November 7, 2011

The Memories Linger

As we write this, most fleet members of the Baja Ha-Ha XVIII cruising rally have left Cabo San Lucas in their wakes, as the event ended with a raucous awards ceremony Saturday night (generously hosted by Marina Cabo San Lucas). But the memories of the fun-filled 750-mile migration linger, as do the photos and videos.

Tabu crewmembers Kirstin Hecht and Bob Schuster strike a pose with the 61-inch wahoo they landed during Leg Two.

© 2011 Rich Crowe

We’ll be publishing a comprehensive recap of the rally in the December edition of Latitude 38 magazine, with boatloads of images. But in the meantime, here are some samples which will give you a feel for the event.

Although the breeze was light at the start of Leg Three, the skies were spectacular. By late afternoon, the fleet was moving well across baby swells with 10-12 knots of wind.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
You don’t need a fortune to go cruising. Canadian Simon Handley bought the Choate 40 Arabella, an old IOR racer, for $13,000 – and she came with 9 bags of sails!

© 2011
It’s tough to sail 750 miles offshore and not get at least a few ‘boat bites’, but this one was a doozie – still it didn’t win the boat bite contest at the Awards Ceremony.

latitude/Andy
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

These days lots of participants shoot video along the way also. We’ve invited fleet members to share their favorite video moments with us — and you — on our YouTube channel. Below is a look at the famous Cabo dance bar Squid Roe last Thursday, when the Ha-Ha crews ‘owned’ the place. No matter how hard they resist, most who enter that realm find themselves gravitating towards the dance floor and perhaps even succumbing to the infectious choreography of the Village People’s obnoxiously successful mega-hit YMCA. (Shot on an iPhone by Suzi Todd.)

The ever-energetic Ronnie Simpson was the first to contribute. Below you’ll see his masthead view of the Turtle Bay anchorage and in a second clip you’ll get a firsthand look at what it’s like to be dragged behind a boat while the kite is up. (In this case the towboat is Tony Haworth’s Alameda-based Kaufman 47 Knot Tied Down.)

When Sausalito sailor Dean Woodman dropped by our offices a few years ago to showcase the tiny Go Pro camera that his son Nick had developed, we had no idea what a sensation it would become among all sorts of water sports enthusiasts, from surfers to sailors. With its super-wide angle view, it records moment-by-moment action with incredibel ease, as demonstrated by Ronnie’s videos. You just strap it to something solid — like a kiteboarding helment or a piece of railing, and it does the rest. If you have Ha-Ha XVIII videos you’d like to share email them as MP4 files.

Cruiser Attacked in Pago Pago

Disturbing news has come out of Pago Pago, American Samoa. According to the Samoa News, as well as independent cruiser reports, on October 27, Kimball Corson was savagely beaten aboard his Lake Pleasant, AZ-based Fair Weather Mariner 39 Altaira by two assailants. The two suspects were seen paddling what appears to have been a piece of floating dock on Pago Bay toward Altaira around 11:30 p.m. The witness called police because she knew Corson, 70, lived aboard.

Authorities say that after boarding the boat, the men — both in their early 20s and both on probation from previous crimes — found Corson asleep below and began beating him. Corson reported that he was trying to fight off the attack when one of the men wrapped a strap around his neck and started choking him, but that he was able to wedge his fingers between the strap and his throat. As Corson continued to struggle, the suspects reportedly dropped the strap and wrapped an electrical cord around his neck. He told police that he remembered thinking, "So this is what it’s like to die."

In the meantime, the local marine patrol had reached Altaira. According to the police, both suspects jumped off the boat, and one started swimming away, while the other hid between Altaira and her dinghy. Both were apprehended, though police say both resisted. Corson was whisked to the hospital, where he was treated for broken teeth, a broken upper jaw, and multiple bruises and lacerations, receiving a total of 29 stitches to his head. According to one cruiser report, he’ll be staying with friends ashore before moving back to Altaira.

The two suspects, Jason Muasau and Vatia Tugaga, have each been charged with first degree assault, first degree burglary and felonious restraint, as well as resisting arrest — all felonies. Bail has been set at $100,000 for each. There is no known motive.

The attack has sent shockwaves through the cruising community, as Pago Pago is well known as a friendly and welcoming port. One cruiser identified only as Gary said, "Nothing like this ever happened here before. All the cruisers are in shock. This is the friendliest place we have ever been — really nice, helpful people and I’m sure they will not go easy on guys that go against the traditions. This place is still far safer than any place in the U.S."
 

Damage Takes Toll on Volvo Fleet

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet was looking pretty money at the start of Leg One.

© Paul Todd

After a great start on Saturday, conditions ravaged the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race, reducing the number of boats still sailing by a third, no more than 115 miles into the 6,500-mile first leg. As they proceeded toward the Strait of Gibraltar, beating into big breeze and big seas, the six boats in the fleet showed that the cutting edge of modern race boat technology cuts both ways.

Ian Walker’s Azzam limps back toward Alicante with a lot of question marks.

© 2011 Paul Todd

The first victim was the winner of the first in-port race, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Azzam, which broke its rig in three places just 85 miles into the leg while flying its number four headsail and a double-reefed main in 35 knots of breeze and 12-ft seas. The dismasting didn’t cause any injuries and the crew reported that they were able to recover all their gear. Although there was still no explanation for the cause of the dismasting, Azzam has already returned to Alicante, where its shore team is preparing the team’s spare mast.

Big breeze and seas started peeling Team Sanya like an onion.

© 2011 Paul Todd

The second effort to suffer significant damage was ’05-’06 race winning skipper Mike Sanderson and his Team Sanya. The Chinese entry was experiencing breeze of 43 knots and 30-ft seas when the boat — the only one that sailed the last race, and of the few to survive that edition’s bash fest through the Luzon Strait — suffered hull damage forward of the mast, when unidirectional carbon tapes started peeling off the outer hull skin.

Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand led the remaining four boats out of the Mediterranean, followed by Telefónica, Groupama sailing team and Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg. Although they survived unscathed, those four teams have another challenge in front of them now — a discouraging breeze forecast all the way down the North Atlantic.

"The next few days will be a big mess," Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nélias said. "The winds are sure to be light, there are no tradewinds and it will be very painful to reach the doldrums."

The remaining four boats are searching for breeze off the African coast. The arrows represent the forecast for 24 hours from now. Click on the picture to go to the tracker.

© 2011 Volvo Ocean Race

This is mixed news for Walker and the Azzam crew, who plan on rejoining the race shortly. On one hand, it might give them a chance to catch up; on the other, they might be plagued by the same conditions the rest of the fleet is experiencing. For Team Sanya, the only option for rejoining the race is to ship the boat to the leg one finish in Cape Town, and hopefully have her repaired before the Cape Town in-port race.

Emma Creighton rode her 21-ft Pocket Rocket some 4,200 miles from France to Brazil .
As a vocal advocate of teaching kids how to sail, Kame Richards, owner of Alameda’s Pineapple Sails, knows that many children aren’t able to take advantage of learn to sail programs, even if they’re free.