Early last month, when Bob and Mona Jankowski of the North Carolina-based Caliber 40 Continuum were celebrating their imminent departure for French Polynesia at our Pacific Puddle Jump Sendoff Party at Balboa, Panama, they probably never would have guessed they would soon be involved with the mid-ocean rescue of two fellow Puddle Jumpers. But that’s precisely what happened yesterday, after the Canadian S&S 42 Nirvana Now became disabled by damage to its rudder stock and forestay fittings.
According to the Coast Guard’s 11th District Command Center in Alameda, at about 8 a.m. yesterday, local time, Randy and Dawn Ortiz of Nirvana Now were safely transferred to Continuum. Before saying their final goodbye to their 1982 sloop, the couple cut two hoses attached to seacocks in order to scuttle her so she wouldn’t be a hazard to other vessels. (Her position when abandoned was 7°53′ S, 119°12′ W, roughly 1,200 miles east of landfall in the Marquesas.)
The British superyacht Athos of London was also in the vicinity and relayed comms to and from the Coast Guard and Continuum via satphone, email and VHF. Before the 203-ft Andre Hoek-designed schooner left the scene, her crew reported that Nirvana Now‘s sea anchor was deployed, her AIS was transmitting and she was still sitting high in the water.
If you believe in fate, you might find it interesting that the Continuum crew decided to sail to the Pacific only a few weeks before we met them, after getting caught up in the buzz of other soon-to-be South Pacific explorers. "We think this is going to be a great experience for us," said Bob at the Balboa YC party. No doubt it will be, but little did he and Mona know then that Continuum would arrive with twice as many crew as she’d started with.
Windguru.com calls for 15-20 knots of wind and relatively flat tradewind seas for two major regattas next week.
The younger of the two is Les Voiles de St. Barth, which, just five years after it was started by local friends Toto and Lucky, has become a world-class regatta that has attracted a spectacular fleet of 80-some boats. It will, for example, be the Northern Hemisphere debut of Comanche, Jim Clark’s $25 million 100-ft red and black monster.
Crewman Joe Fanelli of San Diego tells us that it was very difficult keep the boat from doing 15-22 knots during the 5.5-day delivery from Charleston to St. Barth. “We just couldn’t slow her down, even with two reefs in the main and just a storm jib.” While it was a fast trip, it was also very hard on the 10-man crew, what with the speed, the bouncing around, the tremendous noise, and everything being super-sized. And mind you, Comanche’s crew is as hardcore as they come, although their regular navigator, Stan Honey, won’t be aboard for this regatta.
One of the monohulls that will be giving Comanche a run for her money will be George David’s similarly brand new Rambler 88, which replaces his Rambler 92 and Rambler 100. Some sailors think 88 has the advantage because she’s more manageable. Four races should tell. After the regatta both boats will be doing the Transatlantic Race, the Fastnet and the Middle Sea Race, and Rambler — and maybe Comanche — will then head to Australia for the Sydney Hobart.
Les Voiles will also mark the debut of Peter Johnstone’s foiling Gunboat G4 catamaran. After just a few days in the water, she was planing at 30+ knots. Johnstone says they can’t wait to take on Comanche. But the G4 will be pressed by Lloyd Thornburg’s almost new-to-him MOD70 Phaedo3, which recently hit over 40 knots, although she can’t point as high as the foiler. It will be interesting to see who wins the speed-versus-pointing battle.
It hasn’t hurt the popularity of the event that it’s held at ‘the St. Tropez of the Caribbean’. Think beautiful women, French food, clean, crime-free, and the highest per capita consumption of champagne in the world — but not necessarily in that order. One of the fun sideshows of Les Voiles should be the lay day, when Jim Clark will presumably have his three yachts — the 292-ft Athena, the 130-ft J Class Hanuman, and the 100-ft Comanche — pose under sail for a group photo. Has anybody ever had a sailing fleet to match his?
Next week’s other regatta is the soulful Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, which has attracted 35 Classic or Spirit of Tradition yachts for four races and a special singlehanded race. It’s not an all-time great year for the Classic, but it will still feature entries such as the 157-ft Chronos, the 154-ft Frers Rebecca, the 136-ft Herreshoff schooner Elena of London, the 130-ft Burgess J-Boat Rainbow, and a host of great smaller boats. Missing this year will be the Clark 64 Lone Fox that took overall Classic honors twice in the last four years. Owner Ira Epstein, who for many years lived in Bolinas while working as a stockbroker in the Financial District, is living back in the States.
Island Yacht Club’s 34th Doublehanded Lightship tomorrow has 16 boats signed up, mostly split into two monohull PHRF divisions. One multihull, the ProSail 40 Shadow, is among the entries. Racers are required to comply with the NorCal ORC safety regulations and equipment requirements.
Berkeley YC’s 43rd Rollo Wheeler Memorial Cup will be held this weekend. Weather permitting, they will run three races on Saturday with primarily windward/leeward courses, and a pursuit race on Sunday. Richmond YC will host the Big Dinghy Regatta this weekend, also with buoy racing on Saturday and a pursuit race (around Brooks Island) on Sunday.
Tiburon YC will hold the two-race Don Wan Regatta in the North Bay off Paradise Cay tomorrow. Also on Saturday, Mercuries will compete for the Carmiggelt Trophy on the Estuary out of Encinal YC. Check out our Calendar for many more events this weekend, and be sure to come visit us in booth #219 at Strictly Sail Pacific in Oakland.
Requests for invitations to the 2015 U.S. Youth Match Racing Championship for the Rose Cup are now being accepted, with preference going to those who apply by April 15. Balboa YC in Corona del Mar will host the event, for ages 16-20, in Governor Cup 21s.
It’s official: The June America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia, has been canceled, as the host team, Italy’s Luna Rossa, has withdrawn their challenge for the 35th America’s Cup. The first ACWS regatta is confirmed for Portsmouth, England, on July 25-26.
Although St. Francis YC’s Rolex Big Boat Series is not until September 17-20, registration is open and 28 boats have already signed up, including the R/P 74 Wizard. Although we enjoy seeing the smaller classes like J/70s at RBBS, we’d be thrilled to see the return of a really big big boat class.
Perhaps you were as horrified as we were when we read that on Tuesday 15 Jalisco state police officers were killed in an ambush by suspected narcos "near the popular beach resort of Puerto Vallarta." We know that there have been 100,000 people killed in clashes between Mexican authorities and narcos since 2007, but almost all of the killings have taken place in the mountains away from tourists. So this "near the popular beach resort" really shook us. Did this incident happen at one of the areas popular with cruisers such as Nuevo Vallarta, La Cruz or Sayulita? So we decided to look into it a little further.
Would you describe Santa Cruz as being "near" San Francisco? Would you describe Santa Barbara as being "near" Los Angeles? Neither would we, which is why we can’t figure out how the media could describe San Sebastian del Oeste, which is where the horrible incident took place, as being "near" Puerto Vallarta. Not only is beautiful and historic San Sebastian, population 1,000, a two-hour ride on our motorcycle from Puerto Vallarta, it’s nearly 5,000 feet up a winding two-lane road from the coast!
We’ve lived in the Vallarta area about three months each year for the last six or so years, and have driven up the coast to San Blas and down the coast to Barra. And we’ve ridden our motorcycle to San Sebastian a number of times. We’ve not only never had a problem, we’ve never even gotten a bad vibe. This is not to say there haven’t been any incidents at all. There have. And it’s not to say that you can’t find trouble if you’re looking for it. But in our experience, it’s extremely unlikely that trouble will come looking for you. In our view, visitors are 10 times more likely to be victims in a car accident than in narco violence.
For what it’s worth, the U.S. State Department doesn’t have any travel warnings for Puerto Vallarta. If you read all the travel sites, Puerto Vallarta and the ‘Vallarta Coast’ are considered extremely safe for tourists.