Archive for » August 8th, 2014«

Missing Egg Harbor Township man believed to have staged boating accident to …

Andrew Biddle

Andrew Biddle

A flier from police identifies Andrew Biddle as a suspect wanted on theft charges. The flier says Biddle, of the township, staged an incident in which he was reported missing off a boat in an accident off Longport.

Missing Boater Search Longport

Missing Boater Search Longport

A search crew from the U.S. Coast Guard, combs the water of Great Egg Harbor Bay near the Longport Jetty. The U.S. coast Guard, state and local police,continue the search for a missing boater near the Longport Jetty at Great Egg Harbor Inlet. Monday July 21, 2014. (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City)

Missing Boater Search Longport

Missing Boater Search Longport

People gather in the parking lot at the Longport Jetty to watch the search for the missing boater. The U.S. coast Guard, state and local police,continue the search for a missing boater near the Longport Jetty at Great Egg Harbor Inlet. Monday July 21, 2014. (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City)

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014 9:00 pm

Missing Egg Harbor Township man believed to have staged boating accident to escape criminal charges

Staff Writer

The Press of Atlantic City

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      Friday, August 1, 2014 9:00 pm.

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      The Little Current Yacht club raises the sail on new North Channel Race Week

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      Sailors boast race was the best sailing of the summer thus far

      NORTH CHANNEL—The Little Current Yacht Club (LCYC), along with the Algoma Sailing Club (ASC) and the North Channel Yacht Club (NCYC), had a successful inaugural North Channel Race last week with 14 boats entered in the five-day boat race.

      Leg one started at Hilton Beach on St. Joseph’s Island on Monday with 12 boats racing to Thessalon. In first place in the Crimson Scarlet Fleet (high PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet—a handicapping system used for yacht racing which allows dissimilar classes of sailboats to race against each other)) was Seabiscuit, followed by Whiskey Jack, Tack Too, Misu, Miss ‘B’ Haven, Moonshadow and Sunny J. In the Gold Fleet (low PHRF), Skyship finished first, followed by Natural High, Blue Teal, Aurora Borealis and Echo.

      Leg two on day two of the race from Thessalon to Tolsma Bay (Cockburn Island) was won by Seabiscuit in the Crimson Scarlet Fleet, with Tack Too in second and Misu in third. The overall winner of leg two was Aurora Borealis. Whiskey Jack, Moonshadow, Sunny J and Miss ‘B’ Haven, however, did not finish leg two.

      Two more boats joined the race for legs three and four.

      Leg three of the race saw sailors navigate their vessels from Tolsma Bay to Spragge (home of the NCYC). Misu took the lead in the Crimson Scarlet Fleet, with Seabiscuit coming in second and Whiskey Jack third. In fourth place was Sunny J, followed by Miss ‘B’ Haven and Moonshadow.

      In the Gold Fleet, Skyship came in first, followed by Natural High, Blue Teal,  Aurora Borealis and Echo.

      The overall winner of leg three was Misu.

      Leg four from Spragge to Gore Bay was won by Seabiscuit in the Crimson Scarlet Fleet, followed by Riga in second, Whiskey Jack in third, Sunny J, Moonshadow and Miss ‘B’ Haven.

      In the Gold Fleet, Blue Teal took first, with Natural High close behind, followed by Skyship, Aurora Borealis, Echo and Walkabout.

      The overall winner for leg four was Blue Teal.

      Finally, leg five from Gore Bay to Little Current for the Crimson Scarlet Fleet was won by Misu. Seabiscuit came in second, followed by Riga, Whiskey Jack, Moonshadow, Miss ‘B’ Haven and Sunny J.

      As for the Gold Fleet, Skyship finished first, followed by Natural High, Echo, Blue Teal and Aurora Borealis.

      The overall leg five winner was Skyship.

      During a special dinner at the Rendezvous Pavilion, sailors learned the final results of the 2014 North Channel Race Week.

      In first place was Skyship, while second went to Natural High and third to Blue Teal. Aurora Borealis finished fourth, followed by Seabiscuit, Echo, Misu, Whiskey Jack, Miss ‘B’ Haven tied with Sunny J for ninth place and Moonshadow in 10th.

      The top three in the Crimson Scarlet Fleet were Seabiscuit, Misu and Whiskey Jack, while top three in the Gold Fleet were Skyship, Natural High and Blue Teal.

      The Expositor spoke with Leroy Pieri of Skyship (of the ASC) about his crew’s win.

      “I sailed my boat in the MacMan (International Yacht Race) until 2007, then joined Gordon Simpson and the crew of Skyship,” explained Mr. Pieri. “We have a great crew and a well built boat rigged with a good sail. We did have some challenges (in the North Channel Race), but we came out of it all ahead.”

      Some of those challenges included the loss of one of the boat’s spinnakers the first day due to a tear and the loss of Mr. Simpson, who had to leave the race after the first leg due to a tooth infection.

      “Luckily, his (Mr. Simpson’s) son Glenn, an experienced sailor, came in to replace Gordon and brought along his friend Pat who actually owns a sister ship (a sailboat of the same model, a CC 32),” said Mr. Pieri. “Another exciting part of the race was the second night. Just as we were coming to Cockburn there was a storm and a lot of lightning, which was exciting.”

      As well, all the boats in leg five from Gore Bay to Little Current hit a hiccup when the wind died down to 2-3 knots an hour around James Foot for an hour and a half before picking up and helping the boats across the finish line.

      “Overall it was a great race,” concluded Mr. Pieri. “I really enjoyed it. It was the best week of sailing of the summer so far.”

      After 10 years the MacMan Challenge International Yacht Race between Mackinac Island and Manitoulin (started by the LCYC) was cancelled this year due to a lack of organizing interest. The new North Channel Race Week was a way to still hold a large race while promoting the beauty of North Channel sailing.

      For full results of this year’s race or more information visit

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      Weekly 5: New Jersey dealer missing in boat crash


      Photo Credit: Rusty Clark, Flickr.

      Nicholas Upton
      July 29, 2014
      Filed under Top Stories, Weekly 5

      The BI Weekly 5 is a collection of tips, news and data affecting the boating industry this week. Be sure to look for the BI Weekly 5 every Tuesday on


      1. New Jersey dealer missing in boat crash

      Andrew Biddle, a champion powerboat racer and manager of New Jersey’s Professional Boat Sales, is missing and presumed dead after his pontoon boat collided with a buoy near Longport, N.J.

      The Coast Guard has suspended its search, although state police continued to search, according to news reports. A passenger on the boat survived the crash and swam to shore.

      Professional Boat Sales, based in Egg Harbor Township near Atlantic City, made news earlier this year when the company’s owner was arrested at the Atlantic City Boat Show.


      2. Deadly year for Colorado boaters

      More boaters have already died this year in Colorado’s waters than in all but one year over the last two decades.

      State officials reported last week that there had been 15 deaths so far in 2014, equaling the 2009 mark of 15, with months left to go in the boating season there.


      3. Brunswick stock lowered to “underperform”

      For the most part, the market seemed to have a positive response to Brunswick’s earnings reported last week, but the analysts at Zacks were apparently unimpressed.  In a note to investors, Zacks lowered its rating from “neutral” to “underperform.” Ahead of the earnings release, analysts at B. Riley had raised the stocks rating from neutral to “buy.”


      4. Consumer confidence up for third month in a row

      Consumer confidence continued its upswing in July, hitting a mark of 90.9, up from 86.4 in June, according to The Conference Board. That’s the highest level since 2007.


      5.  Primer on Canada’s new anti-spam law

      Most companies in the boating industry do business in the U.S. and Canada. If you’re sending emails across the border, here’s a primer on what you need to know about Canada’s new law.

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      24 hours in the life of a Cowes Week sailor

      Just seven boats
      lined-up for the first Cowes Week regatta when it started in 1826, but from
      humble beginnings the world-renowned event now attracts thousands of sailors to
      the Isle of Wight to compete against the best sailors of every class.

      One of them – 22-year-old
      sailor Heather Smith from Southampton – has been sailing dinghies since the age
      of six and discovered her love of yachting when she began university four years

      This week she’s been competing on behalf of Southampton University Officer Training Corps in an under-25s team and Heather’s team is just one of 20 sponsored to take part in the event. The six crew members have spent many hours out on the water preparing for the week’s races, including seven days intensive training in the run up to the event.

      “The crew have done various amounts of training on the boats and playing different roles in the upcoming months, including some Wednesday night racing,” she says.

      “As a crew altogether, we have done a weekend and a week leading up to Cowes. This training was tailored to get us gelling as a team and learning racing techniques. During this week we joined in with races held over at Sea View Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight.”

      While racing against
      other great sailors at Cowes can be challenging, nothing beats the unique
      atmosphere that comes with the event, something that attracted the young sailor
      to compete.

      “The atmosphere
      associated with such a renowned sailing event is fantastic. Being able to use
      my sailing skills in a new competitive environment in such an excellent sailing
      ground is really exciting.”

      Preparing for the race ahead
      With the majority of their
      races kicking off at 11am, Heather and her crew start their day at 8am and
      ensure they have a large breakfast so they have enough energy, as well as preparing
      their lunch, taking on board with them wraps, fruit, snacks and plenty of

      Next they clean the
      chart and tide tables from the previous course and “try not to forget the

      The crew then leave
      their accommodation at 9am and take the chain ferry across to East Cowes Marina
      where they rig their Hunter 707 Artificer
      ready for the race. The group’s vessel has been competing under the sports boat
      fleet in the White group.

      The crew only get the
      course for their race five minutes before it begins, and with Heather playing
      the role of tactician and navigator, she’s responsible for writing down the
      route and advising the skipper on how to sail the best course.

      Once at the line and
      with the noise of the starting gun in their ears, the real work begins as the
      crew battle it out against hundreds of other boats to achieve the best position

      When the weather is on
      their side, high winds provide some exhilarating racing for the crew who aim to
      complete the race in a short few hours. However, this year’s racing at Cowes
      has provided a mixed bag with both light and heavy wind conditions. Thursday
      saw racing called off altogether, as winds conditions were too poor.

      Competing against so
      many others is one of the best parts of Cowes Week for Heather, as she
      explains: “The racing has been really exciting, mostly because our sports boat
      class is really varied, which means we’re up against boats that are a lot
      faster than us.

      “With the weather and
      tidal conditions constantly changing as well, it constantly presents new
      challenges and forces you to change your tactics.”

      “The Solent is one of
      the best playgrounds for sailing boats, you get unique tidal situations and you’ve
      also got the complications of the main shipping channels going straight through
      the area. It’s a bit like an obstacle course really.”

      Enjoying some down time
      Once the day’s racing
      is over, the crew head back into East Cowes Marina and organise the yacht
      before stepping ashore. Once on dry land the crew get to enjoy many of the
      activities on offer across Cowes, from the legendary parties to some of the
      UK’s best restaurants.

      “Myself and the team
      all eat together in the evening and go out to see what is in Cowes, plus a few
      of us have been keeping up with our daily runs.”

      “The entertainment in
      the evening’s been fantastic, it’s been great to just relax to go listen to all
      the live music and sit and have a drink. We’d all really been looking forward
      to the Mount Gay Rum Party which takes place on Thursday.” 

      After a long day
      sailing and partying, the crew will get up again the next day to complete the
      fun all over again.

      “I think Cowes Week
      has got something for everyone, whether you’re on a really big boat in one for
      the IRC classes or in the smaller day boat there’s, something for everyone in
      terms of racing.”

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      75th anniversary of sailing book celebrated


      Iconic boatie Johnny Wray may have been a recluse until the day he died but his DIY legacy continues to inspire Aucklanders.

      The impact of Wray’s adventures was evident this morning as about 100 people attended the relaunch of his 1939 book South Sea Vagabonds at the Viaduct Events Centre.

      Well-known Aucklanders and boaties, including Sir Bob Harvey and 80s rocker Andrew Fagan, attended.

      This year marks the 75th anniversary of his book being published.

      The event coincided with the unveiling of the Ngataki- one of Wray’s boats which has been restored by the Tino Rawa Trust over the last four years.

      Wray died in 1986 on Waiheke Island, where he had lived with his wife Loti who died in 1977.

      The couple never had children.

      He was known for his unorthodox boat building skills, which included using tar seal and whale oil as glue and stealing washed up Kauri logs from beaches around the Hauraki Gulf.

      Wray sailed around the world and was known for transporting goods, particularly oranges, from the Kermadec Islands – and eating most of them on the way home.

      A basket of oranges say atop the Ngataki this morning as a symbol of the cheeky boatie’s antics.

      Friends and family of crew members of the Ngataki, and Wray’s other vessels, attended and got to see the newly-restored boat for the first time.

      Waiheke Island resident and journalist Bruce Ansley has written an introduction for the new edition, which details what happened to Wray after his book was initially published.

      “I don’t know that Johnny would actually recognise the boat because it’s been restored so beautifully,” Ansley said.

      “You can even see the no.8 wire that Johnny put Ngataki together with is still there.”

      A spokesman for the Tino Rawa Trust said Ngataki had been restored using parts from other boats which reflected Wray’s work ethic.

      Wray left his entire estate to the Red Cross. The new edition of South Sea Vagabonds is on sale with royalties being split between the Red Cross and the Tino Rawa Trust.

      The Ngataki will be on display at the viaduct for the entire weekend.

      – Waiheke Marketplace

      Sponsored links

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      Doubts about boater’s death continue

      Egg Harbor Township police confirmed late last week that they were considering that Biddle, 44, may have faked his death to avoid criminal charges. Since then, the disappearance at the sleepy southern tip of Longport has remained enveloped in mystery.

      On Tuesday night, Egg Harbor Township police, in an e-mail, said Biddle had been entered into the National Crime Information Center as a “wanted person with ‘full U.S. extradition,’ all 50 states.”

      Biddle, an Egg Harbor Township resident and highly regarded powerboat racer, was declared missing after his boat hit a buoy and then plowed into a jetty about 11:30 p.m. The lone passenger, Justin Belz, 23, swam to shore and was recalled by witnesses as calling for “Andy.” The incident initiated an 18-hour search by the Coast Guard for Biddle that spanned 60 miles. Belz was being interviewed by authorities.

      News emerged that Biddle may be on the run Friday, after the Atlantic City Press obtained a flier circulated among law enforcement officials saying Biddle was believed “alive and well.” In a statement Friday, township police said it was a scenario that “must be considered.”

      Police have not answered requests for further information this week on the case.

      “I am continuing the investigation as if he were still alive,” Detective Ray Theriault told NBC10 last week. “Given the knowledge I have of what’s occurred in the past, it certainly makes me skeptical.”

      Theriault also said the boat involved in the accident was “stolen by the business that he was a part of.”

      State police are treating the incident as a boat crash involving a missing person, said Capt. Stephen Jones, but the department is aware of Egg Harbor Township’s investigation.

      Biddle, who helped run Professional Boat Sales in Northfield, is facing theft and fraud charges related to allegations he and the company’s owner, Tracy Blumenstein, deceived customers, according to multiple complaints on file with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. One complaint alleges the pair accepted a $20,000 down payment on a boat but never produced the vehicle.

      On the water, the two were esteemed racers with a presence that stretched across the Atlantic Ocean.

      With Biddle as the driver and Blumenstein navigating by his side, the pair took top honors twice in P1 Superstock’s U.S. championship, a national series of offshore races in which professional powerboat drivers compete against each other in identical vessels.

      Last year, they won both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom championships (a first for the Superstock series). Biddle and Blumenstein “crisscrossed” across the Atlantic for the competitions, which each include five weekend-long events between April and September, a P1 spokesman said.

      “It brought international flavor,” Roy Mantle said from London. Mantle said travel expenses are not covered by the championship. “It is demanding. If you’re running a business as well, it is quite stressful.”

      Mantle described Biddle as a “well-liked guy, a real character, always fun, always bouncy, bubbly.” Blumenstein, he said, was quiet, “a man of a few words.”

      “And yet there was a great friendship and bonding between them,” he said. “They were a great double act.”

      As Team Pro Boat, Biddle and Blumenstein were on track to clinch another national victory this year. The team remains placed No. 1 in the U.S. championship. The last round, in Tampa, Fla., took place days before Biddle’s disappearance. The fourth scheduled round, in Cocoa Beach, Fla., is planned for this month.

      Mantle said he was aware of the police investigation from news accounts, but refrained from drawing conclusions.

      “You’re always going to get speculation when someone’s missing,” Mantle said. “What can one say? He’s missing and nobody knows the facts.”

      Competitors in the U.K. race have applied stickers to their boats honoring Biddle. “Andy Biddle,” the black-and-white stickers read, “you are in our thoughts.”

      “It was quite a difficult decision,” given the unclear circumstances, determining how to honor Biddle, Mantle said. “‘Thinking of you’ was probably the best way to reflect our emotions.”

      An attorney for Biddle, Mark Roddy, said he would need written permission to discuss any of his client’s cases. “Obviously in this case, I can’t get it,” Roddy said.

      Likewise, Steven Kaplan, who represents Blumenstein, said he would not comment on the charges. Numerous messages left at the boat business were not returned.

      There was no answer at Biddle’s home Tuesday; no one appeared to be there.

      A page on Facebook dedicated to Biddle’s “safe return” had attracted more than 800 “likes” in the days following July 20. On Tuesday, the page was no longer active.

      856-779-3917 @AJFichera

      Inquirer staff writers Stacey Burling and Jacqueline L. Urgo contributed to this article.

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