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October 22, 2007

Photo of the Day: Grace Quan

Today’s Photo of the Day is of the rustic and lovely Grace Quan. While Grace looks as old and salty as the sea itself, the 42-ft replica of a traditional Chinese shrimping junk was actually launched in 2003 at China Camp State Park. One of the most eye-catching boats on the Bay, Grace lives half the year at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Hyde Street Pier, and the other half at China Camp. Check out for more info on her history and unique construction.

Class Acts at the Jessica Cup

You don’t get much more classic – or classy – than Terry Klaus’s Brigadoon.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Twenty seven boats in five divisions enjoyed spectacular fall racing in the Jessica Cup over the weekend. A sort of mini version of the annual Master Mariners Regatta (held every Memorial Day), the Jessica Cup is as much spectacle as competition (at least for observers), as the participant boats are all classic wooden craft, many built or designed before World War II.

How long has it been since you’ve seen a fleet of pristine L-36s racing together?

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Several days of rain at the end of the week gave way to brilliant clear skies on Saturday, with a brisk 10-12 westerly eventually filling in to usher the fleet around a main Bay course off the hosting St. Francis YC. Two races on Saturday were followed by one on Sunday.

Master Mariner boats come in all shapes and sizes, even ketch-rigged whaleboats like the well-sailed Corsair.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While it’s always fun to see big schooners like Brigadoon and Yankee steaming along with multiple sails flying, it was a particular treat to see the Farallon Clippers and L-36s racing in their own one design divisions – even if there were only three boats in each. Don Taylor’s VIP notched the win for the Clippers with a 1-2-1 record, while Allen Edwards and his Papoose crew aced the L-36s, also with a 1-2-1.

The following boats won their respective classes. Gaff Division – Brigadoon, 50ft Herreschoff schooner (built 1924), Terry Klaus; Marconi I Division – Bolero, 44-ft Davis sloop (1946), Tim Murison; Marconi II Division – Chorus, Kettenberg 38 (1958), Peter English; Farallon Clipper – VIP, Don Taylor; L-36 – Papoose, Allen Edwards. For complete results, see

Spithill and Coutts Racing on the Bay

If you were out on the Bay this weekend, you might have noticed two BMW Oracle Swedish Match Racing Boats out sailing, looking as if they were practicing match racing starts. We couldn’t help but notice that James Spithill, helmsman of Luna Rossa in the last America’s Cup, was at the helm of one boat, and Russell ‘Mr. America’s Cup’ Coutts, the new honcho for BMW Oracle, was at the helm of the other.

Russell Coutts and James Spithill were not spotted not racing these BMW Oracle Swedish Match Racing boats on the Bay this weekend.

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the fact that it was a busy weekend of racing on the Bay, and the two were seen by hundreds of sailors, we were contacted and asked not to reveal this information. It was sort of like Britney not wearing panties to The Ivy restaurant and then having her publicist ask all the patrons not to tell anyone. Ridiculous. Couldn’t BMW Oracle at least have spent a little money on Halloween masks for their skippers?

Spithill who?

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Anyway, the really big America’s Cup news today is that it is ‘Court Day’ for BMW Oracle and Alinghi in New York. We’ll let you know what happens.

Strong Winds Off Northern Coast of Baja

"We tried to sail from Ensenada to San Diego yesterday, and ran into 40-50 mph easterly winds off of Bajamar about 11 a.m., and had to turn back," reports John Howard. "It was a bit much for my 30-year-old Hunter 30! I made it back to Ensenada safely, although it took us about two hours of tacking in front of the harbor, with a reefed main and the motor in gear. It was pretty scary stuff, as we lost control of the rudder several times, couldn’t tack because of the strong current and swells, and because our motor was undersized for the conditions.

"Do you have any links to Mexican marine forecasts and reports, and/or other handy links of where else we might have sheltered – other than the lee side of the Coronados, which we were hours away from? Also, the lee side yesterday would have been the west, and I am not sure if there are any anchorages there."

We don’t want to sound harsh, but please don’t ask us where you could have anchored or otherwise responded to the weather. As a mariner, it’s your responsibility to know what the weather conditions are likely to be – the strong easterly winds were forecast far in advance – and all your options for getting out of the weather before you leave port. There are all kinds of weather reports for Baja that we’ve reported on, including a great streaming one that shows the wind speeds and directions for the entire coast of Baja. Do a little internet search – including on – and you’ll find plenty of weather information.

Having said that, it’s well known that Santa Anas fizzle out just a few miles off the coast. We can’t be sure, but it was probably relatively calm at the Coronados and, in any event, you wouldn’t  have needed a recognized anchorage for shelter, as you could have just dropped your hook anywhere on the lee side. Although there was nothing wrong with it, heading back to Ensenada was probably your roughest option, as the winds are strongest closer to shore.

As for folks doing the Ha-Ha, it’s going to be hot with Santa Anas much of this week in the Southland, but by the Sunday kick-off party and Monday start in San Diego, conditions are expected to be back to normal. Drat, because starting in Santa Anas would have been hot and fast.

New Yacht Basin at Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

"Great news for boat owners," writes Capt. Mahalo of Upper Malele Heights on Oahu, "as the legislators have finally seen the light and have not only undertaken full scale repair of the entire Ala Wai Yacht Harbor but, as you can see from the accompanying photo, are adding an additional basin near the Hilton Hawaiian Village to meet the tremendous demand for slips."

If the Hilton is willing to invest $15 million in a little lagoon, what should Hawaii invest in a 600+ berth marina in a monopoly environment?

©2007 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In our dreams. The truth of the matter is that the Hilton Hawaiian Village folks have seen fit to invest something like $15 million to make their oceanfront lagoon next to the Ala Wai a first-class attraction. If only the legislators in the State of Hawaii had the foresight and economic smarts to realize that investments – particularly in yacht harbor monopolies such as theirs – pay off big. If they would only allow some private company to invest $15 million, or whatever, and manage the 600+ berth Ala Wai, the payoff for boatowners, friends of the ocean, taxpayers and the state would be significant. But after more than 30 years of poor management, don’t expect anything to change soon.

There are only two ways to get an official Baja Ha-Ha tattoo: Participate in the event, or fly down to Cabo with a bunch of Latitudes – thus becoming an instant Ha-Ha hero!
One of the great annual sailing spectacles on San Francisco Bay is the Master Mariners Regatta, held every Memorial Day weekend.
You can call Sjoukje Bredenkamp fast but don’t call her easy. The 19-year-old South African kiteboarder has worked hard to become the fastest female speed sailor in the world, a feat she accomplished on Tuesday in Luederitz, Namibia.
And they’re off! Leg 1, from France to Portugal, is 1,100 miles while Leg 2, from Portugal to Brazil is 3,100 miles.
The folks at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, dedicated to teaching sailing and seamanship skills, as well as keeping maritime traditions alive, are offering free rides on Pelicans at Aquatic Park tomorrow from 10 a.m.