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Time to Prep for the 106th Annual Vallejo Race

April 26 - Vallejo

Although the usual indicators of spring's arrival - clear skies and hot, sunny days - have been slow in coming this year, we can say with certainty that spring is, in fact, about to arrive, because it's only 10 days until the Vallejo Race.

Competitive racing in last year's Express 37 fleet
Photo Latitude/Archives

Slated for May 6 & 7, this annual round-trip contest, from the Central Bay to the Vallejo YC and back, serves as both the YRA season opener and a symbolic beginning to the Bay's prime sailing season. Now celebrating its 106th consecutive year, it will draw roughly 300 boats of all sizes and vintages, in PHRF and one design classes, to form the largest fleet of any Bay Area race - also, one of the largest inshore race fleets in the U.S.

Playing the Bay's tricky tidal currents is always one of the biggest challenges of the race. This year, finding the best route for the trip north will be particularly important, as the starts coincide with a max ebb, which may plague racers all the way to the Mare Island Channel entrance. The good news is that they should see a slack tide, turning to a flood, for the short leg up the Napa River to the clubhouse. All boats will be accommodated for free at VYC, or can rent a slip at nearby Vallejo Municipal Marina (707-648-4370).

So hose down your decks and stock the cooler. The season is about to begin. We'll see you out there! (See www.vyc.org and www.yra.org for details.)


Darwin's Law Circumvented by USCG

April 26 - Monterey

"On April 20, we were 10 miles off Carmel when we heard the skipper of Celcion doing long counts of ten so a Coast Guard helicopter could home in on their location," wrote Arnstein Mustad of Alameda. "It sounded like an emergency, so I stayed tuned.

"Once the helo found the desperately lost voyager, they hovered overhead to provide the skipper with his lat and long position. After having the coordinates repeated to him several times, the skipper then asked where he was. 'Six miles from Monterey,' was the response. The skipper reported that he'd meant to go to Half Moon Bay. 'Could you point me in the right direction?' he asked. The helo pilot wisely urged him to seek an escort into Monterey for the evening as sunset was only two hours away. The skipper agreed.

"The pilot had requested a rescue boat to be dispatched to the scene, but since we were only 8 miles away, I offered my assistance. We were 3 miles from Celcion when the Coasties arrived 45 minutes later. When they asked the skipper if anyone had suffered any injuries, he replied 'Only my pride.' The Coasties then escorted Celcion into Monterey for the evening.

"It appears the skipper of Celcion (which means 'Are we there yet?' in Latin) left SF Bay for a trip to Half Moon Bay, and wound up approaching Monterey, totally lost and confused. I wonder if this is how Gilligan's Island started."

Ericsson Mixes It Up

April 26 - Baltimore, MD

Who says the In Port segments of the Volvo Ocean Race are boring? The Ericsson Racing Team is shuffling its crew like a professional poker player would a deck of cards. Yesterday the team announced that former skipper Neal McDonald - who was replaced in Rio by the Bay Area's John Kostecki - will return to the helm for the start of Leg 6. It was known from the beginning that Kostecki had other commitments after Leg 5, namely to supervise preparations for Michael Illbruck's TP52 campaign which starts in May, but he will stay on as the team's inshore tactician. "My goal was to make everything a little bit better, and to get the team focused," Kostecki said.

Photo Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race

Navigator Steve Hayles confirmed his resignation for "personal reasons," which he'd alluded to since Rio. Taking his place in the nav seat after the in-port race will be Whitbread veteran and one of the Bay Area's top offshore navigators Mark Rudiger. Additionally, Barney Walker, a former Brunel teammate, and America's Cup skipper Ken Read will join the team.

Brunel Is Back in the Game

April 26 - Baltimore, MD

Photo Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race

Rather than fight a losing battle, Brunel skipper Grant Wharington decided to pull out of the last two legs of the Volvo in an attempt to up the ante. Disappointing performance sent Brunel straight to last place, prompting the team to evaluate the boat's performance and what could be done to change it. Understanding that only a miracle - or a catastrophe - would allow them to win the race, Wharington made the daring move to withdraw from the race to make major modifications to the boat, with the intention of returning for the three remaining legs. While it's still unlikely Brunel will win the race, they now are more competitive and hope to shake up the status quo.

Reward Offered for the Recovery of Great Fun II

April 26 - Gulf of the Farallones

Stan Glaros is not having a good year. His last boat, Great Fun, sank nine months ago after hitting a container, and on Saturday, his 1997 Cheetah 30, Great Fun II, turned turtle after losing her keel during the Duxship Race. Stan was unhurt and later that day unsuccessfully tried to tow the boat into the Bay. Mermaid Divers will attempt to locate the boat today but if they're unsuccessful, Stan's offering reward money for its recovery: $250 for its coordinates, $500 if the finders stay with the boat until he gets there, $1,500 if they tow it in (upside down, if necessary) to either the San Francisco Police dock at Hyde Street Pier, Gashouse Cove, or Pier 39. An additional $500 could be had if the salvors pull the headstay pin, dropping the rig and hopefully righting the boat. Great Fun II was last spotted Sunday about 5 miles west of Bolinas. If you have any information on the location of his boat, call Stan at (415) 673-8373.

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