Friday, January 2, 2009

All the Way

There's a saying in aviation, a code of honor:
Fly it all the way to the scene of the crash.

Nick Scandone was no pilot, but surely no one ever lived out such a creed more fully.

Nick died in the early hours Friday, an event entirely foreseen and unavoidable. He had ALS, which cripples and then kills. What Nick did with his ALS, however, was set an example of how to live. First he set a goal, to win a Paralympic gold medal. Then he succeeded.

Around him, his friends fretted that maybe he could hold on long enough to win the US Trials but not long enough to actually race in the Games at Qingdao. Or that he might make it to China but never make it back. And so on. The one who never fretted, at least so's you could see it, was Nick Scandone. But truly, it was a race to the race.

Nick was diagnosed in 2002. Typically, people survive about three years after a diagnosis of ALS, which meant that Nick's averages ran out in 2005. But of course he wasn't aiming at anything average. 2005 was also the year that the former 470 North American champion won the open-division 2.4mR worlds and was voted Rolex Sailor of the Year in the USA. The gold medal race in China was another three years out. So you see how chancy this thing was, all along.

ALS progressively attacks the spine and brain. Come time for the 2008 Trials, Nick could no longer manage the singlehanded 2.4mR, and he teamed up in a SKUD 18 with paraplegic Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, combining "her physical ability and my mental ability."

That phrase, "could no longer manage" conceals a nightmare-welter of developments that, frankly, you just don't want to know about. The man was dying. The disease was gnawing at his every vital. Still, these two had gold medal written all over them, if.

So I held my breath, and I was not alone.

That "if" was resolved conclusively in Qingdao. The final score, by cut-and-paste:
SKUD-18: 11 boats
1. Nick Scandone (Newport Beach, Calif., USA) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass., USA), 2, 1, 1, 1, (3), 2; 7

The last time I saw Nick Scandone, the US Paralympic Team was passing through SFO en route to China for the Games. I drove to the airport to meet and greet and wish them well. I wrote at the time that Nick's handshake was weak, but the eyes were bright. Those who were with him to the end say that he never stopped being a giver.

As for this shot of Nick and Maureen, I blew the focus, but the spirit is clear. And I was a bit misty anyway, so this is kinda sorta how it really looked . . .

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blind Card Bluff

I’ve been doing some hard traveling (well, nothin’ on Woodie Guthrie), and it’s not over, so nowsabout I stick my head up for a breath of air down by the tracks and low and behold the whistle tells of Alinghi and a passle of the other AC players confabbing in Geneva and petitioning Larry Ellison to join the table.

I turn my back for one minute and this happens.

And before I disappear again . . .

It’s been a fascinating play on the part of Alinghi/Ernesto Bertarelli to leverage off the Down Under plans for a Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup, turn around, and say come one, come all, come race. Let’s get the next America’s Cup in gear regardless of what happens (or not) in court. And oh, by the way, Kiwi dears, if you’ll drop your suit we’ll enter the Louis Vuitton Pacific and face-savingly embrace you warmly etc etc and bless the event with the presence of the Defender of the America’s Cup. And oh, by the way, BMW Oracle Racing, drop that 600-pound gorilla lawsuit against CNEV, join the party (should I say, join the Party), and all is forgiven.

By December 15.

Or all is not forgiven.

And then, baby, if you win in court you get to take your chances on a Deed of Gift match for the Cup. And if you lose that one, you’re not tapped out, you’re o-u-t.

Imagine a poker game where you put your money down—on cards that are face-down, unseen. Those cards would be equivalent to the New York Supreme Court Ruling, still probably months away, as to CNEV’s status or un- as a legitimate Challenger of Record. It’s a blind bet. Card counters, your talents are useless.

The best minds I know say, “no way” should CNEV be declared legit, but the last court ruling declared the equivalent of “sure, whatever” and blessed CNEV’s status to most everyone’s surprise including the few then-still-operating elements of CNEV. Me, I was merely flabbergasted to read what seemed like at best a flabby ruling.

So, how does Larry bet? How would you bet?

PRESENT in Geneva
- Alinghi, Société Nautique de Genève, Switzerland – Defender of the 33rd America’s Cup
- Desafío Español, Club Náutico Español de Vela, Spain – Challenger of Record
- Shosholoza, Royal Cape Yacht Club, South Africa
- TeamOrigin, Royal Thames Yacht Club, United Kingdom
- Emirates Team New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, New Zealand
- United Internet Team Germany, Deutscher Challenger Yacht Club, Germany
- Green Comm, Challenge Circolo di Vela Gargano, Italy
- Ayre, Real Club Náutico de Dénia, Spain
- Victory Challenge, Gamla Stans Yacht Sällskap, Sweden
- Argo Challenge, Club Náutico di Gaeta, Italy
- French Spirit, Yacht Club de St Tropez, France
- Carbon Challenge, Royal Belgian Sailing Club, Belgium

ABSENT in Geneva
-BMW Oracle Racing
-Mascalzone Latino

The response from Tom Ehman, speaking for BMW Oracle and the Golden Gate Yacht Club::

“We have offered repeatedly to drop our lawsuit if Alinghi commits to fair rules, and our offer still stands. We would like nothing better than to have a fully competitive multi-challenger America’s Cup on the water by 2010. We stand ready and willing to meet with Alinghi and all of the other competitors to discuss the future of the Cup, but without unreasonable pre-conditions.”

In case you missed it there’s this: Alinghi's announcement

And this: The release from the meeting

Me, I'm hopping a freight train to wherever. I’ll be quiet for a while, back with you some time before mid-November—Kimball

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Changed My Mind

So I was going to write about the current state or nonstate of the America's Cup—playing chicken, something like that—but I just can't get the words out.

Is it possible that what I hear coming back at me is a collective, "Oh thank gawd!"

Far more rewarding to note that the Challenger of Record du Jour's former team had a breakthrough in the long race of the TP52 Worlds at Lanzarote. That would be Desafío under Paul Cayard winning a 53-mile race in under five hours. Add twelve seconds, and over the line comes Terry Hutchinson and Quantum.

Quantum had been in front until a spinnaker blew.

We'll call that close.

What they talked about all night, however, was this clusterment at the first mark that included a hit (Russian boat's bow into stern of Platoon) with Bribón disqualified for not giving room to Synergy. Worth a click to enlarge.

Nobody has more fun, eh?

Thanks to Nico Martinez for the pics.

That's Desafío above, which gives you some insight into the conditions and helps in turn to explain why . . .

After Platoon completed the course, the boat's ex-Commie helmsman Jochen Schümann (he won a Finn gold medal for East Germany in 1976) made the beach and declared, "My whole body aches."

Me, I can't look at Paul driving with the tiller extension and not think of him as a kid in a Laser, surfing the break at the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pushing the envelope.

And I'm impressed, frankly, that the Mediterranean TP52 fleet, famously built for light going, held together except for some blown sails. With four buoy races to go for the world title, Quantum has the points advantage in a fleet of 14:

1. Quantum (USA), Terry Hutchinson, 2-6-1-4-6-2.50-2.50, 24.00 points
2. Mutua Madrileña (CHI), Vasco Vascotto, 3-1-6-1-1-8.75-10, 32.00 points
3. Artemis (SWE), Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1-2-2-11-13-1.25-10, 40.25 points
4. Desafío (ESP), Paul Cayard, 5-7-11-12-2-5-1.25, 43.25 points
5. Platoon (GER), Jochen Schuemann, 8-9-12-3-3-6.25-3.75, 45.00 points


OK, it's nothing to match the world records set in Namibia this fall, but the Midwest Speed Quest continues to be one of the coolest boutique operations going. I wrote about it on October 18, 2007 (Make Something Happen) and described how Craig Bergh took it on himself to just . . . make . . . this . . . thing . . . happen.

That is, to invite people to come to the center of his world, Worthington, Minnesota, and partake of the big breeze that blows across the plain. And partake of his hospitality. And get out on Lake Okabena and sail fast. As Craig describes the deal, looking back over 2008:

"I really want to thank the Sailors. Our home remains open to all visiting Windsurfers. We invite you all back again in 2009!

"The Midwest Speed Quest was designed to be different. This event is free to all participants, and yet pays the highest Prize Money in North America. The purpose is to promote the new Sport of Speed Sailing and the City of Worthington. Our goal was to bring Sailors of all skill levels together and introduce them to the new Sport of Speed Sailing. The schedule was open 7 days a week for a 6 month period. Any visiting sailor was assured of the chance to participate anytime he/she was in the area. We provide free or discounted motel rooms at the AmericInn, free refreshments on the Beach, and free hot meals at the end of the day.

"And we had the best Speed Sailing gear available for visiting sailors to try out.

"We also provided free on-site Child Care and Pet Care. We even provided Spousal Care (care of the Windsurfing Widow)!

"All the work associated with this event was done on a volunteer basis. Meals and refreshments were served beachside all season long free of charge. A special thanks to my wide Pamela Bergh for the many fine meals cooked and served over the last 6 months to the visiting Sailors.

"We were delighted with the demo gear provided by the Sponsors. Each year we seek out the finest Speed Sailing Gear available anywhere in the world."

Much of that gear is loaned out, and some of it goes as prizes.

You gotta love this guy. The '08 results:

1st Place: David Knight, Fridley MN 31.57 knots (36.31 mph)
2nd Place: Guy Miller, Austin Texas 31.46 knots (36.18 mph)

1st Place Allison Shreeve, Sydney Australia 26.24 knots (31.18 mph)
2nd Place Karen Marriott, Lakewood CO 22.78 knots (26.20 mph)

Dig that? Here's David Knight doing his Lake Okabena thing, as photographed by Todd Spence . . .

Now, in the spirit of the Midwest Speed Quest, go make something happen.

SIGH . . .

And I guess I need to put SAIL on record as acknowledging that Alinghi . . . oops, how could I be so silly as to write that? I mean of course La Société Nautique de Genève, as Defender, has announced an event upcoming in a matter of weeks for a few Cup players—apologies to those of you on some other side of the world—which is apparently intended to comply with the Annual Regatta obligation of the Challenger of Record du Jour, CNEV, an entity-of-sorts that nearly blew away in the dust of all court rulings to date except one. The most-recent one.

And they have announced a resumption-of-sorts of planning for the 33rd America's Cup, with an entry deadline that puts antagonists BMW Oracle Racing and Team New Zealand in a place-your-bets position by demanding entry from all challengers before December 15.

Almost certainly before the pending appeal is decided in the New York courts, re. the status of CNEV as a qualified Challenger of Record.

An interesting play, actually. Much better than some of Alinghi's moves.

And you gotta love this official announcement: "Alinghi, Defender of the 33rd America’s Cup, accepts the Challenger of Record, Club Náutico Español de Vela’s invitation to race in the America’s Cup Class series during their Annual Regatta in Valencia on the 8 and 9 November."

It was so good of CNEV to think of them.

Now, if there's anything bugging you about the America's Cup, do let us know . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let There Be Light

It's release day for Morning Light, time to gather up friends and neighbors and kids—and nonsailors—and take Roy Disney's Transpac movie for a test tide.

I saw the premiere last week, at the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard, where Roy and Leslie Disney introduced the film with a waving Mickey Mouse ("the family crest") beside them onstage. People see the start of an ocean race, Roy said, and they see the finish: "We wanted to fill in the gap in between."

Try it. You'll like it. So will your friends who don't sail. It's a well-told tale of young people on a great adventure, racing from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and it is filmed as no sailing movie was filmed before. Will the movie draw a crossover audience? Those who see it will like it, and sailors will be coming back to Morning Light for years to come.

A confident prediction, and it's mine. Even curmudgeonly officers of Transpac Anonymous were caught up.

And what do I mean when I say that it was filmed as no sailing movie was filmed before? Heed this outtake from the October issue of SAIL Magazine:

Naturally the young crew of a 52-foot boat needed training to sail a Transpacific Race as the stars of a Disney movie. Less obvious is the prep needed for the film crew. Midway through listing the methods tested ("fixed cameras, high-wide views, infrared") producer Morgan Sackett interrupts himself to say, "Without 10 weeks of training and 10 months to plan, we'd never have been ready."

Plan A envisioned "a bulletproof system" of remote cameras on the raceboat, but a few [cough] thousand dollars into watersoaked electronics, Sackett saw, "It wasn't going to work. We had to put a cameraman on board."

Good call. Enter the uniquely-qualified Rick Deppe, a Transpac and Volvo veteran who also has filmed for The Deadliest Catch. It's a digital world. Sackett says, "We could never have shot with film cameras." Even so, Morning Light sailed hundreds of pounds heavy, including extra battery power and supporting fuel.

The key to the movie, however, was a cameraboat pacing for 2,500 miles. Forced to replace that chase boat two weeks before race time, executive producer Roy Disney hired Steve Fossett's round-the-world maxi catamaran. Cheyenne's mast was already removed in anticipation of new uses, and a tripod was mounted, but suddenly Cheyenne's crew was racing to go to sea in 2 weeks, not 6.

And there's Mark Monroe, the director, chosen in part because he is not a sailor: "They didn't want an insider point of view." In his race to the race, however, Monroe "was so caught up in devising how to film that I never gave a thought to crossing an ocean for the first time in my life. The day we left, I threw a couple of t-shirts in a bag and the next thing I knew I was getting a safety briefing. I can tell you, it was an adventure, but no pleasure cruise.

"Two days out I realized we could have brought along a supermarket. Instead, we had ourselves a former race boat stocked with oatmeal and freeze-drieds. One of our guys freaked and raided the galley, and he was coming up with all these numbered packets and that's when we realized the packets were numbered for days at sea. Leftovers from the boat's circumnavigation record in 2004."

Welcome to the life, Mark. The director's highlight? "No question," he says: "When Samba Pa Ti popped up, and we filmed a match race in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It galvanized the film crew; it galvanized the sailors."

The European multihull scene has changed. The 60-foot tris that served as sex symbols for so many years are has-beens, and 2010 Route du Rhum organizer Pierre Bojic (his organization, Pen Duick, also handles Transat Jacques Vabre, and Transat AG2R) says it's time to move to bigger boats.

"Over the last two years, nothing has happened within ORMA", Bojic says. "There are no new projects, no architects doing research, and no sailors trying to raise funds."

So bring on the maxis. Orange, Kingfisher, etcetera, and expect a circumnavigation race in 2011.

Volvo: Good, but no longer boxy
I hope you're following leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race, Alicante to Cape Town. The competition is keen, and I'm fully invested as editor to Matt Gregory, who is blogging from the nav station of Delta Lloyd.

Delta Lloyd is an older-generation 70 (modified; the winner of the last race). It came into this race at the last minute, and it was running last getting out of the Med so I suppose it's only natural that the Volvo promotions people sort-of ignored it for a while. That changed when Delta Lloyd started making smart moves and passing boats, working down the Saharan coast of Africa. Now the fleet is setting up for transiting the doldrums, which is the subject of the newest of Matt's missives to land in my email. About 12 hours after the last one. The man's a worker.

Volvo Race rules seal the crews off from the internet, so I have to post for Matt. What he hasn't mentioned yet at Volvo Hotseat is that Saturday the 18th is his 32nd birthday. Sister Caroline writes:

The big question for Matthew Gregory on October 18th is: What flavor birthday cake will you have on board? Can they make that in freeze dried form? If not, will anything else take the place of your favorite Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream cake??

Inquiring minds want to know....and wish you a very

Caroline, Mom and Dad


Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Sofa, One TV

A couple of weeks ago I was banging around the yacht club and my homie Matt Gregory grabbed me and I could see he was excited. The conversation went like this:

"Hey Kimball. I just signed on to navigate Delta Lloyd in the Volvo Ocean Race."


"Do you, maybe, have room to store a sofa and a TV?


"Wait, there goes my phone."

(reaching for a pocket)

"Just a sec.

"It's my dad.

"He probably wants to take out more insurance on me . . . "

[Update. I'm leaving what I originally wrote below, claiming that Delta Lloyd navigator Matt Gregory's blog would be launching soon. But you should know that it's already launched and running updates at Volvo Hotseat.]

Thus it begins. Matt is planning a blog that will run on beginning very soon. Soon as in, as soon as we convince the robots at that it's not spam.
Beep. Beep.

In the meantime Matt spills a bit about his unpeace of mind right here in Counting the Hours to the Volvo.

There's one piece of very good news. It's been blowing dogs off chains along the Spanish coast today and raining to wash away the evidence. Better to get that out of the way before eight Volvo 70s leave Alicante on Saturday.

Before the rain hit, Matt (left, bottom row) lined up along with the boys for the lens of David Branigan/Oceansport.


Interesting to see that around the corner from the Med, at Portimão, Portugal, we have Portimão Global Ocean Race organizer Brian Hancock commenting thus on the six entries in his circumnavigating regatta that leaves on Sunday:

"We have an eclectic fleet for the inaugural event, small to be sure, but of the highest quality and with numbers on a par with the Velux and Volvo. We aspire to a fleet the size of the Vendée Globe but it has taken almost three decades for them to get to that level. There is deep interest in our race but with the economy in free fall and the fact that we are a brand new event, there is a certain and understandable reticence among some sailors, the French in particular, to throw their hand in with us. They will be there for race two, I am sure of it."

The PGOR is open to Class 40s and Open 40s, sailed either solo or doublehanded. It is intended as a cost-conscious entry point for the next generation of top dog circumnavigators.

Fast Moving and ROB You Were So Close

Over in Namibia at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, kite sailor Rob Douglas has achieved 50.54 knots over the 500-meter course to up his record as the fastest American speedsailor and claim the number two spot worldwide behind Alex Caizergues at 50.57.

I believe that's a gap of three one-hundredths of a knot.

Douglas, who held the world record for fourteen days at 49.84 knots, now edges out Sebastien Cattelan for the number two spot, but we should not forget that Sebastien was the first to break 50.

One point worth making is that these kiters are using equipment that is pretty-much stock, perhaps with a bit of jiggering to the control lines. Douglas' kit retails for about $2,500: Amundsen boards with Curtis fins, Cabrinha kites, Dakine equipment.

Thursday was expected to be the last day of the big breeze at Lüderitz, so unless they spring a surprise on me this is it. l'Hydroptere got excited last week, over in the Med, and grabbed a headline by reporting a burst to 52 knots. s'Okay. They're not the first with a burst, and they're not the first at the headline game.

And I Didn't Even Know There Was Gonna Be A Meeting

This from BMW Oracle Racing:

October 8, 2008

GGYC spokesperson Tom Ehman said, "Unfortunately, the meeting between Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli in Trieste did not take place. We remain eager to resolve this issue and return the 33rd America's Cup to the water as a multi-challenger regatta under fair rules. We hope and expect the meeting will be rescheduled to take place in the near future."
- Ends -

No it doesn't—Kimball

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ordinary Not Applicable

Tom Perkins took me for a ride last weekend, on that boat of his. He stood at the control station, played with his touchscreen options, and sailed us around San Francisco Bay. He said, "You can learn to sail this boat in five minutes." Maybe. It would take little old me longer than that to get over being surprised by it, even though I've known the details for a couple of years . . .

Photo by Dick Enersen, Staff Commodore, SINS

If I understood correctly, Maltese Falcon had a wheel when it was launched, but the wheel proved pointless. Or maybe the wheel was merely part of the original design. Everything is high-tech mechanical and computer-controlled, so why not go the extra step? Now there's only a tiny nob to control the left-right function. Port-starboard as my nautical friends say . . .

Sails are deployed from one touchscreen panel. Stress on the free-standing carbon spars is monitored from another. Etcetera.

What's amazing is to stand on deck as the masts rotate. It's as shocking as watching a redwood forest move around. As always, if you click the pic, you get a much larger, more profound, view . . .

There's been a lot written about the technology of the boat; no point repeating it here. There's a web site at On a beam reach in a modest breeze we looked at 16 knots through the water, not quite that at the moment I squeezed the shutter . . .

I call it a boat, but you could just as well call it a ship. We're talking 289 feet and 1,240 tons, well over the threshold of 300 tons that requires the presence of a Bar Pilot to operate inside San Francisco Bay.

Someone asked me later, does the boat heel? Yep, it's a sailboat. Here's the XOJET crowd hanging out . . .

Perkins likes passagemaking. That's his favorite thing. The boat has covered 50,000 miles in two and a half years, he says, 65 percent of it under sail, "and on our last Atlantic crossing, once we were under way, we didn't motor for one minute."

We were not exactly crowded . . .

Here's a point of order. Click on the image above, to enlarge it, then look at the boats in the background. They're standing almost straight up in almost no wind. Then look at the attitude of the Falcon, generating apparent out the wazoo, and we're trucking.

Below we see San Francisco Yacht Club rear commodore Ray Lynch and commodore John Swain in conference. At this point the XOJET Leukemia Cup Regatta was known to have netted over $600,000. The total would exceed $662,000, 32 percent of that raised by even chair Ian Charles after this cancer thing got personal . . .

Mr. Latitude 38, Richard Spindler, was in fine form . . .

Tom owns classic boats too, but this is a different aesthetic . . .

Sails were furled off Richmond at the end of the day, and we motored upwind through Raccoon Strait, not because the boat couldn't have sailed but because there simply was too much traffic, and many of the boats were on their final leg of the Leukemia Cup. Perkins and all hands were on full alert. Falcon brought up the rear, but cruising boats were drawn like a moth to flame. Everybody wants a close look. Here are Captain Chris Gartner and San Francisco Bar Pilot Peter Fuller at the motoring console, which is forward of the sailing console . . .

And speaking of moths to flame, we're still agog, here in our little patch of water, that a forty footer managed to t-bone the Falcon while it was carrying guests on Saturday. Peter Lyons caught the sequence and generously supplied same, but then I realized I just don't want to see those pictures here. Everyone I've talked to, from passengers aboard to observers nearby, describe a "didn't have to happen" event in which the 40-footer suddenly, inexplicably altered course and nosedived into the side of the big black boat with the helmsman of the "little" boat apparently frozen in place. Too bad for all. Scratches on the side of the big boat, a busted rail, and a torn sail that had the crew sewing on Saturday night. I'm glad my ride was less eventful. I like to remember my time aboard as an arty conversation with Telegraph Hill slipping by in the background . . .

Next, Tom picks up his new "flying sub" and heads south. The sub will nestle forward, between the tenders, and the wings can be removed in case of breaking seas. Tom was proud to note that his tenders are launched in the traditional way, from the yards . . .

Come time for Leukemia Cup 2009, this will be hard to equal. Say, are those topsides shiny or what? I bet the owners of the yawl in the reflection (either a Rhodes Reliant or a Cheoy Lee 40; I couldn't tell) never expected to see it this way, in a picture with Tom Perkins . . .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I interviewed Tom Perkins while Maltese Falcon was still in build, and it was like talking to a 13-year-old boy who had just seen
—really seen—a girl for the first time.

We're talking enthusiasm. Perkins had owned big sailing yachts and found them addictive but difficult and here was this concept, the Dynarig, that promised to go them one better. The concept had been around for decades but no one had paid it off. That would require someone who thinks big, lives large, and has a sense of adventure about it.

Later, being an inventor type who developed into a creative capitalist, it was only natural for Perkins to catch the fever when he came across Graham Hawkes and his concept for "flying" submersibles (buoyant, descending on the power of inverted wings). That was a couple of years ago at the Monaco Boat Show. Perkins wrote a check for hull number one, for practical purposes funding the development. Part of the program in having Maltese Falcon on San Francisco Bay right now is to pick up Tom's new sub.

Photo by Erik Simonson

So finally I get to see a 289-foot sailing boat with three free-standing spars bearing 15 "square" sails that function as three unitary airfoils. Which is my pivot point to ask: What would get "the entire yacht club to rally around" a charity regatta?

Let's make a list:
A do-good feel-good cause that will get you all choked up if you think about it.

Since 1993 the Leukemia Cup Regatta has grown from an idea to a nationwide engine that has raised more than $23 million. The soon-to-be XOJET Leukemia Cup Regatta, October 4-5 at The San Francisco Yacht Club, has already topped half a million bucks and the event is yet to come. It's the biggest ever, and yes, what that's all about is:

1. Story: This story is already on the street, how Ian Charles pitched in to help his buddy, Bill Nolan, when Bill's young son was diagnosed. "For the 2007 regatta I committed to raising $25,000. I got a call-back asking if I had put down too many zeroes, but I hit $30,000 and it was the most satisfying thing I have ever done—my first time doing something purely for other people." Charles later agreed to chair the 2008 regatta. He says, "I was honored, but I felt awkward because I had not been touched by cancer; it wasn't in my family." Then came his own diagnosis of myeloma, last spring, at age 39. Six rounds of chemo ago.

Fast-forwarding to Charles' next quote about his fellow yacht club members: "I couldn't believe that many people cared."

2. Glamour: I mean Falcon, of course.

3. A cause: Lots of people are doing cancer this year. If you don't know somebody, just wait.

Tom Perkins doesn't have to wait. He lost his wife, Gerd, to cancer in 1994.

XOJET Leukemia Cup Regatta

What a deal. The San Francisco Yacht Club goes into its third year of running a Leukemia Cup Regatta, and a longtime member lends support, and the timing just happens to work out (well, with a little fiddling) to bring in his superstar boat as a lead attraction. The arrival last Saturday of Maltese Falcon (I missed it; I had cruised up the San Joaquin with a few hundred of my closest friends) was huge. Ian Charles says there were "more boats on the bay than I've ever seen, whether it was Opening Day in the spring or a Blue Angels performance in the fall."

Ian's form of blood cancer affects the plasma cells. He's had the best of treatment ("I was diagnosed on a Friday and started chemo on Tuesday") and has achieved something in the way of 95 percent remission. Next Tuesday, he gets a stem cell transplant, or the beginnings of one, and along the way he's had the pleasure of mystifying his caregivers by showing no side effects to treatment, he says: "No nausea, no fatigue, no skin irritations; I've been able to go on with my life." Which in his case has included three triathlons, a lot of sailing, and a lot of fund raising. He is poised to double his $100,000 goal.

"The stem cell transplant in a case like mine usually results in complete remission," Charles says. "Then the question becomes, how long does remission last?

"They can't keep going after the same cancer with the same treatments. That's why research is important. You're buying time."

Photo by Erik Simonson

More Falcon

She was built on an existing steel hull. It's the rig and the audacity that make Maltese Falcon unique. Having her on the scene, Charles says, "Raises the regatta to a different level. Tom let us auction off lunches and sailing time on the boat, and those tickets went in a hurry. He brought Rupert Murdoch to be the keynote speaker. He's letting the race committee use his motoryacht, Atlantide, on the finish line. Somehow, when the time comes for me to say 'thank you,' it's not going to be enough."

Actually, Ian, I think it just might be. You're talking about a guy whose first boat on San Francisco Bay was Pequod, a sistership to the Teak Lady pictured here. Tom Perkins has moved along from his 17-footer, but he's kept his sailing friends.

Let's close on some good news. Regatta cochair Bill Nolan's ten-year-old son, Campbell, is in remission after two years of treatment for the rare T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia that started the yacht club down this road in the first place.

And the "flying sub" is nothing but cool. Drop into and submerse yourself in the facts—Kimball