Tag Archives: America’s Cup San Francisco

You’re No Dennis Conner

New Zealand briefly ahead...Spithill would soon put a stop to that

“I know Dennis Conner. Dennis Conner is a friend of mine.” Said a patron at the tavern I bellied up to. His friend from Scotland older and more subdued knew Dennis too. The two men offered by way of beer induced barrier reduction their back of the envelope opinion on this current incarnation of sports oldest prize.

“Not going to work. It is going to ruin the sport. Ellison is ruining the prize.”

I’d spent the day just north of the historic Midway now in repose in San Diego and open for business as historic artifact to tour. Seated with feet dangling over the piers edge I chewed the racing fat with nomadic armchair sailing types from such distant ports as Santa Cruz, Austin, Seattle, Newport, Yorba Linda, and San Francisco.

These are boomer men. Nearing the abyss of retirement they fend off the day of their uselessness by finding one way or another to remain in the game. But, a boomer man needs a good foil and lining the dock is a wide assortment of women. They won’t let on how much they know while the men can’t help revealing how little they do. This is the real fun. We don’t need to know who won or who lost. We just want to learn the truth by way of a thousand tangled fallacies. It is good for blood pressure.

As spectacle Friday worked better than Thursday or what I saw of Wednesday’s races. The French and American boats fight it out today for first place. Those of us on the edge of thePacific Ocean yesterday witness to the sports most technologically advanced racing machines vanquish their competitors with the brutal vengeance of such earlier masters of the match racing art as the esteemed Mr. Conner.

We bickered among ourselves over the start. Who had the advantage and who screwed up, each of us knew nothing while making up our opinion from whole clothe of pure speculation. And this is the thing. God knows how much it costs, but yesterday for the cost of some time and gas money I was permitted for free to appreciate a few fateful moments between boats on water. Because of the history of the cup we suppose significance, and there must have been something to that. But, in fact it came down to watching two boats and ten sailors see who can best the other. I’ve never had so much knowing so little and having it turn out that I would enjoy myself so much.


Dawn was pristine. The air crisp, clean, the sky empty, the sea was true, chasmal…blue. No chop on the water; no cloud in the sky. Limantour Beach was alone, still, breathless. Not another soul had set foot here this morning, but for Ry and Finn. It was the first day, the New Year. They walked barefoot in the sand at the surf’s edge, acquainting their thoughts to the booze-soaked resolutions they’d taken the night before. The least waves arrived.  The Pacific was in repose between storms.  The surf’s soundtrack was a languid slow curling muffled splashing that reverberated up and down the beach.

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

San Diego for AC 45’s Flaming the Fans Passions

The Advertising Boat....

HarborIslandwas where the northernmost buoys for theAmerica’s Cup 45’s would be making their turn in Race 3. The buoys consist of two power boats that take their positions on the race course and then hold that position not by anchor but under power. They did fine.

The start took place a mile south of where I sat. First leg was a half mile race to the west, the speed of the boats was apparent from this angle. They were across the harbor waters in a matter of tens of seconds, they returned back to the position they started from and then headed toward theHarborIslandbuoy where I waited. This leg was upwind in 12 knots. Most boats were scattered across the course. A small clump of boats were closer. This is a fleet of 8 boats.

Not the Best Camera But Still.......

I was at the upwind buoy. The boats moving up into the wind are not as quick as going either to the side or down wind. The Korean team shot off in the wrong direction at the mark and it took the crew a minute and hundreds and hundreds of meters to regain control of their boat and get it pointed in the right direction and resume racing. They never stopped racing, but by turning the boat in the other direction it allowed them at least to continue to race toward the next mark rather than away from it.

Now a few comments from this fearless spectator(Charles forgive me). I’d recommend the buoys be set closer to the shore. The National Football League has done a great job of turning football into the ultimate video sport, but for sailing to have any chance of seizing the imaginations of fans they need to allow fans the best possible view. The radical race boats need to be recklessly raced as close to their fans as is possible.

This was the fun part....

Now a few comments from this fearless spectator(Charles forgive me). I’d recommend the buoys be set closer to the shore. The National Football League has done a great job of turning football into the ultimate video sport, but for sailing to have any chance of seizing the imaginations of fans they need to allow fans the best possible view. The radical race boats need to be recklessly raced as close to their fans as is possible.

I was at Indianapolis with a seat at turn four where the race cars that survive that turn rocket out of that corner down the straight away past pit row before plunging past the starting line and then again into turn number one where they vanished until magically reappearing in less than thirty seconds at turn three and back into my view from my seat at turn four. I think we are on the right track. The elements are being assembled.

Bottom line is that we need to bigger boats, more wind, and the courage to place the marks where these boats are going to make their turns sited closer to the spectators. The mark today could have been closer to shore. My recipe for success includes: monster boats, nasty wind, and buoys set irresponsibly close to the people. When seated at turn four inIndianapolisI thought if something happened I might be killed if a car went out of control. TheSan FranciscoBayon a windy day is the brickyard of sailing. I realize this is a bit much, but remember a major league batter if hit by a fast ball can be killed, and so perhaps this is what is needed for success, not that we need anyone to be hurt, quite contrary we just want everyone to feel as if they could be hurt. We want spectators to be frightened.


 “Rocket ships, you like rocket ships? I like rocket ships. I like blast offs. I like meeting someone new, launching a new relationship from the launch pad.  I like the climb; I love the being out of mind.  I love going to outer space, but I don’t like orbiting.  I don’t like someone circling around and around my life, and I do not do the coming back to earth part.”

            “None of us does.  You think I’m enjoying my crash landing?”

            “You had a long term relationship. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t understand why two people would waste their time. There never is a happy ending.”

            “You are a force,” Ry admitted to Kristine. He tried to get to her, “happy endings are rare, not impossible, but this isn’t about the odds of you having a good relationship, it’s about you giving yourself the chance to have a life. The woman I was talking to out on the deck was alive; the woman sitting in this car is alive; the feelings you have inside you for that man down in that marina are alive.”

            “Yes, I am alive. And you are alive.  And that part of life I have trouble with, the part called coming back to earth, it hurts too much watching, when the man you care about comes back down, when his head isn’t in the clouds anymore, when he gets his feet back on the ground before you do.  I don’t want to be there when Finn decides I might not be so special anymore.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Life as Transition

The First Show

My beginnings as an entertainer started in 1974 with the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus. I am on the left and Nick Weber the shows creator is on the right. After a year long national tour with the circus I struck out on my own. Sold my motorcycle and bought my 1967 Ford pickup and packed my first show into the back of that truck and set out on a six year non-stop tour.

I learned to go north and south with the weather. I learned to live out of my pickup truck, how to get book dates for the show, where to park and sleep, find showers, make telephone calls, cook of a tailgate, fix the truck when something broke, and to pursue with passion my vision of what my life should be.

What a Pair Sunshine and Her Performing Juggler Dana

I’ve had many partners. Steve Aveson, Nick Weber and Mari Dempsey were my first. Sunshine and then Lacey were next. Learning to solo perform required learning to be totally self-sufficient when out on the road. Touring alone is a different experience. It is an art. Solitude as defined in those days was of a flavor changed by the interconnectivity of now. Without cell phones and electronic mail my chances of having someone contact me rested entirely on the US Postal Service and a
telephone answering service I arranged for back in California. I would check for messages with the service and then set up and pay a small fortune in coins to contact future clients, friends and family.

Circa 1977 Dana Smith in Harlequin Street Theater

            I fell in love with sailing the day I got off the road and set up shop in San Francisco where I would street perform off and on over the next 31 years. Sailing like shows provided me with the sacred bond I had made to keep in my life a place
where I slept that moved. My 1967 Ford was always ready and from 1976 when I first purchased the truck until about 1997 when I finally junked the rig I put some half million touring miles on this baby. The Chevrolet Suburban 4X4 was
next. Put about two hundred thousand on this rig. Next came my Dodge Cummins diesel dually. And at present I roll with a 2007 Toyota Tacoma 4 cylinder 5 speed stick, twenty-seven miles to the gallon rig.

Where I've Lived the Longest of All....

My life is a story of wanderlust. My life is also a story about being a traveling showman. Then, the writing, always the words, and my plays, poems, songs and lyrics, correspondence, magazine articles, and finally the development and completion of my first two novels. Of course imagine if you will with me the million of random incidences, both large and small, occurrences that last a moment and other events that have stretched out over the decades. Children, marriages,
homes purchased, boats I’ve owned, dunderheaded choices made in haste in the moment only to cost me precious spiritual energy tens of years later, and all the while some part of some of what I didn’t do right whittling away at the
purity of the best parts of who I was until accounted for. This is to say that nobodies perfect and I express and honor my flaws and speak up with some candor for trying to address those now.

Malibu Master Bedroom for Showman

            So, this short narrative explains in capsule form where my experience comes from. It explains what work I’ve done and where and where I haven’t lived. At present I am planted firmly in the hills of the East Bay near San Francisco.
Waiting in the garage my trusted Toyota and nearby in Emeryville our trusted sailboat. I am less urgent at the moment about going out on the road or heading out to sea, but the day will arrive when I’ll want that and seek out the opportunity to go, ride the wind across prairie or sea, and find out what else I can know about this world we live in.

Left Coast Lifter

October 27, 2011 Building a Bridge for All the People

Here at work is the Left Coast Lifter. Left Coast a right wing epithet coined to characterize the voting habits of California, Oregon and Washington. We are reliably Liberal. Yesterday was a classic Indian summer day on the San Francisco Bay. This gigantic crane is preparing to hoist into position the last piece of the new Oakland-San Francisco  Bay Bridge. It is a two million pound piece of steel fabricated in Shanghai, China. Ironically the largest public works project in California history turns out to be not quite what it seems. Yes, it will be the largest finished public works project, but it is the largest public works project ever fabricated in another country. I am not sure how that decision was made, but it doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate that if we had fabricated within the United States we might well have employed more people and had more revenue flowing into the community where this fabrication was taking place, paying workers and the factory, and then the workers and the factory would have revenue to pay taxes with and as they say a virtuous cycle might have been enjoyed by the cities, counties and states that all of this activity might have taken place. This is what we our supposed to be electing and appointing leadership to do. In downtown Oakland last night there was a candlelight vigil for Scott Olsen the Iraqi War veteran injured earlier this week when Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan ordered the Occupy Oakland protestors removed from the park they had been encamped in. Here is life, this rich, complex, diverse, multi-faceted stew of all of us mixed up all together and trying to build something that will work better for all of us. I have a suggestion. First, if you are a Mayor forget about removing protestors from your parks. Embrace our right to free speech, to peaceful assembly. Second, if you want to empty the parks of the protestor’s maybe get the big things right, like policy, for example building bridges. Maybe, the cheapest possible price for a bridge part built in China isn’t really the bargain it seems. Perhaps making those bridge parts here might have put food on the table and kept roofs over the heads of our own citizens. Yeah, I’m all for the Left Coast Lifter, I just want it to be lifting the right thing, like the people in this country who need a hand up.

BANKRUPT HEART                                   THE SECOND NOVEL

Ry walked a footpath out to the edge of the bay, a
jetty jutted first south then turned hard to the west forming a breakwater for
the marina. Ry hiked on the trail above the rip-rap. Out on the point where the
jetty turned a woman stood alone in front of an easel. Ry took in the brisk
cool air of morning from behind the watercolorist. She faced the cracking sun
rising from behind the hills in the East
Bay. Next to her was a
portable folding table, sponge, tubes of paint, vase of water, and an
assortment of brushes. She was in no hurry. She stood motionless watching the
horizon. Then, as if coming out of a trance she turned and smiled at Ry. She
had a kindness in her eyes. She was silent, focused. She turned her attention
back to her watercolor.

            “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you
out on the jetty before.”

            “I’ve never been here before.”

            “I know the old Cambodian fisherman,
I call him Bok Choy. He calls me his little pain in the ass.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Prayer at Sunrise before the Masts

At Dawn Upon the Gateway to Paradise

Here at the Emeryville Yacht Harbor just a stones throw from downtown Oakland site of the horrific riot by police that sent an Iraq war Marine veteran to the hospital where he was being treated to a traumatic head injury when what seems to have happened is a tear gas canister shot at the Occupy Wall Street Protesters by the Oakland Police Department collided with his head.

Not one banker arrested for the world wide meltdown induced by their crimes yet the 99% of us who stand up to them are gathered up by mass arrests. What is so pathetic is that all of this is that as the middle class has undergone three decades of abuse while the masters of our economics and politics have flirted with policies that they knew put at risk the stability of our democracy. You have to have a robust, sizable, functional middle class, of robust size and with reasonable opportunities to sustain and build upon the successes we enjoyed since we last escaped from the brutality of the original Great Depression.

So, does anyone believe that we can enjoy a future based upon allowing the financial system to remain under-regulated… and all of the
other nonsense that seems to be part of a long list of failed policies. Most of the solution is through a path of getting big money out of politics. That won’t happen without a long struggle. Game looks on…

I walked Lacey this morning. It is serene here. There is peace. Floating on the surface were three Western Grebes. I love these birds. I
adore watching them hunting, diving for small fish. They are beautiful. All of this beauty, all of this wonder, this great country, all put at risk by the implementation of the wrong policies by a kind of human being that can not bring themselves to share the loaf of bread. Humanity is all of us, all of us together. I’d recommend the top 1% join the rest of us so that we can get to work building a better world.


two go have a walk. I’m going to stick around shoot the breeze with Mike, he’s
our resident scholar; I enjoy listening to him solve the world’s problems.”

            She found Ry’s comment irresistible
bait. “Not worth it. The world as we know it probably came to an end today.”

            “Good thing I bought a boat,” Finn

            She continued. “Lehman filed for
bankruptcy in London
this morning. Market tanked today.  Guy I
work for looked worried.  All I know is
when my boss looks worried, probably a good time for everyone to worry, but
then that would be a perfectly awful waste of a perfectly delicious bottle of

            “I’ll try and put my drinking to
better use,” Ry said, sitting back down on his stool.

            Ry looked across the bar at Mike.
“You didn’t tell me the market plunged today.”

            “Looks like everything went down
today.” Mike said. “Where’s Finn off to?”

            “He’s off on a little trip to
heaven. Thought I’d stick around and enjoy a little more of this hell.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Good Man to Go with a Good Woman aboard a Blue Water Vessel

Handmade Excellence...

I’m a big fan of traditional yachts. Here is Chris and Helen’s. Lyle Hess designed this vessel with the Bristol Channel Cutter in mind. She displaces almost twenty thousand pounds. She is made of wood. Chris built her in New Zealand. While her hull is made up wood she’s been sealed (in fiberglass?) and LPU painted. Helen and Chris have sailed her around the world. Chris helped me on a few problems with my wooden sloop Maestro. Building a yacht of this type requires something on the order of seven thousand hours. Having worked along side Chris it is impressive to compare the speed and accuracy of his work with mine. Not only does my work go slower my work doesn’t look as good as Chris’s work when completed. When I lived in the same marina I used to pause anytime he was working on a project to observe how he approached the thing, what tools and techniques he used. In matters such as wooden boat repair not only are there unusual tools there is also an oral tradition to the craft. Much of what you might want to know isn’t written down. The way to do something is passed from one craftsman to the next. You want to know if someone knows what they are talking about take a look at their boat. I enjoy being aboard their fine boat. It is a place where every inch of every part of their boat is an example of skill, seamanship, and wisdom. It is rare that we are allowed to enter into the very inside of the results of a person’s handmade best efforts. I admire this couple and their fine yacht for what it says about how much beauty they see in the building and maintaining of a classic blue water sailing yacht.


“Creating the
universe was really pretty simple, one big bang…and boom, the whole of creation
in one flash. You’d think after a stunt like that it would be so simple, what
in the name of god would have been so hard about making a good man to go with a
good woman?”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Sailings Unimpeachable Reliable Sources……

Lifeboat Ready to Launch on Stern...It is that diagonal orange object

Sailing is a thinking man’s game. The equipment is complex and so are the sailing skills. And like all human endeavors there are a host of actors, some good and most of the rest? Well, we’ll wish those bad actors a safe voyage as they go about hazarding their own lives at sea. If you look at a big ship you’ll always see that they come equipped with lifeboats. A ship of any size can sink, and any sinking ship is going down because of human miscalculation. If it is equipment failure it is a human that failed to manufacture, maintain or replace the equipment. If the ship hits something it is because a human being wasn’t keeping watch. If it goes aground it means a pilot wasn’t steering the boat in the right direction. And of course
if it is a hurricane, tsunami, lightening storm, collision with an aggressive whale, asteroid falling from the sky or other marvelous acts of god that get us killed at sea we can take comfort in knowing that at least in this case it is our own damn fault for deceiving ourselves into believing that such a thing could never happen to us, those kinds of things happen to those other people. Relatively safe voyaging is never perfect, but for those who simply must take to sea it beats never going because of what you know about mankind. In fact many go to sea because of what they know of mankind. Obtaining good training, finding the best information, and identifying the best most experienced sailing mentors you can find is going to prove crucial to your life. As much as I esteem Bernard Moitessier it should be duly noted he crashed one boat into Mauritius, lost a second in the Caribbean and the last in Cabo San Lucas when Joshua was swept ashore at anchor by Hurricane Paul. So, by all means take what I have to say with a grain of salt, think this through on your own, be careful, you’ve been warned, my hero was a three time loser.


“So, Mike, tell me when was the
last time you were talked down off of a limb you climbed out on, you know what
I mean? According to my understanding on these matters, a man has to do what’s
in here,” Nick pointed to his temple, “and down there,” he pointed somewhere
south of his belt buckle, “they both get to have a say so, they get to speak
their piece, about what a man has to do, and then once its settled, just let
the chips fall where they may.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith