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Photos of the Day: Baja Ha-Ha

October 29 - Pacific Ocean

Sorry to have not reported on the Baja Ha-Ha until the third day, but a combination of smoke damage to our brains and tech problems sending photos have put us behind schedule.

The Monday morning start of Baja Ha-Ha 10 was just plain ugly, thanks to the fallout of devastating wildfires in San Diego country. No matter how many times you had washed your boat the previous two days, it was covered in ash.

As the photo above shows, visibility was severely limited and the layer of ash on the water was thick. All in all, the starting area looked liked a Hollywood soundstage for a movie about the end of the world.

Since there was no wind for the 11 a.m. start, the Poobah instituted a 'rolling start', with all boats allowed to motor down the rhumb line at six knots. After an hour, the Morgan Out-Island 41 Bronco reported 10 to 12 knots of wind, and the sailing officially started. Given the terrible air quality, it was ugly sailing, with the air so brown the sun was barely able to shine through. Even when sailing 20 miles from San Diego County, it was still disgusting, as the photo below shows, with the air still a terrible brown and the sun only barely able to shine through.

Everybody was happy to be leaving the disaster area of San Diego - including a number of birds who took refuge aboard Profligate. Among the three was a woodpecker, who was disappointed to discover Profligate's mast wasn't built of wood (see photo below).

The wind only lasted until 7 p.m., at which time the wind died completely. Nobody would be sailing the entire Ha-Ha course this year. If there was any consolation, the seas were flat and it was unusually warm. In fact, the ocean appeared to have been ironed by a professional. Given the light air, there were few problems. Somehow, however, Bronco managed to be involved in some sort of collision, which fortunately resulted in only cosmetic damage. Two other boats returned to San Diego, one with electrical problems, another with engine problems.

Tuesday, the second day of the Ha-Ha was an improvement over the gloomy first. The air quality was much improved and a light sea breeze came up starting at 11 a.m. It was sweet if not fast sailing until sundown, when the wind died completely once again. Nonetheless, some of the Profligate crew had been swimming, other boats in the fleet had caught some fish, and spirits were headed in the right direction. But it was another night of motoring in perfectly flat seas, much to everyone's disappointment.

It's now Wednesday afternoon, and most of the fleet is close reaching or even beating in seven knots of wind, headed for Cedros Island and then the first stop at Turtle Bay. It's warm, the seas are flat, and boats are beginning to converge. It's been a slow start to Ha-Ha 10, but things are sure to be looking up in the next few days.

Catching a Skipjack off Profligate

Bernard and Chris take a swim off the back of Profligate. They claimed the water temperature was in the high 60s and "not too bad." The wind was so light they could swim with the chute up.

Elyxir, a Hunter 33, sailed by Anthony Bettencourt of San Francisco, sails side by side with Profligate.

Sponsor Notice: Globalstar

October 29-31 - Pacific Ocean

Photos of the Baja Ha-Ha in progress are brought to you by Globalstar (literally!) using a Qualcomm satellite phone. See www.globalstarusa.com.

Transat Jacques Vabre to Start this Weekend

October 31 - Le Havre, France

As in 2001, fourteen 60-ft multihulls will start at 1500 French time on Sunday, including six new boats launched in 2002. All 14 boats in this tenth running of the doublehanded race to Bahia, Brazil, are capable of winning. Amongst the 28 skippers in the multihull fleet are winners from all the classic offshore events: Vendée Globe, The Race, Route du Rhum, Trophée Jules Verne and the previous Transat Jacques Vabre. None are American.

The 2001 winner Franck Cammas has teamed up with Franck Proffit this time round, and is still a hot favorite to win given the young French skipper's domination of the multihull circuit ­ he has won four out of five events this year alone! So what is his Achilles' heel? A boat launched in 1998 which perhaps has started to show signs of aging. The oldest trimaran in this fleet, however, is the ex-Foncia built in 1997, now Banque Covefi, under the helm of the two Ravussin brothers, Steve and Yvan. The other trimaran which has been around the block is Biscuits La Trinitaine, an equally proven boat which came second in the infamous 2002 Route du Rhum. Skipper Marc Guillemot is the only person to take the same co-skipper, Yann Guichard, on the same boat as in 2001. Legendary skippers and past winners of the Transat Jacques Vabre, Loïck Peyron and Laurent Bourgnon, are acting as powerful co-skippers this time for Jean-Luc Nélias (Belgacom) and Philippe Monnet (Sopra Group) respectively.

On board Géant, Michel Desjoyeaux is paired with seven-time round the world sailor Hervé Jan. Another similar top choice co-skipper is Jacques Vincent, who has been around the world six times no less, and for this race teams up with Thomas Coville (Sodebo). Mixed doubles in the fleet are Alain Gautier/Ellen MacArthur (Foncia) and Karine Fauconnier/Damian Foxall (Sergio Tacchini).

The Class 2 Open 50 multihull division will be a match race between anne-caseneuve.com and the British duo Andy Newman and Ross Hobson on Mollymawk, as today the withdrawal of Victorinox was announced. The one advantage for Frenchwoman Anne Caseneuve and co-skipper Christophe Houdet is that their Van Peteghem/Lauriot-Prévost 2001 design took the 24-hour distance record for an Open 50 (48 miles).

Although winds of 25-35 knots, as well as rain, are predicted for Sunday there is an 80% chance that the multihull start will go off as scheduled.

More benign conditions are expected for tomorrow afternoon's monohull start. With a total of 17 boats on the line, five more than the last race in 2001, the Open 60 IMOCA Class represents the biggest fleet out of the four in the TJV and boasts the most international field of skippers from eight different countries. The 2001 winner, World Champion French skipper Roland Jourdain is defending his title on board the proven Lombard design Sill, which is now owned by his co-skipper, 29-year-old Alex Thomson.

Ecover, Mike Golding's Open 60
Photo Richard Langdon, Courtesy www.pixsail.com

In this class, much attention is also being paid to the two brand new monohulls on their first offshore race. Virbac, the first Farr-designed Open 60, is in the hands of Jean-Pierre Dick. Next to her in the basin is the new Ecover, the third Owen-Clarke design after Pindar and Team Cowes. For British skippers Mike Golding and Brian Thompson, theirs will be a rude baptism when they hit 40-knot winds on the nose on the first night sailing down the English Channel. Golding has occupied the other two podium positions in previous races and so the only one left for him to fill is the top spot. Another skipper on for raising the bar on his third place performance from 2001 is Aussie Nick Moloney, racing with Figaro skipper Sam Davies on Team Cowes. A boat which is likely to threaten these skippers is Pindar with past TJV winner Emma Richards and the transatlantic record breaking Kiwi co-skipper Mike Sanderson on board.

In the Open 50 class, 2001's winner, Aussie Paul Larsen, could well put in a repeat performance. With British skipper Conrad Humphreys, they are racing on board a winning boat. Designed in 1996 by Group Finot, Hellomoto (ex-Ashfield Healthcare/Cray Valley) won the Route du Rhum 2002 with Nick Moloney at the helm, and Around Alone 98-99 with Jean-Pierre Mouligné. Their main competition comes from Le Défi Vendéen skippered by Jean-François Durand and Stéphane Chemin.

For the complete report, more photos and to follow the starts this weekend, see www.jacques-vabre.com.

Happy Halloween

October 31 - USA

Or maybe he just ate too much Halloween candy. Either way, don't let this be you later tonight!


October 31 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.

Weather Updates

October 31 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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