Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Million Dollars Saves Lives

The sad news this afternoon of Steve Jobs’ death at the way-too-young age of 56 of a rare form of pancreatic cancer got me off my butt to write up my notes on the fabulously successful 6th annual Leukemia Cup, hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, raising a massive one million dollars for cancer research.

In fact, I may not be writing this today if it weren’t for my MacBook, iPhone, iPod and multiple other iAccessories, and I extend my gratitude to Jobs for his ingenuity, creativity and courage to continue his incredible contribution to life as we know it today, especially in the light of multiple misfortunes he encountered in his own life.

I like a quote that Jobs made six years ago, talking about how a sense of his mortality was a major driver behind his vision:

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Jobs’ words lend meaning to the all-around success of last weekend’s Leukemia Cup.

It was one filled with stories of local sailors who have survived the disease and live to continue their passion - racing sailboats.

Guest speaker at Saturday night’s VIP dinner was no less than John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the world’s most famous venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley.

Doerr’s first words Saturday night?

“Cancer sucks!”

Any thoughts I initially had that Doerr’s speech may be on the dry side were quelled pretty much instantly. He held a spellbound audience for a good 45 minutes and they/I would have happily let him continue.

In 2008 he and Jobs announced the Kleiner Perkins $100 million iFund, declaring the iPhone "more important than the personal computer" because " it knows who you are" and "where you are," stated Doerr, reminding a captive Leukemia Cup audience that mobile media began with Apple’s resurrection in the late 1990’s, and combined with other incredibly innovative Apple products are worth $88 billion a year in new biz for Apple.

“Apple makes you lust for its products,” Doerr categorically stated.

Oh yeah! Do they ever. I fondly remember my first desktop computer - an Apple. I was in love.

Doerr focused his speech on “the tsunami of social media” - So, Lo and Mo - Social, Local and Mobile, and how Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way we live today.

“Our teens have 500 Facebook friends," he said. "If Facebook was a country, it’d be the third largest in the world.”

Doerr’s sincerely inspiring words followed the audience out on the Bay on Sunday where some 100 boats enjoyed perfect fall racing conditions as a steady westerly breeze of 10-12 knots came in for a noon start.

A challenging regatta to get off the line, with 9 divisions catering to boats ranging in size from 20 to 50 feet, PRO Bartz Schneider sent racers on a “Bay Tour” with almost as many courses as divisions.

“My target was to have all of them finish in about 2 hours,” Schneider said. “The range of ratings and the range of speeds was tremendous. The lowest rated boat was a Farr 400 with a rating of -21 seconds and the slowest a Cal 20 with a rating of about 250. That’s one big difference. The other difference is that for most regattas today we use inflatable marks so we can control the course. For this regatta we use all government marks so I don’t have a choice. And, 90-100 boats is a lot of traffic when they’re all milling about in the starting area!"

First place in Division A (spinnaker boats with a PHRF rating of 54 & under) went to Skip and Jody McCormack racing their Farr 30 Trunk Monkey, beating the Farr 400 Team Premier by 24.6 seconds on corrected time over a course of 13.6 NM.

Pro sailor Dee Smith skippered Team Premier, a brand new boat just built in Dubai that Smith brought over to race in last month’s Big Boat Series and kept it around just for this regatta. Smith is a cancer survivor and sailed with fellow cancer survivor Paul Erickson (grinder), and leukemia survivor Dave Wilhite (grinder).Third in Div A was Farr 40 Astra skippered by Mary Coleman.

“The event’s got a lot of great support even from the really good sailors in other yacht clubs. It’s not just exclusively a SFYC event by any means,” Schneider acknowledged.

A great weekend of fun…and most importantly, hope.

Photo Credit: Ellen Hoke

Pic 1: Tom Perkins & John Doerr (Perkins is a perennial support of the Leukemia Cup)

Pic 2: Team Premier

Pic 3. Winner Div A Trunk Monkey: Matt Noble, Will Paxton, Skip McCormack

Pic 4. Team Premier: Norm Davant, Paul Erickson, Dee Smith, Doug Holm, Russ Silvestri, Dave Wilhite, David Blanchfield, Peter Cameron, and Katie Pettibone

Pic 5. Div 4 Winner Yucca skippered by Hank Easom

Full results at:

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