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Ben Ainslie's Honeymoon Rescue

January 14, 2015 – Necker Island, British Virgin Islands


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

After the mishap, Sir Richard Branson showers the newlyweds and their rescuers with a bit of bubbly. 

© 2017 Jack Brockway / Virgin.com

If you think you're too hot a sailor to ever get in trouble with your boat, think again. Shit happens. Even to top pros. A case in point was when British sailor Sir Ben Ainslie — acknowledged as the most successful Olympic sailor in history — was sailing his yacht with his newlywed wife Georgie Thompson through the reef-strewn waters of the British Virgin Islands, not far from Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island resort. 

In his blog on www.virgin.com, Sir Richard reported Monday that aboard Ainslie's yacht "the furling system broke on the main sail and the sail became so twisted that it couldn't go up, down, in or out." Sir Ben put out a call for assistance and three members of the Necker Island watersports team came to the rescue. 

As Branson wrote, "The only way to avoid going onto the reefs was for Marco to go to the top to cut the sail to pieces, whilst George and Ben were winching Marco up and down and Georgie was helping in the boat. Unsurprisingly, Ben kept an amazingly cool head whilst directing operations — he just needed more hands to sort out the mess." 

The incident ended with no further harm to the boat, and afterward Sir Ben and Georgie later spent several peaceful days at Branson's spectacular Necker Island Resort. All's well that ends well. (Yeah, we'd bet that Sir Ben's boat was amply insured.)

On a side note, we've always been a little suspicious of in-mast and in-boom mainsail furling systems, although some sailors swear by them. If you've had experiences — either good or bad — with such systems, we'd love to hear about them. Email us here.

- latitude / andy

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New items in Our Chandlery

Classy Deadline the 15th


No Photos!

January 14, 2015 – Careyes, Mexico's Gold Coast


The Bel-Aire Resort at Careyes, fronted by three bays.

Photo Latitude / Aerial / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"No photos," said the guard at Careyes, the remote high-end resort between Puerto Vallarta and Barra de Navidad on Mexico's lightly-populated Gold Coast. He said they were "renovating," so nobody was allowed to go down and take photos. Bummer, because taking photos of the various Gold Coast anchorages and marinas is the reason we did an 8.5-hour round trip from La Cruz. The first time we visited Careyes on our own boat was probably 1983. There was a Club Med on the northernmost of the three bays. You can just see a tiny bit of the bay in the far right of the photo. We tucked in closer to that bay than was wise because we were young and stupid, but we survived.

There are two islands in that part of the photo, and either between the mainland and one of the islands, or between the two islands, there is/was a suspension bridge high above the water. A Hollywood individual told us the 'Kill Bill' wrap party was held at the site, and, in a moment of madness, director Quentin Tarantino and star Uma Thurman got on the middle of the 150-ft high bridge and tried to shake it to pieces. They weren't successful, but the bridge reportedly fell into the water of its own accord a few weeks later.

We've anchored outside the island in the middle of the photo, between that same island and the little peninsula in front of it, and in the little bay right in front of the main resort. The latter made us a little nervous, as it was a bit of a squeeze for a cat that's 63 feet by 30 feet. But, once again, we survived, despite the surge and crashing of waves on the nearby rocks.

We've always been welcomed by the resort staff, even when we landed the outboard-powered inflatable on their beach. The first couple of times we stopped there, a small crowd of guests was staying at the Bel-Aire, which is the main resort. The last two times we were there, we had the whole place to ourselves. How high-end luxury resorts in Mexico can survive without any customers has always been a mystery to us.

The two most memorable features of Careyes for us have been the pool, which winds all around the circular area in the middle of the resort, and the always-empty restaurant. These days a resort like Careyes would probably assess a $100/person day-use fee, but back then they seemed delighted to have a group of fun-loving sailors give the otherwise empty pool a workout. Actually, the last time we were there, an aristocratic woman was in the restaurant. She must have been a little lonely, because she even made overtures to our somewhat ragged and boisterous crew. We put an afternoon of fun into her life. But we never did see recording star Seal and his then-wife Heidi Klum. They have/had a big house on the hill.

Two years ago, a security guard could have kept us from achieving our goal of getting a nice photo of the Bel-Aire Resort and the three bays of Careyes. But now we're armed with a drone, so we backed our car about 100 feet away from the security hut, launched the drone, and flew a couple of hundred feet over his head. He was none the wiser.

If you've been to Careyes and had an interesting time, we’d like to hear about it.

P.S.: This photo and item were posted on Richard Spindler's Facebook account yesterday, and we've already got a lot of responses, including 'appearances' by the likes of Paul Cayard, Lowell North, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, and more. If anyone wants to 'Friend' Richard Spindler, feel free. We mostly post sailing porn we don't have room for in Latitude 38 and/or 'Lectronic Latitude.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: El Salvador Rally

January 14, 2015 – Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

Cruisers Rally to El Salvador

© 2017 El Salvador Rally / Elsalvadorrally.com

Discover the lesser traveled and unspoiled cruiser-friendly destination of Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. Enjoy parties, special events and activities, each designed to introduce you to this unique mecca for cruisers. Hurricane free. Hassle free.

Sixth annual rally March 16 to April 18, 2015. For more information, visit Elsalvadorrally.com.

Hotel Bahia del Sol

© 2017 Hotel Bahia del Sol

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

January 14, 2015 – San Francisco Bay

A Jack Frost start on Saturday

At the start of Saturday's Jack Frost north of Treasure Island, boats got close but never crossed the start line.

© 2017 Fred Fago

A common ingredient for racing on San Francisco Bay was missing from the recipe last weekend: functional breeze. "A humorous theory was proposed that the lack of wind was because the Golden Gate Bridge District may be in charge of the wind that blows through it," said photographer Fred Fago, "and since the bridge was shut down so was the wind." With two races scheduled on Saturday, Encinal YC's Jack Frost had to abandon twice.

BYC Midwinters postponement

A long postponement for some of the divisions in Saturday's BYC Midwinter race did eventually resolve into a successfully completed race.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The work on the bridge must have been finished early, because a fresh westerly of 8-10 knots did fill in from the Gate around 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, there were still racers on the Berkeley YC course there to enjoy it, though it did bring with it a 180-degree shift.

BYC race Sunday

A lively little westerly did kick in on Sunday afternoon, turning BYC's short upwind leg to the finish line into a spinnaker reach.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Racing west of the Berkeley Circle on Saturday, RegattaPRO's one-design fleets had mixed results. The J/105s, J/120s and Melges 24s were able to complete one of two scheduled races in 3-4 knots of wind. "The course, a double sausage, was shortened to a single sausage," said Melges 24 skipper Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff. "The Moore 24s, J/70s and J/24s sat around for two hours and did not get a race in."

Chess game on Ma's Rover

While Mark Eastham and crew relaxed waiting for the wind at TYC, the Corsair trimaran Ma's Rover provided a nice stable platform for a game of chess!

© 2017 Pat Lakner

The wind never arrived for the first race of Tiburon YC's midwinter series in the North Bay on Saturday, and racing was called off at 2:00 p.m. They'll try again on February 7.

The J/92 Relentless under spinnaker

Tracy Rogers' J/92 Relentless racing back to the Port of Redwood City in the Redwood Cup.

© 2017 Fabian Pease

Also on Saturday, 10 boats turned out for Sequoia YC's Redwood Cup pursuit race in 5 knots of breeze. "The flood tide and northerly component in the wind combined to create a tack-fest on the way out the channel that kept the crews busy," said race captain Andrew Rist. "Charlie Watt and Ella van Gool on the Open 6.50 led the fleet home for the bullet."

Crowd of FJ sailors in the RYC turning basin

A crowd of more than 140 high school sailors hovered around the RYC turning basin on Saturday waiting for wind.

© 2017 Richmond Yacht Club

Richmond YC hosted the Little Daddy/NorCal #6 high school regatta, sailed in FJs on Saturday. They were able to get in just one race. Will Martens and Lucie Welles from Redwood High in Larkspur topped the 38-boat Gold Fleet, and Josselyn Verutti from the Kirby School in Santa Cruz topped the Silver Fleet with crew Spencer Carson. "We had never sailed in a race together before Saturday," said Verutti, "so it was really great to get a super start and build our lead around the course. With 33 boats in the fleet it was awesome to win and have Spencer as my crew."

Congratulations to Terry Hutchinson of Annapolis, MD, and Stephanie Roble of East Troy, WI, who were named US Sailing’s 2014 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year today. We last saw Hutchinson on San Francisco Bay calling tactics for Alex Roepers' Farr 40 Plenty, which won the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in October and the Farr 40 class at the Rolex Big Boat Series in September, both regattas hosted by St. Francis YC. Stephanie Roble came to the Bay to crew aboard Liam Kilroy's Wildman in the Melges 20 North Americans at SFYC in October. Learn more about both honorees here.

- latitude / chris

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