February 24, 2010

Navy Boarding in Barra de Navidad

The Mexican Navy’s boarding parties have become decidedly casual — either that or this is just a group of friendly sailors stopping by for a cerveza.

© 2010 Lou Freeman

Lou Freeman of the San Diego-based Swan 51 Seabird reports a surprsingly delightful late-night ‘boarding’ last night by the Mexican Navy at the docks of Grand Bay Marina in Barra de Navidad. "My wife Marge and I, joined by Wytie and Sally Cable of the IP-420 Reality Check, returned to our dock after a late dinner to find three unlikely Mexican Navy boats tied up and the crews over-running the dock. They were coming from Acapulco and headed for Banderas Bay, but stopped here for a six-hour rest while their big gray escort ship waited out in the bay.

Three tricked-out Navy race boats on their way to MEXORC.

© 2010 Lou Freeman
The crews were professional and friendly — a credit to their country.

© 2010 Lou Freeman

"The boats were very impressive racers owned by the Mexican Navy and crewed by active duty officers and enlisted men. Their mission: MEXORC 2010. Cmdr. Carlos Acona was in charge of the group who, in spite of the fact that some of us drank and chatted until 2 a.m., were back underway for Banderas Bay at 5 a.m. I watched with awe as they woke up and departed in less than seven minutes.

After a hard sail — not to mention a few drinks with ‘Dr. Lou’ — the crews were ready to sack out in their luxurious accommodations.

© 2010 Lou Freeman

"These young men were friendly and fun-loving but quite professional, and very knowledgeable about politics and the world. Mexico and the Mexican Navy can be very proud of these young men and I certainly can relax even more as I sail in Mexican waters."

Racing Editor Rob Grant will be heading to P.V. this week to cover MEXORC — you’ll find his reports in future editions of ‘Lectronic Latitude and in the April issue of Latitude 38.

‘Akela’ Sets New PV Race Record

Los Gatos’ Bill Turpin and Southern California-based partner Dave Janes’ Bay Area-based R/P 77 Akela set new record in the San Diego YC’s Vallarta Race when it crossed the finish line off Punta Mita around 9 p.m. PST after a roughly 3.5-day run last night. Akela navigator Ernie Richau beat his own record, set when he performed the same role for Doug Baker’s Andrews 80 Magnitude 80 — a more powerful canting-keeler — in the previous edition of the 1,000-mile biennial race.

Bill Turpin and Dave Janes’ Bay Area-based Akela, seen here at ’08’s MEXORC, set a new race record in the San Diego YC’s Vallarta Race.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The other Bay Area boat in the 13-boat fleet, Tom Akins’ Bay Area-based TP52 Flash, finished at 11 a.m. today. The final results haven’t been posted yet as not all the boats have finished, but you can check back at the race’s website to see them when they come up.

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Winging It on a Wind Powered Ferry

For millennia, the wind has moved people from Point A to Point B, and on San Francisco Bay, we have an abundance of it for much of the year. So it seems odd that, in an area so forward-thinking and eco-friendly, we don’t have any wind-powered public transportation. Wind+Wing Technologies hopes to change that.

Started by the same group of sailors that owns and operates Adventure Cat Sailing Charters, Wind+Wing has partnered with Orange County’s Morrelli & Melvin Design Engineering and Harbor Wing Technologies out of Honolulu and Seattle to design a catamaran ferry that uses solid wing technology.

The prototype ferry, which will hold 149 passengers, should start production next year. “I thought it was going to be a much harder sell than it has been,” Gardner says of the ferry districts’ enthusiasm for the concept.

© 2010 Morrelli & Melvin

"Morrelli & Melvin’s engineering study makes a strong argument that adding a wing sail could cause a 42% annual fuel reduction over current usage," says Jay Gardner, co-owner of Wind+Wing. "A bus gets about 300 passenger miles per gallon (PMG), BART gets 450, but our design would get 150." And according to Lee Helm’s calculations in the December issue of Latitude, WETA’s ferry Gemini gets a dismal 9.1 PMG at its average 30% capacity.

While the concept is still in development, Gardner says they’ve received nothing but positive feedback from ferry operators. "After some initial skepticism, they’ve been very supportive," he said. "We took them out on Adventure Cat and ran their routes so they could see it was possible. They’re getting excited about it."

Gardner says production of the test ferry is slated to begin next year. They hope that after testing — which will likely take most of ’12 — ferry districts and their captains will feel comfortable ordering the boat. If so, we may see the first sailing ferry plying the waters of the Bay by ’14. Find out more about the project at www.windwingtech.com.

As Aussie Jessica Watson, 16, nears South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and settles into the second — and arguably more difficult — half of her nonstop solo circumnavigation, Southern California’s Abby Sunderland, also 16, has crossed the equator.
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This weekend marked the final installment of the Corinthian Midwinters, and much like last month’s, featured a wet day and a dry day.