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Etchells Worlds

September 9 - San Francisco Bay

Tiburon dentist Craig Healy, sailing with Dave Gruver and Keith Stankhe, was the runaway winner of yesterday's fifth race in the Richmond YC-hosted 2005 Etchells Worlds. Past Etchells world champs Iain Murray and Dennis Conner were second and third, respectively. "After our first race OCS, we've been very shy all week, which contributed to our 25th on Wednesday," commented Healy. "Today we had clear air off the line and we went left, expecting a very tough day. It was raining on Mt. Tam and in San Rafael this morning, so we thought it was going to be difficult to read, but it actually was a very straightforward sailing day."

Left to right: Keith Stankhe, Craig Healy and Dave Gruver
Photo Latitude/Rob

Sixteen-year-old sailing phenomenon Shark Kahn, who has won two of the five races with crew Jeff Madrigali, Adrian Finglas, and his cousin Brian Lee, stumbled a bit yesterday, finishing 17th. However, after throwing out that score, he is still only three points behind the regatta leader, Marblehead sailmaker Jud Smith, who has put together a stellar 3,2,3,5,(6) series thus far. With two races left in the seven-race, one-throwout regatta, you can be sure that Smith, a four-time runner-up in the Worlds, and Kahn, who burst onto the international stage by winning the 2003 Melges 24 Worlds and seems oblivious to pressure, will go at it tooth and nail.

The sixth race begins today at 1 p.m. on the Berkeley Circle, and the finale will start at the same time on Saturday. Currently, the top ten looks like this:

1) Jud Smith 13 points; 2) Shark Kahn, 16; 3) Tito Gonzales, 20; 4) Iain Murray, 23; 5) Stuart Childerley, 28; 6) Bill Palmer, 29; 7) Vince Brun, 31; 8) Hank Lammens, 33; 9) Brian Thomas, 35; 10) Craig Healy, 38. (72 boats) for full results see www.sfetchells.org.

A downwind finish
Photos Leslie Richter except as noted

Ha-Ha Honcho Grants Extension for Late Entries

September 9 - Tiburon

"It's the 9th of September and we're still getting people asking for entry packs for the Baja Ha-Ha, packs that are supposed to be filled out and returned to us by the 10th of September," laughs Lauren Spindler, Honcho of the Ha-Ha. "We don't want anybody to worry about not getting their entry in on time, so we're extending the deadline one week until September 17. After all, the goal of the Ha-Ha is to help people have fun, not to create obstacles or impediments."

Given the extension, there's still just enough time to send for an entry pack and get it back to the Ha-Ha folks by the new September 17 deadline. To get an entry pack, send a check for $18 and a self-addressed 9 x 12 envelope to Baja Ha-Ha, Inc., 21 Apollo Road, Tiburon, CA 94920. Don't try to call, because they don't have a phone.

Super-Maxi Maximus Dismasts off Sardinia

September 9 - Sardinia, Italy

After recently taking line honors in the Fastnet and correcting out ahead of Mari-Cha IV in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge, the 100-ft sloop Maximus's luck changed Tuesday, when she was dismasted during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, in the waters off northern Sardinia.

After a delayed start on the second day of racing due to a passing storm, winds increased to 25 knots. Maximus lost her 100-ft+ rotating wing mast - sails, rigging and all - only a few hundred yards from the finish, yielding the win to Black Dragon.

on a better day
Photo Courtesy Rolex

Built in New Zealand of carbon fiber, Maximus is considered to be the fastest sloop in the world. In addition to her innovative wing mast, her design, by Clay Oliver and Greg Elliot, features a unique retractable canting keel.

Mike Harker to Sail a New Hunter 48 around the World

September 9 - Manhattan Beach

You may remember Mike Harker as the fellow who was nearly killed in a terrible hang-gliding accident, rehabilitated for many years, then as a novice sailor did the Baja Ha-Ha with his Hunter 34 Wanderlust. After singlehanding back to his home base of Manhattan Beach, he decided to get a new Hunter 466, which he singlehanded from Miami to the Med, then sailed with crew to the Caribbean, Miami, back to the Caribbean, the Galapagos, Tahiti, Hawaii, and California.

During an interview with Latitude 38 following that long trip, Harker said his next goal was to sail a new Hunter design around the world. Well, it wasn't empty talk. He recently emailed us that he's been at the Hunter factory giving his input on a new Hunter 48 design. He'll be sailing the first one around the world. We'll have more details as they become available.

Cruising Catalina

September 9 - Santa Catalina Island

As we mentioned in Wednesday's report, we've been down in Catalina for the last two weeks, relaxing more than working for once. When it comes to relaxing, the Isthmus area of the island is absolutely world class, particularly if you anchor out at either Cat Harbor on the back side of the island, or at Harbor Reefs, where we anchored, about a quarter mile offshore on the face of the island. At either of those places, it's all sea, sky, and views of the island as California looked before we evil white people arrived.

Actually, it was pretty darn mellow on the moorings, too, of which there are hundreds. The only exception was the Labor Day Weekend, when all the moorings had at least one boat and all the near-in anchorage areas were packed, too. Even then it wasn't too bad unless your mooring was right next to the noisy dinghy dock or you had the misfortune of being next to a boat with a yapping dog. We're all for dogs on boats - provided those dogs don't relentlessly bark at nothing.

All the moorings in Isthmus Cove were taken for the holiday. Nonetheless, none of the facilities ashore seemed too crowded.

Although August and September are the best times of the year at Catalina, in the days before and after the three-day Labor Day Weekend, the Two Harbors area had very few boats. On the Monday that ended the three day weekend, there must have been 500 boats that left the area for the mainland. It looked like Dunkirk all over again.

The moorings at Two Harbors were sparsely occupied in the days before the Labor Day Weekend. After the big weekend, the place was nearly deserted.

Cat Harbor, on the back side of the Isthmus, didn't have many boats prior to or after Labor Day either. If the photo gives the impression that much of the island has green grass, it's a false one.

By the time Labor Day rolled around, Cat Harbor had a lot of boats. But there was still plenty of room to anchor near the entrance.

The beauty of being anchored out is that in addition to not having to listen to noisy dinghies and yelping dogs, it's free. By hanging on the hook, we saved $46 a night. Over a two-week period, it was enough savings to make a good start on a donation to those unfortunate folks in the South who got hit by Hurricane Katrina. By the way, have you read Part II of the Latitude 38 interview with William Peterson in the September issue? On page 140, he describes surviving - barely - Hurricane Ivan aboard his boat while she was far up a bayou in Alabama. "It was like a nuclear explosion going off over the top of you," he said. It sort of makes you wonder why, given all the advance warning of the particular severity of Katrina, that every person who could have left the hurricane's path didn't.

There weren't any hurricanes while we were at Catalina. In fact, the weather has been just about perfect. The days have been sunny and hot, the nights have been warm and unusually dry. And in the more protected areas, the water temperature has been in the low 70s, which is about as high as it gets in SoCal. Depending on the day, there has been good sailing in the channel between the mainland and Catalina. Often times it's blown 12 to 15 knots in the afternoons, which is perfect for the mostly reaching conditions.

Everything in the Isthmus area - the moorings, the restaurant/bar/snack bar, general store, and various concessions - is run by a private concessionaire, and we're here to tell you that their staff does a terrific job. They're all very friendly and those in positions of authority aren't the least bit officious. It helps that the folks who come out to the Isthmus on their boats or to camp are terrific, too. Everybody is friendly, behaves themselves, and keeps the place clean. It's like living in the '50s.

Of course, just because mariners are nice folks doesn't mean they don't do some crazy things. Our spot on Harbor Reefs was about 150 feet from a tower with 'reef' written on it on four sides, warning of a sometimes exposed rock about 30 feet in our direction from the tower. We don't know if it was out of ignorance or what, but boats repeatedly cut between us and the tower, meaning they went very close to the rock. Then one afternoon, while sitting in the cockpit with David Bowes of the Force 50 ketch Lady Lexi, we saw a 46-ft powerboat that was headed too close. "He's gonna hit, he's gonna hit . . ." we said. Two seconds later - kapow!!! - he sure enough hit the rock at about 18 knots. We alerted the Harbor Patrol and then jumped in the dinghy with Bowes to see if we could help. The boat's port prop had been mangled and boat was taking on a little water, but fortunately none of the four people had been seriously hurt. After help from the Harbor Patrol and the L.A. Lifeguard, Vessel Assist was summoned to tow the boat to Avalon.

It's getting more and more expensive for powerboats to visit Catalina. Diesel was over $4 a gallon at Two Harbors. Of course, it's even more expensive if you drive your 46-footer over a well-marked shoal. This photo was taken seconds before this boat hit.

We're told boats hit that well-marked reef all the time. And Frank Catania of the cat Maya, who runs the moorings up at Emerald Cove, told us that four boats this year have hit a rock outcropping in that area. Of course, people with planes have problems at Catalina, too. One afternoon a guy crashed his plane two miles off the Isthmus. He was killed but his passenger survived. And just yesterday somebody put their plane in the drink to the west of the Isthmus.

Mariners even have problems getting home from Catalina. For example, about 10 days ago there was a photo in the L.A. Times of a 56-ft motoryacht that had run up on the beach at Corona del Mar. It was reported that the couple who owned her had set out from Avalon for Newport Beach one night about midnight. They engaged the autopilot, fell asleep, and ended up on the beach.

The other cool thing about the Isthmus is that it's so easy to meet people. If we had another hour, we could list all the great folks we spent time with. Some were Baja Ha-Ha vets, some are getting ready to do the Ha-Ha this year, others are sailing friends from different parts of the world. It's such a great environment to just sit back and tell sailing stories, be it on the dock, around the BBQs, or in the bar. As such, it's no surprise that Northern Californians Bruce and Lina Nesbit of the Olson 34 Razzberries, and John and Sharon Warren of the Passport 47 Warren Peace have been coming south for the summer or early fall regularly for many years. Absolutely put it on your list of things to do.

Sometimes there was a fine sailing breeze in the channel between the mainland and Catalina.

Despite the countless number of people who dive at Catalina, you can still find good stuff to eat. David Bowes holds up four scallops he got for us at Ship Rock. Of course, he had to go 28 to 95 feet down to get them. Divers are allowed to take 10 rock scallops a day, with no limitation on size or season.

It's always surprising to see what some folks will try to adapt for ocean use. It was not uncommon to see people trying to use swimming pool toys such as this to get to and from shore.

Latitude's hero of the weekend? Early on Monday morning, this unidentified woman walked the shores of Cat Harbor picking up plastic bags and other litter. None of it was her trash, but that didn't stop her.

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