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Photos of the Day: Vallejo Race

May 3 - Vallejo

An amazing 331 boats signed up for this past weekend's Vallejo Race. That's the most in recent memory and once again makes this May classic as popular a migration as that of the gray whales or that swallow thing to Capistrano. Brisk breeze insured that the 10:30 starting sequences south of Southampton Shoal began on time for the 12 handicap and 13 one design fleets. The short weather leg and main-Bay part of Saturday's 21.5-mile downwind half of the event went swimmingly, with the first half of the fleet making it almost to the Richmond Bridge before the wind, as usual, died. They apparently flipped the switch on the smaller boats, which stalled dead in their tracks way back by Southampton Shoal. Everybody did the usual driftathon for an hour or so, whereupon the breeze reappeared and, by the Brothers, everyone started moving again. The remainder of the run through San Pablo Bay was downright hot, with breezes of 7-12 knots.

As soon as the wind lessened, the shirts came off.

After the usual shoreside festivities at the hospitable Vallejo YC - music and dancing, food and drink, comparing of sunburns - the raft-up which filled the yacht club's harbor on the Napa River awoke to more heat and less wind. The club and the fleet waited for a breeze to fill as the morning wore into afternoon and more and more competitors dropped out. Finally, the race committee abandoned the 15-mile upwind return race to the Richmond Bridge, and the remaining boats motored for home.

For results, see www.yra.org/results/hda/VALLEJO-SATURDAY-2.pdf. Look for a feature on the 104th Vallejo Race in the June print issue of Latitude 38. We'll have a few more photos here on Wednesday.

The only way to cross the Richmond Bridge and avoid the construction back-ups

Spectators at the landing on East Brother Island had the best seats in the house.

The fishing at Southampton was great. The sailing was so-so. The non-spinnaker boats in the middle distance are two of 20 Islander 36s - the biggest one design fleet entered.

Photos Latitude/JR

Antigua Sailing Week

April 30 - Antigua

The 37th annual Antigua Sailing Week ended with a bang on Friday. Rain and clouds greeted the fleet but as the day wore on the clouds gave way to Caribbean sunshine. Winds moderated slightly and averaged 23 knots but 28-knot gusts were seen after the start. Big seas made it hard going for even the big boats, let alone the small ones.

Division A was sent out to 'Africa', a windward mark six miles out to sea on the two-lap Ocean Race course. In Big Boat Racing I, Roy E. Disney's Pyewacket took the gun after a week of being Morning Glory's bridesmaid. It was too little too late, and Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory took the class prize, leading Pyewacket by six points at the final tally.

The battle of the top bareboats took place Saturday in the second annual Bareboat Championship Race. Conditions were still demanding with 20-25 knot winds and 6-8 foot seas. Eighteen boats - the top three from each class - lined up on the start line and DSD Carnival with Phil Otis on the helm emerged victorious. For more details, results and photos, see www.sailingweek.com.

Where's Cherie? From this photo, it looks like she's in Antigua sailing a bareboat. Sometime Latitude contributor Cherie Sogsti poses front and center (holding photo) with the victorious Carnival gang. You can follow Cherie's travels at www.wherescherie.com

Photo Courtesy www.sailingweek.com

Afterburner Burns up Newport to Ensenada Course

April 27 - Ensenada

Afterburner beat a fleet of 460 boats to finish first in the 125 nautical mile Tommy Bahama Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race. The 52-foot Bladerunner catamaran, skippered by Bill Gibbs from the tiny Pierpont Bay YC, won the most trophies in NOSA's 57th annual race held the last weekend of April. Their trophies included the coveted First-to-Finish trophy, the new Tommy Bahama trophy for overall winner on corrected time, and the President of NOSA Trophy for first place on corrected time in ORCA class.

Dick Compton's Alchemy finished in 13 hours and 19 minutes making it the first monohull to finish. Alchemy also won honors for first overall in the ULDB-A class. This is Dick Compton's 36th consecutive Ensenada race.

Campbell's Sloop, an all-female team, won their category and was awarded the Caroline Starr Trophy for Best All Women's Crew on corrected time. Ernie Minney's Samarang took the Serena Trophy for the Ancient Mariner schooner with the best corrected time (17:52:40). Campaign II, skippered by James Devling, was awarded the President of the USA trophy for the PHRF boat with the best corrected time (18:39:21).

For more, including a photo gallery, see www.nosa.org.

Great Pix from Grand Prix

May 3 - Trinité sur Mer, France

Gitana, skippered by Marc Guillemot, flies not one, not two, but three hulls.

These spectacular photos come to us from the ORMA 60-ft trimaran Grand Prix de la Trinité sur Mer championship sailed April 29 through May 2.

Foncia, skippered by Alain Gautier, kicks up some spray in lumpy seas.

And the winner is . . .

Groupama (photo above) finishes in front of Sergio Tacchini's Géant to claim the championship. Winning skipper was Franck Cammas (photo at right).

Photos F. Gicquiaud/Littoral Ouest

For more (in French), see www.multis-online.com.

Profligate's Regress

April 30 - Cabo Velo, Colombia

The 11 of us aboard Profligate have been out for three full days now on our way from Antigua to the San Blas Islands and the Panama Canal. Alas, we still have nearly 500 miles to go. Speed has not been a problem with the 63-ft cat - except in the sense we've often hit 20 or more knots in that or less wind, when we didn't really want to. And that's with just a double reefed main and a screecher. Sailing the big cat fast is easy. Sailing her deep and fast is hard, particularly for the newer sailors - which is why our VMG has been so poor. Right now we're trying to work our way offshore from Cabo Velo (windy cape), Colombia, notorious for strong winds and big and sloppy seas.

We've had all kinds of weather. The bluest of blue skies and seas. Dark squalls and heavy rain. Brilliant starry skies, with the Southern Cross to port and Polaris to starboard. The one constant has been heat and humidity.

May 3 - San Blas Islands

The spookiest part of the passage was off the mouth of Colombia's big Rio Magdalena. Even though more than 100 miles offshore, we had to surf through a minefield of brush, logs, and other bits of wood. We sailed over, between, next to, and into hundreds of these object. One big log bounced off the starboard hull with a loud bang twice. Apparently it didn't damage the saildrive or rudder.

We arrived in the San Blas Islands late yesterday afternoon without - don't ask - the proper charts, making the entrance to this reef-strewn area a lot more entertaining. But we don't recommend it for others. Today we plan to mess around in the islands. It's overcast, so we're not seeing them in their best light, but hope that will change.

These messages sent courtesy of Skymate, which provides no waiting offshore email, weather, as well as fax/voice, without the need for an SSB radio.

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