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West Marine Pacific Cup Gets Underway

July 5 - San Francisco Bay

Siderno, Fred Vitale's Burlingame-based Beneteau 473, leads the charge to the bridge with Sweet Okole, a Custom Farr 36 owned by Oakland's Dean Treadway, and Stray Cat Blues, Bill Parks' Fremont-based J/35, in hot pursuit.

The 2006 West Marine Pacific Cup - the biennial 2,040 mile 'fun race' from San Francisco Bay to Oahu's Kaneohe Bay - kicked off its 14th running on Monday, July 3, from the starting line at St. Francis YC. Twenty boats in three divisions - Doublehanded, Division A and Division B - were greeted by fog and light winds Monday morning as they made their way under the Golden Gate Bridge. Conditions outside the Gate were a little less mild, with heavier winds and bumpy seas.

The crew of Hooligan, Alice Martin's Westsail 11.8 out of Sausalito, looks like they're already having fun.

Tuesday's Division C start was a little more energetic with moderate winds for seven serious racing boats and one late Division B starter. The eight Division D boats will start today at 1:10 while the final seven Division E boats will start Thursday afternoon.

Division B's Valis, the Occidental-based Pacific Seacraft 44 owned by Paul Elliott, suffered mechanical problems coming out of Sausalito, and had to postpone their start until Tuesday.

This morning's position report shows the Doublehanded Division Swede 55 The Contessa, owned by Alameda's Shawn Throwe, at the front of the pack with 180 miles made good in the last 24 hours, followed by Division A's Green Buffalo, Jim Quanci and Mary Lovely's Belvedere-based Cal 40, with 171 miles made good.

We'll be bringing you updates as the racers make their way across the Pacific. You can also track their progress from official position reports or by clicking on the iboat Track link on the official Web site, www.pacificcup.org. Not all boats are equipped with transponders so the live tracking isn't the final word, but it does give you a good visual of how the boats are spreading out.

San Francisco-based S&S 52 Bounty, owned by Daniel Spradling, has a bone in her teeth as she passes under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Photos Latitude/LaDonna

Singlehanders Find the Wind

July 5 - Pacific Ocean

This year's entries in the Singlehanded TransPac suffered through a long stretch of infuriatingly calm winds before finally finding the wind. Jeanne Socrates aboard her UK-based Najad 361 Nereida wallowed in the doldrums as the rest of the fleet pulled away, but she was the first to find the breeze, allowing her to make up much needed time. She's now a scant 20 miles behind the pack.

Chris Humann's Berkeley-based Dana 24 Carroll E is just 20 miles ahead of Nereida.
Photo Latitude/LaDonna

Al Hughes aboard his Seattle-based Open 60 Dogbark was the first of the fleet to cut south to avoid a huge high. His strategy paid off when he began picking up speed and making tracks. This morning's position report shows he sloughed another 90 miles off his distance to finish, leaving him with just 450 miles to go.

The bulk of the fleet still haven't made it to the halfway point in this 2,120 mile race to Kauai, though their spirits have lifted now that they've found the wind. But everything comes with a price. "I have completed my trek south to the Promised Land but I forgot that the Promised Land is also Squall Land," wrote Lou Freeman, aboard his San Diego-based Swan 51 Seabird. "I have been through three doozers and many more have passed nearby. I wonder what night will bring."

Lou Freeman aboard the Swan 51 Seabird is now in the land of fair winds and nasty squalls.
Photo Latitude/JR

You can follow the fleet and read their logs on www.sfbaysss.org.

Latitude's Former Photoboat Available as a Mechanic's Special

July 5 - Northern California

Latitude has a new-to-us photoboat, a Bertram 28 flybridge currently going under the name of Island Fever. As such, our former photoboat, a Bertram 25, is now for sale. We won't mislead anyone, she's been ridden hard and put away wet. But she is a Bertram, she has upper and lower steering stations, and the design is cute as hell. We also won't mislead anyone about her mechanical condition. The engines and V-drives need work - in fact, the whole boat needs going over. On the other hand, we offer this mechanic's special for a mere $5,000, on a strictly where is, as is, basis.

Photo Latitude/Richard

Optimists Battle for the Top Spot

July 5 - San Francisco

Superstars in the making compete for top honors in the Opti Regatta.
Photo Chris Ray

Young Optimist sailors from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. gathered at the St. Francis YC on San Francisco Bay on June 24 and 25 to battle it out. Many top sailors have started their careers in this class and there may just be some future superstars in this group. As usual, the venue delivered challenging winds and currents which made for an exciting race.

Go Figure

July 5 - San Diego

Photo Joan Rennick

The unusual bumper arrangement on this Mercedes was spotted by San Diego liveaboard Joan Rennick at a laundromat in Point Loma. "Who knows why, but correct running lights, er, fenders, are displayed, albeit at the stern instead of amidships or masthead. Just another one of those 'go figures'."

Orange II Tears Across North Atlantic

July 5 - Atlantic Ocean

Onboard Orange II as she pursues the North Atlantic record
Photo Jean-Baptiste Epron

She just set sail from New York on Sunday, and already, this afternoon at 1300 GMT, Frenchman Bruno Peyron's maxi-cat Orange II only had 650 miles to go to cross the finish line at The Lizard in Cornwall. However, due to a damaged rudder, the crew has eased off and will therefore use up some of the lead they have on the record set by Steve Fossett.

Peyron notes that the weather pattern "would normally force us up towards Ireland, but we want to put off jibing for as long as possible to avoid making the rudder splintering process worse and damaging the other one. So we have chosen to extend our route a little." Despite the change of pace and course, Peyron still expects to finish tomorrow evening, in time to set a new record.

As an example of the kind of speed Orange II was pouring on before the rudder troubles, on Monday she broke the 24-hour run record with a 750-mile day! For updates, see www.orange-sailing-team.com/en.

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