October 24, 2011

Baja Ha-Ha 18 Heads South

“Party like a Roman!” Many crews picked a theme to show their unity.

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Despite gloomy gray skies, the 137-boat Baja Ha-Ha XVIII rally fleet headed south with boundless enthusiasm. It was no wonder the mood was upbeat, though, because for many of the 503 participants this 750-mile cruise to Cabo San Lucas serves as the inaugural step into a new life of cruising.

Cap’n Ron battles to the death with Cap’n Morgan (well, sorta), as a bevy of saucy wenches look on.

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As in years past, the two-week event began on a festive note yesterday, with a Costume Kick-Off Party at West Marine’s Shelter Island compound. In attendance were all sorts of gnarly pirates and saucy wenches, as well as a broad range of other colorful characters, who might have given passersby the impression that they’d stumbled onto the back lot of a movie studio. Needless to say, it was all great fun, with West Marine managers Galen Piltz and Louis Holmes emceeing in elaborate swashbuckling attire.   

We don’t know what happened to Olive Oyl, but Popeye seems happy to have found this little angel.

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A boatload of nosy guys.

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On the way out to the 11 a.m. start, the fleet gave a unified salute to the Port of San Diego, which has been a generous host to them for 18 years, in the form of a boat parade past downtown, then Harbor and Shelter Islands. With TV, radio and print journalists recording the departure, local dignitaries and well-wishers waved the fleet onward toward the sunny skies of Baja.

Gray skies couldn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm during the Boat Parade this morning.

latitude/John A.
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The longest of three legs began today, a 360-mile blast to the fishing village of Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay). We’ll attempt to send another report from there, with additional reports from the event’s final destination, Cabo San Lucas. In the meantime, you can follow our Spot position reports on our Facebook page and our near-real time track here. With any luck it will be "lovely cruise" — to borrow a line from Jimmie Buffet.

The 137 starters and 603 crewmembers are looking forward to leaving the rain behind on the first leg of the Baja Ha-Ha.

latitude/John A.
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Sailing Hall of Fame Gets First Class

The first class of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

latitude/John A.
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If you’ve been racing for any length of time, and the above photo didn’t make you think "wow!", then chances are you might need medical attention. The lineup above represents some of the most iconic American sailors from the sport’s highest echelon. And the fact they’re all together indicates that there’s finally a place to honor them all at once. Several years ago, US Sailing president Gary Jobson and other sailing advocates set out to create a National Sailing Hall of Fame, which finally came to life as its first class was inducted yesterday at the San Diego YC. While attending the ceremony, we quickly felt like a 10-year-old kid again with all the famous ‘adults’ in the room. These are the people who’ve illuminated sailing world and inspired so many to find their sailing passion.

Three generations of Cayards — Pierre, Paul and Danny — pose with Paul’s boyhood El Toro, lovingly restored earlier this year by Pierre.

latitude/John A.
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Amazingly, all living inductees were in attendance, while the posthumously  inducted were all represented by relatives. The actual National Sailing Hall of Fame is to be built in Annapolis, Maryland, but as part of its effort to be truly national, the inaugural induction ceremony was not only held on the West Coast, but included many West Coast inductees. Hobie Alter, Paul Cayard, Dennis Connor, Lowell North and Joshua Slocum — who was from San Francisco — were all honored. Among others, Bruce Munro of St. Francis YC and Tad Lacey of San Francisco YC were in attendance — their clubs were acknowledged as founding member clubs of the Hall. It was a spectacular few hours in the presence of sailing gods and we feel fortunate to have seen it. 

Here’s a complete list of the inductees with very incomplete notes on their accomplishments:

Betsy AllisonUS Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Paralympic Coach and five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.
Hobie AlterInventor of the Hobie Cat and surfboard industry pioneer.
Paul Cayard’98 Whitbread Round the World Race-winning skipper, Star World Champion and Olympian.
Dennis ConnerFour-time America’s Cup-winning skipper, Star World Champion.
Ted HoodNaval architect and America’s Cup-winning skipper.
Gary JobsonWinning America’s Cup tactician, author and Emmy award-winning sailing commentator.
Buddy MelgesAmerica’s Cup winner, Star World Champion and ’72 Soling Olympic gold medalist.
Lowell North’68 Star Olympic gold medalist, Star World Champion and founder of North Sails.
Ted TurnerAmerica’s Cup-winning helmsman and four-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

Capt. Charles “Charlie” BarrTransatlantic Race record setter and second-winningest America’s Cup skipper.
Capt. Nathanael G. HerreshoffDesigner of five America’s Cup winners.
Emil “Bus” Mosbacher, Jr.Two-time America’s Cup winning skipper.
Joshua SlocumFirst-ever singlehanded circumnavigator and noted writer.
Olin StephensDesigner of six America’s Cup winners.
Harold S. VanderbiltThree-time America’s Cup winning skipper.

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Costco-ing for the Ha-Ha

With this morning’s start of Baja Ha-Ha XVIII — the ‘Barely Legal’ Ha-Ha — Saturday and Sunday were the Costco runs for much of the Ha-Ha fleet. With 12 to 14 crew on the mothership Profligate each year, the Costco run has become a hallowed tradition.

On your marks, get set . . .

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Why we go to the Moreno Avenue Costco is something of a mystery, as it’s surely one of the most crowded Costcos in the world. It starts with a battle to get into the parking lot, followed by a mini-marathon walk to the store entrance, followed by near-open warfare in the aisles. Total chaos.

Prior to starting to shop, Profligate‘s provisioning is organized to minute detail. Lists are made and each member of the shopping crew is assigned specific tasks. Once inside the store, however, all hell breaks loose, and members of the team basically load the carts with whatever and however much of it strikes their fancy. There’s an attractive childlike quality to it.

We always meet at least one other member of the Ha-Ha fleet while shopping at Costco. This year it was Mark Sciarretta of the Zig Zag, Oregon-based Lagoon 380 Younger Girl. As he got whacked in the back of the head with a sack of canteloupes by a careless woman, we moaned that he’d "forgotten how to provision."

Costco opened two checkstands just for Profligate’s shopping spree provisioning trip.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Even though Costco sees a lot of big shoppers, the Profligate cart train to the checkout area attracts a bit of attention. Even the Costco honchos were impressed, setting aside two cash registers just for us. The guesses on the total ranged from $2,200 to $3,000. Thanks in a large part to the fact that we also did provisioning for later in the season, the tab came to nearly $3,000. There will be no starving on Profligate this year. And if the reports of massive numbers of yellowfin, bluefin and mahi 160 miles to the south of San Diego are true, we might not even need half the meat that was purchased.

Even the checkers were impressed by the final tally.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Doña de Mallorca’s speciality is wine. She seems to have struck up a chummy relationship with the guy in charge of the wine department, who has no trouble remembering her from year to year. But due to the general chaos, the wine cart was somehow misplaced near frozen foods and — oh no! — never made it to the checkout. Fortunately, it was Saturday, so there was yet another day of shopping left.

“Oh no! We forgot the wine cart!”

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If anybody missed anything during their Costco runs, there is no need to worry, as there are Costcos in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta, too.

David Raison’s TeamWork Evolution may look anomalous, but it’s currently proving to be plenty quick.
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.
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.