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October 22, 2012

Webb Chiles Sneak Peek

Webb Chiles, the ultimate Zen sailor.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

A man in his early 70s losing his vision in one eye but planning to do a circumnavigation on a Moore 24 ultralight? Yeah, right.

But before you snort that this man has no idea what he’s getting into, understand that he’s already done five mostly (90%) singlehanded circumnavigations. And before you scoff at the notion of doing a circumnavigation on a Moore 24, understand that he’s already done one with a 18-ft open boat that weighed just 900 lbs.  (Actually, he did one circumnavigation with two 18-ft open boats, because after the Saudi Arabians confiscated his first 18-footer and threw him in jail for a few weeks, he ultimately had to complete the voyage in a sistership.)

Fit as a fiddle and ready to roll, Webb Chiles isn’t letting any barnacles grow on his keel.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The man we’re talking about is, of course, Webb Chiles who, although he now lives in Evanston, Illinois, bought his first sailboat, an Excalibur 26, many decades ago in Berkeley. As we were driving over to meet him at the marina in Mission Bay, we didn’t quite know what to expect. But after spending a very pleasant hour interviewing him, we found him to be absolutely normal — except for the fact that he seems to have an unusually clear understanding of his likes and dislikes.

For one thing, the lean and fit Chiles really likes women. Which partially explains why he’s been married six times. He also really likes sailing. Not sailing to get somewhere, sailing to set a record, or daysailing, but sailing for the Zen of it. It appeals to Chiles’ sense of symmetry that if he completes a circumnavigation with the Moore, he’ll have circumnavigated as many times as he’s been married. Chiles also learned early on that he didn’t like to work for other people, so he became an author, writing about his sailing adventures. Is it just us, or do we have a couple of things in common with Webb?

Anyway, stand by for our Latitude 38 Interview with Webb in the December — not November — issue of Latitude 38. We think you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

Heavy Air SF Sailors Win Light Air J/105s

The crew on Chris Perkins’ Masquerade (#17) killed it at the J/105 NAs in San Diego this weekend.

J/105 Class Association
©2012 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Chris Perkins’ San Francisco-based Masquerade won a convincing start-to-finish victory in the just-completed nine-race J/105 North Americans sailed out of the San Diego YC. Perkins — with crew Steve Marsh, Tom Purdy, Mark Chandler, Larry Swift and Rose Eberhard — bested 24 other boats with a remarkably consistent — 1,2,2,1,3,2,4,4,4 — finishes in unusually inconsistent and erratic San Diego sailing conditions.

"We were in the right places for the shifts," said Perkins.

We’d like to see the Masquerade crew all fit on that surfboard at once.

J/105 Class Association
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Chuck Driscoll, who placed fourth with Blow Boat, which he owns with Tom Hurlburt, had a slightly different take. "Masquerade just had speed than none of the rest of us did, so they were able to sail conservatively in the middle instead of banging the corners. Unlike the rest of us, they didn’t have a single bad race." 

Dennis Conner took third on his new DC’s Pholly.

J/105 Class Association
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Gary Mozer’s Long Beach-based Current Obsession was second, 14 points back, and Dennis Conner, who just bought DC’s Pholly to increase his sailboat fleet to an astounding 30 boats, finished third.

Casting Call

Three years have passed since then-16-year-old Jessica Watson’s record-breaking nonstop solo circumnavigation, and casting has begun for a film based on her journey. Her achievement didn’t land her in the record books as the youngest solo circumnavigator because most no longer recognize age-based sailing records, but the media certainly made up for any official snubs she may have suffered. 

The film version of True Spirit is due out next year.

© Jessica Watson

Announced in August, the film version of her book True Spirit will be an inspirational family film in which Watson will have considerable input. In fact, several actresses vying for the lead role were surprised to find the young sailor in the audition room when casting began earlier this month. “It was a little weird for me watching other people act out me in some scenes from the script,” Watson noted after the first day of auditions.

The film, which is scheduled for release next year, is being produced by the same team who made Soul Surfer, the story of Bethany Hamilton’s triumphant return to surfing after a tiger shark took her arm while surfing in Kauai.

Ha-Ha Weather Looking Warm and Moony

It’s been cloudy and rainy in San Diego for the last couple of days, and with the 149-boat Ha-Ha fleet slated to head south of the border one week from today, it looks like another couple of overcast days are ahead.

It’s expected there will be lots of this for the start of the 19th Annual Baja Ha-Ha from San Diego on October 29.

© 2012 Webb Logg

But there’s great news: The weather for the Sunday Kick-Off Party at the West Marine Super Store,and the Monday start looks as though it will be spectacular. Forecasts are calling for highs of 80 degrees with lots of sunshine. As if that weren’t enough, there will be a full moon on Monday night, and only slightly lesser moons all the way down to the first stop at Turtle Bay.

It’s expected — no, it’s known — that there will be lots of this for the evening of the start of the Ha-Ha.

© Webb Logg

Forecasts a week out are unreliable, of course, but for now it appears there will be moderate winds along that 360-mile first leg. But the season certainly has changed on the Pacific Coast, as evidenced both by the Southern California rain, and the fact that strong winds are expected to blow down the Pacific Coast of Baja and in the Sea of Cortez during the middle of this week. As far as the Grand Poobah is concerned, that’s more good news, because it’s going to bring cooling temperatures to the warm waters of Baja, which makes conditions less conducive to rare November tropical disturbances.

If you’re a weather fan, you might want to call up Passage Weather and check out the graphical forecast for the development a tropical system they predict — and for the last three days have predicted — will form later this week down near the Guatemalan border. It’s mind-boggling they can even attempt to forecast systems so far in advance. Anyway, it’s been interesting to see what the computer models are forecasting for the path of this not-yet-existent system, and how it changes every 12 hours or so.

With Paul having dumped a lot of rain on Baja last week, that means the desert has gotten three very heavy doses of rain in the last couple of months. The good news is that it means an unusual amount of greenery and flowers. The bad news is that it means an unusual number of bugs.

It case you didn’t read last Friday’s ‘Lectronic, Immigration officials in Mexico City have agreed to not enforce any of the new Immigration laws until after the Ha-Ha fleet will have checked in at Cabo on November 9. Whew! After that, mariners who want to stop anywhere along the Baja coast before Cabo should check into Mexico at Ensenada. 

Neil Shroyer of Marina de La Paz reports that "we", by which we presume he means the Mexican Marina Owners’ Association, had a meeting with Immigration officials in Mexico City with regard to implementing the new immigration rules.
Although the focus of America’s Cup enthusiasts has now shifted to the big show next summer — the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series begins in July — its worth taking stock of the impact that the recent America’s Cup World Series has had on the Bay Area.