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Photo of the Day

March 27 - Antigua

We were doing a little spring cleaning in our office when we came across this photo of a lovely schooner. Although we don't know her name, we believe she was racing off the Pillars of Hercules in one of the early Antigua Classic Regattas. Just a reminder to everyone, this year's Classic Regatta is April 18-23, and therefore just before Antigua Sailing Week. If you're in the area, or if you love classic yachts, you don't want to miss it.


Photo Jim Drake

Speaking of Antigua Sailing Week, Bruce Schwab, aboard the Wylie Open 60 Ocean Planet, emailed us from somewhere near Jamaica suggesting that he might need crew for Sailing Week, which starts on April 27. If you're good and can get to Antigua on your own, you might send an email to Bruce.


Assa Abloy Nips illbruck

March 27 - Miami, FL

Marin's Mark Rudiger and fellow Americans Mike Howard of Southern California and Chris Larson of Baltimore played valuable roles in Assa Abloy's come from behind victory over John Kostecki's illbruck in the just completed Rio to Miami leg of the Volvo Around the World Race. illbruck continues to lead overall, 36 points to 28 points. Rudiger, who was navigator aboard Paul Cayard's victorious EF Language in the last race, gave the following interview in Miami:

Q: How were you able to get around illbruck?
A: I think a lot of it had to do with taking care of ourselves on this trip, and squall management. We didn't break any crucial sails, we made good sail changes during the squalls, and we actually ended up getting into a little less current, which made the big gain on them.
Q: Were you aware that illbruck was having trouble with their sail?
A: No, We heard that after we passed them, and it was funny because somebody said they lost their light air genniker, but it was actually their light air genniker they used to pass us in the end, so I guess it must have been some middle range spinnaker that they lost.
Q: How does it feel to win a second time?
A: Third time now, if you count Hobart, we count Hobart! But the second leg of this race is great, only two boats have won a leg on this race so far, and we're two legs up so we're looking for three into Baltimore to even it up with illbruck, and go on from there.
Q: Are you getting more psyched up as time goes on?
A: Yeah, we're pretty psyched up actually. We've stretched second place now and put some gap on third, so that feels pretty good. Now, we can look forward as pretty solid, and not have to look back so much.
Q: You spent a lot of time on deck, usually you're down below...
A: Because of the heat, and the squalls, and the sail changes it was a lot of the time not due to navigation, but pure manpower sailing the boat. I helped a lot with the squalls, looking at the clouds.
Q: Are the speeds of these boats getting closer?
A: They're pretty close! When conditions are even and we're all pretty much fighting for millimeters, it's really when the wind shifts, or there is a sail change, that's when the big gear changes tend to happen.

John Kostecki, also of Marin, was also interviewed:

Q: What happened?
A: The last few days were kind of up and down for us. We've been really close with Assa Abloy - back and forth with them, really tight race - good racing. And the last few hours, we basically got caught in real light wind and sucked up to the north with the Gulf Stream. Assa did a nice job of getting in and out of the Gulf Stream and was able to win the race.
Q: Was it expected?
A: Well, this has always been tight racing and so it's not surprising at all.
Q: What happened to the sail that we heard so much about?
A: We ripped our running spinnaker which we use in fifteen to twenty knots. We had that up one night, about five nights ago. A big cloud came up behind us and it just increased the wind, so we had to jibe right away. In the middle of the jibe, the spinnaker tore and floated out in the front of the boat. We nearly ran over it. It all ended up in the water, over the side and behind us. We had about ten percent of it onboard and we had to cut the rest away.
Q: Was that the difference?
A: It didn't help us today. Yesterday, Assa did have that special weapon on us and it didn't help. But I wouldn't say it was the deciding factor.
Q: There were some real nerve-wracking finishes, Tyco was coming up, too.
A: Tyco was ahead of us only two hours ago, and that was quite nerve-wracking. We are quite happy to come in second place and be leading the Volvo Ocean Race at this point in time.
Q: Do you think, John, that these boats are coming closer and closer to you in speed and performance?
A: For sure. Sailing side by side with Assa Abloy and Tyco, it was very noticeable that they were similar in speed. They really have copied our sails and a lot of things that we have learned. We thought we had an advantage, but now, they're catching up. It's going to be a tight race for all the rest of the way around the world.
Q: The transatlantic notwithstanding, you are facing four relatively short legs this time around. Is that going to make it harder?
A: For sure. On these longer legs, we've been able to use speed advantage, crew work and special sails. On the shorter legs, we are not going to have this special speed advantage, so it's going to be tight racing. We all are going to have to beef up our tactical program and sail really well to keep getting podium finishes.
Q: No time to get conservative?
A: You can't get conservative on these short legs. Everybody's going for it and everybody's top of the line here.


European Union to Create Their Own GPS

March 27 - Europe

The plucky Europeans, who continue to fall further behind the U.S. in almost all technologies, have agreed to spend $392 to fund development of Galileo, an independent Global Positioning System (GPS). The project won't be operational until 2008, at which time it will have cost $3.2 billion. The EU wants to 'shake off' dependence on the system operated by the United States. For obvious reasons, the U.S. Department of Defense would prefer that the Europeans didn't build their own system.

Here's the thing about GPS we've never understood. It was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense, which means we U.S. taxpayers funded it. Nonetheless, we have simply given the use of this incredibly valuable and life-saving technology to everyone else in the world who can afford $79 to buy a unit. The way we see it, there should have been a $1,000 royalty due on all GPS units sold to non-Americans to help pay for the incredibly valuable information.


Orange Back in Gear

March 27 - Southern Ocean

After two days of horrible wind conditions and having to try to sail to windward, Bruno Peyron and crew aboard the maxi-cat Orange are flying across the Southern Ocean once again, enjoying westerly winds. Despite the long delay and sailing a more northerly and therefore longer course, Orange is still nearly 2,000 miles - or more than 20% - ahead of the Jules Verne record held by Sport Elec.


YOTREPS

March 27 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at http://www.bitwrangler.com/yotreps/


Weather Updates

March 27 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/. The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay has moved to www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey/.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/stuff/southwest/swstmap.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at: http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/RSSA/PacRegSSA.html.
For another view, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data/global.html.


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