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Ha-Ha Fleet Approaches Turtle Bay

October 28, 2015 – Bahia Tortugas, Baja California Sur

Baja Ha-Ha start parade
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Tom Wurfl and Helen Downs' Lagoon 42 Catatude and scores of other sailboats paraded out of San Diego Bay on their way to the start of the 22nd Baja Ha-Ha on Monday morning.

Photo Latitude / John A.
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The 22nd annual Baja Ha-Ha Rally got off to a very mellow start on Monday, with light winds of 8-10 knots, flat seas and clear blue skies — a perfect introduction to offshore cruising for the many first-timers in the fleet.

As the sun set that evening, a brilliant full moon rose over the Baja coast. Veteran crew aboard the committee boat, Profligate, agreed that Monday night was the warmest and driest first night out ever.

This being a rally rather than a race, many crews kicked on their engines when the breeze dropped below 6 knots late Monday night, but, as always, a number of diehards were determined to sail the entire course, despite having to ghost along at 3 knots or less during the wee hours.

As predicted by the fleet’s weather router, Commodore Weather, the breeze piped up into the 12- to 14-knot range early Tuesday afternoon, providing absolutely awesome sailing conditions: a perfect combination of moderate breeze, gentle swells and clear skies. Abnormally warm water temperatures — roughly 75° — 150 miles south of San Diego helped the fishermen in the fleet find early success.

Most fleet members will arrive in Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) today, the first R&R stop of the trip. The annual Ha-Ha baseball game is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, followed on Friday by a massive beach party. Leg 2, a 280-mile run to remote Bahia Santa Maria, will begin Saturday morning.

So far, despite light winds at times, at least three boats have sailed the entire course: the Lagoon 42s Catatude and Swell, and the Gulfstar 50 Talion — skippered by Patsy Verhoeven, one of two female skippers in the 110-boat fleet. Stay tuned for additional updates.

- latitude / andy

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Fall Crew List Party

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Merlin Comes Home

October 28, 2015 – Santa Cruz, CA

The legendary ocean racer Merlin is coming home to Santa Cruz. Her designer, builder and original owner, Bill Lee, has bought her back. Her canting keel (a modern modification) is history. "She will be in storage in Santa Cruz for a while while we change the keel out," Lee told us. "I will likely enter her in 2017's Transpac."

Merlin at a truck stop

Merlin took a break in Wendover, NV.

© 2018 Mike Lear

Yesterday afternoon's much-anticipated arrival was delayed. "There's been a zebra mussel delay at Donner Summit," wrote Jeremy Leonard yesterday evening. Such is the fate of trailer-sailers — the 68-ft Merlin arrived in California from the fresh water Great Lakes!

Read this story by Shimon van Collie, written for Latitude 38 in 1995, to learn why Merlin is so special.

- latitude / chris

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Ad: Scanmar International

October 28, 2015 – Richmond, CA

© 2018 Scanmar International /

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

October 28, 2015 – Richmond, Long Beach, and San Diego, CA

Express 27s on the Circle

A downwind leg for the Express 27 fleet on the Olympic Circle in Saturday's Great Pumpkin drop-mark races. Jim Gibbs' Moonlight is featured in the foreground of this photo. Brendan Busch's Get Happy!!, the first fiberglass production Express 27, won the 13-boat division.

© 2018 /

Richmond YC hosted another great Great Pumpkin Regatta over the weekend. A three-part event, the Pumpkin consists of buoy racing on three courses on Saturday, an epic party on Saturday night, and a pursuit race around Alcatraz and Angel Island (skipper's choice of direction) on Sunday. Bill Erkelens Sr.'s D-class cat Adrenaline finished first, in just under an hour. "We started on port, decided to go clockwise, and tacked up the inside of a starboard lift all the way to Alcatraz," said Erkelens. In Raccoon Strait they had just enough breeze to keep going through the fleet and get to the finish west of the Richmond breakwater. Bob Bloom's J/35 Jarlen was the first monohull to finish. They also went clockwise. We'll have more in the December (not November) issue of Latitude 38.

CCW fleet stuck at Angel

Most of the pursuit racers went counterclockwise and spent an inordinate amount of time admiring Angel Island's Point Campbell, while waiting their turn to enter Raccoon Strait.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Dancing in the tent

"It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A," sang the band and the ersatz Village People who occupied RYC's tent-and-trailer village on Saturday night. The clubhouse is closed for renovations, and the 'fabric structure' is serving as the temporary bar, dining room and dance hall.

Photo Latitude / Chris
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Roy Pat Disney posted a three-peat in Long Beach YC's Campbell Cup on Sunday. His Andrews 68, Pyewacket, won the West Coast 70 Class, with Mick Shlens topping the Farr 40 class with Blade II and John Snook's Jim winning in the two-boat J/120 class. Second place in the 70s was Ed McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, just three points behind first place. GI, you may recall won this year's Transpac overall.

Roy P Disney with trophies

Roy Pat Disney had his hands full at LBYC on Sunday afternoon.

© 2018 Rick Roberts

San Diego YC hosted the International Masters Regatta, sailed in J/105s Friday through Sunday — except that racing had to be abandoned on Sunday due to lack of wind. "I’m going to tell my crew we've got to go faster," said Malin Burnham of SDYC on the first day of racing, and that is just what they (Vince Brun, Ben Mitchell, Al Pleskus, Eric Doyle and Andy La Dow) did. Just shy of his 88th birthday, Burnham can now also celebrate his Masters victory.

Burnham at the wheel of the J/105 Jim

Malin Burnham at the wheel of the J/105 Jim.

© 2018 Cynthia Sinclair

- latitude / chris

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Sailing Grants Deadline Nears

October 28, 2015 – London, UK

The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation may be based in England, but its reach is global. Sailing nonprofits from around the world are encouraged to apply for grants of up to £10,000, which converts to $15,300 in US dollars. But the deadline is approaching — it's November 2.

Kids jumping for joy

"Leapin' lizards! We get to go sailing!"

© 2018 ASSF

So far in 2015, the ASSF has supported 20 different projects with more than £250,000 across six countries, but none so far in North America. Applicants can learn more and download the form at

And mark your 2016 calendars now for Bart's Bash, on September 17-18. The third global sailing event, which raises funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, will be spread over both days of the weekend for the first time.

In case you've been lost on a remote, uncharted island for the past two and a half years, Andrew 'Bart' Simpson was the British team member of Artemis Racing who perished on May 9, 2013, in a capsize while training in the AC72 for the America's Cup on San Francisco Bay.

- latitude / chris

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