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Vendée Globe - Third Place the Hard Way

February 4 - Les Sables d'Olonnes, France

Ecover sails very carefully to a third place finish.
Photo Jacques Vapillon/Pixsail.com

The Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race may be over in terms of deciding a winner, but the drama hardly stopped there. As you read in a 'Lectronic Latitude update Wednesday, France's Vincent Riou sailed his PRB across the finish line off Les Sables d'Olonne, France on Wednesday evening about 10:45 p.m. local time. His 87-day, 10-hour, 47-minute mark shaved a full work-week off the old time.

PRB arrives victorious.
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

A justly jubilant Vincent Riou
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

Next in six hours later was countryman Jean Le Cam on Bonduelle.

Second place finisher Jean Le Cam is surrounded by shore crew and well-wishers.
Photo Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

But the big news of the moment is British ironman Mike Golding - not because of his third place finish early this morning, but because of his third place finish WITH NO KEEL. You read right: 52 miles from the finish, the 14-ft strut of Ecover snapped off "below the bearings" - which we take to mean close to the bottom of the boat. Golding immediately loaded Ecover's ballast tanks to their 3.5 ton capacity, reduced sail to a heavily reefed main and staysail - and carried on in typical stiff-upper-lip British style. His shore crew and a French patrol boat went out to stand by, but neither was required as Golding sailed the wounded craft across the finish line himself.

Mike Golding finishes third despite a broken keel.
Photo Jacques Vapillon/Pixsail.com

"Everything about this race is exactly what I came back to it for, until the keel fell off," said Golding, a Vendée Veteran (seventh in the 2000-2001 race) and six-time circumnavigator. "Now I just feel lucky - lucky to finish, lucky to be third, lucky to still have my boat. The boat has taken care of me and now I am just happy to be here."

Accolades from fellow racers poured in after they heard about the feat, along with the observation by Jean Pierre Dick aboard Virbac Paprec that, "There have been a lot of keel problems this year and I think we really need to get our heads together and discuss the issue. It's all a big question mark at the moment." He's right. In this current race, Austria's Norbert Sedlacek had to retire when the canting mechanism on his Brother failed a month after the November 7 start. Roland Jourdain had to retire after cracks appeared in the keel strut of Sill Et Veolia a week later, and Conrad Humphreys is currently nursing along a boat whose hydraulic canting mechanism has given up the ghost.

Mariner Owners Association Seeks History-Making Yacht

February 4 - California

"Members of the Mariner Owners Association (MOA) have recently learned that Sea Sharp II is in the Bay area," writes Randall Reeves of Murre, a Mariner 31 based on Richardson Bay. "We're asking for assistance in locating her and her owner.

"Some may remember that Sharon Sites Adams was the first woman to singlehand the Pacific in a small sailing yacht. Her crossing from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego, California, took place in 1969, lasted 74 days, and her method of transport was a brand new Mariner ketch of 31 feet named Sea Sharp II.

"Apart from the safe passage it provided her skipper, Sea Sharp II was a notable ship in other ways. Most obvious among them were her HOT pink decks, genoa stripe, and wind vane sail. Ms. Adams is tough, iconoclastic, but always a lady.

After the passage and a bit of fanfare, Sea Sharp II returned to the builder, Far East Yachts, was later sold, and more or less disappeared from history. When I spoke with Ms. Adams last year, she mentioned having seen Sea Sharp II in San Rafael some 10 years ago, and that, regrettably, the boat was then in poor condition. My Mariner and I spent several months on the hard at Garvey's yard in 2003, but all my sleuthing revealed no pink ketches.

Then more recently MOA learned that Sea Sharp II has been either purchased or sold by a local man named Bud Brown. Over the last several months, further details have not been forthcoming. MOA members are eager to hear of the fate of Sea Sharp II, and would invite her owner to communicate with our small but loyal group via the Web site bulletin board at www.marineryachts.com."

Funny Winter Weather In Mexico

February 4 - Banderas Bay, Mexico

It's been a strange winter of weather along the west coast. It's been sunny and unusually warm on San Francisco Bay, it's stormed like crazy in Southern California, and for cruising Mexico, it's been surprisingly unsettled since right after the Ha-Ha in early November. People ran into big thunderstorms crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan and had other blustery kinds of conditions. In January, there was a pretty big blow for folks coming up the Gold Coast. Two cruisers told us that it was impossible to get into the anchorage at Careyes, as waves were smashing halfway up the cliffs. It had also been raining and blustery down in Zihuatanejo. For the last week, it's been overcast in Banderas Bay - and today it's been rainy for the last several hours. Although it's been plenty warm, this is not the sunny Mexico people have been expecting or been used to. On the other hand, the surf has been great. There have been several swells in a row out at Punta Mita on Banderas Bay, and some very hot inside sections. Cowabunga!

Another Dinghy Incident In Mexico

February 4 - North Atlantic Ocean

Jack Carson and Monica Guildersleeve of the B.C. based 44-ft Bella Via report there has been another panga-dinghy incident here in Mexico. According to their secondhand report, one evening about a week ago at La Cruz, the popular anchorage in Banderas Bay, a group of four cruisers were overtaken by a fast moving panga. As we understand it, the two men in the back jumped over to avoid being hit, while the two women in the front were saved when the panga stopped halfway into the dinghy. Be careful in dinghies, particularly in Mexico where there is little regulation.

Remember Wind?

February 4 - San Francisco Bay

The accompanying "ten year old" pictures of the Olson 30 Hoot came in this morning courtesy of Alameda reader Adam Sadeg, who in turn got them from someone else, and so on. No one seems to know who took the sequence, which appears to have been shot from the Golden Gate bridge, or who was on the boat, or what happened. But we think they're cool shots (and we're pretty sure we ran them in the magazine way back when) - and they're a reminder that summer is right around the corner!

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