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August 17, 2011

Fastnet Carnage

George David’s Juan K 100 Rambler may have been lost, but thankfully none of the crew were.

© Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

The 266 boats still racing in the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race are running into lighter air after an initial two days of breeze on conditions that produced two elapsed time records and claimed one of the world’s fastest monohulls. George David’s Juan K 100 Rambler 100 was lost shortly after rounding Fastnet Rock on Monday afternoon at 5:45 p.m. GMT. In a report to Scuttlebutt, navigator Peter Isler described being at the nav station when he "heard the big bang. The boat immediately flipped to 90 degrees, and within 30 seconds it turned turtle." Thankfully all 21 crew aboard — 16 managed to stay aboard the upturned hull while five floated away but remained tethered to each other — were successfully rescued, but a read of Isler’s report reveals that that outcome was never a sure thing, and if not for a variety of factors, things may have turned out much differently.

The fast conditions did however allow Loïck Peyron’s 130-ft trimaran Banque Populaire V to set a new multihull elapsed time record of 32h, 48m, and Ian Walker’s brand new Farr-designed Volvo 70 Abu Dhabi Racing took 1h, 39m off the old record of 1d, 20h, 18m set by Mike Slade’s Farr 100 ICAP Leopard in ’07. Vanquish, the Oakcliff All American Offshore Team‘s STP 65, finished right in the thick of things in the midst of a pack of Open 60s with a crew of 20-somethings, including three Bay Area sailors: Richmond YC’s Matt Noble and David Rasmussen, and San Francisco YC’s Molly Robinson.

Rambler‘s keel loss got us to thinking about how many high-profile race boats boats we could think of that had lost keels or keel bulbs. We thought of a few of the more obvious ones, but if any come to mind, obvious or less so, please send them along. This is what we came up with off the tops of our heads:

Charley, Holland 67
Martela of Finland (’89-’90 Whitbread)
Drum, Simon Le Bon (Fastnet Race)
Warrior’s Wish, Ronnie Simpson
Heatwave, J/80, Dave Wilhite
Veolia Environment, IMOCA 60, Roland Jourdain
VM Materiaux, IMOCA 60, Jean Le Cam

Ha-Ha Entry Deadline Approaches

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, or are a regular reader of Latitude 38 magazine, you already know that our phenomenally successful Baja Ha-Ha rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas has grown into the second largest cruising rally in the world.

Not only does it feel great to get away from the rat race, but the Ha-Ha fleet typically enjoys plenty of glorious sailing during their 750-mile cruise.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But you might not realize that September 10 is the entry deadline for this year’s event. So if you’ve been dreaming about making a south-of-the-border getaway this fall, we’d urge you to pull your head out of your bilge at least long enough to complete the online signup process — it only takes about 10 minutes.

And if you’re concerned that you might not get to the bottom of your ‘to do list’ in time for the October 24 start, we have news for you: Among the thousands of cruisers who’ve headed south during the past 20 years, we’d bet there weren’t more than a handful that didn’t still have ever-enlarging to-do lists even after they cut their docklines and headed out. The best strategy seems to be to simply prioritize the must-do items and go. After all, the most oft-heard advice that seasoned cruisers give to wannbes is borrowed from Nike ad men: "Just do it."

Another factor to contemplate is your ‘window’ of availability. If you have the free time now but are tight on money, consider that when the economy finally becomes revitalized, you may have plenty of cash, but no free time for a getaway. And remember, the cost of living in Mexico (and Central America) is much, much lower than in the good ol’ USA. So why not make this your year to Ha-Ha?

To learn more about the event see "About the Ha-Ha" and the "First Timer’s Guide to Mexico" on our site. ¡Pues, vamos! ¡Ya es tarde!

Playing Chicken with Ships

Every Bay sailor knows that commercial ships have right-of-way and that you never want to tempt fate by crossing their bows, right? Arnstein Mustad found out differently on July 25 when he recorded a sailboat boldly going where no boat should ever go.

"We were heading into the Bay after a passage up the coast when I shot this," said Mustad, a delivery skipper and sailing instructor with many thousands of miles under his keel. "The skipper of the sailboat tried to hail the ship on channel 16 so I informed him that it only monitored channels 13 and 14 while in the Bay. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway as the ship could have done nothing to alter course. The ship never made a sound signal, which means either they didn’t see the sailboat crossing their bow or that it was so dangerously close they didn’t want to spook the skipper into a panic U-turn.

"Sailors need to remember that ships in the deep water channel make abrupt turns — 30-40 degrees — at Harding Rock buoy for the Golden Gate bridge. The sailboat skipper now understands that perfectly well."

This sailboat’s crew was infinitely more lucky those aboard Atalanta, which was dismasted during this month’s Cowes Race Week in an eerily similar encounter. Please keep a sharp eye out when you’re on the water and never play chicken with a ship — they play for keeps.

We love it when parents instill good taste in their kids, as Ventura’s Mark and Laurie Matthews have done with their newest crewmember.
Emirates Team New Zealand does a fly-by to celebrate winning a tricky final fleet race at the America’s Cup World Series Cascais.
Finally, some great news about Nature! While there are still a lot of fish in the Sea of Cortez, there are no longer the number or variety there was just 20 years ago, when the Sea was absolutely alive.