Culture

Clark waits for his ship to come in

Jim Clark's passion for yachting already costs him millions, but Clark watchers speculate that cost run-ups in the construction of his new schooner may have cost Stanford University as well.

The Rumor Mill tries to steer clear of the homicide beat--I mean, you can get hurt doing that kind of work--but nonetheless, we bookmarked this Craig's List posting for the obvious reason that every good rumor monger should know if not where the bodies are buried, then who buried them:

Disposal of Unwanted Bodies Inc. (DUB Inc.)
Reply to: anon-2905544@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Feb 13 13:11:33 2002
We at DUB Inc. provide a unique service of unwanted cadaver removal and disposal. If at some point you find yourself with a (sic) undesirable corpse, due to accident or drunken foolishness, and are not too excited about the legal possibilities, then we are the service for you. For a nominal fee, some trades accepted, we will be happy to dispose of your "little problem" discretly (sic) and professionaly (sic). We service the city of san (sic) francisco (sic) and the east (sic) bay (deathly ill).

High-seas shenanigans
Before I incriminate myself further, let's turn to another instance of a "little problem" being handled with utmost discretion. Skinformants familiar with Jim Clark's passion for yachting say he was thinking about suing the Royal Huisman Shipyard because the boat builders were squeezing more money out of him to build his new schooner, the Athena.

Unforeseen expenses were rumored to include a whole separate warehouse area just for Athena's construction, running up Clark's costs by the millions.

Cost run-ups on the yacht, speculate Clark watchers, may have been the actual reason behind his decision to rescind $60 million of a $150 million pledge to Stanford University last August, rather than his stated concern over federal restrictions on stem-cell research at Stanford and other research institutions.

Clark's minions couldn't locate him; the e-mail server on his Hyperion yacht must be down. But his shipbuilders called the rumors wildly exaggerated. The shipyard was already in the process of expanding with a new construction hall, according to Royal Huisman (say "house man"), which had to be lengthened by a mere 6 meters to accommodate Clark's outsized boating ambition.

Royal Huisman doesn't disclose the names of its clients; indeed, the company is painstakingly circumspect, as its site describes Clark only as "probably the most famous and successful engineer and visionary from the Silicon Valley phenomenon...founder of Silicon Graphics, and co-founder of Netscape Communications and Healtheon."

Despite the shipyard's code of silence, Royal Huisman shipbuilder Michael Koppstein agreed to address the Clark rumors.

"There are always discussions like, 'How did I ever get myself involved with this?'" Koppstein said. "But financially we're all very much in communications with each other.

"We've got a very good relationship with this client," he added.

Athena, in its 10th month of construction, is due to be delivered in September 2004. At 722 tons displacement and with a sail area of 2,474 square meters, the ship is projected to be the largest sailing vessel ever to be commissioned as a private yacht, said Koppstein.

Compared with Clark's ultra-high-tech, automated Hyperion, also a Royal Huisman project, the new one is far more traditional, said Koppstein.

Still, it is hardly a low-tech affair, with plenty of automation, integrated circuitry and components, touch-screen technology, PC-based radar, and integrated chart and navigation packages.

For the non-nautigeeks out there, the Athena "has all the things one would expect in a high-class resort," Koppstein said. "It has space for a crew of 22, a good entertainment area, a home theater--or I should say a media lounge--sporting equip, barbecue areas..."

High-class resort? Sounds like a late-'90s Internet start-up to me.

You know how to float my boat. Ship me your rumors.