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Rolex Big Boat Series Kicks Off

September 11, 2009 – The Bay

Golden Moon
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Kame Richards' Golden Moon leading the Express 37s on the way to a 1-1 opening day at the 2009 Rolex Big Boat Series. © 2018 Peter Lyons /

The breeze only scratched the high-teens occasionally, but day one of the 2009 Rolex Big Boat Series was vintage chamber of commerce material. It was warm and the sun was shining — spare a finger of fog that tickled only the very center of the Slot throughout the day. But the sun wasn't the only thing shining among the 67 boats sailing in seven one design divisions and 29 boats in four IRC divisions.

Chris Dickson helming Jim Mitchell's R/P 52 Vincitore to a pair of bullets. © 2018 Sharon Green /

In IRC A, Jim Mitchell's sparkling blue R/P 52 Vincitore with Chris Dickson on the helm and Regatta Chair Norman Davant on tactics sailed a crisp 1-1. Vincitore beat John Kilroy Jr.'s TP 52 Samba Pa Tí by 41 seconds on corrected time in the first race, the latter edging out Ashley Wolfe's TP 52 Mayhem by a mere second in the five-boat division. All are IRC-optimized TP 52s except Vincitore, which was designed originally as an IRC boat. In fact, the action in IRC A was so close, it almost appeared the boats were sailing boat-for-boat. In race number two, Vincitore finished exactly one-minute ahead of Mayhem, with Samba finishing in fourth, just 12 seconds behind Tom Akin's and Mark Jones' Flash — with Jeff Thorpe on the wheels and Paul Cayard calling tactics.

Melges 32s
Three of the five Melges 32s enjoying a beautiful day on the Bay. © 2018 Peter Lyons /

The top two boats in IRC B are a study on contrast. Kjeld Hestehave's beautifully-maintained 1980s design Velos — a Tanton 73 — racked up a pair of bullets by large margins in the waterline-favoring conditions. With spring in her sheerline and prodigous overhangs, Velos was a marked contrast to the brand new — and Bay Area-based — plumb-bowed and wide-transomed boat sitting in second in the 10-boat division: Dale Williams' Kernan 44 Wasabi.

IRC B boats Ragtime. Chris Welsh's Spencer 65, and Wasabi. Dale Williams' Kernan 44. mix it up downwind. © 2018 Erik Simonson /

IRC C has been all about Dan Woolery's Pt. Richmond-based King 40 Soozal, which came into the regatta with the lead for the SF Bay IRC season. The Soozal crew — which has already notched division wins in Key West and Miami earlier this year — looked strong with a pair of bullets in the eight-boat division and margins of about 30 seconds and one minute over runner-up James Bishop's Jamestown, RI-based J/44 Gold Phoenix. Gerry Sheridan's well-oiled Tupelo Honey program took both races in IRC D by a margin of over one minute. The San Francisco-based Elan 40, a former RBBS division winner, leads the six-boat division by only two points, though, with Timothy Ballard's San Rafael-based Beneteau 40.7 Inspired Environments scoring two seconds to trail by only two points.

Dan Woolery's King 40 Soozal sailed to a convincing pair of bullets. © 2018 Leslie Richter /

Kame Richards' Golden Moon leads the nine-boat Express 37 division after scoring two bullets yesterday, with Bill Riess' Elan and Michael Maloney's Bullet trailing with a 2-2 and 3-3 respectively. In the typically tight, all-Bay Area, eight-boat J/120 division, only two points separate the top three, with Steve Madeira's Mr. Magoo leading John Wimer's Desdemona and Don Payan's Dayenu. In the 1D35s, defending champion Gary Boell's Diablita leads Alex Farell's Alpha Puppy and Jon Hunt and Mark Witty's Dark & Stormy with only two points separating the three in the seven-boat division. Jeff Littfin and John Case's Mojo leads the 25-boat J/105 division by two points over Adam Spiegel and Guillamtte Brouillat's Jam Session after scoring a 4-2 to Jam Session's 7-1.

John Kilroy Jr.'s Samba Pa Ti working upwind. © 2018 Sharon Green /

Aaron Kennedy's Ay Caliente! is so far putting the screws to class master Ed Durbin's Mistral in the six-boat Beneteau 36.7 division, scoring a 2-1 to take a two-point lead into today's two races. Bill LeRoy's Gone With the Wind — a name many Northern California sailors might associate with a certain SC 50 — is looking strong in the six-boat Cal 40 division with a five-point lead after scoring a 1-1. In the six — or is it five? — boat Melges 32 division, Andy Lovell's Rougarou has only a point between it and Don Jesberg's recently-crowned North American champion Viva. While six boats are signed up, only five sailed today.

- latitude / rg

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John Guzzwell Day

September 11, 2009 – The West Coast

Trekka wasn't too roomy, but this Laurent Giles-designed sloop took the young singlehander safely around the world. © 2018 Guzzwell archives

As keepers of the official West Coast Circumnavigator's List, the staff of Latitude 38 invites you to raise a glass tomorrow, September 12, to one of the West Coast's most revered — yet humble — sailors: John Guzzwell. Exactly 50 years ago tomorrow he arrived home at Victoria, B.C., thus completing a 33,000-mile solo lap around the planet aboard the 20'6" wooden sloop Trekka, which he'd built with his own hands. Although he simply sought adventure, rather than to set world records, at the time he was the youngest (29) to go around, and Trekka remained the smallest boat to make the trip until Berkeley's Serge Testa did it 27 years later in his 12-ft Acrohc Australis.

John Guzzwell 09
One of the living legends of offshore voyaging, John is an instantly likable fellow. © 2018 Guzzwell archives

If you've never read Guzzwell's classic book, Trekka Round the World, we highly recommend that you pick it up and travel back to an era when only the most capable, self-sufficient sailors had any business venturing offshore. With gas lanterns for running lights, stars and sextants for navigation, and only the most rudimentary weather forecasting, crossing oceans was a very different game back in the '50s.

A lifelong sailor and boatbuilder, Guzzwell, now in his late 70s, is still actively involved in construction projects and classes. As reported earlier, our April tribute to this living legend at the Oakland YC drew a standing-room-only crowd which included a Who's Who of West Coast sailing luminaries, all of whom came to shake the hand of one of their childhood heroes. So three cheers for John Guzzwell, one of the greats!

- latitude / at

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Ad: Leukemia Cup Regatta

September 11, 2009 – Belvedere

The Leukemia Cup is a great time for a good cause.
© 2018 Leukemia Cup Regatta /

Next weekend, sailors from around the Bay will 'Raise a Sail, Race to Win, and Help Save a Life' at the Leukemia Cup Regatta. Skipper registration is just $100 and goes to a great cause: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Individuals who raise $1,500 are invited to attend the September 19 VIP dinner at host-club San Francisco YC featuring a special presentation by former Vice President Al Gore. Seats are limited so register today! Contact Robin Reynolds at (415) 625-1132 or by email.

The Leukemia Cup Regatta
Register online today!
© 2018 Leukemia Cup Regatta /

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In the Wake of Jimena

September 11, 2009 – Both Sides of the Sea of Cortez

"I am convinced that had the U.S. government hired Mexico to handle the post Katrina clean up in New Orleans, that city would have been up and running in three weeks," writes Charlie Bloomer, a yacht broker at Sea of Cortez Yachts in San Carlos, Mexico. "Because Jimena sat over San Carlos/Guaymas for nearly 24 hours, both towns suffered tremendous damage. Nonetheless, San Carlos and Guaymas got power just a few days later, and the water system is slowly being repaired. The government's power system, CFE, and the regional water system, CEA, as well as TelMex, are performing miracles here daily."

Marina Seca
Twenty-seven inches of rain in 24 hours will do this to a dirt (rather than paved) boat storage area. Can you believe the number of sailboats hauled at Marina Seca? Photo Courtesy Gemini
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Kiki Grossman, Director of Grupo Marine San Carlos, including the massive Marina Seca dry storage area, echoed the sentiment. Three days after the remnants of Jimena left, having dumped a record 27 inches of water in just 24 hours(!), she had four backhoes and one bulldozer cleaning up the massive mounds of water and reorganizing the boats that had been in the path of the torrent. The next day she was pleasantly surprised when TelMex crews showed up asking where to place the new telephone poles, and noting the electric company had a team of 200 workers getting the service back online in the area. Mariners in the area complimented Grossman on the job she and her staff were doing at the marina. While some mostly smaller boats got washed into one another, there was reportedly very little major damage to larger boats.

It was worse on the water, however, as Les Sutton and Diane Grant of the Alameda-based Albin Nimbus 42 Gemini reported from San Carlos. While there was no damage to boats in the San Carlos Marina, 18 boats went aground out in the Bay. It's unclear how badly they were damaged.

Two trimarans and a yellow monohull were among the 18 boats that went aground at San Carlos. Photo Courtesy Gemini
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The amazingly quick recovery of basic services seemed to be the same story over on the Baja side at hard-hit Santa Rosalia and Loreto/Puerto Escondido. Dave Wallace of the Redwood City-based Amel Maramu Air Ops flew out of Loreto on a commercial flight just two days after Jimena had left. And despite a number of tremendous wash-outs of the TransPeninsular Highway, the resourceful Mexicans soon had it reopened to traffic, albeit often just one lane at a time. These, however, were/are just the first steps necessary to restore services and living conditions in Jimena's wake, and the people and places still need help. Dave Wallace, along with his wife Merry, cares deeply about the Sea of Cortez and the people who live along it. Here is his plea for assistance:

"The extent of the devastation to the Mexican people on Baja and across the Sea in the Guaymas area is still unfolding, but it's significant. The affected people are linked in many ways to those of us who cruise the Sea of Cortez, and they are now in great need. Many have lost everything. Unfortunately, the mainstream media dropped the story once they reported that the availability of Jello shooters was unaffected by the hurricane in Cabo. But the need for relief is still there, and urgent. 

"This website lists locations in southern Arizona to drop off relief goods for transportation to the San Carlos/Guaymas area. It also lists points of contact at San Carlos for the relief effort, and includes a link to enable cash donations to be made via PayPal.

"The Baja Bush Pilots website lists drop-off locations in California, including ones in Los Gatos and and East Bay, plus San Diego. It also provides an address for mailing cash donations."

The single primary roads on both sides of the Sea were washed out in many places, but quickly restored for basic use. This is downtown San Carlos. © 2018 Dennis & Lynn Cannon

And just to remind everyone, it's not necessarily over. There are still six weeks left in the hurricane season. So let's keep our fingers crossed.

- latitude / rs

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Biggest Ha-Ha Entry List Ever

September 11, 2009 – Ha-Ha Land

As of today, the Baja Ha-Ha has received 186 paid entries, and several more are expected. This means the old entry record of 183 has been eclipsed. This comes as a pleasant surprise to the Grand 'worst case scenario' Poobah who, back in May, feared the entry list might be as low as 100 boats because of the poor economy. If the big new number is an indication that the economy is rebounding, we couldn't be happier for everyone.

Note to procrastinators: The entry deadline for what one wag is calling "The Exodus" has been extended to midnight Monday, September 14.

Party Time! Excellent!
More than 300 Mexico-bound cruisers and their potential crew packed Encinal YC to the rafters. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

More than 80 registered Ha-Ha'ers dropped in at Latitude's Mexico-Only Crew List & Baja Ha-Ha Party on Wednesday night at Encinal YC. Many were looking for help on the trip south, and there was no dearth of potential crew to choose from — in all, more than 300 people joined the party.

Girls, Girls, Girls!
Julia, Heather & Ciadelle had sailors on their knees all night. Not surprisingly, quite a few skippers showed interest in having them as crew. Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Fluno Family
The Fluno Family (Johnny, John, Keturah & LaShandra) of the San Francisco-based Hylas 47 Alias are planning a leisurely trip down the coast . . . with Keturah blasting the AirZound she won the entire time! Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you're heading south this fall — as part of the Ha-Ha or on your own — we strongly recommend having more than just two watchstanders onboard. Instead of being a test of endurance, the trip down will be relaxing, restful and fun. And don't worry that you missed your chance to find crew at the party; you can still sign up on our Mexico-Only Crew List. But don't wait for crew to come to you — check out the list of folks looking for rides south. You'll find a wide variety of experience levels, from novice to globegirdler, to choose from.

Kids these days
Kids of all ages enjoyed the annual liferaft demo courtesy of Sal's Inflatables . . . just as long as it's on dry land! Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / rs & ld

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