Photos of the Day: Dueling Turtles
April 11 - Bitter End, BVI
Match racing, as anyone who has done it can tell you, is an absolute blast. It doesn't matter if it's in IACC boats, Farr 40s, Catalina 37s (see below) or remote-controlled pond toys, as long as the two boats are evenly matched.
The accompanying pictures, taken at the Bitter End YC during a layday in last week's BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, are a case in point. With all the resort's 'real' dinghies (Lasers, Hobie Waves, Rhodes 19s, etc.) already checked out for the afternoon dinghy races, these four guys scraped around the waterfront and came up with a pair of Optis.
Armed with movable ballast (Heineken cans) and spinnakers (wind scoops off the BEYC's Freedom 30s), they happily sailed out into the North Sound to do battle.
The younger crew (green kite), obviously future rockstar material, even flew a battle flag en route to the starting line, and was followed around by what appeared to be their coach and shoreside team in an inflatable (see photo at top right). They earned lots of style points for this, but when the racing started, the older and possibly more sober guys (red/blue kite) took them to the cleaners.
Pre-start maneuvers consisted primarily of guzzling beer and bailing, rather than the customary circling. When the gun went off, it took about five minutes before the first boat (red/blue) lumbered across the line, earning a sarcastic cheer and round of applause from the spectator fleet. Twenty minutes later, 'Rocket Turtle 2' had competed the quarter-mile windward-leeward course, easily beating their sistership - not that anyone was really keeping score.
It was a vintage Bitter End moment, highly entertaining for all. Maybe you had to be there.
All Photos Latitude/Rob
Crew List Party Offers Something for Everyone
April 11 - San Francisco
Mixing and mingling was the name of the game at Latitude 38's spring Crew List Party, held Wednesday at San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club. As in years past, this casual shindig served different purposes for different folks.
Some came simply to reconnect with old friends, while others had serious agendas, such as the captain who needed crew for a Fiji to New Zealand crossing. Typically, there were would-be crew members with all levels of experience, from neophyte sailors to seasoned ocean voyagers. And there was no shortage of captains-in-need who were eager to interview them. If you missed out on the fun, make note that Latitude's Mexico-only Crew List Party is scheduled for October 1 at Alameda's Encinal YC.
As usual, Sal's Inflatable Services brought a life raft to demonstrate.
14-0 Isn't All That Easy for Brady
April 11 - Long Beach
Rich Roberts reports from SoCal:
When Sean Clarkson says, "It was a tough day," how does everybody else in the Long Beach Yacht Club's 39th Congressional Cup feel?
Clarkson, the pitman on Gavin Brady's boat, was making the point that Team Beau Geste running its unbeaten record to 14 wins Thursday wasn't as easy as it might sound.
Brady was behind in all four races, starting with an OCS (premature start) in the day's opener against Scott Dickson of Long Beach and ending with a 12-second win over Jes Gram-Hansen.
Brady also broke the hearts of Britain's Chris Law and Sweden's Magnus Holmberg along the way.
"We had some huge comebacks," Clarkson said. "When it's shifty you have to be patient."
And it's easier to be patient when the pressure's off. Brady maintained his four-match lead over Australia's James Spithill, who also swept his slate to stand at 10-4 - the only other winning record.
The dogfight for the other two places in the semifinals is Friday. Ken Read, of Newport, RI, won three of four to tie Italy's Paolo Cian at 7-7, followed by Dickson, Law and Holmberg at 6-8. Gram-Hansen and his Scandinavian countryman, Jesper Radich, are ranked 1-2 on the Swedish Match Tour scoreboard but are struggling at 5-9, followed by France's Luc Pillot at 4-10.
The race committee plans to run only three of the last four flights Friday, saving the 18th and last for Saturday preceding the best-of-three semifinals and finals.
Winds were steady but light Thursday, teasing the sailors with a sunny 6-8 knots that included a built-in 40-degree shift to the right through the afternoon.
Clarkson and Brady, products of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron youth program, have been sailing together for about 14 years, and this week they are back with other Kiwi mates after spending the last couple of years with Prada's America's Cup campaign.
"The boys are just having fun," Clarkson said. "When you're having fun there's no pressure."
Brady offered a different insight. "I noticed that Sean, who is one of the fittest guys here, was sweating all day," Brady said.
But Brady also appeared to be relaxed, steering from a seat on the rail much of the time while his rivals wrestled the Catalina 37s standing up.
His best moments Thursday were the comeback against Dickson and a classic door slam against Law at the committee boat before the start. Law started 15 seconds behind but still managed to lead at the first windward mark.
Congressional Cup spectators on Belmont Pier have front-row seats for pre-start jousting between Luc Pillot (2) and Paulo Cian.
Gavin Brady circles back to restart after mistiming the start against Scott Dickson.
Above and below: Chris Law, under pressure from Gavin Brady, runs out of room behind the committee boat and had to circle back the wrong way to start.
James Spithill bears down on Jes Gram-Hansen, who is trying to complete a penalty turn at the finish line. Spithill won the race.
All Photos Rich Roberts
"[Brady] fell behind in some [spectator] boat wakes," Law said. "That was tough for him."
Brady finished no better than bow to bow with Holmberg in his last race, but the Swede still owed a penalty turn from a pre-start foul.
Read, with a 3-1 day, will face Law, Brady and Radich today, while Dickson meets Spithill, Gram-Hansen and Law. After a 2-2 day, he is clearly on the bubble.
The Congressional Cup again is being sailed on the Catalina 37 sloops built for the event. A short windward-leeward race course is set adjacent to Belmont Pier, where spectators are welcome.
The event is being broadcast live on local 810 AM radio each day. The broadcasts are fed simultaneously to Long Beach City College's Web site, klbc.org, which is available to anyone with access to the Internet.
Also, about 15 minutes of edited streaming video highlights are posted on the LBYC Web site, www.lbyc.org, every night.
What Did Saddam Sail?
April 11 - Basra, Iraq
Saddam Hussein's yacht, photographed on the Shatt al-al Arab waterway in Basra, appears to be a war casualty. At one time Hussein reportedly had five private yachts over 200 feet long, most on lakes in Iraq.
Photos Courtesy BBC
Compass for the Blind
April 11 - London, UK
A British technology breakthrough will help blind people navigate at sea.
Vicki Sheen, one of the winners of the World Blind Sailing Championships, explained that the pinpoint accurate audio compass is "a big breakthrough for blind and partially sighted sailors - or those who fancy trying. It makes sailing safer and more accessible."
Medal winner Sheen was presented with one of compasses by HRH Princess Royal (Princess Anne), patron of the Royal Yacht Association's Sailability initiative, at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, in London on April 10.
Marine technology company Tacktick created the Audio Compass after it was approached by RYA Sailability, which was looking for affordable ways to help blind and partially sighted sailors.
Clive Clifford, Chief Executive of RYA Sailability, said: "Sailing is a sport and recreational activity for all, regardless of disability. We are very happy that a British technology firm has helped make sailing possible for thousands more."
Clive Johnson, Joint Managing Director of Tacktick, added: "The new system will enable blind sailors to be as effective sailors as those with 20:20 vision. This is a breakthrough for the visually impaired, and we are pleased to have played a part in improving their lives."
RYA Sailability enables blind and other disabled people to sail at venues across the UK. The audio compass is just one highlight of a British drive launched this week to get blind and partially sighted people sailing.
April 11 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace
Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.
April 11 - 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 is at 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/Maps/Southwest.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