Race 4 of the Clipper ‘Round the World Race got off to a cracking start yesterday — literally. An untimely puff led to a botched duck that left two boats behind in Cape Town with significant damage, while the remaining eight boats fight for an advantage in the breezes ranging from zero to 30 knots that lie between them and their destination: Geraldton, Australia.
"Our approach to the start line was looking good," said Hull & Humber skipper Piers Dudin. "We were next to Uniquely Singapore at the ‘pin end’, the opposite end of the line from the Committee Boat, and on starboard tack. California pulled off a great start. Cork was a little behind them, and so had to duck around behind us as we approached the line in diagonally opposite directions. As they ducked us they were hit by a gust which prevented them from turning away, and they ended up colliding with us, spinning us round on the spot and causing a rather large crack just to the side of the helm station."
Fortunately, no one aboard either boat was hurt. The boats are a different story. Hull & Humber has a hole that extends from six inches below the waterline all the way through the deck, and Cork‘s bow looks like it’s been sandblasted. Clipper Ventures are currently working on a repair strategy for the two boats.
Meanwhile, also now in Cape Town is Franck Cammas’ 105-ft trimaran Groupama 3, which is already being repaired, despite only arriving on Saturday. The boat’s shore team is already on-site and working in what they called "dry, opressive heat," which is about as ideal conditions as you can get for working with composites. An evaluation revealed that the broken bulkhead — in the port ama located right where the aft crossbeam meets it — was underspec’d. So the team will begin a week-long process to replace the bulkhead in both amas — work that will be done while the boat is in the water. An analysis of the surrounding structure revealed that there was no damage beyond the bulkhead itself, and as soon as the repairs have been finished, Groupama 3 will head back north to Brest in order to take another crack at the Jules Verne Trophy.
If you’ve sailed on the Bay in the last four years, you’ve likely seen the 82-ft steel schooner Seaward on a training cruise — and probably more than once. "Since she sailed under the Gate in September, 2005, weeds haven’t had time to grow on her bottom," says John Skoriak, a volunteer with Call of the Sea, the non-profit organization that owns and runs Seaward. "Weekdays are booked with youth groups participating in training voyages that last anywhere from one to five days, and weekends are filled with mixed adult/youth and family charters."
Skoriak reports that the Sausalito-based Seaward is preparing for her almost-annual winter cruise to Mexico (last winter was spent refitting in the Bay), and berths for various legs are available. "Seaward is an ocean-certified vessel," he says, "but this is no fancy cruise. Accommodations are rustic and passengers are expected to pitch in and stand watches."
Call of the Sea’s mission is "to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds, especially youth, to connect to the sea and San Francisco Bay through sailing a traditional vessel." If you’re interested in ‘getting inspired’ aboard Seaward, check out their website at www.callofthesea.org or call (415) 331-3214.
Need the perfect holiday gift for your favorite sailor? Check out our chandlery for tons of T-shirts and hats — they make great stocking stuffers! Be sure to order by December 14 to receive it in time for Christmas.
Our correspondent and good buddy Patsy Verhoeven, who just sailed the entire Ha-Ha course for the third time in a row, and who spends most of the year aboard her Gulfstar 50 Talion in La Paz, checks in with the latest from The City of Peace:
"Over 200 people showed at the Baja Ha-Ha welcome party put on by the La Paz Tourism Board and the local marinas. There was free beer, margaritas, and tacos to the first 50 Ha-Ha participants, so 20 minutes before the event even started the 50 of us were sitting at tables in the sand at the Papas and Beer Beach Club right on the bay. What a venue! The Ha-Ha crowd then mingled with the La Paz residents as we watched the Ballet Folklórico, listened to mariachi music, and danced to rock and roll by the Baja South band. It was fantastic time, well organized, with lots of entertainment, food, and drink. Thanks to everyone in La Paz for their warm welcome.
"I was later interviewed by a local TV station about the Ha-Ha, which is becoming a bigger deal down here all the time. It turns out the interview is going to be on Sky News all over the West. I hope I didn’t flub it.
"The biggest news of all is the December opening of the new Home Depot out by Walmart. Now, if we could just get a Costco! Dorian’s Department store is now Sears. Apparently Sears has owned Dorian’s for four years and finally changed the name.
"The Los Arcos Hotel is still closed because of a labor dispute, and now Carlos ‘n Charlie’s restaurant on the malecón is closed, too. It doesn’t look very good with the black and red flags in the windows, but what are you going to do?
"Cruising kids on Sunbreak and Don Quixote, having studied the repercussions of styrofoam, have finally convinced Club Cruceros to stop using styrofoam cups for the daily coffee at the club. Good job kids!
"La Paz cruisers are gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving Potluck, where over 250 gather at Marina Palmira. Then there’s the December 6 Subasta (auction) for many needy children, with loads of great things to buy, eat, and drink, at Marina de La Paz. The new Papas and Beer Beach Club has started a service delivering food and drinks to boats in the anchorage or in marinas!
"As always, the morning net on 22 is not only entertaining, but a great asset to new and seasoned cruisers with ‘local assistance’ a real highlight.
"When entering the La Paz Channel, be advised to stay closer to the green buoy side, as the red buoys may be a little off station. Sea Of Cortez – A Cruiser’s Guidebook is now in its second edition, with new aerial photos, more anchorages covered and lots more. This is still the best guide for the area.
"On the distant horizon are the La Paz Bay Fest and, my favorite, the Sea of Cortez Sailing Week, both in April. Stay tuned."