January 28, 2013

Three Bridge Fiasco Fun

By all accounts, this Saturday’s Three Bridge Fiasco was a hoot. In a normal year, the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s annual melee typically features boats drifting haplessly around the Bay en masse, but this year winds in the mid-20s delighted racers, allowing the great majority to finish. We’ll have a full report in Wednesday’s Weekend Racing Wrap-Up, but you can find preliminary results here.

Sailboat & Tug Collide Outside Gate

Around 3 p.m. on Saturday, in the midst of the Three Bridge Fiasco, an unidentified sailboat collided with a tug or its tow just outside the Golden Gate Bridge, sinking the sailboat. The two crewmembers were rescued by the Coast Guard and treated for hypothermia at Station Golden Gate. Eyewitness reports put the tug on an outbound course outside the Gate when the incident occurred. The Coasties are investigating the incident, but confirmed with NorCal Sailing that the sailboat was not involved with the Three Bridge Fiasco.

Gabart & Le Cléac’h Finish Vendée

François Gabart became the fastest solo monohull circumnavigator when he crossed the line in under 80 days.

© Jean Marie Liot / DPPI

Vendée Globe rookie François Gabart sailed MACIF across the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday after just 78d, 2h, 16m, setting a new solo monohull circumnavigation record. At 29, he’s also the youngest winner of one of the most difficult races on the planet.

Just three hours later, Vendée vet Armel le Cléac’h followed his nemesis across the line aboard Banque Populaire, and received a hero’s welcome. "There is no great winner without a great runner-up," fellow racer Jean Le Cam said, and his statement was proven true as there is no doubt Gabart couldn’t let up for a moment for fear ‘The Jackal’ would pounce. 

Armel le Cléac’h followed Gabart by just a little over three hours.

© Vincent Curutchet / DPPI

Meanwhile, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has taken over third place from Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) after shadowing the latter during heavy weather the pair experienced. With Dick comfortably sailing his now-keel-less boat slowly toward the finish, Thomson has put the pedal to the metal.

We’ll have a full report of the race in the February issue of Latitude 38, due out on Friday, but in the meantime, you can stay up-to-date at www.vendeeglobe.org/en.

Maserati Heading for Trade Winds

Skillful navigating and a good measure of luck allowed the VOR 70 Maserati to approach and round Cape Horn with relative ease — at least in comparison to some such adventures. But their good luck changed after rounding, as they were forced to battle headwinds for five consecutive days.

The ultra-fast offshore racer is skippered by Italian Giovanni Soldini, who, along with an international crew of eight, is attempting to break the New York-to-San Francisco sailing record, now called the Clipper Challenge Cup.

In a satphone call this morning Soldini reported that they’d found a 20-knot south wind and were sailing north at 17-20 knots. "We will meet the actual tradewinds from 30° S. On board everything is fine, both the crew and the boat are in good shape." With roughly 4,800 miles to go before reaching the finish line between Alcatraz and San Francisco’s Pier 39, they must arrive before midday on February 26 to break Aquitaine Innovation‘s record of 57d, 3h (for which they will have to average 7.14 knots) and before February 12 to break Gitana 13‘s multihull record, 43d, 38m (for which they’d need to average 14.2 knots). Follow the action here.

If you’re planning to attend the first weekend of the Seattle Boat Show, which starts today and runs through February 3 at CenturyLink Field and South Lake Union, be sure you don’t miss the seminars by our very own ‘Banjo Andy’ Turpin tomorrow and Sunday.