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Photo of the Day: Melges PCCs

April 25 - San Francisco

With some of the country's best Melges 24 crews in the house, mark roundings left little room for error and not many passing lanes for the downwind sleighride.

©2007 Peter Lyons/www.lyonsimaging.com

Brian Porter served notice this weekend that he's out for blood when the Melges 24 Worlds kick off in Santa Cruz next month. Racing against 32 other Melgi in the PCCs on the Berkeley Circle last weekend, Porter and his Full Throttle crew struggled with starts the first day, but otherwise thoroughly dominated the competition. His score of four bullets, a fourth, and a discarded 18th in the six-race series gave him an eight-point edge over Dave Ullman. Fellow Pegasus team member and former World champ Shark Kahn finished third, with local boy Don Jesberg in fourth. The Melgi now head south for the Worlds, which begin with a pre-Worlds warm-up on May 5.

- latitude / ss

Monsoon charging downwind on Sunday at the San Francisco YC-hosted Melges 24 PCCs.
©2007 Peter Lyons/www.lyonsimaging.com

Cup Races Back on Track

April 25 - Valencia, Spain

After one of the most embarrassing starts to any sporting event in history (think Winter Olympics without snow), wind has mercifully returned to the Louis Vuitton Cup - the America's Cup challenger series currently being sailed off Spain's Mediterranean coast. As of this morning, all teams now have five to six races under their belts, and while the usual suspects top the leaderboard - BMW/Oracle Racing (undefeated in 5 races), Emirates Team New Zealand (5 races, 4 wins) and Italy's Luna Rossa (5/3) - there have been surprises. Perhaps the biggest of these is the performance of the South African Team Shosholoza (6/3), which dealt Luna Rossa one of their two defeats.

Wind has returned to the America's Cup challenger series off Valencia. This is BMW/Oracle Racing (right) putting away Luna Rossa Challenge in Flight 5.
©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget

At this writing, the boats are currently engaged in their second match race of the day (Flight 7). For up-to-the-minute coverage, log onto the official America's Cup Web site at www.americascup.com.

For what it's worth, the multiply rescheduled, rebooted Round Robin 1 will now be completed as expeditiously as possible and, because of the delays, will likely segue into Round Robin 2 with little or no 'intermission' as originally planned. The top four boats at the end of RR2 will go on to the semi-final round which begins mid-May.

- latitude / jr

Not Worried at All About Our 'Dinghy Deficit'

April 25 - La Paz , BCS

Photo Wayne of Wandering Courtesy Walkabout
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

"Which boat is that in the accompanying photo?" Anne Slater of the Richmond-based Allied Luders 33 Walkabout asks rhetorically. "It's the 1968 Allied Luders 33 Walkabout from Richmond, legendary winner of third in division in the '06 Baja Ha-Ha. And we've got a painted wood fish with ribbons to prove it. Anyway, I think the boat looks terrific in the photo taken near Pichilinque by Wayne of the Gulfstar 37 Wandering.

"More seriously, we've really been enjoying the people, marine life and beaches of Mexico. Two of the things that have helped us enjoy the marine life and beaches are the red and blue foreign objects you see on the deck of our boat in the photo, objects that have been the envy of - well, most of - the cruising fleet. While some would say that our sit-upon kayaks are indicative of a 'dinghy deficit', we have enjoyed them all season, and believe that they will really come in handy now that we're in the Sea. Sure, they have been a source of chronic 'wet butt', and I've rolled a couple of times, but they've been great. By the way, that's Stu Stebbings on one of them paddling with the cocorilos adjacent to Tenacatita Bay."

Photo Courtesy Walkabout
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Now that the winter cruising season has all but ended in Mexico, we have two questions for you cruisers: 1) What was your most valuable piece of cruising gear? And 2) Which place did you like the most, and in less than 25 words, why. Please send all your enlightened and pithy responses to Richard.

- latitude / rs

Ensenada Race Starts Friday

April 25 - Newport Beach

This Friday, 450 boats will start the 60th annual Lexus Ensenada Race. The fleet will include boats as small as 20 feet and as large as Doug Baker's record-setting Magnitude 80. But many eyes will be glued to the six ULDB 70-ft sleds that have recently returned to Southern California after a brief sojourn to the Great Lakes. Some of those 70s are in the hands of new owners on the West Coast, but a few have been purchased by sled veterans who are returning to their roots after campaigning newer high performance racers. It's a bit of an anomaly in a world where we're usually told that only the newest and snazziest will do. So we were interested to hear why Brack Duker, formerly of Evolution and now of Holua, 'down-sized' after his foray with the Farr 40s: "The next step would be a Transpac 52 but I didn't care for those boats in part because the fleet's becoming more Mediterranean and East Coast-oriented, and it seemed that each new boat that hit the water obsoleted the boats built ahead of it. It left me asking myself what is a good platform for me to go offshore. Holua is a fairly comfortable boat compared to a TP 52, and it doesn't bother me that these sleds are 20 years old." 

Follow the progress of the sleds and the other 444 entries in the Ensenada race at www.nosa.org.

- latitude / ss

Uhuru Owners Ask for Help Finding Their Home

April 25 - San Diego

In Monday's 'Lectronic, we reported that Craig Johnson and Carol Hayes's Vanguard 32 Uhuru was abandoned on April 18 in rough weather near Baja's Cedros Island. Yesterday we heard from Carol and Craig who wanted to tell the rest of their story and ask for help in finding their home.

"We were on our way to Turtle Bay and doing fine," Carol wrote. "The USCG cutter Sherman had contacted us earlier, as we were passing, and I told them everything was fine. Soon after, we were knocked down by a 15-ft wave right on our beam. Craig and I were below when it happened. He was thrown across the cabin and hit his head. When the boat righted, he got thrown back and hit his head again. I have bruised ribs and many marks, but otherwise I'm okay.

"Craig doesn't remember going in the water and I was down below, so we don't know how that happened. We're not sure how long he was in the water, but he says he was really tired when he reached the raft. Thank God he's in good shape and strong willed.

"The Sherman pulled me off Uhuru at 7:15, about an hour after I called the Mayday. Craig was found four hours later - the longest of my life. I can't say enough about Capt. Diaz and the entire Sherman crew. They made a horrific situation better."

Sadly, Johnson and Hayes sold everything to go cruising and were on a "bit of a shoestring" so they didn't carry insurance on Uhuru. "She's our heart and soul," Carol said. "She's our life. All our possessions are on board. Craig did everything to make her our perfect home and he succeeded."

Craig and Carol at their bon voyage party.
Photo Courtesy Glen and Frances Hellings
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

The couple still have hope Uhuru will be found intact, and are hoping Latitude readers may have some suggestions on finding her. "She may be hove to with a triple reefed main and just a few feet of headsail unfurled - the tiller was tied off and the windvane was jammed. I'm trying to find out how to hire a plane to search for her. The Mexican Navy has her on their hot list, I put her info out on the Baja net, and have calls into the Ensenada and Turtle Bay port captains. We're heartbroken and want to do everything we can to find her."

Uhuru - seen here when Mike Miller owned her - was abandoned off the Baja coast last week.
Photo Courtesy Mike Miller
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Carol and Craig ask that anyone transiting the area near 28° 47'N 116° 06'W keep an eye out for Uhuru. She has a white hull with green canvas and was moving about 3.5 knots at 175-200°. "I just want to say," Carol added, "you read about these kinds of things in Sightings, but never expect it to be you. We were fine. She was riding great and then . . ."

If you have any information on Uhuru's whereabouts, or suggestions on hiring a search plane, please email the couple.

- latitude / ld

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