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September 4, 2013

Red Bull Youth America’s Cup-date

The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup has so far been the highlight of the ‘Summer of Sailing’.

© Lynn Ringseis

The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup has certainly exceeded the pre-race hype. This thrilling eight-race series sailed in AC45s is entering its last day with an astounding 9 out of 10 teams still having a mathematical shot at achieving victory in this inaugural event. 

NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ has dominated so far. They traded the top spot on the leaderboard with the hometown American Youth Sailing Force on Day Two, but yesterday pulled out the stops and became the first team to post a 1-1 scorecard in the event. Blowing the door open on this regatta, they’ve established an 11-point lead over their nearest rivals, fellow Kiwi squad Full Metal Jacket and the Force. 

Objective Australia overcame gear issues to scream up the leaderboard.

© Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

As impressive as the young Bay Area team has been, the wheels have fallen off the bus on the ‘American’ team of USA 45 Racing. The group of mostly Southern California natives has dealt with gear issues, poor starts and an intensely competitive fleet to find themselves thoroughly off the pace, finishing in 9th or 10th place for 5 of the 6 races run so far, oftentimes sailing more than a minute and a half behind the rest of the fleet. 

Another disappointment has been Objective Australia, who came in as a pre-race favorite, has been plagued by gear issues. With the drama behind them, the Aussies competed with Burling and Co. at the front of the fleet to record two second place finishes yesterday, sending them rocketing back up the scoreboard. Watch for them to continue their meteoric rise up the leaderboard to contend for a podium position today.

If NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ performs well, they should have this regatta locked up.

© Jan Pehrson

NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ only needs to sail smart and consistent to convert their 11-point final day lead into a championship, while right behind them, seven teams still have a realistic shot at filling the other two podium positions. When the dust settles, one thing is for sure: this regatta will go down in America’s Cup history as one of the most exciting events of all time. Stay tuned to the October issue of Latitude 38 where we’ll take a more in-depth look at the Red Bull Youth AC, its future and that of the venerable AC45’s.

Oracle Gets Two-Point AC Penalty

Yesterday, as brilliant young sailors aboard AC45 catamarans were dazzling spectators during the Red Bull America’s Cup, an international sailing jury was concluding its investigation into cheating allegations within the same fleet during the 2012-2013 America’s Cup World Series events.

After measurers discovered that illegal weight had allegedly been added to three Oracle Team USA AC45s (one of which, had been leased to Ben Ainslie Racing), the American team’s CEO Russell Coutts voluntarily withdrew retroactively from last year’s regattas.

Yesterday, two shore crew plus wing trimmer Dirk de Ridder (of The Netherlands) were singled out, and are not allowed to have further involvement in America’s Cup 34. In addition, Kiwi trimmer Matt Mitchell is banned from competing in the first four races, and Aussie trimmer/grinder Kyle Langford was given a warning.

In a team news release, Coutts was quoted as saying, "The rules infractions involved only a few of our 130 team members, and were done without the knowledge of either our team’s management or the skippers who were driving the boats." What effect, if any, the added weight had on the boats’ performance may never be known conclusively. 

The jury’s report details five incidents where OTUSA AC45s breached class rules. They involved extra weight being added to the forward and/or main king posts of three team cats.

© International Jury for the 34th America’s Cup / ACEA

But the most severe part of OTUSA’s punishment is a two-point penalty in the America’s Cup Finals against Emirates Team New Zealand (which begins Saturday, September 7). OTUSA would need 11 points to win the Auld Mug, while the Kiwis would only need 9. This is said to be the harshest penalty in the Cup’s 162-year history.  

There was also a $250,000 penalty assessed against the team. The money will be split equally between the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation and to a Bay Area charitable organization of Mayor Lee’s choosing to support at-risk youth.

The full jury decision can be found here on the America’s Cup Official Race Noticeboard. We’d like to hear what you think about the jury’s decision. Email your thoughts to Richard.

The Profligate Baja Bash

When you live the life of the Wanderer and Doña de Mallorca, just about every minute counts. Thus our 1,000-mile Bash from Vallarta to California — actually only to Ensenada so far — with Profligate was all about getting the job done as quickly as possible. Thanks to 56-hp Yanmar diesels #1 and #2, the trip was completed in five days and three hours, with the only stop being one hour for fuel at Turtle Bay. As you may have deduced, we didn’t have any really bad weather, just some late-afternoon to mid-evening chop/slop so the hulls could get in a little pounding.

The view over the port bow of Profligate when leaving La Cruz. The future looked mellow.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It would have been nice to have had some additional crew, as three-on/three-off for five days can get a little tiresome, particularly just before dawn. The problem with getting crew is delays caused by multiple schedules. As they say, ‘He who travels fastest, travels alone’. With speed being paramount, the Wanderer and de Mallorca took off without crew.

But the view aft told a different story . . . rain and lightning on our tail.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

When traveling 1,000 miles mostly north, a lot of variety in weather was to be expected. We departed La Cruz at 5 p.m. on Thursday. It was hot and humid with rain and lots of lightning. That night there was so much lightning it was like a flashback to the light show at The Who concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in the early ’70s. It was clear and calm when we passed Cabo about midnight on the second night. Pass up rockin’ Cabo on a Friday night? It was hard, but we did it. Falso was as calm as we’ve seen it. We swept through Bahia Santa Maria on the third night to pick up some weather info from Banda Ancha, then continued north. We arrived at Turtle Bay at dawn of the fourth day and, after about an hour, were able to rouse some folks at Gordo’s for fuel. The fourth night was spent scraping Sacramento Reef. To our mind the worst part of most Bashes is the jump from the north end of Isla Cedros to Sacto Reef, as the current is against you and pushes you toward shore. Old-timers will remember Sacto Reef as the one that claimed the great 161-ft schooner Goodwill many years ago, as well as the lives of 11 crew. We arrived at Cruiseport Marina in Ensenada a little bushed as the sun set at the very beginning of what would have been the fifth day at sea. Not a bad trip at all.

That’s not . . . please dear God . . . no fog this far south!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

About the first two people we saw there were David Crowe and his sweetheart Barbara of the M&M 70 catamaran Humu-Humu. Crowe says they sailed the offshore route from Mazatlan to Ensenada. "One tack out and one tack back in in seven days." Motoring up the coast of Baja isn’t that good an option for the big cat, as she’s powered by outboards.

The difference between the tropics and temperate waters are temperature, seaweed and fog. The tropical air is too warm for fog and the tropical waters are too warm for seaweed.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Did we learn anything on our trip north? Yes. Thanks to incredible powers of observation, we learned that once you get north of the tropics — technically just south of Mag Bay but nominally just north of Mag Bay — you run into three unpleasant things: fog, seaweed and cold water. Yeech! Makes us glad that we’ll be heading back to the tropics as part of the 20th Baja Ha-Ha in late October.

The Joys of an Extra Pair of Hands

In the Wanderer’s story about Profligate‘s Baja Bash, he notes that he and Doña de Mallorca generally bring crew aboard for long passages. Being no average dummy, he knows that many hands not only make light work, but also make for better-rested crew. 

A full crew on passages can make life much easier and ususally more fun.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Consider the upcoming Baja Ha-Ha XX, which will take hundreds of boats south from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Many, if not most, entries are couples who have long dreamed of cruising together to white sand beaches and hidden ports. They often join the Ha-Ha as a way to kick off their cruise, and they look forward to the beach parties at Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria and Cabo San Lucas. What a grand time they’ll have!

Imagine their disappointment when they sail doublehanded into port only to be too exhausted from their three-on/three-off watch schedule to fully enjoy everything each stop has to offer. Meanwhile, those boats who brought crew along are playing beach volleyball, going for hikes, surfing or generally have a fabulous, energetic time ashore.

Arriving well-rested in Turtle Bay will allow you to join in a conga line…

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
…or take in this scenic vista at Bahia Santa Maria…

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
…or roll around in the surf at Cabo during the ‘From Here to Eternity’ Kissing Contest. Now that’s something to shoot for!

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Of course the same logic applies to anyone sailing south this fall, not just Ha-Ha’ers. But don’t worry, we have the answer for you: Latitude 38‘s Mexico-Only Crew List Party! Baja-bound skippers will have the pick of the litter when it comes to potential crew at tonight’s party, which starts at 6 p.m. at Encinal YC in Alameda. Paid 2013 Ha-Ha skippers and first mates get in free; all others pay a measly $7. There’s a no-host bar, slideshow, snacks and vendors who can help you with all your cruising needs. Harbormasters Dick Markie of Paradise Village Marina and Geronimo Cevallos of Marina El Cid will be presenting a free Mexico Cruising Seminar from 4 to 6 p.m. that you won’t want to miss.

If you can’t make the party — and even if you can — be sure to sign up for our online Crew List. It’s free and easy. Just enter your pertinent information (no embellishing!) and then start perusing the lists of folks looking to crew on boats heading south. If you’re crew, do the same thing but start contacting skippers looking for crew. In no time at all, you’ll be set with crew you’re comfortable and compatible with, ready to enjoy all the pleasures of the Ha-Ha itinerary.

Hmmm, maybe the Wanderer should have come to the Crew List Party before doing the Bash!

A five-member international sailing jury is continuing to hear testimony today regarding allegations of cheating by Oracle Team USA staff during the America’s Cup World Series.
On the odd chance you don’t have much going on this weekend, here are a few events you might want to check out over the next few days: The artists have once again decended on Marin County for the 61st annual Sausalito Art Festival.