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October 20, 2008

Final Prep for Next Week’s Ha-Ha Start

The pre-Halloween Costume Kickoff Party sets a fun-loving mood, prior to the Monday start.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you’re signed up to do the 2008 Baja Ha-Ha rally we probably don’t have to tell you that the October 27 start is just a week away. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking, "Yikes! I’m not ready yet." But fear not. During the event’s 15-year history there’s probably never been a single crew that’s checked off every item on their ‘to do’ list prior to the start, so you’re not alone.

Among our final notes to the fleet, we’re happy to say there’s more good news than bad. First, we’re happy to report that the Mexican peso is currently trading at 12.7 to the dollar — up by about 2 pesos since last year, so your buying power has been substantially increased. Add to that the fact that fuel is much cheaper in Mexico and you can’t afford not to go south this season. A final bonus is that the weather outlook for the start looks ideal.

Note also that major sponsor West Marine will have three free shuttles running (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) all week to help Ha-Ha’ers accomplish all their last-minute errands — to Costco, the Mexican consolate or anyplace else within reason. Just call (619) 225-884 to schedule a pickup. Such a deal!

In the not-so-good news department, we’ll remind all entrants again that Mexican health officials are confiscating all red meat products, whether raw or cooked. Poultry products, however, are no problem. Again, there is plenty of great food for sale in Mexican ports, so there’s no need to overload your boat in the U.S. — they’ve even got Costcos in Cabo and P.V. now.

Eight Bells – Mike Campbell

The sailing world — and the real world — has lost another one of the good guys. Long Beach’s Mike Campbell died on Friday after a long battle with carcinoid syndrome. One of the pre-eminent ocean racers on the West Coast for the past 25 years, Mike was known for owning and helming a series of big boats, most named Victoria, after his wife. These included three notable Alan Andrews designs, two ULDB 70s and one of the first TP52s, whose box rule he helped create. His current boat, co-owned with Dale Williams, was the Kernan 70 Peligroso — Spanish for ‘dangerous’, which she’s been to the competition since being splashed in 2005. Built in only four months at Dencho Marine, the boat was a winner right out of the blocks, racking up countless victories all over Southern California and in Mexico races, including an overall win of the San Diego to PV Race in March of this year. Peligroso also came north for the 2006 Big Boat Series, and took fourth in division the ’07 TransPac.

Campbell was one of those men who worked as hard as he played. Back in the late  ’70s, he started a small distribution company, which he eventually built into a large one that supplied all the Trader Joe’s markets. Through it all, he never tired of helping out other people and sharing whatever he had. In one recent remembrance, Chris Dickson recalled arriving for Congressional Cup in 1980 for his first-ever foray into the International Match Racing scene, and how he and his crew of Kiwi unknowns spent the first night in a borrowed RV. When Mike, a member of the sponsoring Long Beach YC, got wind of what was going on, he offered his house and a car to the team. This was in the days when Campbell was happy to just make payroll for his fledgling trucking company. Dickson later found out that, at the time, Mike was renting the house, leasing the car — and it was his only car! He was that kind of guy.

Cards to Campbell’s family — he is survived by wife Victoria, three sons and his mother — may be sent to 49201 Avenida Anselmo, La Quinta, CA 92253. Donations in his name may be sent to the Nagourney Cancer Institute, 750 East 29th St., Long Beach, CA 90806. 

Stowe Away

Remember 56-year-old Reid Stowe — hero to some, whack job to others — who is bobbing around the world’s oceans as you read this, attempting to set a record for the longest consecutive time at sea? If you do, you’ll probably also remember our February report that his first mate on the "Mars Ocean Odyssey", 24-year-old Soanya Ahmad, jumped ship 306 days into the planned-1,000 day voyage as Stowe’s homebuilt 70-ft schooner Anne neared Australia. The official explanation was extreme seasickness.

Well, it turns out it wasn’t seasickness . . . it was morning sickness! Despite Ahmad’s claims in interviews that the couple were practicing safe sex because they didn’t want to get pregnant during the trip, nature found a way. In mid-July, Ahmad gave birth to a boy she named Darshen.

Young Darshen should be well into the walking, talking stage by the time he meets Pop. Having crossed the 500-day halfway mark in August, Stowe still plans to stay away from land until sometime in early 2010.

If you’re wondering (as we did) why anyone would want to set a 1,000-day record for being afloat, a couple of stories that surfaced before the birth of Darshen might shed some light. One New York Daily News story claimed that Stowe is a deadbeat dad, “running from nearly $10,000 owed in child support” for a daughter from his first marriage. Another online source claimed Stowe had pled guilty to importing 30,000 lbs of pot from the Caribbean to Maine via sailboat in the mid-’80s, and spent 12 months in a federal penitentiary for it. Compared to that, bobbing around by yourself for another year and a half probably doesn’t seem so bad.

Well, okay, he’s not exactly bobbing. Stowe was recently alerted the fact that his erratic course aboard Anne has resulted in a nearly complete outline of a whale. Inspired by his previous attempt to ‘draw’ the outline of a sea turtle in the Atlantic, Stowe altered course to finish the drawing. He believes “if this oceanic, satellite-verified drawing of the whale can be seen by many caring people, maybe that will help the movement toward saving the whales.”

Anybody Driving to Cabo?

You’ll be our hero if you can schlep a load of magazines to Cabo.

©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Among the many aspects of organizing the annual Baja Ha-Ha rally, perhaps the most challenging is finding ways to get 200 hot-off-the-press Latitude 38s to Cabo.

This year, with airlines restricting excess baggage, the task has become even harder than usual.

So were wondering: Is anybody out there planning to drive down the Baja Peninsula this year prior to our November 8 Awards Ceremony? If so, you’d be our hero — in fact, the entire fleet’s hero — if you could carry down a load of magazines. Please email us if you think you can help.

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