With spirits pumped up by a rousing Costume Kickoff Party yesterday at the San Diego West Marine compound, a record fleet of more than 170 boats set sail late this morning for Cabo San Lucas. This mass exodus of roughly 700 sailors was, of course, the beginning of the annual Baja Ha-Ha Rally to Cabo San Lucas.
A new twist this year was a pre-start procession of the fleet past a viewing station off the western tip of Shelter Island, where San Diego fire boats saluted the fleet’s departure while news crews, well-wishers and both American and Mexican dignitaries observed the spectacle. Showing typical Ha-Ha spunk, some crews wore elaborate Halloween get-ups at the start — this is, after all, a rally rather than a race, with the emphasis on fun.
As in years past, the staffs of West Marine and Almar’s Cabrillo Isle Marina joined Latitude staffers and a boatload of volunteers to put on a memorable kickoff shindig that included a Mexican ‘tune-up’ lunch, cold drinks and a raucous costume contest, which was a blast for both participants and onlookers.
And props go to Ken Franke of the Harbor Police and Sharon Cloward of the San Diego Port Tenants Association for coordinating the media, fireboats and a fantastic spread of food for those watching the start from shore.
Although winds were light at the start, conditions are expected to build over the next few days with northwest winds reaching 25-30 knots accompanied by seas of 15 feet or more. For the first time in the event’s history, the Grand Poobah announced this morning that an additional stop has been scheduled on the first leg to help the fleet avoid the worst of the seastate. "We’re encouraging Ha-Ha’ers to stop at either Cabo San Quintin, about 150 miles down Baja, or Punta Baja, about 180 miles down, to sit out the front" says the Poobah. "This is supposed to be fun, after all!" Stay tuned for further updates.
With plenty of breeze, a great turnout, and rockin’ shoreside entertainment, this weekend’s Great Pumpkin Regatta left little — if anything — to be desired. Richmond YC did a customarily great job of pulling off a huge weekend getting things off on the right foot with gin fizzes Saturday morning.
Over 150 boats in 19 classes showed up for Saturday’s three buoy races held on three courses. Their reward was a light flood and breeze that ranged from 8-12 knots in the first race, built to the high-teens in the second when a block of fog moved in over the top of the course, and low-teens in the third. With the exception of the second race, it was sunny all day and practically tropical back at the club. We overheard a racer remark, "Days like this make me feel sorry for the poor bastards on the East Coast." And yeah, it really was that pleasant.
The centerpiece of the Great Pumpkin — indeed either of the club’s big regattas — is a rockin’ party on Saturday night. The party theme this year was "Castaways" and Gilligan’s Island characters could be found jammin’ down to a live band while the mojitos flowed.
While Sunday didn’t quite have the breeze of the day before, a short postponement was all the race committee needed before a 10-knot westerly filled. Clockwise was the path of choice for the choose-your-own-direction "two-island fiasco" around Alcatraz and Angel Island. We’d guess that less than five percent of the fleet — which numbered over 200 entrants, although we’re not sure about the number of starters — tried to go the other direction, getting caught in the lee of Angel Island. Greg Greenlee’s J/22 Trinity was the eventual winner, taking advantage of the late ebb early in the race and the fact there was no real parking lot on the course — while it did get light through Raccoon Strait and Southampton Shoal, Trinity got through the finish line before hitting the slows.
If you missed this year’s Great Pumpkin, then you really missed out. You can find results for both days’ racing on the club’s website.
There’s nary a woman alive who hasn’t had her colors done. If you have no idea what that means but still consider yourself a ‘summer’, then you need some bright and cheerful Latitude 38 logowear. Instead of accentuating your skin and hair tones, our summery color selection highlights your attitude toward life. Check out our online chandlery to get your ‘colors done’.
The details of SailMail are a mystery to many cruisers. Did you know, for example, that you can use it to post updates and photos to your blog, download weather reports, and order flowers for your cousin’s birthday? Steve Chamberlin, world sailor and member of the SailMail board of directors, and Eric Steinberg of Farallon Electronics, will present a free seminar on this popular cruising tool on October 31 at 10 a.m. at Richmond YC. Though the program will target those racing in next summer’s Pacific Cup, anyone is welcome. Please RSVP by email or sign up at www.pacificcup.org.
While we’re not sure if it’s public information yet, we heard a rumor from our little duck friend that you may remember has been keeping a close eye on BMW Oracle Racing at their compound in San Diego. He told us, "Hard wing rig, going on the boat this week!" It’ll be interesting to see if he’s right!