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March 28, 2014

West Coast Sailors at St. Barth Bucket

The gigantic Hetairos II, which we’re told Paul Cayard will be driving.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The St. Barth Bucket for 40 yachts between 100 and 218 feet — the greatest spectacle in sailing — is about to get underway in a few hours, and the mega sailing yachts have a sprinkling of West Coast sailors aboard.

According to Sunset Hotel balcony neighbor Mark ‘the little Nipper’ D.G. of Newport, Marin’s Paul Cayard is here for his first Bucket — and will be driving the biggest entry of all, the 218-ft ketch Hetairos II. Hopefully he’s got a good navigator, because the last time the boat did the Bucket she shaved a leeward mark and left 22 tons of lead on the ocean floor.

Northern California rigger Scott Easom is aboard the 180-ft ketch Twizzle. The other day he FB’d that the spinnaker sheets were 1.25" in diameter — and 400 feet long!

The busy dinghy dock with the 146-ft Visione, a mid-sized boat in this fleet, in the background.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Kenny and Kerry Keefe, of Marin and KKMI, have been to the island for several Voiles, but this is their first Bucket. He’s sailing on the 180-ft Adele, which will be locking horns with Marie, her near-sistership. Kerry will be holding down the fort ashore.

"No pictures!" shouted Mill Valley’s Patrick Adams, as we were walking down the quay. Our good friend runs the Swan 100 Varsovie, which will also be racing.

San Diego’s Jimmy Pugh, the ‘P’ in R/P designs, was eating at the same restaurant as we were last night. Presumably he’ll be sailing aboard Hasso Plattner’s 146-ft R/P screamer Visione. The German software mogul, who used to go up against Roy Disney in 86-footers, used to have a house in Novato.

While dinghying to shore, we almost ran into Scott Stolnitz of the Marina del Rey-based Switch 51 cat Beach House. He’s almost completed a long circumnavigation, accompanied by his friend Nikki.

Aboard ‘ti Profligate we’re having a great time with longtime San Francisco Bay sailors Dick and Linda Oppenheimer, who have had their Hylas 46 Second Chance in the Northeast for the last two summers. Also aboard are Fin Bevan and Deborah Norum, he of the Los Angeles YC-based Cal 40 Radiant and she of Idaho. Both have done a number of Baja Ha-Ha’s on big Profligate.

Linda and Dick Oppenheimer at the getting-more-seedy-by-the-day Le Select.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We’re sure there are a bunch of other West Coast sailors on hand, but these are all we know about for now.

What about Jimmy Buffett, part-time resident of the island and patron singer of all sailors? We saw him strolling through the outdoor bar at Le Select last night, looking good, but much more corporate, neater and not quite as lighthearted as in his younger years.

Looks as if there is going to be a fine breeze for today’s race, so we’re outta here! Action photos to come on Monday. 

Whales, Dolphins and Racing Yachts

Ricardo Brockmann, owner of the R/P 52 Vincitore, is largely responsible for this year’s MEXORC Copa Corum, as president of the organizing committee. He and his committee pulled together some of the best to run the races, judge the competition, and host the many social events surrounding the race. It’s hard not to feel welcome. 

Ricardo Brockmann (center) made a huge effort to insure MEXORC’s success this year. With him are crewmen John (left) and Stephen.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Vincitore team arrived at Puerto Vallarta last week, having won their division in the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race. Although other SD-to-PV competitors are also racing in the MEXORC (which began Sunday and runs through tomorrow), overall entry numbers are down a bit, with 28 boats participating this week. 

Vincitore started out strong in a challenging division that includes the well-known Santa Cruz 70, Grand Illusion, owned by James McDowell. In the first race of the nine-race series Vincitore took a bullet, but Grand Illusion has taken three firsts since then. After seven races, GI is up by three points. Bay Area sailor of note, Will Paxton, was asked at the last minute to join the Grand Illusion crew — they sailed very well yesterday, taking a first and second. It should be interesting to see how the racing develops over the next two days. Today, there’s a long-distance race, followed by the series’ Gold Cup on Sunday.

Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 Hamachi currently leads division two, while Ernesto Aguilar’s Frers 43 Bandito tops the division three scoreboard.  

Although Bay Area boats are scarce down here, it’s great to see a bunch of our friends on Bill Helvestine’s Santa Cruz 50 Deception having such a good time. That’s Bill (center) with the ear-to-ear smile.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Conditions have been challenging at times, but nothing out of the ordinary. Breeze typically develops slowly in the morning as sailors head out to the race course amid whales, dolphins, countless birds and even young shark. Yesterday, for instance, the breeze held at around 3-5 knots as boats motored to the starting area. By the beginning of the first start it had popped into the mid-teens. Not long after that the winds peaked at about 22 knots for the remainder of the first race before calming a bit closer to 16 knots by the end of the day’s second race. As you might imagine, it’s been gloriously warm, typically around 84-86 degrees. Check out the results here.

Clouds Over Mexico

Clouds never seen before in 35 years of cruising.

© Mexicolder Mike

When we received an email titled "Clouds over Mazatlan," we groaned. "Not another problem in Mexico," we thought to ourselves. Fortunately, it was no problem at all, as the sender, ‘Mexicolder Mike’ of Tropical Yacht Refrigeration, was referring to the real clouds you see in the photo. "Never seen anything like it in 35 years of cruising," he wrote.

"Anybody know how and why such clouds form?" Email us if you do.

It’s often said that making landfall in the Marquesas, after weeks on the open ocean, can be one of the most magical moments in a sailor’s life  especially if he/she arrives in one piece.
We recently received the following letter from David Cleveland of San Diego: "Latitude 38’s coverage of the Mexican boat impoundings has been extensive, and obviously personal to publisher Richard Spindler, as (his boat) Profligate was an impounded boat.