October 21, 2011

Emma Hanging Tough

David Raison’s TeamWork Evolution may look anomalous, but it’s currently proving to be plenty quick. The only scow-shaped mini ever built, the boat benefits from the added form stability of the scow shape. When heeled, wetted surface and wave-making drag are reduced.

© Loris Von Siebenthal

With the fleet in the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 preparing to punch through the doldrums, the Bay Area’s Emma Creighton is holding on to 23rd place in the proto division. Some eight days into the 3,100-mile second leg to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, three of the protos, including Leg One-winner Seb Rogues, have dropped out, the latter having suffered nerve damage when he fell on his keel head. Creighton’s Pocket Rocket is currently close to the rhumbline in a pack of three boats about 170 miles behind the leaders, and set up for a more easterly transit of the decidedly unsettled-looking ITCZ.

The green band represents the ITCZ (at least theoretically). Leader David Raison (pink track) is currently 170 miles ahead of the Bay’s Emma Creighton (in white).

© 2011 Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50

Conventional wisdom on the ITCZ in these races is that a more westerly crossing is usually much safer bet, but with the way the breeze has clocked, Creighton could well make some gains on the clot of boats to her west. Race leader David Raison and his crazy-looking, scow-shaped Teamwork Evolution made the most strategic call of the race so far, digging deep into the Cape Verde archipelago as the only boat to pass between the islands of Fogo and Santiago. With about 1,500 miles to go, Raison is set up to the east of the rhumbline with a 20-mile lead over Thomas Normand some 50 miles to the west. Of course the Pot au Noir is a great equalizer so Creighton could find herself right back in the thick of things if the leading pack slows. You can follow all the action at the link above.

“Best Seat in the House”

"Returning back to Sausalito on our 36-ft Cherubini Hunter Wildaire from a sail out to Pt. Bonita on the evening of August 25, three friends and I found ourselves caught in the cross hairs of the frenetic start of the Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race," writes Richard Jardine. "This annual event pits international-level competitors on kite boards, windsurfers and the sleek 18-ft Aussie skiffs against each other in an all-out, high-speed dash from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge. Latitude‘s October article on the event sent me on a very rewarding Google/Bing search for extra detail.

"The pre-race chaos was happening mostly at the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge as we neared the area from outside the Gate. We entered into the Bay close to the South Tower before turning north toward Richardson Bay. Other than the racers and support craft, we were the only other boat around. We had no idea what the event was — it could have been an ad hoc assembly of various clubs out for a good time, for all we knew — when it would start, or the course direction. The gun sounded when we were just inside the Gate about mid-span. Almost in unison, the chaotic swarm altered course — directly at us! We watched in amazement and with some trepidation as the 40 or so craft covered the 1/2-mile distance to our position in probably under a minute. At our lumbering six knots, there was no chance of our getting out of the way. The convergence of so many craft right on our spot was an absolute adrenaline rush. Maybe because our relatively motionless vessel was an object against which to feel their speed, several racers passed by hair-raisingly close — behind our stern, along our port side and across our bow. Then they were gone. I’ve been on the Bay about 250 times in the four years since I bought my boat and nothing I’ve encountered compared to this.

"My Google search revealed that one of the competitors, David Wells, recorded the race directly from his windsurfer. He was one of those who darted past within yards of our stern. Being part the show, I obviously have some biases, but this footage really is a splendid several minutes that showcases the excitement we get sailing the Bay with its varied weather and conditions and events.


"The first minute or so is recorded from inside the Bridge near the South Tower looking west. Wildaire shows up briefly on the right of the screen at 34 seconds into the video. Then camera’s perspective shifts to outside the Bridge looking toward the City. We show up again after the race begins, first as a smudge in the fog at about 2:25 and up until the point of maximum convergence at 3:01. The only detail not recorded in the pass-by is the helmsman’s mouth — that would be mine — hanging open. Look at the kite surfer darting along our port side then around the bow! To experience the race from the cockpit of our keelboat was a real rush. Best seat in the house. Thank you Mr. Wells for the video!"

Sailing San Francisco Bay can be really exciting, and no more so when you find yourself being set upon by a throng of speed demons. But such events don’t have to come as a surprise — keep a copy of the Northern California Sailing Calendar and YRA Master Schedule aboard your boat, or just take a quick peek in Latitude‘s Calendar section, to see what events are happening on the Bay on any given day. Who knows, you just might want to join in!

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Friday, October 28, 5:00-8:00 p.m.
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© 2011 Easom Rigging

 Brickyard Cove Marina
1230 Brickyard Cove Road, Suite 102, Pt. Richmond, CA
(510) 232-7245 • email

© 2011 Easom Rigging

The Concept and Ethos of the Ha-Ha

With the Ha-Ha start just three days away, and the weather having been resolutely cold and gloomy in Southern California for a long time, we can’t wait to get out of town and head south. Three-day forecasts can be unreliable, but at this point the weather conditions look as though they might be mild for the 360-mile first leg to Turtle Bay. We’re excited at the prospect of sailing down to and in sunny, tropical conditions, as are all the other Ha-Ha folks we’ve talked to in the last few days.

With the start so close, we want to clear up a wrong impression that a few people seem to get each year, which is that Ha-Ha entrants will be shepherded from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, and therefore all participants will be assured that nothing unpleasant will happen to them. Or that the Ha-Ha offers Sea-Tow or similar rescue services. No, no, no! Such views couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Ha-Ha is a gathering of adventurous, self-reliant sailors who — and this can’t be emphasized enough — are prepared to sail to Cabo on their own if the Ha-Ha didn’t exist. The Ha-Ha is meant to be a sailor’s celebration, not a crutch, let alone an offshore babysitting service. For what should be obvious reasons to any participant, none of the Mexican Races, the Hawaii races, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the Caribbean 1500, nor any other offshore event we can think of has rescue boat(s) or repair boat(s), as such. The same holds true for the Ha-Ha. If you’re not prepared to go it alone, or take the lead in dealing with any problems you might have, you are not ready or qualified to do the Ha-Ha.

This is not to say that the mothership, Profligate, and the participating boats won’t respond to emergency situations, because we and they have in the past. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also what is required by law. The important point is that in non-emergency situations the onus is on the crew of each boat to take care of themselves. No Ha-Ha entrant should be under the mistaken impression that there is some kind of ‘cavalry’ waiting to rescue them if, for example, the wind dies and there is something wrong with their engine. If someone finds themselves in that situation, their reaction should be, "We’ll just enjoy being on the ocean until the wind returns and we can sail to the next stop." After all, you do have a sailboat and, almost certainly, the next stop will be downwind. A similar sense of self-sufficiency should kick in if you get your rudder snagged in kelp, the alternator craps out, or your autopilot wants to steer your boat in circles.

Though someone in the fleet is likely to help a fellow Ha-Ha’er in need, everyone should be prepared to go it alone.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The truth of the matter is that it’s likely there will be someone nearby in the fleet who will try to come to your assistance, even in non-emergency situations. Indeed, we’ve had Ha-Ha boats that have gone 40+ miles out of their way to help others who weren’t in non life-threatening situations, and they were delighted to do it. That’s great, but such assistance should not be assumed. Again, it’s the obligation of every Ha-Ha entrant to be as prepared and self-reliant as possible. And it’s a good thing, for it’s only through overcoming adversity and challenges that we grow.

We’ll give you a good example. A number of years ago, one 36-footer lost her engine early in the first leg. At first, her crew was a little bummed out by having to wait out all the lulls and maybe get to a couple of the social gatherings late, if at all. But by the time they got to Cabo, the crew was very proud of they had inadvertently accomplished, which was being ‘soul sailors’ who sailed all the way to Cabo. Even more importantly, they told us the experience had left them feeling more confident and relaxed at sea.

When the fleet arrives at the first stop of Turtle Bay, invariably some boats have problems with things like radios, windlasses, alternators, sails, engines, autopilots, and so forth. Over the years, the ethos of the Ha-Ha has been for people — even if they are marine professionals — to help other Ha-Ha folks who need help with such problems. And at no cost. Nobody is obligated to offer this help, of course, but to date that ethos has evolved and become part of the fun of the Ha-Ha. And it must be understood that sometimes the expert’s advice will be along the lines of, "You can’t get that problem solved here in Turtle Bay or Bahia Santa Maria, you’ll just have to make your way down to Cabo." Countless Ha-Ha boats have done that in the past.

But in port as well as offshore, the burden of dealing with these situations is on the crew of each boat. If you’re at all resourceful, it shouldn’t be too hard to find or arrange for solutions in Turtle Bay. But it might take a little time. As such, it’s the norm for several boats to stay an extra day in Turtle Bay or Bahia Santa Maria to take care of business. If that would present a problem or hardship for anyone, they aren’t really ready to do a the Ha-Ha. If anybody finds themselves with a serious situation in either Turtle Bay or Bahia Santa Maria, we’ll naturally do our best to help make arrangements for whatever solution is necessary, but once again, it’s primarily your responsibility.

Unfortunately, every couple of years there is someone who doesn’t quite understand the concept of people helping other people. For example, one year the crew of a boat was nice enough to announce that they had a sewing machine aboard and could repair torn sails. Unclear on the concept, the crew of one boat, on their way to shore and some cold beers, tossed a badly torn spinnaker on the deck of the boat with the sewing machine and expected to pick up a repaired sail the next morning. Needless to say, that sail didn’t get repaired. The proper thing would have been for them to swing by the boat, explain the problem with the sail, ask if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to try to repair it, and explain that you and your crew were ready and willing to do whatever you could to help. And naturally, you’d find some way to leave a nice bottle of wine or a dinner entree behind.
In summary, the ethos of the Ha-Ha is for every participant to take pride in being as self-sufficient as possible, and to arrive in Cabo a more competent and confident sailor. By the same token, the idea is also for every participant to be quick to help those who really need it. These ideas might sound contradictory, but they are not.

It’s somewhat embarrassing for the Grand Poobah to have to even give this little sermon, as we know that 99% of you are already clear on the concept. It’s just for the other 1%.

Anyway, enough of that stuff! Almost everyone will be in town by tomorrow, the West Marine Kick-Off Party is on Sunday, and the Port-sponsored parade of boats and beginning of Ha-Ha 18 — the ‘Barely Legal’ edition — is on Monday. We can’t wait to meet you all.

Baja Ha-Ha Send-Off Parade

You’re invited to escort more than 160 sailboats out San Diego Bay on Monday morning for the cruise of a lifetime, celebrating the 18th annual Baja Ha-Ha rally.

  • 9:00-9:30 a.m. — South Bay boats pass city en route to Harbor Island.
  • 9:45 — All boats gather off America’s Cup Harbor between Harbor Island and Shelter Island.
  • 10:00 — Parade past southwest corner of Shelter Island by the San Diego fireboat.
  • 11:00 — Official start of Baja Ha-Ha XVIII just outside San Diego Bay.

Thanks to the San Diego Port Tenants Association
(619) 226-6546 • www.sdpta.com

Sponsored by Latitude 38www.latitude38.com

At first glance, Espresso’s bowsprit looks like any other. © Peter Petraitis In the October 3 edition of ‘Lectronic Latitude, we asked readers for some of the more ingenious modifications they’ve made to their boats.
As reported last Wednesday, Washington state-based sailor Phillip Johnson, 62, and two crewmen were rescued 600 miles off Hawaii by staff of the 815-ft cruise ship Celebrity Century.