March 5, 2012

Heineken Regatta Impresses

The Heineken Regatta once again lived up to the hype.

© Bob Grieser

From the 32nd Annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta final press release:

"On the first day of the 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the breeze was sharp and steady. On the second day of the annual Caribbean sailing festival, it blew harder still. But today, on the third and final day of competition, the wind gods truly unleashed their power. And the result was one of the more stirring, sensational days of racing in the grand and storied legacy of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. To put it another way, if you didn’t like sailing today, on a race course lashed with staunch 25-knot winds and roiling, turquoise seas flecked with whitecaps, well, you’ll never like sailing.

"Nearly 200 boats in 16 separate classes set sail today on two race circles off Marigot, on the French side of St. Maarten. On the A circle, race officers designated a pair of courses that included a long weather leg to the northern end of the island before a downwind stretch before the steady easterly tradewinds to the distinctive landmark off the island of Anguilla called Blowing Rock. Coincidentally, the race committee on the B circle also designated a course that would take most of its fleet across the Anguilla Channel to, yes, Blowing Rock. As it happened, at mid-day today the entire fleet — the B boats reaching up from the south, and the A divisions running downwind under spinnaker from the east — rendezvoused at the low-lying outcropping known as Blowing Rock. And, man, it was blowing at Blowing Rock! The wild scene at the windswept rock, with spray flying and boats converging from divergent directions at double-digit speeds, was the signature moment of this latest edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta."

Blowing Rock earned its name yesterday, the last day of the regatta.

© Bob Grieser

Ah yes, the Heineken, where they sail as hard as they party, and they party like tomorrow is the end of the world.

We’re glad to report that a couple of Northern California boats did very well. Having previously beaten the competition at Key West Race Week and the ’07 Heineken, Tiburon’s Rick Wesslund was back with his J/120 El Ocaso to take top honors in the very completive 16-boat CRS 4 class. Then there was Matt Brooks of the St. Francis YC, who took class honors with the 82-year-old(!) S&S 52 Dorade, one of the most storied boats in the history of American yachting, in the CSR 7 Class, barely nipping a Swan 46 MK II. (That’s a bit like racing an apple and an orange, isn’t it?)

Brooks becomes the fourth St. Francis YC owner of what many have called "the defining race boat of the 20th Century." She launched the career of Sparkman & Stephens by starting off with wins in the TransAtlantic and Fastnet races. She was then purchased by Jim Flood of the St. Francis, who in 1936 sailed her to the first sweep — line honors, class honors and fleet honors — in the TransPac. Flood then sold her to fellow club member James Michael. About 25 years later, after being owned in the Pacific Northwest, Europe and the East Coast again, she was purchased by R.C. Keefe of the St. Francis. As we recall, he raced her old-school style, meaning in a suit and tie.

According to the St. Francis YC, Brooks, the new owner of Dorade, has done an "in depth, heroic restoration of Dorade," with an eye to repeating all of the great yacht’s great racing, including doing the TransPac in ’13. With the Heineken victory, Brooks and Dorade are off to a great start!

StFYC’s Mark Brooks took top honors with his S&S 52 Dorade.

© 2012 Bob Grieser

Another once quasi-Northern California boat, Roger Sturgeon’s R/P TP65 Rosebud, which took honors in almost all the prestigious races from England to Australia, with the East Coast and the West Coast in between, didn’t have such good luck at the Heineken. During Rosebud‘s last race under Sturgeon, she lost her mast plunging into a Middle Sea wave in the Med, and did some damage to her hull. Sold, repaired and rechristened Equation, she slammed into a wave in the second race of the Heineken and lost part of one of her spreaders.

Richmond YC’s Jim Gregory also participated in the Heineken, albeit as crew. Having done three Pacific Cups and five Mexican races with the Schumacher 50 Morpheus, he and his wife Debbie have been cruising for the last year, and Debbie’s second rule of cruising is "Don’t race the home." So Jim sailed with East Coast friends aboard a Swan 56. Also racing was Patrick Adams of Mill Valley, captain of the Swan 100 Varsovie, and there were undoubtedly other Northern Californians also.

The Heineken is an event that’s going as strong as the wind was blowing yesterday. If you like it San Francisco-windy, with tradewind seas, but in shorts-and-T-shirt weather, you should check it out!

Doo Dah Registration to Open Soon

Don’t miss out on some Delta fun this summer in the Delta Doo Dah ‘Fab Four’!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"Say, when are you guys opening up registration for the Delta Doo Dah," asks Maria Braska. "I want to mark my calendar so I can call in sick that day. I don’t want to miss signing up just because of work!" We have great news for you, Maria. You don’t have to play hookey (as much as you might want to) to get your chance at a spot on the official entry list for the 4th annual Delta Doo Dah, aka ‘Fab Four’, to be held July 28-August 3. The Doodettes — Christine Weaver and yours truly — have changed things up just a little to allow everyone an opportunity to join the party this summer.

Escaping the chill of San Francisco Bay is priceless…but only costs $99!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We were as surprised as anyone when last year’s 50 open slots were filled within 25 minutes of registration opening. With a waiting list a mile long, we were jazzed that so many people were interested in the event, but were also concerned that many folks were edged out because of a pesky thing called employment. So instead of simply opening up registration until it fills, we’re trying out a lottery-style process this year. It’ll work like this: Registration will remain open for 12 hours on April 2, starting as soon as that day’s ‘Lectronic Latitude is posted (around noon). This will allow everyone the chance to throw their name in the hat at some point throughout the day, without having to keep refreshing their screen on their lunchbreak. On the next day, the Doodettes will randomly select the 50 entries, with the remaining sign-ups going on the waiting list (the order of which will also be randomly selected). The final entry list will be announced in the next day’s ‘Lectronic.

Come join us this summer!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Those on the waiting list will have extra reason to hope for the best. Every year there’s been a fair number of drop-outs as the event approaches — illness, family commitments, or boat problems top the list of reasons for cancelling — but this year, the entry list might just shrink considerably in the first day. In order to register last year, you had to pay the entry fee in full, but with a lottery system, that becomes impractical. So this year, the final entry list will get 24 hours in which to pay the non-refundable $99 entry fee. If you don’t pay in time, you are automatically removed from the list and the next person on the waiting list gets your spot. This may seem overly strict, but quite frankly, we just don’t have the (wo)manpower to chase after folks to pay their fee.

Click here to subscribe to ‘Lectronic.

© 2012 ‘Lectronic Latitude

So mark your calendar for April 2, Maria. And if you’re worried about forgetting, subscribe to ‘Lectronic by clicking the ‘Sign Up Now’ button above or at the top of this page. You will only receive an email when a new edition of ‘Lectronic is posted — no spam, no promotions, no junk. That way you’ll get as much of a chance as anyone to sign up for Fab Four!

Pacific Puddle Jumpers Prepare to Head West

If you were to set sail from the West Coast and voyage around the world via the tropics, the largest patch of open water you’d have to face would be the first: the 3,000-mile crossing from the Coast to French Polynesia. With that in mind, anxiety naturally runs high among those who are about to do the so-called Pacific Puddle Jump. But there’s also tremendous exuberance among the ‘Class of 2012’ Jumpers, as the realm they’re about to enter — the fabled isles of the South Pacific — is one of the most spectacular cruising grounds on the planet.

Having enjoyed cruising Mexico, this group of international cruisers is about to head west to Polynesia. We got to know them at our annual PPJ Send-off Party last week at the Vallarta YC.

©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

At least 20 boatloads of westbounders gathered last Wednesday at the Vallarta YC in Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Resort for Latitude 38‘s annual Pacific Puddle Jump Send-off Party. They’ll all be heading west in the coming weeks, as March and April comprise the ideal weather window for making the crossing. 

A good reason to attend one of our Pacific Puddle Jump shindigs is to pick up an official PPJ rally burgee. Kathy and David Kane of Seattle will be making their second Pacific crossing soon — this time aboard their Atlantic 42 cat Lightspeed.

©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Meanwhile, another 20 boats are now staging for departure in La Paz — which is unusual — and an untold number are also making final preparations in Panama. We hope to meet many of them this Saturday at our annual PPJ Send-off Party at the Balboa YC, located just past the Pacific end of the Canal. Look for photos and mini-profiles of this year’s fleet in upcoming editions of the magazine. You’ll find a complete list of registered Puddle Jumpers at the rally’s website, along with a wealth of additional info.

We’re not quite sure why so many boats are jumping off from La Paz this year. Perhaps it’s because the cruising community and townspeople there are so friendly. The group is gathered here at a recent meeting.

©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Donn Pinkney hasn’t been seen since leaving Manzanillo Bay on February 20. Finesse (not the boat in the photo) washed ashore a few days ago at La Ticla.
"I went up to Dana Point from San Diego to help a friend who doesn’t know how to sail bring the boat he bought in Dana Point down to San Diego," reports Kurt Roll of the Southwestern YC.