News & Views

JURGEN KANTNER: German Cruiser Beheaded in Philippines, Body Recovered

Sabine and Jurgen

We have some very grim news here. That Jurgen Kanter, taken hostage by the Filipino terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, late last year, was beheaded last week after a ransom demand of $600K was not met. Just yesterday there came follow-up reports that Kantner’s remains have been recovered by the Philippine military. Reportedly, Philippine armed forces suffered fatal casualties during operations conducted in an effort to rescue Kantner and other hostages held by Abu Sayyaf. Evidently, no details on these casualties are available.

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LUCKY 13: Rich Wilson Completes His Second Vendee Globe, Fastest American Ever

Wilson returns

After running much of the Vendee Globe in 14th place (out of an original fleet of 29), the race’s only wholly American competitor, Rich Wilson, got lucky as he started closing on the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne two weeks ago. It wasn’t the sort of luck you openly pray for, as it came at the expense of another competitor, the half-American Conrad Colman (the other half is Kiwi), who was ahead of Rich in 10th place when his boat, Foresight Natural Energy, was dismasted less than 800 miles from the finish. Conrad did cobble together a jury rig, but he hasn’t been fast enough to stay in front of Rich, and so it was that Rich finished in 13th place the day before yesterday.

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BE GOOD TOO REVISITED: The EPIRB Question, Why She Didn't Sink, What Happened to Gunther, and a Shameless Book Plug

BGT abandoned

There has been much less furor online about the rediscovery of the Alpha 42 catamaran Be Good Too (hull no. 1) on a beach in Scotland than there was when we abandoned her three years ago. Which is a good thing for sure. I was disappointed to see, however, that Gregor Tarjan of Aeroyacht, formerly president of Alpha Yachts, has seized on the boat’s reappearance to again malign her crew. If you take a moment to read his full rant here, you’ll see his primary accusation, the “worst” thing that happened, was this: “The crew DID NOT leave the activated EPIRB aboard to mark the 40’ vessel for other mariners. BE GOOD TOO would for 3 years represent a deadly threat to other small boat sailors.”

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DEAD GUY: Cartoonist Mike Peyton

Peyton drawing

I never met Mike Peyton, but I always wished I had. In my younger days I drew a lot of cartoons, and I also enjoyed sailing of course, and when I got older and somehow fashioned a career of sorts out of writing about boats I always thought it would be super-cool to draw cartoons about them too. The only guy I ever knew of who actually did that was Mike Peyton, who passed on last night at age 96. I knew his work mostly from the many issues of the British magazine Yachting Monthly that I devoured over the years, so it was only appropriate that I learned of Mike’s passing through YM’s ex-editor-in-chief Paul Gelder, who sent on the following:

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2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Le Cleac'h Is Victorious!

Banque Pop finish

It’s done. Try as he might, Alex Thomson could not overhaul Armel Le Cléac’h in the last mad dash back to France. Le Cléac’h sailed his IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire across the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne at 1537hrs UTC this afternoon, setting a new Vendée Globe race record of 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes, and 46 seconds, just under four days faster than the old record set by Francois Gabart four years ago. Thomson, as I write, was expected to come in about 12 hours behind him.

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BE GOOD TOO RETURNS: My Favorite Abandoned Catamaran Appears On a Beach in Scotland

Be Good beached

How the worm turns! I posted my account of how I and three others abandoned the Alpha 42 catamaran Be Good Too 300 miles off North Carolina exactly three years ago today. And now here I am come to report she has just washed up on a beach in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. I couldn’t believe it at first. A guy named Jef on the island of South Uist sent me the photo you see above just yesterday, plus a few others, and asserted he thought it must be Be Good Too. The only similarity I saw was in the reverse destroyer bows. Other than that it was impossible to say if it was the same boat or not.

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2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Battle of the Foils Denouement

Armel on Banque Pop

Last we discussed this the race leaders, Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire (seen above, celebrating the New Year), had just been in sight of each other as Armel passed Alex and then opened up a slim 15-mile lead. It seemed my remarking on this was a jinx for Alex, as Armel’s lead steadily increased from there, to over 800 miles, and it was starting to look like Game Over for Alex. After the duo rounded Cape Horn, however, Armel fell into light air while Alex powered on and in a matter of days that lead magically evaporated. At one point it shrank to about 20 miles(!) and as of today Alex is only about 130 miles behind, still with a serious shot of winning this thing as the duo, who are both now in the North Atlantic again, pick their way through a complex weather system to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne.

But wait! We also can’t entirely rule out the third-place skipper, Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ, who has been staging his own Furious Comeback since rounding the Horn and has whittled a deficit of well over 1,000 miles to 650… and shrinking… by the hour… maintaining speeds of around 12 knots as I write, while Armel and Alex diddle around at sub-5-knots speeds in the Doldrums.

As Yogi Berra would say: It ain’t over, etc.

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ASIAN MISFORTUNES: Cruisers Killed, Kidnapped & Gone Missing in Malaysia and the Philippines

Atlantis on beach

This is actually about two different incidents that recently occurred, and I shall defy expectations and tell the story with the happy ending first. This concerning a veteran Australian cruiser, David Lenton, age 74, who was reported missing by Malaysian authorities and was believed to have drowned after his yacht, Atlantis, was reportedly “found adrift and abandoned” in Malaysian waters, off the town of Miri on the island of Borneo, this past Sunday morning. Appearing with the news snippet announcing this was the photo above, in which the yacht in question is notably unadrift, and is instead aground on a beach, evidently with an anchor set.

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2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race

What a nail-biter! Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire have been swapping places at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet for some time now and are deep in the Southern Ocean, not too far west of the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at the southwestern tip of Australia. Le Cleac’h is the French heir apparent favored to win the race at the outset; Thomson is the Great Anglophone Hope, the only non-French competitor to have any chance of winning the race since Ellen MacArthur came a close second to Michel Desjoyeaux way back in 2001.

The ugly twist: Thomson has broken off his starboard J-foil (just as Ellen MacArthur lost one daggerboard after rounding Cape Horn in the 2000-01 race) and is essentially fighting with one hand tied behind his back. As the image up top suggests, when sailing on port tack Hugo Boss is a bit tender.

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