By all accounts, the first-ever Delta Doo Dah was a hit. Some Doo Dah’ers were a little wary at first, worried that so many other boats would "ruin" their fun, but even the doubters admitted that their trip up the Delta couldn’t have been better.
Those of us anchored in a horseshoe bend off Connection Slough — dubbed ‘Broken Rudder Slough’ for the two dinghy rudders that snapped during some over-zealous sailing — spent three blissful days kayaking, swimming and engaging in a number of spectacular water cannon battles.
Though we were all loathe to leave our idyllic anchorage on Friday, we were also anxious to ‘get the party started’ at Stockton Sailing Club. The rest of the fleet, scattered thoughout the Delta, apparently felt the same as most boats were tied up at SSC’s docks by early afternoon. The heat drove some into the water, others to the fleet of FJs the club had ready for our use. Needless to say, the air conditioned bar was packed.
Besides having a reputation as a friendly club, Stockton Sailing Club is also famous for its BBQ — and they didn’t disappoint. Doo Dah’ers scarfed up the ribs, chicken and fresh corn-on-the-cob like they hadn’t eaten in a week, then topped it all off with fresh strawberry shortcake.
Generous sponsors donated so many prizes for the Hoopla party that every boat got one — some even snagged two! Then the Blue Water Rockers got the crowd on their feet with some classic rock.
Most boats left Saturday to either slog their way back to the Bay or find a viewing spot for the Hilton family’s fireworks extravaganza. As of this morning, several Doo Dah’ers were hunkered down at Bethel Island, Antioch or Benicia, waiting for the 30-knot headwinds to subside. The forecast is for more of the same for the next few days — what a great excuse to extend your vacation.
In 12 to 15 knots of breeze, the two remaining divisions — 1 and 2 — of TransPac boats got underway yesterday under blue skies off Pt. Fermin. Everything from the TP 52s to the ULDB 70s and Neville Crichton’s R/P 100 Alfa Romeo took advantage of the stronger pressure they’ve enjoyed — compared to the starters from both Thursday and the prior Sunday — to immediately vault into the top overall spots as of this morning’s position reports. Tom Akin’s Bay Area-based TP 52 Flash has jumped out to the lead in Division 1, while James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion has the Division 2 and overall lead in hand.
Divisions 3, 4 and 5, which started last Thursday, and Divisions 6 and 7, which started the previous Sunday, both had their westward progress stymied by a ridge of high pressure that sent the fleet southward. Chip Megeath’s Tiburon-based R/P 45 Criminal Mischief is one of the furthest-south boats and has moved from last to third in Divison 3 overnight. Division 6 leader, the 1D 35 Relentless, being doublehanded by Tim Fuller and Erik Shampain is the furthest south with a little under 1500 miles yet to go — at a lower latitude than La Paz! In the more northerly group, Bob Barton’s Bay Area-based Andrews 56 Cipango has lead Division 3 since the start. With a spread of nearly 300 miles north-south, there will doubtlessly be some big gains and losses — whether by better pressure or distance sailed — for Divisions 3 through 7 as the race progresses.
The uphill bash from Panama has not been easy for 17-year-old singlehander Zac Sunderland. But with only 400 miles left to go on his year-long circumnavigation, the thrill of becoming the world’s youngest circumnavigator is practically within his grasp.
Last week’s strong winds gave Zac quite a workout as his Islander 36 Intrepid clawed her way up the Baja coast. Adding to the drama of slamming into 25-knot winds and a three-knot current, he was boarded late last week by U.S. Coast Guard officers on patrol south of the border. During the inspection, Zac had a chuckle when one guardsman asked him if his parents knew he was solo sailing around the world. They were soon on their way, though, after issuing Zac a fix-it ticket for not having a fog horn.
Anticipating a huge turnout for Zac’s arrival, his parents and supporters have announced that he will make his official homecoming Tuesday, July 14, at Marina del Rey’s Fisherman’s Village, at approximately 10 a.m. The general public is welcome to attend. For more info on Zac’s history-making trip, see his website. And look for a recap report in the August edition of Latitude 38.
After months of waiting, Alinghi has finally unveiled its new Deed of Gift match multihull and . . . it’s a cat — defying the predictions of many a pundit. Like the BMW/Oracle trimaran, it’s a relatively-conventional looking boat. Observers have called it a scaled-up version of Ernesto Bertarelli’s 41-ft Alinghi Catamaran, sans the central pod for rig loads, but with a byzantine web of carbon rods, stays and dolphin strikers instead. The team haven’t released any official dimensional information yet, but it sure looks big! We’ll have to bring you better photos at a later date, because it seems our login to the media area at the Alinghi website is no longer functional, and our new registration hasn’t been vetted yet apparently.
That’s what we’ve been told. Before heading north to Newport and Catalina, we stopped by the BMW Oracle compound — which is located next to Joe’s Crab Shack in downtown San Diego — to see what was going on. The biggest noticeable change since last November is that they brought the big white fabric building in which the 90-ft by 90-ft trimaran had been built down from Washington. Since the sophisticated tri wasn’t anywhere in sight, we presume she was inside getting worked on. A short distance from the building were what appeared to be three massive carbon fiber masts.
From the outside, the compound looked pretty quiet. As we stood looking at the rather small BMW Oracle sign near the guard station, we were approached by a duck who was eager to talk. "If you’re looking for a finely crafted German automobile or some world class enterprise software, you won’t find them in that building," he said. "No, what’s inside that building is the trimaran that’s going to be used in the next America’s Cup. Alinghi, the Defenders, don’t have to announce where the Cup is going to be held for a few more months, but it has to be held by the end of next February."
Surprised to meet a duck with such an interest in sailing, to say nothing of having a fine command of the English language, we just nodded and let him continue.
"Last year they had the tri sailing at more than 40 knots, which would be fast enough to get my feathers ruffled. Given the speeds and loads, somebody could really get hurt. No wonder that principle helmsman James Spitall and the rest of the crew wear helmets and body armor. And that there are EMTs on the support boats that chase the big tri. There have been rumors around the nest that Larry Ellison, owner of the campaign, sailed on the tri once, and that was enough for him. What’s even more telling is that Russell Coutts, the America’s Cup legend, is rumored to be afraid of the boat, too. But I think that’s just gossip, don’t you?
"You probably want to know what they’ve been doing inside that building since they stopped sailing operations in February," said the loquacious duck without giving us time to answer his question. "I’d probably end up as Peking duck on the BMW Oracle crew menu if they knew that I told you, but they’ve been making a hard sail for the trimaran. Sort of like the one Dennis Conner used when his catamaran beat the Kiwi ‘big boat’ monohull in the funky America’s Cup in San Diego many years ago. I also heard that something like $5 million was spent on either modifying or replacing the two outer hulls. If anyone is feeling sorry for syndicate owner Larry Ellison, they don’t have to. My 401K for ducks has taken a beating in the last year, but not from Oracle. They had an operating income of almost $8 billion in the last quarter, and if I’m not mistaken, Ellison still owns something like 20% of the company. So he’s not having to chase the America’s Cup with a cup in his hand."
"But when is the big tri going to be test-sailing again?" we asked.
"I’m glad you asked," said the duck, "because the big news is that they’ll be sailing shortly. If you’re in San Diego, you won’t be able to miss her. But at the speed she travels, you won’t be able to see her for long — unless you’re in one of those F-18s flying out of North Island."
Since the duck seemed to be such a know-it-all, we asked him who he was picking to win the next Cup. "Some chicks and I were discussing the America’s Cup the other day, and figure BMW Oracle has their work cut out for them. I’m just a duck, but I figure this is going to be — because of the extreme speeds and risk of personal injury and boat destruction — the most NASCAR-like America’s Cup ever."