Artemis Racing may not have won yesterday’s race against Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Semi-Final, but they earned a salute of congratulations from many race fans.
Not only did they show up to compete in what is arguably one of the most demanding sailing class ever conceived, after only eight days of practice in their recently launched AC72 Big Blue, but helmsman Nathan Outtridge had a brilliant start, which allowed the team to be in the lead rounding the first mark. Although Luna Rossa’s extensive experience in training — especially regarding foiling jibes — quickly allowed them to capture the lead and hold it until the finish, they only beat Artemis by two minutes. Very impressive when you consider that Emirates Team New Zealand clobbered Luna Rossa by seven minutes in their last go-round.
Racing in winds of 15-18 knots, Big Blue reached a top speed of 39 knots (!) pretty darned impressive for a team that has been shorebound for nearly three months after the tragic breakup of their first boat, Big Red. Skipper Iain Percy characterized the day’s effort as “nothing but a complete success. Two months ago our goal was to complete a race, we did that and then some. We sailed our best sailing day by quite a considerable margin today. Nathan absolutely nailed the start and we couldn’t have asked for more.” Somewhere up there in the heavens, fallen teammate Bart Simpson is smiling.
Race Two of the best-of-seven LVC Semis starts today at 1:15, with additional races at the same time Friday and Saturday. Look for complete AC 34 details at the site, and check out the AC YouTube channel, where you can view live video feeds, plus replays of all races.
Having spent more than a decade living outside of mainstream America, this writer can confirm that you sometimes get opportunities while in far-flung places that you might never have gotten back home — such as meeting famous people, getting unusual job offers, and finding crew positions on exotic voyages.
We’re reminded of this as we peruse the entry list of the 20th annual Baja Ha-Ha rally, which now has 102 entries. In addition to the 300+ owners who participate each year, dozens of capable sailors find crew positions on this San Diego-to-Cabo San Lucas cruise. For some, the two-week Ha-Ha experience is just the beginning of all sorts of bluewater adventures. Because it’s virtually impossible to do the Ha-Ha and not make boatloads of new friends, crew often find post-event rides through Central America, east to the Caribbean or west to the South Pacific.
A case in point is Liz Brown who signed on to Bill Lilly’s notoriously fun-loving Lagoon 470 Moontide last year for the 2012 Ha-Ha. Not only did she have a great time with his spirited almost-all-girl crew, but afterward she got to know cruiser Joe Pfeifle of the Beneteau 423 Set Me Free. He’d done the Ha-Ha in 2011.
Last month we caught up with this adventurous pair in French Polynesia at the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous — where they both showed remarkable strength during the stone-lifting contest. After a delayed start due to a lightning strike, they made the 3,000-mile crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas in 22 days, and along the way saw "lots of sea life, including pygmy whales."
Bucking the usual pattern of heading west to New Zealand or Australia, Joe and Liz recently made the bold move of beating back eastward to the Marquesas: "We just punched through the low from Bora Bora to Nuka Hiva," they wrote in a email, "25-ft swells, and 40+ knot winds (don’t know for sure as the wind vane blew off!)" They’re now heading up to Hawaii and have vowed to be at the starting line of Baja Ha-Ha #20 on October 28.
If you have your own boat, we’ll remind you that the entry deadline for Baja Ha-Ha 2013 is September 15 (sign up online here). If you’d like to find a crew spot, be sure to check out our online Crew List (cruising section), which is constantly updated. Also, we’d strongly urge you to attend our Mexico-Only Crew List Party at the Encinal YC, September 4, 6-9 p.m. You never know where that experience might lead you.
To continue the tale of the impulsive Profligate refit plus in Mexico, we thought it might be illuminating to list the materials that have been used: four 55-gallon drums of epoxy; five rolls of cloth; two rolls of heavier cloth; six 15-lb bags of filler; nine 4′ x 8′ sheets of honeycomb core; plus assorted sandpaper, grinding discs, masking tape, thinner, paint and on and on. That’s about $10,000 in just materials on a boat that we’ve been sailing hard for 16 years and were about to Bash north with as she was. It’s important to remember that Profligate is 63 feet long and 30 feet wide, so that’s a lot of surface area for the materials to be spread out on.
Profligate is now much stronger than she’s ever been, and is bound to be around for many more decades. She’s better looking than she’s ever been, too. Not that there still isn’t some additional cosmetic work to be done.
We added strength comes at the expense of probably an additional ton of new weight. Cats are more weight sensitive than monohulls, so that’s a concern. But there are two reasons it’s not too big a concern. First, Profligate was underweight and plenty fast to begin with. Second, if we’re careful, we can probably leave off a ton of unnecessary stuff, when we put things back aboard. As we all know, as monohull boat length doubles, junk on the boat increases exponentially. It’s even worse with catamarans.
You know how you sometimes reluctantly spend money on your boat? That’s certainly not the case this time, as we’re thrilled with what’s being done and can’t wait to get sailing again.