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Photo of the Day: Fire Breaks Out on Catalina Island

May 11 - Catalina Island

Dan and Rey Yarussi arrived in Avalon yesterday aboard Tropical Dance, their Gulfstar Sailmaster 50, for their yacht club's Mother's Day cruise and golf tournament only to find that fire had erupted during their trip over.
Photo Courtesy Reylyn Yarussi

Fire broke out on Catalina Island shortly after noon yesterday, quickly engulfing six square miles and threatening the famous city of Avalon. While firefighters worked to contain the blaze, ferries ran through the night to evacuate hundreds of residents and vacationers. "You couldn't breathe," one evacuee said, "and ash was falling like snow." By this morning, more than 500 firefighters had been flown in by Camp Pendleton's Blackhawk and Chinook helos, and dozens of fire engines had been brought over via hovercraft. Five water-dropping helos and as many fire retardant-dropping air tankers were also doing what they could to contain the blaze.

Aided by the night's still air and dewey conditions, firefighters appear to have slowed the fire's quick march to Catalina's most popular spot. Though one home and a few businesses outside the city fell victim to the fire, and more than 1,200 homes have been evacuated, Fire Chief Steven Hoefs reported this morning that "the risk has been reduced significantly and most of the structures have been protected." Catalina Island, which suffered from a similar blaze on the other side of the island last summer, has seen only two inches of rain since January and, like the rest of SoCal (think Griffith Park), remains extremely vulnerable to carelessly flicked cigarette butts, campfires and just about anything else with spark.

The Catalina Casino webcam clearly shows the choking blanket of smoke covering the town last night around 8 p.m.
Photo Courtesy www.visitcatalinaisland.com

©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

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The Vallejo Race's Sunday Best

May 11 - Vallejo

Usually boats round Point Pinole with their spinnakers up on the way to Vallejo, not on the way home. Blame it on a bizarre weather pattern or climate change, but the wind direction definitely made this a Vallejo Race to remember.
Photo Latitude/Sutter
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

We may be overstating things a little bit, but in our minds, last weekend's Vallejo Race was epic for two reasons. One, the 287-boat entry list was the biggest in several years, thus ending a trend that had plagued the race since 2003. And, two, racers on Sunday - many of whom may have still been feeling the effects of the previous night's party - were treated to a beautiful spinnaker reach down the Napa River and across San Pablo Bay rather than the usual pounding slog upwind to the finish near the San Rafael Bridge.

Smiles all around on Donkey Jack
Photo Latitude/Sutter
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

That's not to say the racing wasn't as hot as the weather. After more than two hours of racing, just eight seconds separated the top two Santana 22s, and the first three Express 27s finished within one minute of each other. There were several other very close finishes among the corrected time scores in some of the handicap fleets. Congratulations to the following division winners:

Multihull: Origami, F-24, Ross Stein (6 boats)
Express 27: Freaks ona Leash, Scott Parker (9 boats)
Beneteau 36.7: Mistral, Ed Durbin (4 boats)
Antrim 27: Always Friday, John Liebenberg (1 boat)
SF 180: Topgallant, Newport 30, Frank Hinman (9 boats)
Express 37: Sprindrift V, Larry Wright (7 boats)
Islander 36: Diana, Steve Zevanove (8 boats)
J/105: Cuchulainn, James Mullen (10 boats)
Olson 25: Pearl, Thomas Blagg (4 boats)
Olson 30: Hot Betty, John Scarbourough (2 boats)
Santana 22: Tchoupitoulas, Santana 22, Stephen Buckingham (4 boats)
Vallejo I: Kokopelli2, Santa Cruz 52, Lani Spund (6 boats)
Vallejo II: White Fang, Beneteau 40.7, Mark Howe (7 boats)
Vallejo III: Irish Lady, Catalina 42.5, Mike Mahoney (5 boats)
Vallejo IV: Vitesse, Santa Cruz 27, Barton Goodell (4 boats)
Vallejo V: Kelika, Hunter 33.5, Mike Weaver (8 boats)
Vallejo VI: Wuda Shuda, Soverel 26, Craig Page (5 boats)
Vallejo VII: Antares, Islander 30-2, Larry Telford (6 boats)
Party Circuit G: Velocita, Mumm 36, Mary Mueller/Jeff Christie (5 boats)
Party Circuit H: Vitesse Too, Hobie 33, Grant Hayes (6 boats)
Party Circuit J: Sheeba, C&C 99, Michael Quinn (10 boats)
Party Circuit K: Mer Tranquille, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, Larry Moraes (11 boats)
Party Circuit M: Latin Lass, Catalina 27, Bill Chapman (14 boats)
Party Circuit SF 30: Fire Drill, Tartan 10, Serge Bisson (8 boats)
IOR Warhorses: Infinity, Holland 47, Gary Gebhard (4 boats)

Complete results at www.yra.org.

Although they didn't match Saturday's victory with another win on Sunday, Nesrin Basoz and Reuben Rocci got extra credit for doublehanding their Olson 25 Sweet Ness in both directions. "It's one that we won't soon forget," says Reuben. "We were completely whipped by the end of the weekend."
Photo Courtesy Sweet Ness
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

Whatever it is, it's not a Soling! Actually, it's Kris Jensen's Ranger Fun 23 ODR Boondoggle, which raced in the YRA's popular new Party Circuit, which kicked off a five-race series this weekend.
Photo Latitude/Chris
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

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Advertisement: Meet Paul Cayard at West Marine

May 11 - Alameda

Join West Marine Friday afternoon, May 11, 4:30-6:30, at Alameda's newest sailing super source! Meet Paul Cayard, seven-time world champion and skipper of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Learn what it's like to be on the world's fastest monohull during this exclusive event featuring the five-time America's Cup veteran. See footage of Black Pearl in action, followed by an informal Q&A sesson. 730 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda, (510) 521-4865.

77-Year-Old's Record Attempt Ends With Dramatic Southern Ocean Rescue

May 11 - Tasmania, Australia

Eleven hours after calling in a mayday, 77-year-old Japanese singlehander Ikuo Kashima was rescued 60 miles southwest of Tasmania last Saturday, after hurricane-force conditions had badly battered him and his boat. Sailing aboard the 39-ft sloop Koraasa77, Kashima was nine months into his attempt to become the oldest singlehander to solo nonstop via the great capes.

According to local reports, a "freak wave" disabled the yacht last Friday night, leaving her skipper with neck and back injuries. David Ervin, pilot of the police helicopter which came to Kashima's aid, described the conditions as "savage," with winds blowing between 57 and 70 knots and the hull often disappearing into 30-ft troughs.

Ironically, to the north, at King Island in the Bass Strait, Australian singlehander Ken Gourlay survived similar conditions to complete his own solo, nonstop voyage aboard the 41-ft Silver Spirit Edition. Gourlay's time places him in the Aussie record books, as he shaved nearly 25 hours off the previous Australian record for a solo nonstop, 181 days.

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Melges Worlds Rolls On

May 11 - Santa Cruz

After three days of racing, Dave Ullman's Pegasus 505 holds the lead in the 2007 Fullpower Melges 24 World Championship. As regatta press officer Rich Roberts put it, the 61-year-old Ullman's adage may just as well be "one win a day keeps the younger dudes away." He has finished first in one race each day so far, posting a 18-1-1-11-1-5 record. With six races completed, Ullman can discard the 18th and now has a four-point margin over Brian Porter on Full Throttle. Lest you think there isn't any international competition for the international title, two European boats are hot on the heels of the two leaders. The Italian-flagged Bete Bossini is just three points behind Porter and France's ERF/Groupe Partouche is one point behind that, in fourth. Othmar Mueller von Blumencron's Virginia-based Gannet is the top Corinthian (fully amatuer) boat, sitting in sixth place overall.

Racing continues today and Saturday. The forecast calls for west winds at 10 to 15 knots, 2 to 3-ft waves and a 2 to 5-ft swell today. Let the good times roll.

2003 World Champion Shark Kahn on Pegasus 492
in full flight mode during Thursday's racing off Santa Cruz.
Photo Courtesy Paul Todd / IMCA
©2007 Copyright Paul Todd / www.outsideimages.co.nz

For complete results and a daily summary, go to www.melges24worlds2007.com

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Baylis Ranked Top American

May 11 - San Rafael

The top American women's match racer is none other than Bay Area sailor Liz Baylis. In the latest world rankings, released by the International Sailing Federation on Wednesday, Baylis moves up from 27th to 20th in the world, and from fourth-ranked American woman to the top. The jump was helped in large part by the victory posted by Baylis and her San Francisco Women's Match Racing Team last month at the Rolex Women's Match in St. Petersburg, Florida. Next up for the SFWMRT (Baylis, Lee Icyda, Karina Shelton, Melinda Erkelens and Suzy Leech) is the BoatUS Santa Maria Cup in Annapolis at the end of the month before heading to Europe for several races later this summer. The complete ranking list for women's and open categories is at www.sailing.org.

Liz Baylis at the helm a little closer to home,
in a recent Corinthian YC beer can race.
Photo Latitude/Sutter
©2007 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.

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