SIGHTINGS on tv catastrophic gear failures, then you’ll want to check out the 21-pager available at www.challengercommission.com. But if you’re staying Stateside for the next few months, let’s cut right to the chase. In the U.S., coverage will be on Versus, the re-branded Outdoor Life Network that brought you all the action from Hauraki Gulf in 2003. Between April 16 and May 7, you can catch highlight shows of the Louis Vuitton Cup round robin races at a to-be-announced time. Live coverage begins with race one of the LVC semi-finals on May 14 from 5:30-8 a.m., PDT. Broadcasts will be continued in middle column of next sightings page
xl — cont’d The new XL is nothing if not a local affair: East Bay yacht designer Jim Antrim drew the boat’s lines; Palmer, who now works for a company that makes precision cutting systems in Grass Valley, handled all of the patterns for the framing; the rig is from Ballenger Spars in Santa Cruz; and the rudder and bearings are by ACC Marine near Santa Cruz. “It’s great to have a Bay Area-built boat,” Antony said. “There’s a strong heritage here, and a lot of talented guys in Northern California wish they could have a boat to build.” The father-son team could easily have gone outside California to build the new boat — to South Africa or New Zealand, for example, where the dollar is weaker — but that was never really a serious option. “Having Jim near the boat and having him work with a builder he knew was critical,” Antony explained. And, contrary to popular belief, keeping it local hasn’t added very much to the bottom line, particularly when inspection trips and shipping are factored in. To say that Antony and Nick are pleased with the project so far is an understatement. “This is the first time I’ve watched a boat being built,” said Antony, who’s literally watching the construction from his Southern California office via Web cam updates every 15 minutes. “It’s almost as fun as sailing.” Of course, it hasn’t been without some heartbreaks along the way, the biggest being the total loss of XL’s predecessor. “We had to take a six-week hiatus from the project while we recovered from losing the old boat,” Antony recalled. But as soon as the greiving period was over, construction began last October. “Cree and his guys are bending over backward to make this a smooth process,” Antony gushed. Partridge, whose business shifted to refits and haulouts when the boat building industry moved offshore, admits the rules of the game have changed since he last built a boat 20 years ago. Back then, even with computer lofting, the process was imprecise, which meant more faring and fine-tuning when the various pieces of the boat were put together. “This time, the exact lines went from Jim’s computer, to John’s computer for framing, and then to my computer — in about six seconds,” he explained. Although the boat will have a full interior and is intended to be comfortable for family cruises to Catalina — a full galley, forward stateroom and pressurized fresh water — there’s no question it’s a race boat. For the first year, XL will stick mostly to SoCal waters — the schedule calls for stops at Long Beach Race Week, the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race, and the Southern California PHRF championships. But the boat will come back north in September to make its IRC and Northern California racing debut at the Big Boat Series. — ss
the learning curve While our two crewing experiences last summer were valuable in many ways, the most important lesson we learned is that it's probably best to meet and get to know your fellow crewmates before you join them for an extended cruise. On our coming voyage, we will certainly attempt to follow our own advice. That being said, it was a grand summer adventure for both Carolyn and me. Our first crewing opportunity was with a fascinating and wonderfully eccentric couple in their 50s aboard their S&S-designed 48-ft ketch. We flew to meet them in Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean, and spent two weeks sailing with them from Dominica to Martinique to St. Lucia. We had a romantic anniversary — which included an impromptu serenade from a choir of French Catholic school children — and really got to know the fascinating and impossible-to-describe cruising couple. The wife was the tough and seasoned skipper, and ruled with an experienced and iron hand. continued on outside column of next sightings page April, 2007 •
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The April 2007 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.