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Record Baja Ha-Ha Fleet Sets Sail Today

October 30 - San Diego

The largest Baja Ha-Ha rally ever set sail this morning for Cabo San Lucas. Of the 184 entries, 164 boats - carrying 657 people - made the starting line.

As you can see by the photos, yesterday's Costume Kick-Off Party was a wild success, with some 650 attendees. A bountiful feast of fajitas with all the traditional trimmings was hosted by the Cabrillo Isle Marina staff and West Marine. The highlight was an outrageous costume contest MC'ed by West Marine's own Missy Welch, who entertained the masses in grand style.

Light winds at the start may build to 15-25 knots by Wednesday, for the final run to Turtle Bay, the first of two coastal stops en route to Cabo. Look for more reports and photos as the fleet moves south.

- latitude / aet


Pumpkin Fever

October 30 - Pt. Richmond

The competitive Express 27 fleet finishes their third race on Saturday. Note that #60, Salty Hotel, is getting pushed out at the pin end. They had to circle around to finish.

While Daylight Saving Time drew to a close this weekend, Richmond YC held their annual Great Pumpkin Regatta, a near carbon-copy of their Big Daddy Regatta, which is held every year in March. A season closer for some of the non-ODCA one design fleets, Saturday's three buoy races on three courses for almost two hundred boats was sailed in steady northwest breeze, warm sunshine, shorts and T-shirts.

"Over here Elvis," shouted the racers as they headed into the harbor Saturday afternoon. We're pretty sure he was supposed to be John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He was tossing disco chains to the boats.

Saturday's racing was followed by shoreside festivities - the theme this year was an "I Will Survive" disco fever party. The band was pumping out the tunes and the racers were boogying on the dance floor when the power went out in the neighborhood - hey, it's the perfect excuse for a drum solo! Candles were distributed, the party continued, and at some point the lights came back on.

The fog was back in the slot on Sunday, so the typical westerly filled in for the pursuit race around Angel and Alcatraz Islands. Apparently the correct direction this year was counter-clockwise, although while we were in the gap between the two islands and the first Moore 24 passed us going clockwise, we figured we'd chosen wrong. Sunday's race features pumpkin hunting and a trivia contest, so it's not to be taken too seriously.

'Hanging out' on a Wylie Wabbit . . .

. . . an Olson 30 . . .

. . . and a Tempest, going around Angel Island.

The starboard tackers held their collective breaths as the port tackers zoomed by in the sloppy-choppy stuff west of Alcatraz.
Photos Latitude/Chris

Results were not yet posted on www.richmondyc.org at 'press' time, but check the site in a day or so, and they should be there.

- latitude / cw

Fresh off the Boat - and that's a Good Thing

October 30 - Mill Valley

We're delighted to announce that Sutter Schumacher of Alameda has joined the Latitude staff as our Racing Editor. While she's spent the last month delivering a 55-ft cat from Newfoundland to Curaçao, she's also had lots of racing experience. She grew up racing on boats of all shapes and sizes on the Bay. More recently, she's expanded her horizons, joining the crew of the Pt. Richmond-based Surprise to finish second in class and sixth overall in the 2004 Pacific Cup, and trying some women's match racing in Texas and Southern California. Just back from a year in New Zealand, her past lives also include a career in the tech industry and writing for a small newspaper on the Maine coast.

Sutter Schumacher

If you're wondering if Sutter has any connection with Carl Schumacher, designer of the Express 27s, 37s, Heart of Gold, Surprise, Q, and many others, the answer is yes - she's his daughter.

Sutter's first story for Latitude follows.

- latitude / rs

Ainslie Wins Allianz Cup

October 30 - San Francisco

A leisurely finish to Friday morning's Pro-Am Regatta
Photo Latitude/Chris

America's Cup skipper and triple Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie left the Bay Area a slightly richer man after he won the Allianz Cup Presented by Oracle on Sunday and walked away with the $25,000 top prize. Ainslie defeated veteran match racer Ed Baird, 3-1, to win his first World Match Racing Tour event.

Ben Ainslie's team chases Baird in Sunday's action
Photo Kathy Longaker

Racing off the St. Francis YC in locally-chartered J/105s, the first three days of the event were plagued with light northerly winds and strong currents, challenging even the local heroes who had been invited to race. But by late Saturday, the wind had shifted back to the west and picked up a bit.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Ainslie, sailing for Emirates Team New Zealand, defeated fellow Brit Ian Williams 3-1. Williams, the only non-Cup-affiliated sailor to make it to the final four, arrived in the Bay Area at the top of the match racing world championship rankings and with an important win at the Bermuda Gold Cup earlier this month under his belt. The other semi-final match-up put Baird, sailing for Alinghi, against Jesper Bank of United Internet Team Germany. Baird took both matches to advance to the final. Bank defeated Williams 2-0 in the petit-finals to place third.

Reigning match racing world champion Peter Gilmour, racing with locals Bill Colombo, Keith Love, and Sean Svendsen, finished in sixth place. The other local team, headed by J/105 guru Chris Perkins, started strong with a 2-0 record in Wednesday's round robin racing, but was eliminated by the end of the day.

The Allianz Cup is the only U.S. stop on the 2006 World Match Race Tour, and is likely the last time a number of America's Cup skippers will officially race each other before the Louis Vuitton Cup starts next spring in Valencia. In addition to Emirates Team New Zealand, Alinghi, and United Internet Team Germany, teams represented at this weekend's racing included BMW Oracle Racing (whose chief, Larry Ellison, drove the Oracle entry), Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team, and Team Shosholoza.

Larry Ellison and team prepare for a start on Friday afternoon.
Photo Latitude/Chris

For more photos and additional coverage, be sure to check out the December issue of Latitude 38, which will come out on November 30.

- latitude / ss

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