September 9, 2011

Rolex Big Boat Series Begins With a Bang

Dee Smith and the crew of Team Premier smashing downwind yesterday afternoon. Smith said, “We didn’t get the boat here until Tuesday afternoon, we’ll be a little more organized tomorrow.”

© 2011 Sharon Green

After last year’s light, mellow event, the ’11 Rolex Big Boat Series got off to a banner start yesterday. Under sunny skies with breeze that started in the low-teens in the morning and built to the mid to high-20s throughout the day, the 80 or so boats in the fleet had their throttles pegged all day long.

Jim Swartz’ Vesper is nipping at the heels of Ashley Wolfe’s Mayhem.

© 2011 Sharon Green

“I just love sailing here,” said Bill Turpin of the Santa Cruz-based R/P 77 Akela, IRC A’s scratch boat. Turpin’s enthusiasm wasn’t hampered by the fact that the TP52s ended up sailing in the same division and didn’t have any trouble passing the bigger boat downwind. “It’s not that we weren’t sailing well, but the TP52s are fantastic boats and our rating is much higher,” he added. “It’s great to see these grand prix programs here.” The TP 52s are indeed grand prix programs, and it was a local one — Ashley Wolfe’s Mayhem — that carried the day in IRC A with a 2-1 for a one point lead over Jim Swartz’ Vesper. In IRC B, Sy Kleinman’s Schumacher 54 Swiftsure II is tied with Brad Copper’s Tripp 43 TNT. Andy Costello’s J/125 Double Trouble scored two bullets to lead IRC C —aka the “Fast Forties” — which features four of J/Boats cult favorite 40-footers.

“Keel? Check. Rudder? Check. Saildrive? Check. Kite? Hmmmm. Standard Deviation demonstrates the typical downwind experience for many of the Farr 30 sailors.

© 2011 Sharon Green

Don Payan elected to sail in IRC rather than with the rest of the J/120s a year after winning the one design’s division last year, and his Dayenu leads IRC D after a 1-1 yesterday. North Sails’ Pete McCormick was onboard and called the boat, “an IRC crusher.” As a one design, the J/120s unsurprisingly ended up with a three-way tie for first in a division that has been settled on the final run of the final race for three of the last four years. The nine-boat Express 37 division also features a tie between Bartz Schneider’s Expeditious and defending champ Kame Richards’ Golden Moon. Twenty-one J/105s came out and a pair of usual suspects — Scooter Simmons’ Blackhawk, and Ted Conrads, Rolf Kaiser and Shannon Ryan’s Donkey Jack — were tied for first, each with a bullet and a fourth.

Scott Easom’s Eight Ball completely lit-up downwind.

© Sharon Green

Certainly one of the main events, the Farr 30s were an absolute blast to watch sail their three brutalizing, wipeout-marred races on the Circle. With the regatta counting as their World Championships, the Farrs are sailing exclusively on the North Course, and Scott Easom’s Pt. Richmond-based Eight Ball proved to be right at home, finishing a wild day with a 2-4-1 to lead going into today’s racing. “We learned a lot about setup at the pre-worlds earlier in the week,” said crewmember Matt Siddens. “It’s an eleven-race, no-throwout regatta, anything can happen.”

The regatta continues on through Sunday, and although slightly smaller than the last couple year’s events, the vibe on the docks is great, and the action on the water is even better. With great viewing right off the Cityfront, there’s no reason not to come down and check it out!

Baja Ha-Ha Rally Entries Surge

With the Ha-Ha entry deadline of the 18th annual Baja Ha-Ha rally rapidly approaching, the number of paid entries have recently surged to 150, with a bunch more expected to be processed in the next few days. (The Rally Committee plans to extend the entry deadline beyond the published September 10 date). "We’re not going to see an entry total in the mid-190s like we did the last two years," said the event’s Grand Poobah, "but that’s fine with me because I probably won’t lose my voice at the end of each morning’s roll call. A fleet size of 150 to 160 boats would be perfect." (See the entry roster here.)

As a special enticement to on-the-fencers, the Rally Committee will award this special Mount Gay Rum Limited Edition Nautical Bottle to the 160th entrant! Keep it as a collector’s item, or better yet, drink it to celebrate your arrival at Cabo!

© 2011 Mt. Gay Rum

Two of the most recent entries made our hearts go pitter-pat. The first is that of Ken ‘The General’ Roper, who will be back again this year with his San Pedro, CA-based Finn Flyer 31 Harrier. Roper is now 82, but still going strong. He did the 2009 Ha-Ha with his daughter Lou, and this year his daughter Lee will crew for him. Ken as also done more Singlehanded TransPacs than we can count. The other is that of Rich and Sheri Crowe of the Newport Beach-based Tabu, which is the second Farr 44 that Rich has built for them. Newly retired from the excellent Orange Coast School of Sailing and Seamanship, Rich and Sheri have done it all, including having racked up tens of thousands of ocean miles with students aboard the S&S 65 Alaska Eagle and cruising their previous Farr 44 in the Southern Ocean. The greatest compliment we’ve ever received about the Ha-Ha was a few years ago Rich and Sheri sailed their boat all the way from Ecuador to Southern California — just to do another Ha-Ha!

A former U.S. Army general, Ken Roper is an inspirational sailor. His daughter Lee will crew for him to the Cape.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As can only be expected from a large gathering of boats, lots of other folks and businesses like to get in on the action. For example, the Oceanside YC will be hosting a rather extensive three-day program, September 30 – October 2, called the OYC Pre-Ha-Ha Rendezvous. While this is not an official Ha-Ha event, we did stop by last week, and found these folks to be most hospitable and they’ve planned a great program which includes preferred berthing, dinner, discounts and seminars. Give Port Captain David Albert a call at (760) 822-7403 for details. By the way, one of those who will be giving man overboard demonstrations will be Jonathan Hoover of the Oceanside Harbor Patrol, who took the photo below of Profligate leaving the harbor during last week’s once-in-a-generation swell that rocked the entire California coast. Fear not, though, it won’t be like that when you arrive or leave.

We had quite a wild ride exiting Oceanside the other day when a freak swell was running. But you probably won’t see conditions like this again for decades at the normally tranquil entrance.

© Jonathan Hoover
If you’re heading south with the Ha-Ha fleet, be sure to check out OYC’s three-day special, Sept. 30 – Oct 2.


We also note that Jim Corenman and Shea Weston will be giving presentations on intermediate and advanced SSB email next month. (October 12, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.;  Pt. Loma Assembly Hall, 3035 Talbot St, San Diego; $50/person or $75/couple. Email to reserve.). When it comes to SSB radios and SailMail, this is like being able to get the word from God. In addition to having circumnavigated with his wife Sue aboard their Schumacher 50 Heart of Gold, Jim not only knows more about SSB radios than most manufacturers, it was he and Stan Honey who set up — and we believe still run — SailMail email communication via SSB radio that literal changed cruising life. As for Shea Weston, we can’t say enough good things, as he is ‘the man’. And when it comes for practical use of marine radios, you can’t do better than hearing from Gordon ‘Gordo’ West, who has made spreading the gospel of Ham and SSB radio his life’s work. Gordo and Shea will give a seminar next month on SSB radio operation and troubleshooting. (Oct 11,  5 – 9:30 p.m; Downwind Marine, 2918 Canon Street, San Diego; $25/person or $30/couple.) Email to reserve.) We know all cruisers are on a budget, but we think that one or more of these is well worth the price.

There are scores of other seminars, some of them free, some of them with fees, that will be held in the weeks prior to the October 23 start of the rally. Find the ones that apply to you and enjoy.

There are also lots of itinerant tradesmen or alleged tradesmen who like to serve/capitalize on the presence of the big Ha-Ha fleet. But we offer a word of caution — just because somebody owns a bunch of tools doesn’t mean they know how to use them. It’s never a bad idea to get competitive bids and ask for references.

Here’s an update on berthing on the way down the coast and in San Diego Harbor itself. If you’re on a budget, you can anchor at Catalina for free for as long as you want. We recommend Two Harbors / Cat Harbor over Avalon, although you should visit both. Newport Beach mooring ball rates have gone up, but you can still anchor for free in the Newport anchorage for five days without a permit, and Newport has all the marine goods and services you’ll need. Plus, if you’re going to make a big purchase, West Marine stores are often very good about coming to pick you up. San Diego also welcomes Ha-Ha folks with their free A-9 anchorage. You do need to get a permit from the folks at the Police Dock / Mooring Office, inside the bay at the northwestern tip of Shelter Island. Police Dock fees have gone up, but they are not outrageous. As for those of you who are yacht club members, this is the time when your initiation and monthly fees can pay off big, as clubs both in San Diego and elsewhere in Southern California offer free reciprocal berthing for short stays.

For registered Ha-Ha entrants, the best berthing news is that several San Diego marinas are offering special discounts to fleet members. Long-time sponsor Almar is offering up to 50% off their normal daily rates and deep discounts off monthly rates at Cabrillo Isle Marina on Harbor Island, as well as at their other marinas up the coast. Pier 32 Marina in National City is offering $1/ft/day, and Chula Vista Marina is offering a monthly rate of $16/ft, while waiving their normal liveaboard rate. Check out the offerings of these and other Baja Ha-Ha rally sponsors, at the website


Labor Day Fun

Dozens of boats had an extra long weekend by playing hooky on Friday afternoon.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

By the sheer number of boats we saw on the water as we made our way to China Camp on Friday afternoon, it was clear that hundreds of Bay Area sailors took full advantage of the beautiful weather we enjoyed over the long Labor Day weekend. There were 25 boats at any given time anchored off China Camp alone.

Dozens of boats filtered in and out of China Camp over the weekend.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Borg family of the Alameda-based Jeanneau SO 45.2 Solace, was one of those boats. Austin, 13, was one of the cover models — along with sister Brianna, 10 — for the September issue of Latitude 38 and he took great pleasure in showing off his photogenic tendencies by leaping off Solace over and over again. Dad Spence couldn’t let the kid have all the fun, so he donned his own wetsuit and joined in. In fact, the crews of several boats were seen jumping overboard all weekend. Austin insisted the water was just as warm as in the Delta but we think he was either fooled by his wetsuit or he was trying to trick us!

As warm as the Delta? Good try, Austin!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Gary and Nancy Ryan of the Sausalito-based Hanse 341 ‘iliohale moved around a little more than we did. A potluck at Angel Island on Friday night, the Art Festival in Sausalito on Saturday, a Giants game at South Beach on Sunday, and a beautiful sail home on Monday. "It was a wonderful weekend," said Gary.

Ayala Cove was busy on Saturday.

© Gary Ryan
The mystery baby of Richardson Bay was spotted again in Sausalito – with both arms intact!

© Gary Ryan

In San Diego, David and Rosey Eberhard, who live aboard their Roberts Offshore 44 Valkyrie, joined Chula Vista YC’s Race Your Home Regatta. As the name implies, you must be a full-time liveaboard to enter. "It is a not-too-serious race where you get handicap adjustments for things like house plants, the last time the bottom was cleaned, crew who don’t know how to sail (we had two of those), bow thrusters, and most importantly how good of a job you do bribing the race committee," explained David.

The Valkyrie crew — Debbie, Charlie, Rose, Mary Kay, David and Daniel — won second place in the Race Your Home Regatta.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"It was a beautiful day with the wind in the 8-12 knot range, running and reaching from one end of San Diego Bay to the other. We were even able to get all three of our headsails trimmed in and pulling like mules. The knotmeter even gave us a couple of 8.2’s. Not too bad for a 25-ton steel boat that has a complete workshop on board, including a welder. The Chula Vista YC provided guest docking for the weekend, as well as a great dinner and awards ceremony. We had a great time, even though we just missed first place by six seconds!"

David got a thrill out of flying his home under triple headsails.

© 2011 Rosey Eberhard

We hope your Labor Day weekend was full of on-the-water fun with the whole family, but if it wasn’t you can still get out there. This weekend’s forecast looks pretty enticing also!

Prior to the Crew List Party, Sal from Sal’s Inflatables will give a very informative live demo of what it’s like to get in a liferaft.
From time to time people ask us about the dates of the Baja Ha-Ha and whether or not they conflict with hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific — i.e.,