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September 7, 2012

Rolex Big Boat Series in High Gear

Thankfully, weather predictions were wrong and the RBBS had brilliant conditions for yesterday’s races. Here, the J/105 fleet hits the line.

© 2012 John Navas

The average boatspeed — and pulses — of the Rolex Big Boat Series ticked up Thursday as its 2012 edition kicked off with the first-ever multihull division of seven boats blasting along in chilly 16-20 knot winds among a 66-strong total field of entries.

Huh? Multihulls in the RBBS? You bet. But then it is the summer of multihulls on SF Bay.

© 2012 Chris Ray

St. Francis Commodore Peter Stoneberg was all smiles as his ProSail 40 cat Shadow pulled a one-two result in the first two races. That puts him two points ahead of Tom Siebel’s Sig 45 Vamonos, with the bright orange hulls of Urs Rothacher’s SL33 BridgeRunner tied for third with Philippe Kahn’s blue-hulled Pegasus-MotionX, a Lightspeed 32.

The racing may have been the easiest aspect to it all for Stoneberg and the cats, as we’re sure it was a tough slog to choose courses and division rules. He couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome so far.

With fine conditions expected, racing continues through Sunday on both the Cityfront and North Bay courses.

© John Navas

It’s the 48th year of the series, and catamarans weren’t the only new bit. The IRC fleet stayed pumped up by electing to make RBBS their North American Championship. There are 24 boats entered in the IRC division, split between A, B, C, and D fleets. After stalwarts and newcomers mixed it up, we saw strong early leads with double bullets in each fleet: Jim Swartz’s TP 52 Vesper (IRC-A), Dan Woolery’s Soozal (IRC-B), Peter Krueger’s Double Trouble (IRC-C), and Gerard Sheridan’s Tupelo Honey (IRC-D).

The other twist is that the six IRC-C boats are being dual-scored with the new HPR rule. The idea is to better handicap the new generation of high-performance offshore-capable yachts, such as the Farr 400, between 36 feet and 44 feet in length. That tricky science will take a little discussion, no doubt. HPR scored the Farr 400 Rock & Roll in third versus fifth under IRC, pushing the J125 August Ice down to fourth and the 1D35 Alpha Puppy from fourth to sixth.

Among one designs, there’s a huge 21-boat J105 fleet, and seven familiar boats each in the J120 and Express 37 fleets. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day. Check the website and look for a full recap of the Series in the October edition of Latitude 38 magazine.

‘Unleashed’ Being Tracked by USCG

Unleashed, seen here in a file photo, is a white Hunter 41 with dark blue canvas. She was last spotted about 50 miles off Pillar Point. Investigators believe the thief also kidnapped his two children from their mother. Call 911 or the Coast Guard if you spot her.

© Club Nautique

Marianne Armand of Club Nautique reports this morning that Unleashed, the Hunter 41 that was allegedly stolen from its slip at Ballena Isle Marina on Tuesday, was apparently spotted early this morning by a fisherman about 50 miles off Half Moon Bay. Police believe Christopher Maffei, 43, forced his way into his ex-girlfriend’s house and abducted their children — ages 2 and 3 — around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, and later abandoned a rental car at the marina when he stole the boat.

"He was circling and a fisherman approached to ask if he needed help," Armand says. "The man on board asked if he could get some fuel from the fisherman, but he didn’t give the man any." The fisherman recognized the boat from Coast Guard-issued marine bulletins and contacted the authorities. The boat had previously been seen near Vallejo on Wednesday. Investigators noted that Maffei had previously expressed a desire to sail to Monterey and Mexico. 

Chris Maffei, 43, is suspected of kidnapping his two children, Brooklynn, 3, and Devin, 2, before stealing Unleashed.


Coast Guard spokesman Tom McKenzie could only say that the Coasties are actively searching for Unleashed, but the South San Francisco PD reports that a C-130 is surveilling the boat as Coast Guard vessels move to intercept. 

Near Miss?

"Please enjoy the attached video of our Franchman Alain Thébault‘s 60-ft foiler l’Hydroptère, the latest flying speed freak on the San Francisco Bay," writes Fredrik Hakanson. "The video was shot from the Blue & Gold ferry Bay Monarch last Friday. Monarch‘s captain, Kit Scow, told me the dead-on collision course and high speed of the overtaking vessel made him ease off on the throttle to let the this thing pass ahead."

l’Hydroptere is not just a protected-waters boat. Damon Hulst, owner of Harbor Marine Works, the boatyard in Santa Barbara, was flying along the coast near Pt. Conception about a month ago when he looked down and asked himself, ‘What the heck is that thing?’ It was l’Hydroptere, which was sailing north to the Bay from Long Beach. Keep in mind, the crew on l’Hydroptere have absolutely no protection from the elements  except that when foiling the helm position on the far end of the main beam is 10 to 15 feet above the surface of the water.

© Damon Hulst

The ‘thing’? l’Hydroptère is not just marvel of technology and one man’s sailing passion, she’s the fastest sailboat in the world. Our assumption is that every man and woman of the sea — which we would hope includes Capt. Scow — feels honored that this great and unusual boat has come to play on the Bay for a few weeks. After all, doesn’t she look marvelous in the video?

It’s also noteworthy that Thébault, l’Hydroptère‘s owner, has graciously welcomed guest after guest aboard for speed runs, to share in the joy he feels about his boat. As previously noted in LatitudeThébault has decided to postpone l’Hydroptère‘s assault on the TransPac record until next year. She’ll be continuing speed runs on San Francisco Bay — we think Thébault and crew love the conditions up here — for a few more weeks, then will winter in Southern California. 

As for Capt. Scow’s having to slow the Monarch down, it seems like a case of proper seamanship to us, as he was under power and not in a restricted channel, and l’Hydroptère was under sail.

Reggae ‘Pon da Ocean Begins Sunday

The inaugural SoCal Ta-Ta’s theme of ‘Reggae Pon da Ocean’ is sure to inspire some crazy costumes!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Listening to reggae music almost always evokes a feel-good attitude and conjures up images of sunny beaches, joyful celebrations and light-hearted fun. That’s why Reggae ‘Pon da Ocean seems to be the perfect theme for the first-ever SoCal Ta-Ta cruising rally, from Santa Barbara to Catalina (September 9-16).

This zigzag course is designed for fun in the SoCal sun.

© 2012

Forty boatloads of would-be Rastafarians are currently revving up for Sunday’s kickoff party on Santa Barbara’s Stearn’s Wharf, followed by a rally-sail to Santa Cruz Island on Monday (11 a.m.). After a day there to explore and chill out, the fleet will continue its zigzagging course toward Catalina, with stops en route at Paradise Cove and King Harbor. 

As Prince Harry demonstrates, it’s hard to keep from dancing when the reggae beat fills the air.

© 2012

We’ve got our coolers stocked, our light-air sails prepped, and our faux dreadlocks appropriately coiffed for the reggae dance parties — and we can’t wait to get out on the ocean to enjoy some late-summer fun. Will there be another Ta-Ta next year? That’s an open question that will probably be answered in our SoCal Ta-Ta recap article in the October edition of Latitude 38 magazine. In the meantime, look for updates on this year’s event here.