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50th San Diego to Ensenada Race

October 9, 2013 – Ensenada, Mexico

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Skipper Plenert, behind bars in Ensenada. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

One of the last places you ever want to find yourself is behind bars in Mexico. But that's what happened to Katherine Plenert, owner and skipper of the San Diego-based Catalina 36 Debauchery following last week's 50th Annual San Diego to Ensenada Race put on by the Southwestern YC. Her crime? Owning the last boat to finish the 65-mile race.

All right, we're kidding. The playful photo of Nurse Plenert behind tiny bars was taken at Cantina Hussong's during the height of frivolity following the race. We can't remember having so much post race fun in years. It wasn't the brawling, bottle-breaking, table overturning Hussong's action of decades ago, but rather enjoying cocktails and having a fun time with new and old friends. What really seemed to get the good times rolling was the house band covering a Metallica tune on a 12-string guitar. It was about the only American song they knew.

CF Koehler of the San Diego YC hits the starting line in front of two competitors with his classic Abedking & Rasmussen 10 Meter Sally, a boat that is much older than the Little Ensenada Race. © 2018 Kurt Roll

To Plenert and her crew's credit, at least they finished the race. Seven of the 50 entries — including our 63-ft cat Profligate — dropped out. To say it was a light-air race would be an understatement. After the first hour, we never hit much over three knots while close-reaching with our biggest asymmetrical. It was sunny, warm and relaxing, but it wasn't San Francisco Bay or Caribbean conditions. So a little after dark, and a little more than halfway to Ensenada, we invoked Rule 65, and motored down to a berth at Coral Hotel & Marina.

San Diego sailors are accustomed to light air, so every other boat was still on the course, although six others would later join the DNF club. First-to-finish and first in PHRF was Tom Holthus' San Diego YC-based R/P STP65 Bad Pak, which was barely able to average six knots. Around 3 a.m. the wind finally came up — and big time: twenty-five to 35-knot dry Santana winds from the desert. It brought the last of the boats. Plenert's Debauchery, crossed the finish line just before dawn. Well done!

Some of the strongest wind was at the starting line. © 2018 Kurt Roll

After a day of R&R in Ensenada, there was the follow-up race, the 14-mile Todo Santos Regatta, organized by Club Nautico Baja. This is usually a great one, with a beat out to the island and spinnaker reach back home. But this year there was even less wind than during the race to Ensenada, so fighting the current to try to get around the island became an exercise in futility. We dropped out, set the chute, and were soon doing 11 knots back to the marina, by far our best speed of the weekend. So it goes.

There was no wind at the start of the Todos Santos Island Race, and not much more later on. © 2018 Kurt Roll

We've done the 'Little Ensenada Race' two years in a row, and want to recommend it to any race-inclined folks coming down for next year's Baja Ha-Ha. It's a great shakedown just three weeks before the start of the Ha-Ha, and for some folks it would make sense to just stay in Ensenada and start the Ha-Ha from there. While Ensenada could certainly use some work on infrastructure — it has more cracked sidewalks than anywhere we've ever been — it's authentic Mexico, so the people are wonderful and the prices are low. The seafood? Out of this world. 

- latitude / richard

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Classy Deadline the 15th

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Blue Marble Crew's Bittersweet Goodbye

October 9, 2013 – Niue, South Pacific

We're happy to report some good news in the aftermath of the Fountaine-Pajot 46 Blue Marble's grounding on the remote South Pacific island of Niue last month. Well, at least semi-good news. 

The young Scandinavian crew brought the boat from St. Maarten to the central South Pacific earlier this year. Photo Courtesy Blue Marble
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After being stranded on the tiny island for three weeks, the young Norwegian owner, Eriend Hovland, finally received an insurance settlement to cover the cost of the extensive salvage operation. "It all came together in one day," he wrote on his Facebook page, "the insurance paid, the wreck was sold and we got a (hitch)hike on the 40-footer Red Sky Night with our friend Felice." No doubt the crew was left with bittersweet memories as they said goodbye to Blue Marble and the friendly islanders who had taken them in. 

Hard aground on a Niue reef: the sort of image that no one wants to have in their vacation album. Photo Courtesy Blue Marble
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Interestingly, we suspect that relatively few young sailors carry offshore insurance, but Hovland was wise enough to do so, and is undoubtedly elated that he did. Of course, in contrast to some boats sailed by young adventurers, his cat was new enough and nice enough to be insurable.

"We have been on Tonga for nearly a week," Hovland wrote on Friday. "It's amazing. We have visited a psychedelic puppet show, eaten a Tongan feast and gone cave diving." He and his crew plan to hang out until next week and participate in the annual Regatta Vava'u, then hitch a ride to Australia via Fiji. Meanwhile, we expect that some enterprising islander will rebuild Blue Marble's badly damaged underbelly and eventually get her out sailing again. 

- latitude / andy

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Ad: Pacific Offshore Academy

October 9, 2013 – Pt. Richmond, CA

Pacific Offshore Academy II

© 2018 Pacific Cup Yacht Club /

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

October 9, 2013 – San Francisco Bay

You might assume that October is so busy because the America's Cup squeezed some local Bay races to either end of the calendar. But actually October is always a busy month for local racing.

The Sperry Top-Sider Melges 24 Worlds wrapped up on Saturday with light air sailing on the Berkeley Circle. They got in nine races in all, and Brian Porter's Full Throttle from Wisconsin rose to the top of the standings. Don Jesberg from the host club, SFYC, won the Corinthian Division with Viva.

Season Closer at CYC
YRA sailors doin' the light air slow dance in Belvedere Cove. © 2018 /

The challenge at the YRA's Party Circuit Season Closer on Saturday and Sunday was getting around Angel and Alcatraz Islands in strong currents — flood followed by ebb — and almost no wind. The races started and finished off the Corinthian YC deck, and some boats made it all the away around the course on Saturday only to be foiled by the strong ebb that swept them past the wrong side of the finish line, reminiscent of some Corinthian Midwinters.

Vanguard 15 racing
The view on Tomales Bay from Jonathan Bernbaum's rudder-mounted GoPro, as the Vanguard 15 fleet approaches a layline. That's Avery Patton Whitmarsh on the rail of Matthew Sessions' boat. © 2018 Jonathan Bernbaum

Matthew Sessions won the 16-boat Vanguard 15 Fleet Championship at Inverness YC over the weekend. "Avery Patton Whitmarsh and I have been sailing together for 14 years in the V15 fleet. My 11-year-old son Nicholas crewed for me on Saturday, and they split Sunday crew duties. Nicholas did 16 of the 20 races, not bad for a sixth grader." After 20 races only two points separated third and fifth place.

C&C 110 Hot Ice
The winter sailing season has begun -- time to get out the bikinis! This is the C&C 110 Hot Ice. © 2018 Torin Knorr

At Coyote Point YC's Kay and Dave Few Regatta on Saturday, 50% of the crew had to be women, and a woman had to be at the helm for at least half the race. "In an effort to truly embrace the spirit of this race, nobody of the male persuasion touched the tiller for the entire day," said Mark Bettis, owner of the J/29 Smokin' J. The regatta was renamed in 2012 in honor of Kay and Dave Few, because for many years they have kept the concept of couples racing and women skippers alive at CPYC. "It was the first real drifter of the winter racing season," reports Bettis. "The wind stayed between zero and five knots for the entire race, and temperatures in the mid-80s made for a shorts and T-shirt afternoon." Unfortunately, time ran out on the race in the light air and no one finished.

Lillian and Paula
Lillian Chou and Paula Edmondson traded off helm and jib duties on Smokin' J. © 2018 Mike Babineau

Saturday's Vice Commodore's Cup at Half Moon Bay YC enjoyed sunny and warm conditions. Tracy Usher won all four races in the 10-boat Laser division. The pressure was patchy all day, and got very light during the last race. Like those in the Season Closer, the sailors in Pillar Point Harbor were plagued by flies.

The Monterey Shields Fleet
The Shields fleet shows off their spinnakers in Monterey. © 2018 Jessica Hobson

"The Shields class is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year," writes Garth Hobson of Monterey Peninsula YC, "so to honor that the Monterey fleet of 12 boats went out and staged a spinnaker run before our last set of races."

Who was Latitude 38's September Sailor of the Month? Find out here.

- latitude / chris

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