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Tale of Two Midwinters

November 14 - San Francisco Bay

Berkeley YC kicked off their midwinter series in fine style over the weekend. Consistent 8-10 knot breezes on Saturday propelled 85 boats in four PHRF and seven one-design divisions around an 8.8-mile circuit of the Berkeley Circle. Sunday was more or less a repeat weatherwise, with only 39 boats in five divisions attending. Both days were moderate temperature-wise, with hazy autumn sunshine.

A pair of J/24s round the windward mark.

Moore 24s on the run

Hardening up at the leeward mark

A list of winners follows. For complete results, go to www.berkeleyyc.org.

Div A - Bodacious, Farr 40 One Ton, Clauser/Tosse (12 boats)
Div B - Expressway, Express 27, Michael Robinson (8 boats)
Div C - Chesapeake, Merit 25, Jim Fair (9 boats)
Div D - Ypso, Cal 2-27, Tim Stapleton (5 boats)
Olson 30 - Hoot, Andy Macfie (8 boats)
SF 30 - Shameless, Schumacher 30, George Ellison (6 boats)
Moore 24 - Flying Tiger, Vaughn Seifers. (12 boats)
Olson 25 - Baleineau, Dan Coleman (7 boats)
J/24 - TMC Racing, Michael Winfield (10 boats)
Newport 30 - Zeehond, Gary Boell (5 boats)
Santana 22 - Carlos, Jan Grygier (3 boats)

Div A - Personal Puff, Melges 24, Dan Hauserman (10 boats)
Div II - Flexi Flyer, Soverel 33, Mitch Wells (9 boats)
Div III - TMC Racing, J/24, Michael Whitfield (7 boats)
Div IV - Latin Lass, Catalina 27, Bill Chapman (7 boats)
Olson 30 - Hoot, Andrew MacFie (5 boats)

Meanwhile, within spitting distance of the BYC fleet, RegattaPRO's inaugural one-design midwinter series kicked off with two races on Saturday which started off the old Berkeley Pier. A half-hour postponement tagged onto the scheduled first start at 11:30 turned out to be a good thing for the 34-boat, six-division fleet as the breeze was pretty much settled in at 295 degrees by then. Big winners on the day included Timo Bruck's J/120 Twist and Ed Durbin's Beneteau 36.7 Mistral - both of which bulleted both races in their respective fleets. Other fleets signing up for the series include the J/105s, 1D35s, Beneteau 40.7s and Sydney 38s.

J/105 start
All Photos Latitude/JR

And the winners were:
1D35 - Great Sensation, Grand Prix Sailing (5 boats)
J/120 - Twist, Timo Bruck (7 boats)
Beneteau 40.7 - White Fang, Mark Howe (4 boats)
Beneteau 36.7 - Mistral, Ed Durbin (5 boats)
J/105 - Orion, Gary Kneeland (7 boats)
Sydney 38 - Double Trouble, Andy Costello (2 boats)

For complete results, see www.regattapro.com.

You're the Volvo Race Director, What Are You Thinking Now?

November 14 - Vigo, Spain

There are only seven boats in your around-the-world race, which is sponsored by a car company that promotes safety as one of its main selling points. But after just one day of the first ocean leg, three of your boats have had big troubles and have headed back to shore.

Pirates of the Caribbean, pictured above and skippered by Marin's Paul Cayard, is returning because of problems with the keel. Apparently it's nothing structural, but she is non-competitive when it comes to racing. It was worse on Movistar, pictured below, which a short time later reported that a problem with one of the two keel rams resulted in the main bulkhead buckling - making the boat unsafe for anything but trying to get back to shore in one piece. In addition, Brunel Sunergy broke a gooseneck fitting, requiring her to return to port for a repair. Two other boats had steering problems and yet another had a fire.

Admittedly, the boats had been sailing in very hard conditions. In fact, the kids on ABN AMRO II, who everybody assumed were "just going along," set a new Volvo 24-hour record of 504 miles. But they still have all the Southern Ocean sailing ahead of them. We can't imagine the honchos at Volvo are very happy with this - although there was a huge spectator turnout for the start.

For the latest news, visit www.volvooceanrace.org.

Fourth 60-ft ORMA Trimaran Capsizes in Transat Jacques Vabre

November 14 - Atlantic Ocean

And this time it wasn't even windy. The Italian duo of Giovanni Soldini and Vittorio Malingri aboard TIM Progetto Italia were 400 miles south of Dakar, Senegal, when Soldini switched on the autopilot so he could trim the sails. But the electronics failed, and the trimaran luffed too quickly for the skipper to regain control. The weather hull slowly lifted, and over she went.

This means that four of the 10 ORMA 60-ft trimarans that started the Le Havre, France, to Bahia, Brazil, race have capsized. The others are: Groupama 2 - rudder disengaged plus wave action. Foncia - hit by a gust while preparing for a tack. Orange Project - broken beam. In addition, two others have experienced major structural failures: Brossard - central hull split in two. Sodebo - broken port hull, dismasted.

Groupama 2 appears to be airborne
Photo Yvan Zedda

Swiss brothers Steve and Yvan Ravussin prepare to be rescued by helicopter from the capsized Orange Project.
Photo Pierre Caban/Marine Nationale

In our opinion, the high-strung ORMA 60 trimarans are about the most exciting boats on the water. But given the failure rate - and this isn't the first time the fleet has been decimated - you have to wonder about their suitability for rough ocean conditions.

The ORMA tris were heavily reefed at the start.
Photo Yvan Zedda
Photos Courtesy www.jacques-vabre.com

For more on the Jacques Vabre - which also includes a big monohull fleet - visit www.jacques-vabre.com.

Geronimo TransPac Record to Be Semi-Bogus?

November 14 - Los Angeles

Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson has crossed the Los Angeles starting line with his maxi trimaran Geronimo for an attempt on the catamaran Commodore Explorer's L.A. to Honolulu record. In fact, de Kersauson crossed the starting line for the second time in two days, having gotten a slow start the first time around. So even if he does break the old record held by Bruno Peyron, it will always have an asterisk in our minds, because when Peyron started with Commodore, he had to take what wind conditions there were, and didn't get to pick and choose.

Geronimo (leaving Brest, France, earlier this year)
Photo J.M. Liot/DPPI/RivaCom

In order to break the old record, Geronimo will have to average more than 16 knots. We haven't looked at the weather, but we're not convinced this is a sure thing, as sailing to Hawaii in the winter is a lot different than in the summer. The location of the Pacific High in the summer usually breeds consistent winds. In the winter, however, it often blows hard or not at all. If Geronimo hits calms, her record attempt could be in vain.

Geronimo is expected to come to San Francisco in January prior to an attempt at the San Francisco to Yokohama record. Apparently this is all part of an extremely poorly publicized record-setting circuit, the details of which still haven't been worked out.

Classy Classified: Adventure Sailing Goes to Australia!

November 14 - Sausalito

Where will you be in February?

Modern Sailing Academy has spaces available on their upcoming Adventure Sailing trips in the Caribbean (December) and Australia (February). The 10-day trips are led by offshore cruising expert John Connolly, and offer Bareboat Charter and other advanced certifications. Call Michael at (800) 995-1668 or click here for more information.

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