July 10, 2009

Alfa Closes in on Diamond Head

Alfa Romeo will break at least one TransPac record, if not two.

© IonEarth Race Tracking

The question of the last 24 hours hasn’t been whether Neville Crichton’s R/P 100 Alfa Romeo will break the outright monohull record for the TransPac — that’s pretty much in the bag. The possibility that has everyone talking here in Honolulu is whether or not she’ll surpass the multihull record set by Bruno Peyron’s Commodore Explorer in ’97: 5d, 9h, 18, 26s. As of 3 a.m. Hawaiian time, Alfa had 367 miles to go, which — at the pace of the previous 24 hours — would put her here sometime around midnight, a few hours outside Peyron’s record. But it’s already pretty breeze-on here, and with the likelihood of a rippin’ ride down the Molokai Channel, Alfa could just make it. However, one thing she’s sure not to make is a daytime arrival — much to the chagrin of the photographers and other press assembled here.

One boat that probably will is Chip ‘Dr. Megadeath’ Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief, which is blowing away Division 3, having put up a 330-mile day yesterday. Elsewhere, Tom Akin’s Bay Area-based TP 52 Flash is not only holding onto its Division 1 lead, but has pushed past James McDowell’s Division 2-leading SC 70 Grand Illusion to take the overall lead. Right there with Flash is John Kilroy Jr.’s TP 52 Samba Pa Tí in second overall with the two boats marching in lock-step for pretty much the entire race.

It turns out that not only the racers get a skippers meeting. Last night we attended the skippers meeting for the escort boats at Waikiki YC; these folks are that organized. Not only were we surprised to see about 30-plus people there, we were amazed to find out that they were just the tip of . . . well, the iceberg metaphor doesn’t really work here. The total all-volunteer commitment is in the neighborhood of 600 people on 26 separate committees! The enthusiasm for the race over here in the islands is awesome.

Spike Africa Begins a New Chapter

The last time we saw Spike she was lying peacefully in Hanalei Bay as the Singlehanded TransPac fleet arrived last summer.

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re happy to report that Spike Africa, one of the most famous schooners ever built on the West Coast, has returned after a long hiatus in Kauai where she’d fallen into disrepair. Built in Costa Mesa during the mid-’70s by Robert Sloan, the 80-ft classic was named after a notorious real-life character who was a long-time sidekick of actor/author/sailor Sterling Hayden.

After a long West Coast career hauling freight, then passengers, Spike was sailed to Hawaii in 2004, where she largely sat idle and suffered from neglect. Earlier this year, however, she was purchased by Schooners North, a new charter company based out of Friday Harbor, which is currently in the process of refurbishing the former beauty for the Northwest charter trade. After two months of re-rigging in Port Townsend, WA, she can now be found at her new home base at Spring Street Landing in Friday Harbor. 

Ad: West Marine Foul Weather Gear

West Marine Third Reef Foul Weather Gear

© West Marine

“Dry” is why West Marine’s Third Reef is the country’s best-selling foul weather gear. Waterproof, breathable, affordable, durable – pretty much everything foul weather gear ought to be. Jackets $119.99 and Bibs $99.99 in Men’s and Women’s sizes. Available at all West Marine stores. Log onto westmarine.com to find the store nearest you.

Report from Cat Country

David Otto’s masterpiece: As far as we can tell, the hull was cast as a single piece.

© 2009 David Otto

We’ll bet many guys out there — as well as a few women — still have fond memories of building plastic models as a childhood pastime. Looking at these photos of San Francisco sailor David Otto’s massive cat coming together in South Africa, you might get the impression that custom boatbuilding is as simple as snapping together a scale model of a ’56 Chevy — you know, ‘insert tab A into slot B’. But we can guarantee you that fabricating a one-off sailing machine like this one is an intensely complex process.

Next, a single piece comprising the cockpit, side decks and transoms was plopped in place.

© 2009 David Otto
Looking like something out of a Batman movie, the house has super-streamlined contours.

© 2009 David Otto

Having just received a sneak peak at the project, we hope to give you the background on this amazing yacht in the August Latitude.

Star Speaker TBA for Leukemia Cup

Pending full approval from organizers, we’ve been asked to remove an announcement posted earlier today concerning a special celebrity slated to speak at this year’s San Francisco Leukemia Cup Regatta (September 19 & 20). 

We can tell you, however, that the event’s planners continue to outdo themselves. Last year — the third year for the event — Tom Perkins brought his magnificent 289-ft Maltese Falcon to the Bay, News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch gave the keynote speech, and more than $662,000 was raised to fight leukemia. You might think that line-up would be tough to follow, but this year’s celeb does just that.

We hope to bring you the full scoop in Monday’s ‘Lectronic. In the meantime you can find complete info on the event, including registration details, at the website, or contact coordinator Caely Cusick directly.

The 270-ft Cuauhtemoc was one of the stars of Sail San Francisco during her last visit in 2005 latitude/Andy
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC One the the world’s largest tall ships will grace the Bay next week.
What a difference three days makes. For the Sunday starters in the top-right corner, it’s been more of a rhumb line race.
This innocent-looking plant is a maritime menace. © NOAA According to Chela Zabin, PhD, the waters of Northern California are being invaded, so to speak, by undaria pinnatifida, which a very fast growing kelp native to Asia.
Nick Jaffe tried several sail combinations to get a comfortable ride downwind but nothing really stopped the rolling.