Archive for » March 14th, 2015«

Sailing: Female crew win Volvo Ocean race

The Volvo fleet engage in in-port racing in Auckland. Photo / Volvo Ocean Race

An all-female crew took the spoils in yesterday’s in-port Volvo Ocean race, with Team SCA pipping Team Brunel of the Netherlands and Spanish outfit Mapfre.

Swedish-flagged Team SCA are the fifth women-only crew to contest the round-the-world event, but the first in a decade.

The win will come as a welcome morale boost for the team, who are sitting in sixth overall, one place above Team Vestas Wind who are enduring an enforced sabbatical after crashing into a reef in November. SCA’s form in the in-port series has been much better, however, having won the Abu Dhabi event in January.

In-port racing is a competition in its own right but, more importantly, the standings in the short-form series act as tie-breakers for teams tied on points in the main race.

Britain’s Sam Davies usually skippers SCA but her team-mate Carolijn Brouwer filled in at the helm yesterday.

Brouwer read the light and shifting winds judiciously to make a good start and, within moments, established a lead that her boat wouldn’t relinquish.

They made the first turn with almost a minute on the rest of the fleet but the downwind leg saw Team Brunel make considerable gains, shaving the margin to just 20 seconds.

From there it was a two-horse race, but Brouwer and her crew boxed cleverly, knowing that only a slip-up would see them lose it. They refused to make one.

The course was set against the backdrop of Auckland’s downtown, spanning the narrow channel between the waterfront and the port on one side and Devonport and North Head on the other.

Thousands turned out in the blazing sun to watch from the Viaduct, while scores of spectator vessels littered the harbour, hovering around the fringes of the course.

The racing didn’t go the way of the handful of Kiwis involved. Team Alvimedica, home to Ryan Houston, Dave Swete and Stu Bannatyne, finished fifth, and Daryl Wislang’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing brought up the rear after making a false start.

“It was a bit disappointing,” said Wislang. “The wind was pretty shifty. We thought the breeze was coming in from the other side.”

Wislang can afford to chalk the result up, as his team are currently leading the main race.

The crews will have a couple of days to kick their heels, with the onset of Cyclone Pam delaying the start of the Southern Ocean leg to Tuesday at the earliest.

Wislang didn’t seem bothered by the delay, knowing full well from his three previous Volvo expeditions what he’s in for when the boats eventually put out to sea.

“You’re just dealing with the cold day after day – that and getting pummelled. You’re just wet the whole time.”

All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu was a guest on Abu Dhabi and said the experience left him full of admiration.

“You see the energy and how much these guys go through. You’ve got to admire that.”

However, he said he wouldn’t be making a career change anytime soon. “Doing in-port racing would be fine, but getting out in the ocean, I don’t think so.”

Herald on Sunday

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Lake Lanier Association pushes boat title requirement

GAINESVILLE — The Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association recently sent out an email blast with the subject line “Have you seen this houseboat?”

The email contains a couple of photos of a 43-foot 1970 Stardust, last seen at Sunrise Cove Marina around 2011.

“There is an issue with this houseboat, and the Lake Lanier Association would like to get in contact with the owner,” the organization states.

The association, which has worked to remove abandoned boats from the lake, is hoping passage of a House bill requiring boat titles will put muscle in the search for owners of such craft.

“Georgia is one of few states in the U.S. that doesn’t title vessels,” the organization said. “As a result, tracking ownership over the course of time, especially as a vessel changes owners, can be difficult.”

Under the current system, new boat owners pay a one-time sales tax at the time of purchase.

“In addition to that tax, I also pay annually an ad valorem tax on that personal property,” said Joanna Cloud, the association’s executive director and a Forsyth County resident. “It depends on the value of my boat and the county where the boat is located, but for me it works out to about $150 per year.”

Cloud said she pays a registration fee to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources once every three years to register her boat.

Under House Bill 356, new boat owners would pay a one-time 4 percent sales tax but no longer pay an annual ad valorem tax. Owners of existing boats would continue to pay ad valorem.

In both cases, boat owners would have to register their boat annually with their county tax commissioner’s office for the boat title — a $20 fee.

“This is not a new tax,” Cloud said “This is restructuring our current tax and our DNR registration system. The current DNR system is antiquated and not effective at tracking ownership.”

Also pushing the legislation is the Marine Trade Association of Metropolitan Atlanta.

Gainesville Marina’s Philip Burton, who has served as Marine Trade Association president, said he recently pulled a 16-foot boat from Lake Lanier without a current registration sticker, and DNR is trying to find the owner.

“We need some kind of database to find owners or at least keep warm on their trail,” he said.

“This is a good bill,” Burton said. “It’s good for boat owners, lenders and dealers.”

Georgia ranks high in the nation in boat theft, partially “due to the nontitle issue,” according to the Lake Lanier Association.

The group further states: “Some lenders are less willing to finance boat sales in a nontitle state. That leaves fewer lenders willing to finance, which translates into less competition in this market and higher interest rates charged on boat loans to consumers.”

Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Eden said she believes lawmakers want a “one-stop shop” for boat owners to register and title watercraft where they register and title motor vehicles — their county of residence.

“To accomplish this home convenience for the taxpayer, counties like Hall will lose traditional tax revenues to boat owners that live in other counties,” she said.

State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the bill may get pushed into the next legislative session.

“Usually a bill of that depth takes a second year to develop,” he said, adding, however, that he believes the lake association and others should be able to track down owners of abandoned craft.

“We tried to do that bill 10 years ago and there was a lot of opposition to it,” Rogers said.

Burton, for one, is hopeful legislation will still emerge in the 2015 General Assembly, “even if we have to tweak it in the next session.”

“This is not the first time a titling bill has come up, but it is one of the best that has come along,” he said.

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