Doug Baker’s Magnitude 80 finished the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race just after four this morning, taking six hours off the course record when she crossed the finish line off Punta Mita. After a blazing passage from Cedros Island down to Cabo, last night all the big boats fell off their pace from the previous 24 hours as they fought south of the cape toward PV. The lone exception was the canting-keel Andrews 80 which held onto good breeze through the course’s big transition zone while the other boats grappled with how to deal with light air ahead.
"The next big strategic, tactical decision ahead of us is how to get around the cape," said the SC 70 Holua‘s navigator Mark Rudiger in yesterday afternoon’s audiocast. The vagaries of the Sea of Cortez’ entrance were forcing most navigators to make some tough decisions. According to Rudiger, Magnitude 80 appeared to be largely exempt from this. "She broke through the cape in good Northeasterlies that will be fading for us — it’s looking light for us."
Unfortunately for everyone else in Divisions 1 and 2, Rudiger’s prediction bore itself out and now it will remain to be seen if anyone has enough legs to correct out over Magnitude 80. The race’s tracking system, which polls the boats’ position every hour, should make for some fun remote spectating as quite a few of the West Coast’s top big-boat programs duke it out for very little silverware. See it all through the race’s web site at www.sdyc.org/pv.
Gitana 13, the 110-ft French catamaran that left New York on January 16, will pass under the Golden Gate tomorrow, Thursday, February 28. Exactly when depends on how well the 10-man crew negotiates the often fickle breeze of the Pacific in winter — and how much fickle breeze there is. The latest estimate as we posted today’s ‘Lectronic Latitude was for an early arrival: 7 a.m. or before. If they get here much before that, they will sail across the finish line off Alcatraz (where the clipper ships took their official times), then head back out under the bridge to await their tow, which has been scheduled for 7 a.m. The tow will take the boat to a mooring off Corinthian YC in Tiburon.
We’ve heard a rumor of a noontime finish, which would be nice for photography and for anyone hoping to go out to meet the boat. But a quick look at the tracking program on their website, and the weather report for 20-25 knot winds this afternoon, suggests an even earlier arrival sometime in the wee hours tomorrow.
Tomorrow marks the boat’s 43rd day at sea since leaving New York on the Route De L’Or, the 14,000-mile ‘route of gold’ sailed by the clippers in the mid-19th century. An arrival tomorrow would mean they beat the old record of 57 days, 3 hours — set in 1998 by the Open 60 Aquitaine Innovations — by two weeks.
In their latest report, Gitana 13 navigator Dominic Vittet notes that for the last 24 hours they have had to pinball their way north between a zone of high pressure to the west and a corridor of steadier winds along the coast. “We have no option but to zigzag from one to the other,” writes Vittet. “The direct course is guiding us northwards but, as soon as the wind eases too much, we put in a tack to regain more pressure. Then as soon as the wind fills in again, we make for the edge of the zone of high pressure again . . . and vice versa.”
After a few days on the mooring off CYC, Gitana 13 is scheduled to haul out in Alameda for some routine maintenance. She will likely depart the Bay in late March on her next record attempt: San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan.
For more on Gitana 13, go to www.gitana-team.com/en/.
Update: The latest estimate as of 10 p.m. PST, Gitana will cross the finish line between Alcatraz and the Cityfront around 10 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) morning. We encourage everyone to come out to welcome them!
"I’m the lucky reader who purchased the Islander 36 Geja, currently in Italy, from San Franciscans Eli and Sara Bottrell," reports Andrew Vik, also of San Francisco. "I would have written about my purchase sooner, but I’ve been too busy scouring various online cruising logs of the Med and making the Google Earth view of the Med a permanent fixture on my computer monitor."
Many readers will remember Geja as being the Islander 36 that Dick and Shirley Sandys of Palo Alto cruised most of the way around the world over a 15-year period. When Dick passed away about 18 months ago, Shirley put the boat, then in Spain, up for sale on ‘Lectronic for just $10,000. The Bottrells were the lucky buyers, and enjoyed seven exciting and virtually trouble-free months of cruising the boat in the Med last summer, as was reported in Latitude. Having had their big adventure, the couple put the boat up for sale.
"Like the Bottrells," Vik reports, "I’m in my 30s. But unlike them, I’m not married and therefore won’t have the benefit of a permanent crew. I expect that many friends and family members will join me, but if there are any spots to fill, I’ll be looking for like-minded crew at the April 3 Crew List Party at the Golden Gate YC in San Francisco. To me, ‘like-minded’ means someone in their 20s or 30s, male or female, who is not opposed to mooring next to, and going into, those crazy Mediterranean discothèques. But some sailing skills would be nice, too."
This won’t be Vik’s first time sailing in the Med. "Back in ’02, I spent a few weeks sailing aboard the 42-ft yawl-rigged youth sailing hostel Clizia in the Med, and ever since have been dreaming of returning for an extended cruise. Now, thanks to Latitude 38 and the Bottrells, my dream will come true. But I’m pretty sure that after a summer or two it will be time for me to pass the Geja torch to yet another lucky Latitude reader."
Congratulations, Andrew! It’s too bad that the euro has climbed over the $1.50 mark but, with your boat, you’ll still be able to have a huge bang-for-the-buck sailing adventure in Europe — as long as you avoid the really expensive discos.
Even veteran sailors will walk away with a boatload of info from Kame Richards’ ‘How the Tides Work for You’ presentation at the Bay Model in Sausalito, and now you’ll have two opportunities to learn from this local sailing guru and master sailmaker. This Saturday’s (March 1) talk starts at noon, while the talk on March 18 begins at 7 p.m. The cost is $15 and it’s worth every penny. You’ll learn how to use currents and reverse currents to improve your racing, or just get you home in time for dinner. For reservations, call Jim Tantillo at (408) 263-7877 or email.