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September 2, 2009

Winning Winning in 18-Footers

Dueling 18-footers cross tacks downwind yesterday at the St. Francis YC’s 18-ft Skiff International Regatta.

© Erik Simonson

With two days of racing in the books, 57-year-old Australian John Winning’s Yandoo is holding a one-point margin over Howie Hamlin’s Team Harken at the St. Francis YC’s 18-ft Skiff International Regatta. Scoring a 1-3-5-1, Winning — along with crew David Gibson and Andrew Day — has been dialed into the 14- to 20-knot breeze that has thus far shown for the fleet.

Dan Brandt’s Spot Satellite/Toyota Messenger tries to roll Joey Pasquali’s Harken Blue.

© Chris Ray

A two-time world champion in the class, Hamlin and his crew of Matt Noble and Paul Allen — all of whom just finished sailing the 2009 SAP 505 World Championship — are definitely a threat. Equally so is Winning’s son Herman and his Appliances Online team, which is currently lurking in third, two points back of Team Harken. With the racing held right on the Cityfront, this is a great event to watch from shore and you only have three more days to see it. Tomorrow is a double feature; the skiffs will square off with the sailboards and the kiteboards in the 2009 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race.

Jimena Does Little Damage

While Hurricane Jimena is not dead yet, so far the news has been all good for mariners when it comes this former Category 4 hurricane that paralleled the coast of mainland Mexico a good distance offshore and then finally made landfall at Bahia Santa Maria, about 175 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. Until 24 hours ago, mariners and others in Cabo San Lucas and La Paz — as well as the rest of southern Baja — had reason to be shaking in their sea boots. But the threat has passed for them.

According to our good friend Norma Flores at Marina Cabo San Lucas, "the winds weren’t bad at all, and we only had a little rain." More specifically, the winds topped out at about 40 knots and there was only minor flooding. In further good news, while the huge waves pounded the beaches, they did not come directly into the marina, so there was no damage there. "Today is sunny and beautiful in Cabo," Flores said.

In La Paz, Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz reports that all boating interests and the rest of that big city did even better than Cabo. "We only had gusts to 30 or 35 knots, so the wind wasn’t that strong. In addition, winds came from the southwest and then the southeast, so they were always offshore. We had no rain."

The danger hasn’t passed for boats farther up in the Sea of Cortez at places such as Puerto Escondido, Bahia Concepcion, Bahia de Los Angeles and even over at San Carlos on the mainland side. However, there are two reasons for optimism. First, the storm is rapidly losing strength as it moves into colder water and faces the obstacle of Sierra de la Giganta mountains of Baja. Secondly, the most recent forecasts have changed, suggesting that it’s likely that the eye of the hurricane will not make it over the mountains, but will rather make a 90 degree turn to the west about halfway up Baja at about Turtle Bay.

While things are looking better than anyone could have hoped just 18 hours ago, let’s still keep our fingers crossed for everyone who is or still has a boat in the storm’s path.

By the way, anyone who flew to the mainland coast of Mexico for great surf apparently got skunked. Our eyewitnesses say mighty Jimena didn’t produce any surf of note along the Vallarta coastline.

Erika may not pack the punch of a hurricane, but she still has the potential of delivering a nasty right hook to the Virgins and Bahamas.

© 2009 NOAA

In the Caribbean, however, mariners in places such as Antigua, St. Barth, St. Martin, the U.S. and British Virgins, and Puerto Rico are being warned about the approach of Tropical Storm Erika. While only sporting winds of 35 to 50 knots because the storm is so poorly organized, current forecasts call for her to hit just about all of those islands. Time to take down all the roller furling sails and double the docklines.

Celebrated Circumnavigator Joins Ha-Ha

Four-time circumnavigator Scott Piper will join the Ha-Ha fleet while en route to Panama and Scotland.

Pipe Dream IX
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While reviewing background info on this year’s Baja Ha-Ha entrants, William (Scott) Piper III’s stats jumped off the page at us. In fact, when we read that he’d logged more than 180,000 sea miles, we thought it must have been a typo.

We’re a little embarrassed to admit that we’d never heard of Piper before. But a Google search quickly revealed that this modest Floridian was awarded the Cruising Club of America’s prestigious Blue Water Award just last year, thus joining the ranks of such sailing luminaries as Harry Pidgeon, Eric and Susan Hiscock, John Guzzwell, Francis Chichester, Eric Tabarly, Bernard Moitessier, Hal Roth, Pete Goss and Karen Thorndike, to name but a few. Yeah, it’s quite a club. And Piper richly deserved to be included.

An orthopedic surgeon by trade, Piper has circumnavigated four times by various routes — including the Southern Ocean and high Pacific latitudes — aboard Pipe Dream VI, a J/40, and Pipe Dream IX, a J/160. He has crossed the Atlantic eight times and the Indian and Pacific Oceans four times each.

During his travels, he was often called upon to put his medical skills to work, especially during emergency situations in remote locations. His early working career included a stint in the Far East during the Vietnam War.

As we always say, all sorts of sailors are attracted to Latitude‘s annual San Diego-to-Cabo San Lucas rally, and we’re thrilled to have this distinguished salt illustrate that point yet again. Read more about Piper and other entrants in the October edition of the magazine.

Unseasonal Rain

We all know how the rain falls in Spain, but in Northern California, the rain mainly falls in the winter. So it was a bit of a surprise to be awakened by the whisper of a summer shower on the cabin top during a recent visit to the Delta. A quick look out the ports revealed a clear, starry night on both sides of the boat, but we were too tired to investigate further. We were quickly lulled back to sleep by the soothing sound, yet aware in that semi-conscious way that it rained all night long. And it was still raining when we rolled out of the V-berth in the morning. Again, a look out both forward ports revealed sunny, cloudless skies on both sides of the boat. What the . . . ?

All was revealed when we poked our heads topside. We’d rigged one of those ‘Slinky’ hoses the night before to fill the water tanks and had turned off only the nozzle. They’re not much good to begin with, but this one disappointed — and delighted — us in a whole new way. At some point in the night, it sprang a big leak on the top half that caused our unseasonal rain shower.

A gear failure lent a pleasant aspect to our recent Delta trip. Plus the boat was really clean in the morning.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Hans Klaar’s 73-ft Ontong Java was a welcome sight to many Polynesians. © 2009 Glenn Tieman The name Glenn Tieman should ring a bell with regular visitors to this site and readers of Latitude 38 magazine.