April 19, 2013

Nor’Sea 27s Are Big Fun

Nor’Sea owners and fans gathered at Oakland YC last weekend in appreciation of their favorite design.

latitude/LaDonna
©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It’s tough to dispute the assertion that good things come in small packages when you’re standing on a dock looking at a bunch of bristol Nor’Sea 27s. Sure, bigger boats have more living space, but that extra space is generally also accompanied by more complicated systems and bigger headaches — not to mention repair bills — when they inevitably need servicing. But the rugged little Nor’Sea is not only simple, but she can easily take a couple wherever they want to go.

Greg and Jill Delezynski are one such couple. They cruised their 1979 Nor’Sea Guenevere in Mexico for several years before taking a hiatus. Now they’re back on the cruising scene, having launched Guenevere in Napa at the end of March, and are looking forward to exploring the Bay and Delta this summer before heading back south again to work on their tans. 

Jill and Greg Delezynski will be cruising the Delta this summer before heading out the Gate and turning left. Chica the Lethal Guard Chihuahua will be on duty at all times protecting her diminuitive home.

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But before heading upriver, they stopped at Oakland YC for a Nor’Sea owners rendezvous during Strictly Sail Pacific. Four boats lined the guest dock, with a couple of other boats rumored to be moored nearby. Owners welcomed curious visitors and other owners to tour their boats and share upgrades and mods that help them live in tiny spaces.

A Nor’Sea Rendezvous doesn’t take up much dock space.

latitude/LaDonna
©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We don’t know how many other Nor’Seas will be exploring the Delta this summer, but we do know that the Guenevere crew has wisely signed up for the Delta Doo Dah DIY. As official Doo Dah’ers, they’ll be offered special discounts at marinas and other area businesses along the way. They’re also invited to our Kick-Off Party on May 10 at Berkeley YC, as well as the Reunion Party at Richmond YC on October 10. If you’re planning a Delta trip this summer — even as part of a yacht club cruise-out — be sure to sign up and join the fun!

Tight Racing and a Collision at ACWS

Clear skies, steady winds and very close competition made yesterday’s AC45 races spectacular.

© 2013 ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

After two days of AC45 racing in Naples, Italy, Oracle Team USA leads the nine-boat fleet with 38 points, followed by the French Energy Team (36) and Emirates Team New Zealand (36). Four of seven fleet races have been completed by yesterday afternoon.

High tech racing machines meet Naples’ old world charm, as Oracle Team USA blasts across the finish line.

© ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

Conditions on Day One (Wednesday) were maddeningly inconsistent: Organizers reported that the wind shifted "from south-southwest to nearly west, an arc of some 35 degrees, and ranged in strength from 8 to 12 knots." But yesterday (Day Two) wind speed and direction were much more consistent. Oracle Team USA helmsman Tom Slingsby, a 28-year-old Aussie, showcased his talent with a first and second in the day’s fleet races. Likewise, Energy Team’s skipper Yann Guichard showed equally impressive skills, also scoring a second and a first. Guichard was leading during the first race of the day, but was overtaken by Slingsby during the second upwind leg.

Meanwhile during the day’s first match race between Luna Rossa Swordfish and Emirates Team New Zealand the ‘NASCAR effect’ was in full force, as the two cats collided at the windward mark. Emirates’ skipper Dean Barker was found at fault due to a rights violation. While neither boat was permanently disabled, Swordfish’s starboard bow was "flattened" and Emirates’ port stern scoop was damaged.

Judging by the hull graphic, you’d expect the Swordfish to do the biting. But it was Emirates that took a bite out of this starboard bow.

© ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

Both fleet racing and match racing continue through Sunday (schedule here). See photos and complete ACWS info here. If you get up very early in the morning (9-hour time difference) you can watch the show streamed live over YouTube.

Although unfortunate, we assume this bow damage was repaired overnight.

© ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

Current standings after two days of racing:

America’s Cup World Series Naples Championship Standings

(Provisional, after 4 of 7 scheduled races)
1. Oracle Team USA (Tom Slingsby) – 38 points
2. Energy Team (Yann Guichard) – 36
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) – 36
4. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) – 35
5. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) – 33
6. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Francesco Bruni) – 23
7. Artemis Racing White (Charlie Ekberg) – 21
8. HS Racing (R. Hagara/H.S. Steinacher) – 17
9. China Team (Mitch Booth) – 14

Saturday’s Match Racing Schedule
Semifinal 1: Luna Rossa Piranha vs. Luna Rossa Swordfish
Semifinal 2: Oracle Team USA Slingsby vs. J.P. Morgan BAR

Fourth Annual Voiles de St. Barth

A parade of spinnakers heading down from Pt. Milou.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

If you wanted to do a tropical regatta that is about as good as it can get, you needed to be at last week’s 4th Annual Voiles de St. Barth in the beautiful French West Indies. The tradewind sailing conditions were nearly ideal, with mostly 14 to 18 knots of wind, gusting up to the mid 20s at times, and three- to six-foot seas. The sun was out, the sky was blue and so was the ocean. It was the tropics, so when you got hit by spray or a wave, it was delightfully refreshing. Furthermore, the courses were scenic, not sausages, and there was plenty of opportunity to display your derring-do by kissing reefs and rocks.

Hold the sausages, let’s do the scenic routes. The fleet rounds the northeast corner of the island on the way toward Ile Fourche.

© 2013 Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright
Heroina, the 74-footer that sailing legend German Frers designed for himself.

© 2013 Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

There were 63 entries this year in nine classes. Previous fleets featured several boats in the 100-ft range, but this year there was only one 100-footer, the Swan 100 Varsovie run by Mill Valley’s Patrick Adams. Alas, she was knocked out in the first race with a broken headstay, which left the door wide open for Wendy Schmidt and her Swan 80 Selene to take maxi honors.

Conditions were challenging for the Melges 24s, but these sportboats were extremely well-sailed. Only one dismasted.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

Previously, entries had to be at least 30 feet to compete in the Voiles. But this year there were six excellently sailed Melges 24s. If anybody thought French sailing ace Lucky Poupon was going to give them easy courses because they had small boats not really designed for the open ocean, they were wrong. On the last day, for example, he sent both the little Melges and the slower non-spinnaker boats on a 24-miler on the windward side of the island, where the wind gusted to 25 knots and the total distance sailed had to be close to 36 miles. While everybody was exhausted by the finish, nobody complained. Not even Megles 24 crew Robbie Ferron, honcho of the Budget Marine chain. And he’s probably almost as old as we are.

San Franciscan Peter Aschenbrenner’s Irens 60 Paradox loved the breezy conditions.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

Turning in a stellar performance again this year was Peter Aschenbrenner’s San Francisco-based Irens 63 trimaran Paradox. "The boat is really built for ocean passages and ocean sailing," he said, "so we feel very much at home when the wind gets up to solid trade wind conditions, like 20-plus knots and big waves. The boat acts really nicely and goes really fast." The fun news is that crewmember Cam Lewis told us the tri is headed for San Francisco.

Onboard in the Caribbean, where the challenge is drinking enough water and slathering on enough sunblock.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

Also getting all bullets was the Edgartown/St. Barth-based TP52 Vesper, owned by event godfather Jim Swartz and managed by KKMI’s Kenny Keefe. "We not only won our class with Gavin Brady driving," said a satisfied Keefe, "despite being the lowest-rated boat, we were the first boat to every mark in every race." Keefe tells us that Vesper will be back to the Caribbean for the TP52 Worlds in Virgin Gorda next spring, followed by another Voiles. Hot on Vesper‘s tail was the Ker 51 Varuna from Hamburg, Germany. She’s now on her way to Southern California for the TransPac.

Jim Swartz’s TP52 Vesper, managed by Ken Keefe of KKMI in Sausalito, rides the wild surf to all bullets.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright
Varuna, a Ker 51 from German, was Vesper’s biggest competition. She’s now headed for the TransPac start.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

Another boat with a Northern California connection was Steve Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70, cruising version, Hotel California, Too, which we sailed on for three races in non-spinnaker. Unfortunately, the boat doesn’t rate well in the Caribbean, particularly when she is overpowered, as she was most of the week. It was nonetheless great fun sailing her in the trades, and Schmidt had her sliding down some waves in excess of 16 knots under main and jib, keeping pace with the Megles.

The social aspects of the Voiles were, as you’d expect from St. Barth, first class. Every night there was a great band playing in the village, which was at the quay right behind the Med-tied boats. As the bands played, sailors and locals yakked up a storm, drank, danced, smoked pot and reveled in how great it was to be alive. If it weren’t politically incorrect, we’d mention that the number of spectacularly beautiful young women, dressed in smashing outfits, were off the regatta circuit graph. Of course, ladies, there were several times as many hunky guys, and this is a regatta where you can almost surely get on a boat — like a Volvo 60.

Tim Wright, one of the world’s greatest sailing photographers — he shoots from a 12-ft inflatable in even the biggest and roughest seas — turns his lens on the layday girls at Nikki Beach.

© Voiles de St. Barth / Tim Wright

Owner after owner raved about the race organization and how well they were taken care of. "Each boat gets a concierge who helps you with everything from dock space to housing to transportation," said Tom Mullen of the J/95 Shamrock. That was thanks to 120 volunteers. The crews raved about the layday beach party at Nikki Beach, with the obligatory dancing on the tables, and the terrific crew party the night before on Shell Beach. Owners and crews both liked the fact that each boat was presented with two bottles of ice cold bubbly immediately after crossing the finish line of the last race. Who else does that?

Yeah, the French know to have great sailing and how to have great fun. Next year’s Voiles will be April 7-12. If you’re looking for a big event to do in the Caribbean, we can’t recommend this one highly enough. See full results at www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com.

Emmanuel Uren got such a kick out of assisting on the Royal Malta YC’s race committee boat, he joined the club!