Photos of the Day
January 24 - St. Martin
Today's Photos of the Day are of St. Martin, which is half Netherlands Antilles and half French West Indies. Over the last 15 years, the island has perhaps become the center of boating - bareboat, crewed, sail and power - in the Caribbean. One of its advantages over, say, Antigua or Martinique is that, other than Puerto Rico, it's the transportation center for the Eastern Caribbean, receiving flights from all over Europe and the United States.
The big marinas are in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side of the island. To get into the lagoon and to the marinas, the boats have to wait for the bridge to raise - it's only done at specific times several times a day because it backs up island traffic for 20 minutes or more. It's not a wide opening, either. Check out the big powerboat on the lower left of the photo. How would you like to have to squeeze that puppy - we think she's about 320 feet long - through the narrow opening? You have to remember that there are often strong winds and current, and that thousands of people are watching, many of them kinda hoping there will be some kind of excitement. We're told that a couple of the hot-dog skippers, to show their prowess, back their boats through the narrow opening.
The second shot shows the narrow entrance into Simpson Bay Lagoon from a different perspective, and in the foreground is the Palapa Marina, by far the smallest of the marinas on the Dutch side. Nonetheless, she's the winter home to some of the world's biggest sailing yachts. It's also the site of the Soggy Dollar Bar. If you want to network with crew from many of the biggest sailing yachts in the world, this is as good a place as any in the winter. Crewing on big boats can be damn hard work. We watched no less than 10 brawny guys repeatedly try - but fail - to lift a genoa from the dock onto the deck of a mega ketch.
On the right hand side of the photo is Pelican Bay, which is open to the Caribbean Sea. It's an excellent anchorage and popular with the really big mega yachts that can't fit into the Lagoon. Come the Heineken Regatta in early March, it's so chock-a-block with yachts that you can virtually step from boat to boat all the way across the Bay.
MacArthur Now Off Joyon's Pace
January 24 - Atlantic Ocean
The drama of Brit Ellen MacArthur's assault with her 75-ft trimaran B&Q Castorama on Francis Joyon's around the world record has just intensified dramatically. It was on Day 7 that Ellen first took the lead on Joyon's record pace, and through brilliant sailing in the most arduous conditions, managed to extend that margin to four days. But the weather has gone sour for her almost since Cape Horn, with extremely light and shifty winds in the South Atlantic. And she's still in the extremely frustrating conditions. As such, having been ahead of Joyon's pace for 50 days, she's now fallen slightly behind. The mental strain is tremendous, for you'll remember that last year Ellen missed breaking the singlehanded transatlantic record by less than one hour. As for Ellen's physical problems, you should see the photos of her bruised legs, having had to go up the 100-ft mast twice to fix the headboard car and mainsail track.
Ellen MacArthur on B&Q's satellite phone
Photo OC/Ellen MacArthur/www.offshorechallenges.com
There remains some hope, however, as in the next several days Joyon's pace fell off considerably. With some 4,000 miles to go, the drama is ever building. No matter what happens, a huge arrival celebration is being planned in Falmouth, England, for the Brits to welcome their hero home, record or no record.
And Let's Not Forget the Exciting Vendée Globe, Either
January 22 - Atlantic Ocean
With 2,200 miles to go in the Vendée Globe singlehanded around the world race, Vincent Riou of France continues to lead with PRB - but there are two boats hot on his heels. Jean Le Cam, who led for so much of the race with Bonduelle, is just 88 miles back, and his current VMG is nearly twice that of Riou. And then there's hard luck Mike Golding with Ecover. He was way behind, momentarily took the lead around Cape Horn, twice had his main halyard break, and fell way behind. Well, Golding - who suffered a third main halyard failure - has now pulled to within 124 miles, and is gaining on Riou. Le Cam, however, currently has better boat speed. The bottom line is that it's going to be an exciting last 2,000 miles, with any of the top three within striking distance.
Mike Golding celebrated Christmas aboard Ecover
Photo Mike Golding
Key West Race Week
January 24 - Key West, FL
The 18th annual Key West Race Week, presented by Nautica, threw the full gamut of conditions at its international 295-boat fleet, which represented 14 countries and 36 states. The week started with a bang - a record-breaking feeder race from Fort Lauderdale, torrential rain over the weekend, and high winds for the first race on Monday. Things calmed down as the week wore on, and by Thursday afternoon, the wind had all but evaporated.
Masquerade, in its seventh KWRW appearance, finally won the J/105 class.
California boats fared exceptionally well at KWRW this year, taking all the important one design classes - Tom Coates's San Francisco-based Masquerade finally won - crushed, actually - the 40-boat J/105 class after knocking on the door the last two years; Hasso Plattner, a sometimes resident of San Francisco, sailed his Morning Glory to a close victory over Barking Mad in the Farr 40s; Chris and Kara Busch of San Diego topped the 1D-35s; Santa Barbara sailorette Deneen Demourkas took the Mumm 30s with Groovederci; and San Diegan Bill Hardesty battled his way to the top of the tough 57-boat Melges 24 class with Pegasus 575, earning coveted Boat of the Week honors in the process.
Santa Cruz-based Pegasus 575 en route to Boat of the Week honors
Rosebud, Roger Sturgeon's Santa Cruz-based R/P TP-52, ended up fourth in PHRF-1, behind Esmeralda, Titan and Sjambok. (Definition of irony: million dollar, state-of-the-art boats, staffed by paid professionals, sailing under PHRF). Tiburon, which is both the name and hailing port of Steve Stroub's J/105, also finished quite well, tying for third in the J/105 class, but falling to fifth on the tiebreaker. Check out www.premiere-racing.com for lots of pictures, press releases, and full results.
Tom Coates and part of his extended family
Top finishers follow:
SWAN 45 - 1) Better Than, Andrzej
Rojek, Newport, RI. (6 boats)
KEY WEST RACE WEEK BOATS OF THE DAY:
BOAT OF THE WEEK: Pegasus 575, Melges 24, Bill Hardesty.
PHRF BOAT OF THE WEEK: Star, Melges 32, Jeff Ecklund.
INTERNATIONAL TEAM COMPETITION: