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Ha-Ha Vet Dies in Diving Accident

September 16 - Costa Rica

There's heartbreaking news out of Costa Rica, as we've just received word that 37-year-old Steven Swenson of the Seattle-based Hallberg-Rassy 46 Trinity died as a result of a diving accident. We have no other details.

The Swensons
Photo Latitude/Andy

The former freelance computer guru was known to most of the participants in last year's Baja Ha-Ha, for he, along with this wife Roma and sons Leif, 9, and Gage, 7, were presented with the Spirit of the Ha-Ha award, the event's most prestigious. This was for their sailing the entire course no matter how strong or light the winds, and for demonstrating excellent seamanship as a cruising family. Steven and Roma learned to sail while in the Bay Area 12 years ago, and said they'd been waiting for 10 years to do the Ha-Ha and continue on to the South Pacific.

Steven's death comes as a terrible blow, for while we didn't know him well, he was clearly a friendly, competent, and unpretentious guy, who was also an obviously terrific father. To us, he and his family epitomized everything that was great about cruising.

Eric Lockland, who also did last year's Ha-Ha with the Hallberg-Rassy 53 Sula, is apparently taking charge of bringing the boat back to the States.

Copper Bottom Paint to Be Outlawed in California?!

September 16 - Sacramento

We know this sounds like a bad April Fool's Day joke, but it's not, as you can tell from the following urgent release from Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC):

"The State Water Resources Control Board is poised to approve an item that would begin the mandatory phase-out of copper-based anti-fouling paints on boat hulls in California. This decision would immediately impact the boaters in Shelter Island Yacht Basin in San Diego ­ and it is also structured to begin similar actions in the rest of the state. This action is being taken despite the fact that there is no accurate, objective, scientifically sound study concluding either: [a] the extent to which passive leaching from boat hulls contributes to the presence of copper in the basin together with the extent to which other sources contribute copper; or [b] that there is an effective, affordable and available alternative to copper-based anti-fouling paints."

If approved, the cost to maintain your boat's bottom is estimated to increase by 75%.

RBOC testified in opposition to this proposal, first before the regional board, and then before the state board on September 7. Even so, the state board has placed this action on the consent calendar for adoption at its meeting on September 22.

What can and should you do? Today, right now, go to www.rboc.org and click on the call to arms alert. There you'll find a sample letter and who to send it to. This is very, very important, so please take a few minutes to do it right now.

Big Boat Series Begins

September 16 - San Francisco

A flock of J/105s rounds the weather mark.

The 41st Rolex Big Boat Series kicked off yesterday, with 103 boats competing in four IRC and five one design classes. Two races were held in untypical light breeze and mostly overcast conditions.

Putting the 'big' in this year's Big Boat Series are Randall Pittman's 90-ft Genuine Risk and Hasso Plattner's 86-ft Morning Glory. The latter led the way around the course in both races in the nine-boat IRC A class yesterday, with 'Risk not far behind. 'Risk strategist Robbie Haines figures that will change as the series progresses and the 23-man crew - sailing together for the first time on Thursday - sorts things out. Topping the leaderboard on corrected time in IRC Class A was Isao Mita's Japan-based Beecom, followed by a pair of TP-52s, Philippe Kahn's Pegasus 52 and Mark Jones' Flash.

Big, beautiful and deceptively fast, Morning Glory led IRC Class A around both the Bay and ocean courses.

Doing the bowman ballet aboard Pegasus 52

Dick Watts' TP-52 Flash took flight in a rare windy moment.

Notable performances in other classes include Andy Costello, whose Sydney 38 Double Trouble was the only boat in any class to win both races; and 'J men' Steve Madeira (Mr. Magoo) and Chris Perkins (Good Timin'), defending champions in the J/120 and J/105 classes, respectively, who are looking good to score a Rolex watch for the other arm by Series' end.

Chance chases Mr. Magoo in the J/120 class.

Racing began today at 11 a.m., with the second race starting about 1:30. The fleets are evenly split between Cityfront and TI courses, with all classes finishing in front of the St. Francis YC around 3-4 p.m. The Rolex Big Boat Series continues with two races per day through Sunday.

No Big Boat Series is complete without at least one ship sailing through the middle of it.
Photos Latitude/JR

For results, see www.stfyc.com.

Reliving Last Year's Baja Ha-Ha

September 16 - Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

"I just returned from a fast trip to Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta to check on our Moody 44 Miela," writes Bill Vaccaro of Chico, "and to drop off a handful of Latitudes. They actually fought over the magazines. Anyway, it got me thinking about doing last year's Ha-Ha, so I dug out a couple of photos of my wife Karen holding up some fish we caught. On the first day of the second leg from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, we caught 28 fish, and the next day we caught 24."

Are those lovely mahi or what?
Photos Bill Vaccaro

We've had a lot of late entries for the Baja Ha-Ha, so the total is now up to 140 boats. Today is the last day of the extended deadline, so please don't wait any longer.

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