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Extreme Sailing set to go faster in future

“But our boats are getting long in the tooth so we are always looking at
developments in the multihull world. Listening to feedback from the sailors,
the Extreme 40 boat is suited to what it does though we don’t want to be
perceived as falling behind so we are ways looking at ways of either
updating or replacing the boats.

“In three years time, if we haven’t seen an Extreme 40 foiling or a complete
change to a platform that was capable of foiling, we would be falling
behind.”

Any prospects of buying a fleet of AC45s, which are five foot longer than the
X40 but fitted with a costly carbon wingsail and hydrofoils beneath the
hulls, have been ruled out on the basis of cost and likely overperformance
on the Extreme courses.

“You would struggle to sail AC45s at some of the Extreme Sailing Series
venues,” said Alinghi skipper Morgan Larson.

“The Extreme 40s are perfect for this event though they could lose a little
weight so they perform better in light air and put a little more sail area
on it but putting on foils would represent a total shift for the event. I’m
not sure the AC45s are sustainable.”

His view was shared by Red Bull skipper Roman Hagara who flew into Cardiff
from San Francisco where he has been racing AC45s as head of the Red Bull
Youth America’s Cup team.

“All it would mean is going quicker into the marks which would make it
more dangerous,” he said.

“Already we are fast enough. We like the concept of one design but
foiling on short courses will not help the concept.”

Given the choice, many top flight sailors would choose to campaign an AC45
over an X40 but the massive costs of the America’s Cup boats cast doubt on
how long they will survive.

“The ESS is the only race series that has been consistent for the past
eight years so they need to keep it as it is,” said Hagara.

“If they start going for wingsails it makes everything so much more
complicated and expensive and at the moment, that is not helpful.”

The battle between Larson and Leigh McMillan which has been intense throughout
all four Acts of the 2013 ESS failed to materialize in Cardiff yesterday as
light fluky winds affected racing, and produced three different winners in
three races.

Heading the leaderboard on Thursday was Switzerland’s Real Team with Larson’s
Alinghi in second place and McMillan’s The Wave, Muscat in third. Stronger
winds are forecast between Saturday and Monday when another 30 races are
expected to be staged.


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Boating bounces back — with luxury appeal as well

Featured in Scene On a breezy, sunny day, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay are a beautiful, wild place. White-capped waves hide the teeming life below the surface as shifting winds keep boaters on their toes. Sailboats keel over with each gust of wind, and powerboats bounce through waves.

From the wheel of a world-class boat — like Bob and Phyllis Comeau’s Sabre 456 — that view of the bay is even better.

Three years ago, when the Bethesda couple were ready to purchase a new boat, they teamed with Sabre Yachts, Annapolis Yacht Sales and the naval architect Jim Taylor to design a vessel that would sail beautifully, feel luxurious and be easy for just two people to operate.

The Comeaus’ yacht, the Comocean, boasts electric winches for ease of operation and generously proportioned berths, to keep the couple comfortable. They spend their summers locally — this year they sailed to St. Mary’s City and Smith Island — and will sail to Charleston, S.C., as the days grow chillier.

“Sailing is a release for us,” says Bob Comeau. “When we designed the boat, we asked ourselves, ‘How do you have a good life, entertain and enjoy your boat?’ ” The result was the Comocean.

Their enthusiasm is in keeping with a broader trend: an uptick in boat sales coupled with a continued interest in luxury fittings. In 2012, purchases of new sailboats increased by 29 percent and overall new boat sales rose 10 percent, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which values the economic impact of recreational boating at $121 billion annually.

In 2012, Maryland’s 550 marinas boasted over 40,000 in-water slips.

“The market ebbs and flows,” says Tim Wilbricht, president of Annapolis Yacht Sales. He says the market dipped in 2009, started to rebound in 2010 and saw a “strong uphill trend” starting in 2012. “2013 has been a very strong year,” he says. “We sold as many new boats in the first half of 2013 as in all of 2012.”

North Point Yachts broker David Malkin says that the higher end of the boating market is less susceptible to economic fluctuations. “Everyone had their incomes affected, but when you have a lot of income, it doesn’t have the same impact. People were still buying at the high level.”

Still, enthusiasts are quick to concede that boating is an expensive hobby. High-end boats range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars — and that doesn’t include maintenance and fuel.

According to Joy McPeters, owner of Marinalife, a boater concierge service based in Federal Hill, some boat owners adapted to the economic downturn by limiting non-boat vacations or by cruising less but spending more time in port.

Though most people buy boats with grand aspirations, boat owners often don’t use their vessels as frequently as they’d like. Doug MacMillan, who recently bought an MJM 40z from North Point, estimates that only about one-quarter of the boats at his marina are used once a week or more; he says another quarter “never seem to go anywhere.”

Wilbricht notes that despite boat buyers’ dreams of long cruises, they often stick close to home. “About 20 percent of buyers aspire to go cruising offshore,” he says. “But only about 20 percent of those actually go off-cruising.” Flohr confirms that at Harbor East, most boats coming into port are local to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Even if they never leave the dock, new boats provide moneyed owners with sweet surroundings.

Over the past several decades, comfortable cabin arrangements have become a priority. “Boaters are more about the interior space now,” says William Flohr, the general manager at Harbor East Marina in Baltimore. “There’s more bang for the buck. Sometimes there will be three heads [bathrooms] and staterooms on a 45-foot boat.”

Paul Jacobs, general manager the annual Annapolis boat shows, agrees that en suite heads and fine finishes have become more popular in recent years. “People are looking for opulent finishes,” he says. “They have to have all the amenities of home, including a refrigerator, air conditioning and ice … makers.”

Recent advances in boating technology — like Bob and Phyllis Comeau’s electric winches — also amp up the luxury level on watercraft.

“Features like joystick controls for easier docking and gyro stabilizers for a smoother ride are becoming commonplace now on high-end boats,” says Chuck Meyers of Bluewater Yacht Sales in Baltimore.

MacMillan’s new MJM 40z is a powerboat built for speed and comfort. The joystick controls and Sky Hook system, which simplifies docking, helped persuade him to buy a new boat instead of one that was slightly used, he says.

The MJM is the eighth boat MacMillan has owned; prior boats include a large trawler and six sailboats. When he purchased the MJM, MacMillan was downsizing in scale — he wanted something easier to transport than the trawler and quicker to operate than a sailboat. The MJM, with its focus on high-end finishes and state-of-the-art technology, “fit the bill of everything I wanted.”

But boating isn’t all about high-tech gadgets and posh staterooms. It’s often about satisfying emotional needs for community and, conversely, privacy, boaters say.

“The best part about boating is the relationships,” says Betsy Schreitmueller, an avid sailboat racer who has developed a core group of female friends during her years racing on the bay. “Doing something competitive together in all kinds of weather conditions — there’s a lot of bonding that goes on.”

Bluewaters’ Meyers sees the opposite appeal.

“When you untie the lines and start your cruise, you become your own island. There’s a real sense of freedom, privacy and relaxation.”

What’s new in boating

Some of the latest trends captivating upscale seafarers’ hearts — and wallets:

Going big: First-time boat buyers are opting for bigger boats these days, reports Annapolis Yacht Sales’ Tim Wilbricht. “We used to sell a lot of smaller sailboats,” he says. “But now people are jumping to larger boats for their first boating experience.” He says the new “sweet spot” for sales is in the 37- to 41-foot range.

Get catty: In the sailing world, catamarans have grown in popularity, says Annapolis Boat Shows GM Paul Jacobs. “They are wide and long and very comfortable. They don’t tip. You can sleep four couples easily, and they don’t have a big draft [the depth of the bottom of the boat]. so you can go shallow places.”

Five-star marinas: Joy McPeters of Marinalife says that as the boating industry has grown, marinas have stepped up their games in terms of services and amenities. “Marinas need to go to the next level to keep boaters coming back,” she says. “It’s just like a hotel.”


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Fine Living: Designer creates a mood with custom boat interiors

Click photo to enlarge

LIZ DIAZ WASN’T into sailing when she caught a lift on a sailboat her friends were sailing around the world. She was just out of college, but she knew two things — she could sew and she loved San Francisco.

So when the sailboat made a port-of-call in San Francisco, the Portland, Ore., native hopped off.

Eventually, Diaz opened North Beach Marine Canvas and began sewing cushions and pillows for the Bay Area boating community. Ten years ago, she decided to just focus on designing the interiors of boats.

“I truly loved to do boat interiors so I saw no reason why you can’t do what you love instead of doing just what you can,” she figures.

From her shop in two doublewide trailers at Pier 40 in South Beach Sailing Center she custom designs everything from rugs, drapery, hardware, hi-low (retractable televisions), cabinetry, bunk beds and banquettes.

Here, clients with sailboats or powerboats bring photos of them for her to consider, flip through her portfolio of projects and choose their favorite new fabrics.

“I’m into fabric for special reasons — aesthetics, durability, water repellency and pure fashion,” she says. “I have an incomparable collection.”

Among some of her offerings are canvas, Sunbrella, mohair, and faux and real and recycled leather.

Her own classic wooden sailboat, which is too small for cushions, is upholstered with tan Berber carpeting and protected

by a striped fabric cover.

Similar to a residential or commercial interior designer, Diaz guides her clients through a process in order to discern how they use their boat — as a home or a retreat, for entertaining or for serious water activities — and what they want their interior to evoke.

“It’s a 12-season sport here, and the interior sets the mood. Besides, you may never turn on marine electronics, but you will always use the upholstery,” she says.

Diaz claims she can increase seating space, add more comfort, build in durability, and make seats accommodate different shapes and sizes for her clients without changing the wood. She can also make the interior of a boat appear wider, slimmer, longer or shorter or more voluminous, depending upon the client’s preference.

But, she notes, “comfort and good looks are in every conversation and you can have both in every price point,” she says. “You want to be able to walk into your boat and say, ‘I’m so glad we did this,'” she says.

When it comes to colors, she says, most people tend toward a palette that is unique to the bay region.

“Northern California light is different than Southern California or Miami Beach,” she says. “You have teak or white boats on green water with blue skies and gray fog.

And what are the most popular choices around the bay? “Chamois, navy and white, or navy and chamois with a bit of red,” she says. “And, there are some gorgeous wide stripes this season in terrific colors.”

Today, Diaz is considered a master fabric craftsman with about half of her clients based in Marin and the other half spread between the East Bay and Peninsula.

For a few clients, she also creates furniture and interiors for their homes.

“My work is definitely out-of-the-box,” she adds. “For me, there is no box. I had one client who wanted her boat interior to look like it was a gypsy caravan. My job was to make her concept beautiful and not kitschy. It turned out so well it won an (industry) award.”

Not all of her projects are as glamorous. Last year, for example, she redesigned the standard seats for the 20-race committee chase boats for the America’s Cup using more durable material as well as the set of the 15-foot high mesh race cones (three blue ones for the Louis Vuitton races and 10 red ones for the America’s Cup) that the boats must navigate.

Still, when it comes to boats and their owners, she admits, “I’m like a toymaker. I’m very good at connecting a client with what will work so they can use and enjoy their boat.”

PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertaining topics every Saturday and also on her blog at DesignSwirl.net. She may be contacted at P.O. Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at pj@pjbremier.com.


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Tony Abbott’s Indonesian boat-buy scheme defies economic sense

The Liberal party‘s new policy to buy fishing boats in Indonesia is the best stimulus plan Indonesian fishing villages will have seen in a long time.

There once was a time when, according to the Liberals, stopping the boats was nice and easy. All that was required was bringing back the Pacific Solution, temporary protection visas and then turning around the boats (with the usual caveat of “when it is safe to do so”).

But this election has seen the Liberals introduce a few more policies into the mix. The latest one today involves buying boats from fisherman who otherwise would have sold them to people smugglers.

It’s an odd way to go about it, because it rather defies economic sense. Usually governments attempt to stimulate the Australian economy – all this policy will do is create an economic boom in the second-hand Indonesian boat market.

Think of it like this. Imagine if shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison put an advert in the weekend paper letting it be known that he will buy every old LP record for sale in garage sales. Do you think people selling records will keep the price at $2 per LP?

Nope, suddenly you only need someone else to say they are willing to pay $20 for it and Morrison will pay $22. And not only that; because the price has gone up you are now willing to sell things you were not going to sell. And Morrison needs to buy them.

Right now there are fishing boats in Indonesia that are not very seaworthy, but they sort of get the job done. But the fisherman actually values his life and so sells the boat to a people-smuggler and uses the money to help buy another boat.

Now along comes Morrison saying he will buy any boat that is being planned to be sold to asylum seekers.

And of course to do this, as with the garage sale records, he’ll have to offer a higher price – otherwise why bother sell to him?

Now this might sound good to the fisherman – he can now sell his boat to Morrison and get more money. But the people-smugglers’ demand doesn’t go down just because they didn’t get a boat.

So they can raise their price higher to get your boat, or because Morrison needs to get your boat, the people-smuggler doesn’t even need to pay more, they just need to let it be known that they will pay more.

Best of all, the people-smuggler knows that because of the demand from asylum seekers he can either raise his prices in a pretty inelastic market, or he can just increase the number of people on each boat he charters.

So the higher the prices people-smugglers have to pay, the less safe it will likely become for asylum seekers because it’s pretty clear that the more people on these boats the less safe they are.

But also all Indonesian fishermen now know there is a ready buyer for their boats. They also know those boats will be sold at much inflated prices than there was before.

And so suddenly, as with the garage sale record seller, there is now an increased supply of boats because (to use economic speak) the demand curve has shifted out. There is now more demand and at a higher price for each boat than there was before.

This won’t stop people-smugglers buying boats, but it will encourage people who had never before thought of selling their boat to asylum seekers to now do so, because they know that, if they intended to do so, Morrison is there with his cheque book to buy them.

And the difference between Morrison and a normal buyer is that Morrison needs to buy your boat. If you sell it to the people-smuggler he fails.
That creates a heck of a price boom in boats.

But Indonesia is rather big. The one thing it is not suffering from is a shortage of boats, and certainly not now that there is a ready buyer for boats.

But this new policy also creates a demand for boat repair, because any old boat already unfit for sea journey that was never going to be sold to a people-smuggler, if repaired, can now be sold, and it is worth paying the repair now because the price you can sell it for has increased.

And thus Morrison’s policy is increasing the supply of not just boats but poor quality boats.

So the asylum seekers will be likely paying more money to people-smugglers, or being forced to go to sea on poorer conditioned boats with more people on them.

News Corp has reported that Morrison “declined to say how many boats could be bought back or for how much, saying he did not want to encourage owners to take advantage of the scheme”.

The problem is the mere announcement has already ensured that will happen.


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All aboard in Kinsale for Disabled Sailing World Championships

All aboard in Kinsale for Disabled Sailing World Championships

By Conall Ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner Reporter

Kinsale is buzzing this weekend as yachts from across the globe dock for the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships.

Synonymous with sailing, the Co Cork town beat off stiff competition, in 2010, from cities such as Perth in Australia and Qingdao in China to host the week-long event.

After three days of registration, the opening ceremony is tomorrow and the event runs until next Friday.

It has reportedly attracted about 75 boats, 120 competitors, 50 coaches, and hundreds of friends and family to Kinsale.

It is the main paralympic event since the London 2012 Games and is one of only three World Championships leading up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

The opening event will take place in the James O’Neill building at 6pm before participants parade to Kinsale Yacht Club to present their nation’s flags. Racing will start on Monday with two races scheduled every day until Friday.

Much of the Irish interest will be focused on 10-time paralympian, local man John Twomey, who will be taking part in the Sonar class. He is a member of the Providence Team IRL for Rio in 2016 and is also president of the International Association of Disabled Sailing.

The New Zealand team is also jam-packed with class and includes two sailors who won multiple world titles before both being diagnosed with MS.

David Barnes, who has competed in six America’s Cup campaigns, including as skipper of the 1988 ‘Big Boat’ challenge in San Diego, has won three 470 class world titles and competed in a wide range of international keelboat events. He also took part in the 2005/2006 Volvo Ocean Race

His crewmate Richard Dodson has won the America’s Cup twice, the One Ton Cup twice, the OK world championships twice and the Admiral’s Cup once, amongst a host of other achievements. The pair will be followed by a New Zealand TV crew who are making a documentary on their participation in the event.

Disability Minister Kathleen Lynch who was in Kinsale yesterday said: “Kinsale is synonymous with sailing and it is a major coup for the town to be able to attract such a prestigious event. The competitors in these championships are at the top of their field and a great testament to the Paralympic movement. I wish all of the participants every success and hope they and their supporters will enjoy all that Kinsale has to offer.”

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