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Baja Ha-Ha Fleet Begins Final Leg to Cabo

November 3 - Bahia Santa Maria, BCS

As you read this, the Baja Ha-Ha XI fleet is gliding along the Baja peninsula in light air, on the final leg of the Rally.

The largest fleet ever gathered for two days at Bahia Santa Maria, where Victor the fisherman and his compadres once again threw a Ha-Ha welcome party on the bluffs above the bay. A rippin' rock 'n' roll band drove fifty miles across the desert to entertain the masses and Victor's crew served fish and lobster dinners, plus plenty of cold beer, to hundreds of Ha-Ha revelers.

Photos Latitude/Richard & Andy

The fleet will reach Cabo Thursday and Friday.

More Facts on America's Cup Boat Grounding in Oz

November 3 - Sydney, Australia

More facts have been released on the grounding of the America's Cup yacht FT Spirit, (ex-Spirit of Australia) near the Sydney Opera House on October 26. (See 'Lectronic Latitude on October 27.) According to Kookaburra Challenge spokesman Steffan Jacob, who was aboard at the time, the incident occurred shortly after noon. The sheets were eased and the boat was going about 7 knots in 10 knots of breeze, not quite 100 yards from the northeast corner of the famous opera house when its 14-ft deep keel hit and rode over something. The boat continued for a few boatlengths, then started tipping slowly to port until the mast hit the concourse wall of the opera house. As soon as she started going over, the experienced crew knew immediately she had lost the bulb off her keel. Adding insult to injury, a lampost poked through the top of the mainsail, not only trapping the 80-ft yacht in place, but allowing her to pivot around until her bow also rested against the wall.

No one was hurt in the incident, but pride suffered major cuts and contusions. At the time, FT Spirit was on a photo shoot for her new corporate sponsor, The Financial Times, and had a number of company representatives aboard. The boat was towed on her side to a local yard where she will be reunited with her recovered keel and reportedly back sailing in two to four weeks.

Vendée Globe Gates Announced

November 3 - Les Sables d'Olonne, France

With four days left before the start of the fifth edition of the Vendée Globe Race (solo, nonstop around the world), the race committee announced that the course will once again feature gates in the Southern Ocean. These are waypoints put in place to keep the racers from going too far south. (This common tactic of past races has the benefit of cutting down the total mileage, but increases the risk of hitting ice, which is more prevalent the farther you go south. It also puts rescuers at risk if skippers get in trouble 1,000 or more miles from land, as has happened in past Vendées.) There will be five gates this time, located off South Africa and Australia. All are GPS waypoints except Heard Island, and all must be left to starboard (south). Announced at the same time was the total theoretical distance of the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe: 23,700 nautical miles (43,892 km). 

Twenty skippers and boats - including Alameda's Bruce Schwab, the only American - are entered in the race, which starts off Les Sables d'Olonne, France, this coming Monday, November 7. See www.vendeeglobe.fr/uk/ for more.

The unusual subjects - Vendée Globe skippers gather for a group shot. Alameda's Bruce Schwab is at far right.

Great Great Pumpkin Party

November 3 - Pt. Richmond

As promised in Monday's report on Richmond Yacht Club's Great Pumpkin Regatta, today we feature scenes from Saturday night's packed Halloween party romp.

These pirates were popular in the crowded costume contest.

The costume contestants began to gather...

...and failed to fit on the dance floor.

The giant Twister game

The Kings - a Beatles cover band - kept the crowd dancing. They were preceded by the dinnertime stylings of the wonderfully cheesy Tom Jonesing.

Snow White and the 3 Pimps, along with one of several beauty queens, who included Miss Novato, Miss Modesto, Miss Fresno and Miss Diagnosis.

'Forgot' your costume? No worries.

Photos Gail Yando & Latitude/Chris

A correction to our report on Sunday's finishers just came in. Jeffrey Fadness writes, "Not that it's anything to brag about... but the first 'wrong-way' boat in the Great Pumpkin Pursuit Race was Cam Lewis' Melges 24 Tinseltown Rebellion which finished in 61st overall. I wouldn't even bother pointing it out but at the awards ceremony Sunday night, Cam found out that the year he won the Pursuit Race in the old Tinseltown Rebellion (J-22 version) the trophy got inscribed with the wrong boat name. Poor boy deserves some credit."

Jeff continued, "The only pride we salvaged was playing Raccoon Strait better than anybody else going our direction and getting to the wind first. Then we got lucky when the wind went north and made it a really tight reach to Richmond under the spinnaker, which doomed Astra [a Farr 40] with her symmetrical kite."

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