March 21, 2014

Flyer Returns to Huge Reception

As Flyer, then Alaska Eagle, this famous S&S 65 has traveled far and wide - most recently, through the canals of Amsterdam.

Flyer archives
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As noted here and in the April edition of Latitude 38, the famous S&S 65 Alaska Eagle left the West Coast recently after a 30-year stint as the flagship training vessel for the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship. Her new Dutch owner shipped her back to her original home, The Netherlands. She was built there at the Royal Huissman Shipyard for Conny van Rietschoten to compete in the second Whitbread Round the World Race (1977-78). And she won, then named Flyer.

Although that was a long time ago, it is abundantly clear that the Dutch public has not forgotten this thoroughbred racer, as some 5,000 people came to see her at the recent HISWA-Amsterdam International Boat and Water Sports Show. 

Gerard Schootstra, one of the boat’s new caretakers, writes: "We are overwhelmed by all the enthusiastic reactions we have received by the public, as well by the coverage throughout the media. …There were guests in front of the boat all the time."

Sadly, Conny van Rietschoten died shortly before Flyer’s homecoming. But we’re guessing some of these guys might have been Whitbread crew.

Flyer archives
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

That said, getting the aluminum 65-footer to the RAI Convention Center was no easy feat: "We took the mast down, then put her onto a pontoon and sailed her through the canals of Amsterdam, which was an awesome experience. Then we loaded her onto a trailer and maneuvered her in the middle of the night through the small streets of Amsterdam to finish in the exhibition centre."

If you’ve visited that centuries-old city, you can appreciate just how difficult that must have been. Getting her back into deep water proved even more challenging, as a bridge repair hampered the delivery crew’s progress in getting the boat and its pontoon through the city’s maze-like canal system.

A vintage shot of Flyer from the late 1970s, when she still had a ketch rig. We suspect she’ll be sporting a mizzen again after the refit.

Flyer archives
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

By now, though, we assume that Flyer — yes, she been rechristened with her original name — is at the Huisman yard for a thorough refit. If you are one of Flyer‘s many fans, be sure to check for updates on her new website. We’re told she’ll soon be actively sailing in European waters, possibly alongside another Whitbread thoroughbred, King’s Legend.

Sailing on Orion

If you haven’t heard yet, Tom Siebel’s MOD70 Orion smashed the San Diego-to-Puerto Vallarta race record, set in 1998 by Steve Fossett and crew aboard Lakota. Although there was concern before the start that a lack of wind wouldn’t make this possible, it seems that the new big, fast trimarans can do just about anything quickly. Fortunately for Orion and her well-honed crew, the wind held until the last 40 miles and allowed them to shatter Lakota‘s record — by almost six hours.

We thought it would be fun to remind everyone just how fast this boat and other trimarans like it really are. Last July Richard Spindler was able to take a ride on Orion on Banderas Bay. You may have seen the video, but if you haven’t it’s worth a watch. Turn down your volume because the wind noise is overwhelming, and hold on!

Mix, Bake and Party

We’ve spent a lot of time sailing Caribbean waters, but we have to admit we’d never even heard of this annual March regatta before receiving this report from San Francisco Bay sailor Lynn Ringseis:

"Here’s an ideal recipe for a fun-filled regatta: 1) Mix together 30 sailboats, a handful of competitive sailors, boatloads of cruisers looking for a party, and a cluster of ‘senior’ race committee members. 2) Bake under the tropical sun while racing to Anegada, the most laid-back of the British Virgin Islands. 

"The annual Dark and Stormy Regatta has often lived up to its name, but this year Mother Nature was in a mellow mood. On March 8 she supplied just enough breeze for racers to sail from the starting line near Marina Cay to the finish off the channel markers for Setting Point, the main anchorage on Anegada — a low-lying, coral-formed island that is unique within the BVI chain."

An Anegada hammock ideally situated to take in yet another dreamy sunset.

© Lynn Ringseis

Race organizer Martin Van Houten said, "We are into promoting fun races. We want to attract people who are sailing their houses. There will be some competitive racers, but we want everyone to be a winner, so all entrants receive prizes." One of the most competitive local boats was the Melges 24 Firewater, which took line honors. Second across was Luv, a visiting 46-ft X Yacht from Denmark. The 35-ft Edel cat called Wildfire crossed third.  

Sunday’s lay day did not have to rely on wind at all. While there were loads of activities, such as a horseshoe tournament, sandcastle sculpting and kite building/flying, some sailors chose to roam the miles of pristine and undeveloped beaches and count the shades of blue in this ever-changing aqua landscape, which is connected to the fourth largest barrier reef on earth, Horseshoe Reef. Along with snorkeling and visiting the island’s many funky beach bars, the day was capped off with a fabulous buffet dinner and music under the stars hosted by the Anegada Reef Restaurant. 

The return trip on Monday, March 10 — when BV Islanders celebrate Commonwealth Day — brought a flat, glassy sea and a long motor trip to Nanny Cay Marina for the awards ceremony.

Van Houten is Commodore of the West End Yacht Club (WEYC), an ultra-informal club that meets casually at the Fish ‘n Lime restaurant (formerly the Jolly Roger) in Soper’s Hole. The Club hosts several other fun races that he characterizes as "Fungattas," such as the Sweetheart’s Regatta on Valentine’s Day, Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta May 24-26, the Firecracker for July 4th and Foxy’s Cat Fight (catamaran racing) October 24-25.

The race committee coined the name Dark and Stormy Regatta a few years back due to wild conditions that year. Gosling’s Rum soon stepped up as a sponsor to help promote one of the Caribbean’s signature libations: the dark and stormy cocktail which is made with a healthy dose of Gosling’s rum mixed with ginger beer over ice with a wedge of lime. We found it to be the perfect beverage to sip at day’s end from a beach hammock, while enjoying the setting sun. 

For more info on these events, look for the WEYC’s Facebook page (coming soon).

Television at Anchor?

We know that most people go cruising to get away from television and its associated evils. But one prospective cruiser wrote in asking about the feasibility and cost of getting television reception on his boat while cruising between Mexico and Alaska. He wants television access to follow the stock market.

We don’t have any experience with onboard television away from the dock. If you do, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

Can anybody play? Yeah, pretty much. The long-established Banderas Bay Regatta is fun for boats of all shapes and sizes.
Don’t miss this year’s Strictly Sail Pacific boat show. Once again, Oakland’s Jack London Square is where all your sailing friends will be this April 10-13.
We’re not asking this in a derisive manner, but out of curiosity. We all have our preferences, and in case anyone hasn’t noticed, those of us at Latitude 38 are more inclined to like the tropics than cooler cruising areas.
Down in the West Indies some theatergoers have a habit that’s both annoying and amusing: At tense moments in a film, it’s common for folks in the audience to stand up and coach the characters on screen.