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Seaweed Soup Saturday

November 10 - San Francisco

The Golden Gate YC ushered in the new midwinter racing season last Saturday, hosting 68 boats to a splendid day of sailing. A moderate westerly filled in for the early (11 a.m.) start, the sun came out, and the decks never really got wet as the fleet did a few laps up and down the Cityfront.

Six boats were over early in the Division One start.

Taking class honors in the toughest class, the 19-boat Division One group, was Erich Bauer's Mumm 30 Sand Dollar. A trio of J/120s - Grace Dances, Mr. Magoo and Chance - and the Schumacher 40 Q rounded out the top five. The sleek new DK-46 Zephyra would have landed on the podium, but were OCSed.

The J/120 El Ocaso tore two spinnakers despite the moderate conditions.

Bay Area icon Hank Easom, sailing his 8-Meter Yucca, beat up Division Two and posted the best corrected time among the three 'varsity' divisions on the 9.6-mile course. Easom was on fire, hitting every shift and layline perfectly, and sailing around unhindered, for the most part, by other boats. Improbably, Easom even picked his way through seven of the bigger boats that started five minutes before Yucca - and only three boats (Zephyra, the SC 52 Kokopelli II, and the Sydney 38 Absolute 02) posted faster elapsed times! "We just got our conditions," claimed Hank modestly.

At 70, Hank Easom is still improving with age.

Other class winners were Irrational Again (J/105), the Hawkfarm Eyrie (Div. III), Ka-Nina (Catalina 34), Benino (Knarr), and Windansea (Folkboat). See www.ggyc.org for full results.

Folkboat winner Windansea likes to sail bow down.

The Jeanneau Sun Fast 35 Mon Desir's spinny appears to sport an unhappy face...

...but it was a great day to be on the water.
Photos Latitude/Rob

Baja Ha-Ha XI Wraps Up

November 10 - Cabo San Lucas, BCS

As you read this, Baja Ha-Ha XI has come to an end. Some of the fleet are moving on to La Paz and into the Sea of Cortez and others will cross the Sea to Mazatlan. The largest contingent, however - approximately 70 boats - will head for Puerto Vallarta, as participants in the Rally to Paradise, sponsored by Paradise Village Resort and Marina and other PV merchants.

Having successfully reached Cabo, these young sailors put their own spin on the expression 'livin' la vida loca'.
Photo Latitude/Andy

As the accompanying photo shows, a good time was had by all at the annual Ha-Ha beach party, held this year at the Mango Deck. We'll bring you more photos on Friday.

Vendée Globe

November 10 - Madeira, Portugal

It took a few days, but the 20 solo skippers in the Vendée Globe Race (nonstop around the world) are finally shifting into high gear. Roland Jourdain, currently in second place, ticked off 349 miles in the last 24 hours aboard Sill et Veolia, for an average of 14.6 knots. Vincent Riou aboard PRB continues to hold onto the lead, which he established at the start on Sunday. Rounding out the top five are Alex Thompson on Hugo Boss in third, Jean Le Cam on Bonduelle in fourth and Mike Golding on Ecover. Alameda's Bruce Schwab, the only American in this year's Vendée, is in 15th place The boats are currently approaching Madeira.

Race leader PRB
Photo Benoit Stichelbaut/DPPI/Vendée Globe

So far about the only dramas involved a couple of boats hitting floating junk. Raphael Dinelli aboard Akina Verandis hit a board, and Nick Maloney on Skandia had a scare when he came on deck to discover he had hit a liferaft! Fortunately, it was unoccupied. Neither boat was damaged, although Dinelli lost a place or two while getting the boat sorted out and back underway. For twice-daily updates on this Mount Everest of solo sailing, check out the English version of the Vendée Globe Web site at www.vendeeglobe.fr/uk/.

Canal Anniversary

November 10 - Panama Canal

We love to see the naysayers with egg on their faces, even if we're among them. That certainly seems to be the case with the Panama Canal. As you probably remember, many people (ourselves included) predicted doom and gloom when the U.S. handed over control of the Canal to Panama in 1999. However, as we come up on the fifth anniversary of that turnover on New Year's Eve, things are actually going pretty well overall. In fact, in some ways, they're going better: under Panamanian control, the number of shipping accidents has decreased, the waiting time for ship passages has decreased by 20 percent, more ships than ever are making transits, and the infrastructure at the Canal has improved.

Photo Cherie Sogstie

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle (www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/2887639), it's because the Panamanians look at the Canal as a business, whereas we treated it as a military operation since finishing it in 1914. In a country with a population of just 3.2 million, the canal represents about 20 percent of the nation's economy. To keep up with ever-upsizing ships that are too big to transit the Canal, Panama is even considering an $8 billion plan to expand the capacity of the Canal. This 50-mile shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was started by the French in 1881 and completed by the U.S. in 1914.

New Wind Generators Sighted

November 10 - Altamont Pass

Regarding the wind generator item in Monday's 'Lectronic, Dave Opheim of the Tiburon-based O'Day 27 Slipaway writes, "Over the summer I noticed a new wind generator site where there looks to be at least 50 new wind generators (all appear to be working too) on Highway 12 heading towards the Delta in Solano County near Rio Vista. Maybe someone around here is getting more serious about this renewable power source. Altamont is very depressing."

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