We would never encourage anyone to risk their jobs by playing hooky, but if we were to pick a day to call in ‘well’, tomorrow would be it. With triple-digit temps forecast all over the Bay Area, we can’t think of a better place to spend it than on the water with 10-15 knots of breeze cooling us off.
But even if you can’t make it out on the water until the weekend, you won’t miss the fine weather as the temps should still be in the high 80s over both days. And you can bet you’ll see the Latitude 38 photoboat out capturing boats ‘looking good’ so wave and smile if you see a camera pointed in your direction.
A heads-up for anyone planning that historic trans-Bay swim today: please postpone for a week or so. Yesterday the Bay experienced not one ‘toxic’ spill, but two. In Martinez, a tugboat accidentally ruptured a pipeline at the Tesoro refinery just after noon, which resulted in a spill of as much as 1,500 gallons of gasoline into Carquinez Strait. Meanwhile, over in Tiburon, approximately 64,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled into Raccoon Strait from the Sanitary District Plant on Paradise Drive. This one was due to a reported short circuit in a backup pumping system. Officials suspended vessel traffic in the area near the entrance to the Delta while they assessed the gas spill, while people farther down the Bay were warned to stay out of the water as health officials awaited the results of water testing.
Neither spill appeared to be as serious as the fuel or sewage spills that occurred in the last year. So far there have been no reports of injuries or deaths to local wildlife.
After sailing nearly 900 miles, the first five IMOCA 60s in the singlehanded Artemis Transat are separated by only 3.6 miles down the course, with the sixth place boat less than 20 miles behind. While that’s impressive from the standpoint of the level of competition, the real story is the nearly 80 miles in latitude separating the pack, and a high-pressure ridge running perpendicular to their path.
The latter will have huge implications on the tactical calls made by the solo sailors who’ve had to battle commercial shipping, fatigue, and their unwieldy, supercharged boats. It will most certainly shuffle the deck, acting in a way similar to the doldrums — leaving small windows at different points across that 80-mile spread for small gains which could launch a single or pair of boats into a controlling position all the way to the finish in Boston. Twenty minutes ago, as of noon PDT, the race leader was the man known as "Le Professeur," Michel Desjoyeaux aboard Foncia, who won the last edition of the race in the now-defunct ORMA 60 trimaran class. At the time, seven miles behind but nearly 80 miles to the south in second place, was former ABN AMRO 2 skipper Sébastien Josse in his new BT. Before going live with this story we checked the latest updates to find that the then-9.3-miles separating the top five, had shrunk to 3.6 miles. The order got shuffled around as well with Loïck Peyron in Gitana 80 moving from fourth place to first in the standings, and Desjoyeaux dropping to third — this is no procession!
This year has seen some changes to the venerable singlehanded offshore classic. This year’s course is 210 miles longer due to the last minute inclusion of an "ice gate" southeast of Newfoundland — a safety precaution for another challenge on the skippers’ horizons. There’s also now a 36-hour blackout period during which race organizers, Offshore Challenges, will withhold the boats’ position reports. Although this is done during the night already — a look at the race’s tracking page will show that a lot of radical tactical departures are taken after 6 p.m. UTC because of it — with the 36-hour window, there will likely be some big-time flyers for boats far enough away from each other to be outside radar range. The blackout is a wildcard not only for that reason, but also because its exact timing wasn’t announced until today! With an awesome 2-D tracker you can use to playback the race’s evolution — not to mention weather forecasts and the course’s great cricle route — this is a fun one to follow. Check it out at www.theartemistransat.com.
New York Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn released his order regarding the BMW Oracle Racing’s Deed of Gift Challenge for America’s Cup 33. Judging by the typically verbose team’s terse press release, it’s not what they were looking for. Cahn ordered the date of the match to be 10 months from the serving of his order, with Alinghi required to name the venue six months beforehand. This would mean a Cup match likely in March of 2009, not the October 2008 claimed by BMW Oracle Racing to be both anticipated and desired by the team.
But . . . there’s a catch! The Deed requires racing to be held in the southern hemisphere if it happens outside the window between May and October. More enlightened America’s Cup pundits have pointed out that the judge’s decision effectively sends a message to the two teams — work this out yourselves. This is hardly the end of the road for AC-related litigation, but it’s nonetheless pretty significant. As always, we’ll keep you apprised.
February through late May is the Baja Bash season, the time when boats that have spent the winter in Mexico need to make the 750-mile trip upwind and upcurrent from Cabo to San Diego. Unless you have a lot of time to wait out bad weather, you never know what you’re going to get. So far this year, we’ve heard from folks who have had the fastest and easiest of their many Bashes so far, while others have gotten hammered.
If you did the Bash this year, we’d like to hear how it went for you. How many days did it take? How many days, if any, did you have to stay put because of bad weather? Is there anything you learned from your trip that would be helpful to others? Please send your reports to Richard.