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Banderas Bay Nautical Festival

March 6 - Banderas Bay Nautical Festival

This is the first year of the nearly non-stop month-long Festival Nautico de Bahia de Banderas in Mexico, and the action has been hot and heavy. It all started with the end of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, the overall winner of which was Dennis Pennell of the R/P 50 Blue Blazes (ex-Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory, ex-Dennis Conner's Stars 'n Stripes). Pennell, a very nice guy, said the victory was "the highlight of his 55 years of racing, most of it with the same core of guys." Congratulations to him.

The R/P 50 Blue Blazes in her race-winning downwind form.

Then on Saturday there was the first annual Governor's Cup Big Boat Parade along the Puerto Vallarta waterfront. What a turnout! There were about 60 big boats - some of them very large motoryachts - being led by the Mexican Navy. In addition, there were scores of pangas with guys dressed up like Neptune on the bow and bunches of kids in the back. Mexicans love beauty contests, so there was a big powerboat with a bunch of muy caliente chicas vying for the honor of queen.

King Neptune and his court of mermaids and pirates

Parade of boats

You folks in Santa Barbara ever wonder what happened to the Vaquero II that used to shuttle cattle between the mainland and Santa Cruz Island? She's down on Banderas Bay doing charters, a big bar having been set up where the cattle probably used to munch on hay during the channel crossings. When we asked the Vaquero why she moved out of Santa Barbara, she said, "I'm a little older now so my planks ache when it gets cold, and it just doesn't get cold down here on the Vallarta coast like it does along the foggy California coast. After all, it's early March and it's pouring rain in Santa Barbara - I just don't need that any more. Plus, the smell of the cattle was getting to me. Just tell all my friends back in Santa Barbara Harbor that I'm enjoying a happy semi-retirement - like a lot of other Americans - on the warm waters of Banderas Bay."

Vaquero II

Rumor has it that the parade was supposed to be reviewed by the Governor of Jalisco, Governor Arnold, and other dignitaries. We don't know if they showed, but everybody had a great time - including us, and we never do boat parades.

Saturday afternoon was the first day of the big Optimist Regatta for mostly Mexican kids from Lake Bravo near Mexico City, but also for some of the kids from the Vallarta area. It blew about 20 knots with some pretty good chop out on the bay, which proved to be a little too much for some of the sailors, who were as young as eight and weighed as little as 50 pounds. Before the end of the first race, no less than half of the 50 competitors had been capsized or dismasted, and were being rescued by everything from jet-skis to inflatable dinghies to sportfishing boats to mini-megayachts. The mothers of the young kids were, of course, in a near panic. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and indeed, the 25 of the bigger kids stayed on the course for the second race.

Yachtie Dustin to the rescue

Some of the more experienced Opti sailors didn't have a problem in the breezy conditions.

Saturday afternoon was also the one-race Governor's Cup. Twelve boats enjoyed the breezy conditions, with the Mexican Frers 43 Bandido correcting out first.

Sunday was the second day of the Optimist Regatta, and the first day of MEXORC, a week-long race series featuring many of the boats that competed in the San Diego to Vallarta Race. The conditions were perfect - think of a tropical San Francisco Bay - so check out our gallery:

The Class A fleet on the weather leg of the second race, with Magnitude, Scout Spirit, Peligroso, and Pendragon heading for the windward mark.

Doug Baker's Magnitude 80 from Long Beach is deceptively large and fast.

The Campbell/Williams 70-ft Peligroso from the Long Beach and the St. Francis YC bursts out of a superbly executed jibe.

Jake Woods' Mull 84 warhorse Sorcery from Los Angeles, looking almost as good as she did back in the early '80s when she was perhaps the fastest maxi in the world.

Jim Gregory's Schumacher 50 Morpheus from Pt. Richmond battles a Mexican competitor on the upwind leg. Gregory and crew corrected out second in the PV race.
Photos Latitude/Richard

There's so much more action to come in the month-long Nautical Festival: the St. Paddy's Day cruise to La Cruz, the attempt at the world's largest dinghy raft-up off Paradise Marina, the founding of the Punta Mita Yacht & Surf Club, the Pirates for Pupils Spinnaker Run, the Banderas Bay Regatta, and we can't remember what else. It's so much fun that even Pedro, the 12-ft resident croc of Nuevo Vallarta lagoon, was seen poking his elongated nose around the harbor yesterday. The Banderas Bay cruisers regatta doesn't start until the end of the month, so you'd have to be crazy not to fly down and be a part of it all. Viva sailing in tropical Mexico!


Seaweed Soup Trophy Goes to Harp

March 6 - San Francisco

When the sailing was done in the fifth and final race in Golden Gate YC's midwinter series, the competitors returned to the clubhouse for a hot buffet, cold drinks, and cool trophies. Plaques were awarded to first, second and third place finishers in ten one design and PHRF divisions, and the Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Mike Mannix and the Catalina 38 Harp.

Mike Mannix of Harp with the Perpetual Trophy (that'll hold a lot of seaweed soup!) and the take-home plaque.
Photo Latitude/Chris

This Saturday's conditions were the flukiest of the series, with parking lots popping up as the afternoon wore on, and countless sets and douses. Nevertheless, it was a lovely day to be out sailing. Full results for the series are available at www.ggyc.com/raceresults.php.

Glenn Isaacson's Q sailed to victory in PHRF 2.
Photo Latitude/JR

Elvis sighting along the Marina.
Actually, it's the Santana 35 Spirit of Elvis sporting a head-turning new chute.
Photo Allen Smithee

The Mumm 30 Racer X in PHRF 2 and the J/105 Whisper converge.
Photo Latitude/JR

Pacific Puddle Jumpers Poised to Set Sail

March 6 - Mainland Mexico

Roughly 50 sailboats, some as small as 32-ft, are now staged in marinas and anchorages along the Mexican mainland, making final preparations for the 3,000-mile crossing to the Marquesas, gateway to French Polynesia and the fabled isles of the South Pacific.

The Puddle Jump fleet was split this year, largely between Puerto Vallarta and Zihuatanejo. Last week we had a chance to meet many of the PV contingent at a kick-off party given in their honor, co-sponsored by Latitude 38, the Vallarta YC and Paradise Village Marina and Resort.
Photo Latitude/Andy

As in years past, this year's class of Puddle Jumpers hail from a wide range of homeports between Alaska and San Diego, and they've found their way to this ambitious adventure by a variety of different paths. Some have bailed out from six-digit salaries in high tech, while others have simply scrimped and saved to achieve their cruising goals. Likewise, some of the vessels are gleaming yachts, while others are bargain classics, lovingly refurbished for ocean sailing. Inevitably, though, they will all arrive at the same sun-kissed anchorages.

If you have friends making the crossing this season, or would simply like to stay abreast of the fleet's progress, be aware that the 2006 Puddle Jump Net will begin broadcasting today at 1830GMT on 8.188USB. This is a non-commercial net, of course, 'controlled' by volunteers from within the fleet.

Depending on the boat size and type - and the weather, of course - the trip should take between 15 and 30 days. See the April edition of Latitude 38 for profiles of this year's fleet members.

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