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January 12, 2009

Weekend Racing Review

Hoot leads the Olson 30 charge at BYC’s Saturday race.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

‘Indian Summer’ finally arrived on the scene this past weekend. Sunny skies and near-record high temperatures made San Francisco Bay seem more like San Diego — especially with those light, shifty breezes.

Of the five midwinter series taking place over January 10-11, perhaps the most wind-blessed were those of Berkeley YC and RegattaPro’s Winter One Design. While boats sailing the main Bay often found themselves in drifter conditions, a fine easterly up to about 10 knots had boats on BYC’s Olympic Circle and RegattaPro’s Treasure Island course moving well, at least early in the afternoon. However, soon after RegattaPro’s second J/120 start, the wind shifted some 140 degrees and died.

Silhouettes on the Bay – the Moore 24 fleet works to weather.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“Usually if the wind dies it’s a pretty good indication that it’s going to come back from a completely different direction,” noted RegattaPro’s Jeff Zarwell. So while another race committee boat eventually finished the 120s at their first weather mark in almost zero wind, Zarwell raced around in his RIB looking for any sign of filling breeze. He finally found it over by Southampton Shoal — not the forecast easterly, but dead out of the west! Jeff and newbie race committee person Ellie Cachette quickly set or reset new marks, and managed to get the whole four-division fleet off on one more race just five minutes before the 3 p.m. deadline. The breeze held steady at 8-10 from 270º the rest of the day. Said Ellie, “I never realized race management was so exciting!”

Dayenu chases Desdemona around the weather mark in the first RegattaPro race on Saturday.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Winners for RegattaPro, Tiburon YC’s Midwinter Series and the Lake Merritt Midwinters follow. Results for BYC and Island YC’s Estuary Series had not been posted at presstime but should be up later today.

RegattaPro: Express 27 — Motorcycle Irene, Will Paxon (17 boats); J/105 — Wonder, Tom Kennelly (18 boats); J/120 — Grace Dances, Dick Swanson; J/24 — Downtown Uproar, Darren Cumming (8 boats). Complete results:

Tiburon YC: Division I — Miss Demeanor, J/105, Aidan Collins (3 boats); Division II — Frenzy, Moore 24, Lon Woodrum (8 boats). Complete results:

Lake Merritt SC Robinson Memorial Regatta:
El Toro Sr — Duncan Carter (15 boats); El Toro Jr — Michael Pacholski (7 boats); Sunfish — George Wilson (3 boats); Open — Russ Klein, Banshee (1 boat).

Puddle Jumpers Gather in Banderas Bay

With the offer of deeply discounted rates, Puddle Jumpers are checking out La Cruz’ new facilities at Marina Riviera Nayarit.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As this year’s fleet of Pacific Puddle Jumpers stage for springtime departures along the Mexican coast, a variety of marine services are ‘reaching out’ to attract their business. For example, three-time puddle jumper Bob Bechler writes that the year-old Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz (Banderas Bay) is currently offering fleet members a special rate of $.40 USD/foot/day — "a great rate for a marvelous new marina," he says. See the website for complete details on the facility. The offer will only be extended to boats listed in the "PacificPuddleJump" database at

"There is a new Mega store located in Bucerias, a short distance away, as is a new Immigration Department office." Until the fleet departs in March and April, Bechler and others will host frequent Puddle Jump meetings at Marina Riviera Nayarit on a variety of pertinent topics.

As in years past, however, Latitude‘s annual Puddle Jump Banderas Bay kick-off party will be held at the Vallarta YC — within the Paradise Village Resort — Thursday, February 12. Our Zihua kick-off party will be held Monday, February  9 (location TBA), the day after the conclusion of Zihua SailFest.

Stay tuned for other Puddle Jump news, including an update on the French Polynesia bond exemption for ‘officially-registered’ Puddle Jumpers.

Crew List Party ‘Save the Date’

Are you a racer who likes to keep a cushion of ‘stand in’ crewmembers when your regulars can’t make it? Do you wish you could go on more daysails but don’t like sailing alone? New to the Bay or just want to get out on the water more? Then save the evening of March 11 for the Latitude 38 Spring Crew List Party. Every year we bring skippers and crew together in hopes they’ll find what they’re looking for — be it an experienced crewmember, a newbie ripe for training or an invitation to go daysailing.

The party will once again be held at Golden Gate YC in the City, from 6-9 p.m. This year we’re featuring a discount for sailors under 25 — just $5! For everyone else, it’s still just $7. Come meet new friends, fill up on munchies and maybe even win a prize!

And don’t forget to take advantage of our online Crew List — it’s effective and free!

Rules Seminar Packs Corinthian YC

Saturday had to be one of the nicest days of this young year, yet about 90 of the Bay’s most ardent racers chose to spend it in the Corinthian YC ballroom — with every window shade drawn, and not a beer in sight. What would possess them to do that? A North U. Racing Rules of Sailing Seminar led by Brad Dellenbaugh.

With a revised set of the Racing Rules of Sailing having gone into effect on January 1, we felt that it was a perfect chance to brush up on the basics as well as get a more in-depth understanding of the changes in this edition. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive and find so many people at the event — it quickly became evident that there was a cross-section of Bay Area sailing represented in the audience, with fleet members from BAMA, WBRA, OYRA, J/105, Melges 24, and IRC fleets among others. Given the range of questions Dellenbaugh fielded, it was apparent that there was also a cross-section of experience levels, from globe-girdling hired guns like Huntington Beach’s Mark Ivey, to Big Boat Series division winners like Richmond YC’s Brad Copper, to people who sail local club events only. This was really encouraging — better rules knowledge leads to better and safer sailing, and it’s not the sole province of grand-prix and Olympic sailors

There aren’t many people who can actually be called ‘rules gurus’, but Dellenbaugh, who served as the chief umpire for the 2007 America’s Cup, fits in that category. But to say that the current sailing director of the New York YC, ‘wrote the book’ on the racing rules would be wrong — he actually illustrated Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2012.

Now you may be wondering what’s the point of attending a seminar like this. After all, you can learn the rules just by reading them in the rule book, right? Yes. . . but in this setting, you actually get a chance to better explore the tactical implications of the rules changes to them. If you have the opportunity to attend one, seize it — you won’t be disappointed.

We don’t have enough space to go into what we learned on Saturday, but thankfully, there are some free resources that go into the changes for 2009-2012. First up, Dave Perry, author for Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2012 has an explanation at And over at, there are explanations and rules teaching tips. Take the time to check this stuff out because, while it seems the revisions aren’t very big, there are some "game-changers," and you don’t want to be caught quoting obsolete rules either on the race course or in the protest room, as Max Ebb did in the January issue of Latitude.

Less Danger From Shipping?

Offshore sailors always worry about getting run down by ships. The danger is less now than anytime in recent memory. Part of it is because of new technology such as AIS, but much of it is because of economics. There’s just not as much shipping as there used to be. With oil having dropped over $100 a barrel, some 50 mega-tankers around the world are being used solely for storage, as the on-land storage is nearing capacity. And with world trade dropping, international shipping has plunged. Perhaps the best indicator is that for the first time in recorded history the cost has dropped significantly. The cost of shipping an entire 40-ft container from Hong Kong to Rotterdam has dropped from $2,700 last year, as low as $200 this year. What’s more, many ships are being operated at lower speeds to save money on fuel.

Yes, these are different times we’re living in.

We’re not sure if Thursday’s big opening day crowds at the San Diego Boat Show were there because of the economy — or in spite of it.
"Yes," say Rob and Mary Miller, who did the first Ha-Ha in ’94, then cruised most of the way around the world for the next 11 years aboard their 44-ft Maude I.