May 3, 2010

The Better-Than-Great Vallejo Race

The fleet stretched far and wide on Saturday’s slide to Vallejo.

© Erik Simonson

The 2010 Great Vallejo Race wasn’t just great, it was downright awesome. As the opener for the Party Circuit, and the official YRA season opener, this is one of those events that’s on just about everyone’s calendar. For what we’re guessing was probably well over 1,000 sailors, this year’s Vallejo weekend was just about as good as it gets.

The kites came out of their bags early and didn’t come down until the boats hit the channel.

© Erik Simonson

Saturday’s race up to Vallejo got a little less breeze than expected, but was still fast enough to get the bulk of the fleet  to the club and rafted up in about four hours. The morning started off pretty fluky, and some boats were even carrying kites part way up the short leg to the race’s only turning mark in the Central Bay.

John Cladianos’ Schock 40 Secret Squirrel was brought back online for a run at The Great Vallejo Race.

© Erik Simonson

But the northwesterly began to fill after about half the fleet had made the turn toward the North Bay and popped kites. That breeze started in the 6- to 10-knot range and didn’t build until much later in the day. Coupled with about 1-knot of runoff-impeded flood, the breeze was enough to get the 212 finishers the 21.5-miles up San Pablo Bay uneventfully.

There’s no such thing as “too young” for the Vallejo Race!

© Peter Lyons

Of course the centerpiece of The Great Vallejo Race is the party at Vallejo YC. A Massive BBQ, reasonably-priced drinks and a band that played until the wee hours of Sunday morning, meant there were more than a few bleary-eyed sailors walking the docks on Sunday morning.

Avion, like many boats, finds the muck upon arriving in Vallejo.

© 2010 Sergei Zavarin

Sunday morning’s low tide translated into delays in breaking up the raft, and in some cases, entire class’s starts were postponed because not everyone in the class was able to get out of the harbor. The delays, and what would prove to be a very northerly breeze for the first starters, meant that the slower boats — who started first — were already at Pt. Pinole with four divisions having yet to start!

Trimming the kite wasn’t just a Saturday-only affair this weekend.

© 2010 Peter Lyons

By the time everyone else got off the line, the breeze had worked its way more to the west. The later starters settled in for the beat home while the earlier starters found a parking lot that allowed everyone else to catch up. The slack water and early flood meant that San Pablo Bay was one flat racetrack. An added bonus was that it wasn’t entirely a beat, as most of the 180 starters were able to get kites up for the last three miles or so of the 14.5-mile trip to the entrance of the San Rafael channel. The finish boats were busy as about 120 boats finished within about 20 minutes of each other.

The fleet sails past Mt. Tam in downright pleasurable conditions.

© Peter Lyons

The results are up on the YRA’s website already, so make sure to check your times because your window to dispute them isn’t open indefinitely. On Wednesday, we’ll have a wrap-up of everything else that was going on around the Bay this weekend.

Ha-Ha Sign-ups Begin at Noon

We’re happy to report that we’ve gotten our new Baja Ha-Ha entry forms all set up on the website, and as soon as this ‘Lectronic Latitude posts, we will flip the switch, officially beginning the registration process for Baja Ha-Ha 17. So if you’re reading this, registration is officially open.

Fear not, you have until September 10 to sign up. But if you want your boat to appear near the top of the list — thus insuring that you’ll be offered a slip in Cabo — we suggest you join the early birds and sign up this week. (The process takes about 10 to 15 minutes.)

By the beginning of Leg Two — which takes the fleet from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria — the weather is usually warm enough to sail with your shirt off.

latitude/Andy
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Remember, though, as we often remind potential applicants: If your boat was not built, equipped and maintained for offshore sailing, or if you would not be willing to make the trip on your own, please do not sign up. Even though there is safety in numbers, you must plan to be totally self-sufficient in terms of potential repairs or injuries.

On the website you’ll find complete info about the event (see About the Ha-Ha), as well as a wealth of tips and advice about cruising Mexico (see the First Timer’s Guide). The basics: The entry fee is still $350 (or $300 if your age or boat length is less than 35), which includes parties, all sorts of official Ha-Ha swag, and a mountain of worthwhile discounts from sponsors. As always, we will do our best to keep the entire event PG-rated, as we love having lots of kids along; hence, heavy partying is discouraged. The minimum boat length is 27 feet; singlehanding is not allowed; and powerboats are always welcome.

The Skipper’s Meeting for Ha-Ha 17 will be at 11 a.m. Sunday morning, October 24, at the San Diego West Marine (1250 Rosecrans), followed by our Costume Kickoff Party at 1 p.m. (same location). The start of Leg One will be the following day, October 25 at 11 a.m. outside the harbor entrance.

Extreme Sailing for the Potter Yachters

Those Potter Yachters sure do get around. If they’re not getting stuck in South Bay mud or exploring the Mothball Fleet, they’re getting their transoms handed to them on Monterey Bay or scooting up-Delta in search of back issues of Latitude.

On April 10, a handful of brave souls sailed out of Moss Landing into spirited conditions on Monterey Bay. Jerry Higgins of the Bull’s Eye Lia sent the following video of the ride back in across the bar:

"It’s amazing that Jerry managed to take video while simultaneously single-handing his boat over the bar," said Dave Kautz, skipper of the O’Day 192 Trailer Trash. "He referred to this as a Potter Yachter outing but I would hesitate to call it that myself — only four boats mustered the cojones to actually go out. Several saw the conditions and never even launched their boats, while others remained in the harbor. Mostly we enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Elkhorn YC and made ourselves at home at their bar."

Not satisfied with one hella nukin’ sail in April, the group did it again — apparently with more success — last weekend in the Delta. "A dozen or so Yachters spent Saturday night at Bruno’s Island before motoring in 30- to 40-knot north winds down to Pirates Lair for breakfast on Sunday," reports Goose Gossman of the Potter 14 Gale. "Because of the conditions, the boats with smaller motors hitched a ride back to Bruno’s aboard a houseboat/mothership. Short-tacking up sloughs against current when it’s blowing 30 is possible, but it’s not much fun."

Ginger the Wonderdog boards the boat of this unsuspecting Latitude reader after discovering a cache of last month’s issue — the one featuring the Yachters South Bay adventure — buried on the island.

© Goose Gossman

Stay tuned for the Potter Yachters’ upcoming report on rounding Cape Horn.

Hittin’ the streets – the May issue is out today! latitude/Annie
©2010 Latitude 38 Media, LLC The May issue of Latitude 38 hits both newsstands and the interweb (later) today, and you don’t want to miss out.
Saturday could look a lot like this, albeit with more breeze. © Peter Lyons The party hats and hangover kits are being packed, and the division splits are up, because its time for The Great Vallejo Race.
If you’ve been chompin’ at the bit to sign up for next fall’s Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, your time has come!