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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

March 9 - St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

Downwind in the sun, looking for wind, Bareboat class 6
Photo Bob Greiser/Heineken Regatta 2005

It's a wrap! The 25th annual 'Heinie' attracted 261 entries (five more than the previous record of 256 set four years ago), sailing in 19 classes March 4-6. The four-race regatta had everything - big fleet, sunshine, cold beer in green cans, hot reggae from Jimmy Cliff, fireworks, megayachts, you name it - but, uncharacteristically, lacked sorely for wind.

Charm III
Photo Tim Wright/www.photoaction.com

"It was a nice place to sail," said Robin Sodaro, tactician on the Swan 53 Sky, which came in second in Spinnaker 4. "But it was really hot, and we had our crew sitting on the low side almost the entire regatta. What little wind there was came from all directions, and peaked at about 10 knots."

Carrera tacks on Titan 12.
Photo Tim Wright/www.photoaction.com

The big winner, as near as we can tell, was Tom Hill's big red R/P 75 Titan 12, which topped runner-up Carrera and Stay Calm to win the 7-boat Spinnaker 1 group. See www.heinekenregatta.com for press releases and pictures - but, as far as well can ascertain, not overall results.

Tom Hill's Swan 70 Stay Calm in the best wind of Day 1
Photo Bob Greiser/Heineken Regatta 2005

Happy bareboaters
Photo Tim Wright/www.photoaction.com

Tryst won the multihull division.
Photo Bob Greiser/Heineken Regatta 2005

Hitchin' a Ride to Paradise

March 9 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

You don't have to have your own boat in order to sail to Tahiti. At least that's the premise that Luise Marchi is working from.

Luise Marchi hopes to thumb a ride to the South Seas.

We first met this bright, cheerful little lady at last year's Pacific Puddle Jump kickoff party at Nuevo Vallarta's Paradise Village Resort. She was looking for a ride 'across the puddle' then, and she was back again at this year's fiesta - held late last month - still searching for the ideal ride to paradise.

A longtime sailor from San Diego, Luise confided that she is now in her late 60s, but she appears to be fit as a fiddle and she loves offshore sailing. Although she never found a ride to the South Pacific last year, she managed to do a heckuva lot of sailing anyway. After crewing from PV to La Paz, she made that peaceful Mexican town her base while volunteering to crew on trips into the Sea of Cortez and three successive Baja bashes "for the experience." The smallest northbound ride was aboard a Baba 30.

The low point of the year was when Water Witch was hit by a chubasco - with Luise aboard - and driven onto the beach at La Lancha Cove on the north end of Isla Carmen.

A short while later, she flew down to Costa Rica to join friends for a sail to Panama. And while there she snagged a crew position aboard a Catalina 42, helping deliver her 3,200 miles north to San Diego. Apparently Lady Luck was riding along with Luise and her friends as they had winds from behind - yes, going north - practically the whole way.

Ideal Conditions Showcase Wooden Classics at the WHOA Regatta

March 9 - Santa Monica

Santa Monica Bay sailors enjoyed a feast for the eyes February 26, as the Wooden Hull YC ran its 30th annual One More Time Regatta - a.k.a the WHOA - in ideal SoCal conditions of 15 knots, with flat seas.

Class winners Santana and Amethyst, a 50 footer

What the 14-boat fleet lacked in size, it made up for with class and elegance. Among the showstoppers competing that day were Paul and Chris Kaplan's beautifully restored (San Francisco-based) 55-ft schooner Santana, which won the Slater trophy for split rigs, and Niuhi, a S&S 55-ft yawl well sailed by Carlton Chase to take line honors. Other notables included classic designs by Herreshoff, Chappelle, S&S and Kettenburg. The overall winner and recipient of the Peggy Slater perpetual trophy was Tom Adams who sailed his 50-ft cutter PC around the 15-mile course in a little over two and a half hours.

B start with (l-r) Webfoot, Resolute and class winner Norseman with the spectator fleet in background

So what's with the moniker WHOA? Legend holds that founder Kathy Hellman came up with that catchy title after boats competing in the inaugural 1976 regatta were practically blown off the water. One race boat reportedly took out all the windows on the committee boat and the waves were too high to see the finishing boats. Nevertheless, there were no DNFs.

Bluenose at the weather mark having too much fun
Photos Courtesy WHOA Race Committee

See Racing Sheet in the the April issue of Latitude 38 for complete results.

Bass Strait Conquered by Laser Dinghy Sailor

March 9 - Tidal Beach, Australia

Rob Kothe reports for Sail-World:

One of the most ferocious pieces of water in the world was today conquered by Australian sailing Olympic Bronze medalist, Dr. Michael Blackburn, who sailed his 14-ft Laser from Stanley in Northern Tasmania 115 nautical miles to Tidal Beach in Norman Bay, near Wilson's Promontory, Victoria, in 13.5 hours.

The perfect weather window opened for the Sydney sailor, with winds of 15-20 knots powering his tiny craft. "I hoisted sail at 3:30 am. The first few hours before dawn were pretty hairy - I was planing downwind doing 8-9 knots, with no moon and no stars. A couple of times I put the bow in the water and filled the cockpit."

First light was a little after 6:00 am, and it was a relief to see the waves were not as big as they seemed in the dark.

37-year-old Blackburn, who sailed in the Laser class at three Olympics, was a heartbreaking two points out of the medals in Atlanta, but won Bronze in Sydney. By 2004 he reached number one in the world rankings and again won selection but finished ninth.

His aim now? "This year's Volvo Round the World race looks interesting." Blackburn's Web site is www.sailfitter.com.

The Latest 'Release' from Santa Cruz

March 9 - Santa Cruz

Like many California wine producers who proudly unveil the release of their latest vintage, Santa Cruz Yachts has announced its latest release - the new Santa Cruz 53C. Hull #1 of the 53C is also the first sailboat to be built at the new production facility which replaced the legendary Santa Cruz 'chicken coop'. Santa Cruz Yachts remains the sole standard bearer for the once thriving collection of Northern California boat builders.

The Santa Cruz 53C continues the tradition of light, 'fast is fun' performance sailboats which emerged from various builders during the Santa Cruz region's reign as the preeminent location for builders of 'ultra lights'. However, the 'C' in the model name is added to denote a 'cruising' version of the popular Santa Cruz Yachts line. The previous model, the Santa Cruz 52, was successful on the race course, but also found many owners who were taking them cruising - three are now on circumnavigations. Santa Cruz Yachts responded by redesigning the boat aimed more squarely at the performance cruising market, maintaining a focus on performance but adding features such as the solid pilot house and other cruising comforts and amenities.

Hull #1 is scheduled to launch April 8 in Santa Cruz and then hustle up to Oakland to be on display at Strictly Sail Pacific April 13-17, where you'll be able to step aboard for a brief taste of the latest release from Santa Cruz Yachts.

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