heaven's gate for sailboat racing.
I wanted to get a fresher perspective, and I started looking around the boat for the kid who looked like a sailing enthusiast. This is when I met 12-year-old Oscar Moeller from Germany. When I asked Oscar what had brought him to the AC, he replied, "I like catamarans. My father and I sail on an Eagle 16 on the lakes at home."
He went on to tell me that he also participates in the junior program at his yacht club and sails Optis. His parents had lived in New Zealand for a couple of years, and he was pulling for the Kiwis to win. After the races, I walked back up to him to see if he liked the racing and he replied, "Yes, because we won." I then inquired why the Kiwis won, and he said, "Because we are better."
Oscar Moeller
I asked again about the boats. "The boats are best for me."
The passion for the sport of sailing was just pouring out of Oscar. That made me feel better even if we were down by four points with only two races sailed.
On Sunday, I watched the races from America's Cup Park at Club 72, which is in front of the finish line, and spent most of the time observing the races on the monitor. This time, I walked through the crowd looking for youth sailors from America.
This took some time, and it appeared I would only be able to find a sailor from New Zealand. Finally, I spotted 15-year-old Alex Kost from Redwood, who had an American flag draped over his back.

Alex Kost

Alex is a rower at heart but sails with his dad on Merit 25s. He has only been sailing for the last three years and was enthusiastic about the catamarans. When I asked him if he was an Oracle fan, he replied, "Oh yeah, big Oracle fan!" I then asked who his favorite sailer was, and he said, "I am a Jimmy Spithill fan; he is a good skipper."
Next, I asked if he liked the catamarans. "Definitely," he said. "Different than normal AC sailing. It gets a lot more people to come out here to San Francisco Bay and watch it. There is a lot more action. So I think it's good. I like it."
Alex felt that the downwind legs, when the boats are reaching 40-plus knots, was the most thrilling part of the race. He plans on racing the Merit 25 with his dad and will spend most of his time rowing on the water over the next few years.
For me, the racing was fantastic. Were there opportunities for the trailing boat to pass? Yes, although these opportunities occurred more because of boat handling than missing a wind shift.
Another new opportunity came my way, and that was being able to attend and observe the press conferences. Early on, I missed opportunities to talk with sailing legends such as Brad Butterworth by reacting too slow and feeling too intimidated to ask questions.

By the end of the weekend, I had shaken most of this fear and talked with AC historian and journalist Bob Fisher. At the morning press conference, as soon as I raised my hand, the mic was given to me. I started to get a lot more comfortable at this reporting thing.
Sea ya.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Need to give a BIG Shout Out to my editor
Michael Miller  for taking the extra time
and correcting all my mistakes on this one.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Harbor Report: Catching up with some past cup racers

By Len Bose
September 5, 2013 | 1:57 p.m.

During the next two weeks all eyes will be focused on the San Francisco Bay Area and the Americas Cup. I was fortunate to receive a press pass and plan on attending races Sept. 7 and 8.
I decided to research and contact a number of Newport Beach residents who have competed in the Americas Cup. We have a large number of people who have competed in the trails but only six who have raced in the cup.

Most all of you have heard the name Bill Ficker, the skipper of Intrepid during the 1970s defense of the cup against Gretel II. Ficker is a long time Newport Beach resident and a long time member of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and still might have a lapel button with " Ficker is Quicker" on it. Another crew member aboard Intrepid, also a Newport Beach resident and Harbor 20 sailor, is George Twist.
I asked Twist how he liked the new format of the 72-foot catamarans in the Americas Cup this year.
"I am positive about what they are doing this year, this is new stuff and its pretty exciting," he said with enthusiasm in his voice. "There is nothing like these AC 72s but I do hope that they change the boats for the next event. The boats are fast but they are not much for tactics or strategy."
When I asked Twist about the good times he had back in the summer of 1970 he was quick to say, "The competition was only on the water. In town we were all good friends and we had fun with our opponents."

He went on to tell me about the favorite meeting places in Newport, R.I. The Candy Store and the Black Pearl were two places that most of the crew would show up at after racing each day, he said.
It was "just a lot of fun doing this," Twist told me.
Twist plans on attending the Intrepid reunion during the cup and thought it best to watch the races on television.
My next call was to Dennis Durgan, who is now one of our area's prominent residential real estate agents. In 1980 Durgan was invited to join the Freedom campaign as Dennis Conners' tactician. They raced Australia, known for her flexible mast, and beat the competition 4-1 in the best-of-seven series.

When I asked Durgan about the new format he said, "I am keeping an open mind. I am not sure if taking these boats to the limits stays with the tradition of the cup and match racing."
Durgan is an easy person to talk to and we could have spent a couple of hours talking about sailing. When I asked him about some of the good times during that summer in 1980, he recalled being at a formal dinner in a tuxedo with the Australia crew members. Once the Aussies heard it was his 21st birthday they made sure he made it to the Candy Store where they had 21 shots lined up on the bar for him.
"During this time it was all about the camaraderie, no one was a professional. We got a Rolex if we qualified for the cup. We had 11 American citizens on the boat and the pressure felt bigger than competing in the Super Bowl," he said with pride in his voice.
Durgan said he was headed up to the Bay Area to watch the races this weekend.
I then gave Andy Rose a call. He also sailed on Australia, as tactician, in the 1977 Americas Cup and challenged Ted Tunner aboard Courageous.
When I asked Rose about the new format he replied, "I am a tactician and the shorten races are a very limited place for this type of sailing."
When I inquired about some of the good times he referenced the fact about camaraderie and how the teams used to stay at the large mansions in Newport, R.I. He told me a story about complaints coming from town that the crew was getting a little out of hand.
When Australia syndicate owner Alan Bond was told about this he gathered the crew and told them not to wear team shirts when they went into town at night. Andy is taking most of his crew from his boat, It's OK, to watch the races this week.
"God bless America"

The two other people from Newport Beach who raced in the cup are Jim Titus, who crewed aboard Intrepid, and L.J. Edgecomb, who sailed on Courageous. It's interesting to me that out of the six people from Newport Beach we had one helmsman and three tacticians.
This past week we also had two skippers in the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup. Michael Menninger and Charlie Buckingham sailed in AC 45s and both were racing for the USA on two different teams.
It makes me smile to look back at our past and dream about the future on what our harbor has done and what it can do.
Sea ya!
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist