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September 10, 2014

All Boats Great and Small

The TP52s Vesper and Beecom in last year’s Rolex Big Boat Series. Jim Swartz’s Vesper won IRC A and the West Coast IRC championship. Beecom is entered in this week’s series.

© 2014 Daniel Forster / Rolex

The Rolex Big Boat Series begins tomorrow with racing on the Cityfront, Central Bay, and Berkeley Circle. Point Bonita Buoy is among the marks listed, so a jaunt out to the ocean is possible. Seven races are scheduled, two each on Thursday through Saturday, and one race on Sunday, a Bay Tour, which will finish in front of the St. Francis YC clubhouse, to the delight of spectators. The Farr 40 fleet will have an eighth race on Sunday.

Memory Lane: Carl Eichenlaub and daughter Betty Sue Sherman won the Richard Rheem trophy with their San Diego-based N/M 45 Cadenza in 1997. Racing in the Big Boat Series for the first time was 10-year-old Paige Johnston (in red, mid-rail).

© 2014 Kelly O’Neil

Here’s a reminder that we’d love to see photos and hear your tales of glories and misfortunes from the regatta’s 50-year history. Shoot us an email here.

Saturday’s Great SF Schooner Race was a scenic treat for the senses.

© 2014 Roxanne Fairbairn

On Saturday, San Francisco YC hosted 11 classic vessels in the Great San Francisco Schooner Race. We’ll have the story – with lots of lovely photos – in October’s Racing Sheet.

Grown men racing in tiny boats at the Millimeter Nationals.

© 2014 Chris Dolian

On the (very) small end of the yacht racing spectrum, 10 sailors competed in the Millimeter Nationals at the Encinal YC on the sunny Alameda Estuary over the weekend. On Saturday, the wind averaged 8-12 knots with some holes. Sunday, the wind was a little steadier and not as strong. Five windward/leeward races were completed each day. After the first five races, the fleet was split into Gold and Silver. Randy Smith won the Gold Fleet and the Steve Taylor Perpetual Trophy. Aaron Lee and Pax Davis were second and third respectively. Liam O’Flaherty won the Silver Fleet.

No, It’s Not Nemo’s Nautilus

All sorts of vessels transit the waters of San Francisco Bay, but none as unique as Russian gazillionaire Andrey Melnichenko’s 390-ft megayacht simply named A. After a South Pacific tour and a stint in the Northwest this summer, she appeared on the Bay this week, turning heads everywhere she went. 

Looking decidedly Nemo-esque, the megayacht A is one of the most distinctive vessels on the planet. 

© Matthias Kabel

Looking to many like a 21st-century version of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, A is a curiosity wherever she goes. We first saw her last summer in Tahiti, where her brief visit generated a classic anecdote on bureaucracy. The story around Papeete was that Melnichenko and his entourage had planned a lengthy stay in the French Polynesian archipelagos, which undoubtedly would have trickled a boatload of Central Pacific Francs into the territory’s struggling economy — A reportedly chalked up a half-million dollars in fuel cost alone while in Seattle recently. But when authorities learned that Melnichenko‘s wife, Serbian model Aleksandra Nikolic, had a miniature Maltese dog on board, they insisted it be put in quarantine, just as any cruiser’s raggedy mutt would have to be. That unwavering stance was a deal-breaker, so A promptly left, much to the frustration of many Polynesian businessmen. 

Big yachts like A leave a trail of money behind wherever they go. But Tahiti missed out on a load of trickle-down cash last summer due to a quarantine snafu. No wonder though. After all, love them as we do, the French are the original bureaucrats.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

She was back in French Polynesia again this year, though, and we’re told she now has a specially approved quarantine area aboard for the pup, Vala.

Mexico Fiesta & Seminar Esta Noche

At the risk of being annoying, let us remind all you would-be and soon-to-be southbound cruisers yet again that our annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party and Baja Ha-Ha Reunion takes place tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at Alameda’s Encinal YC.

If you are a Ha-Ha skipper who is even remotely considering taking crew this year, we would strongly encourage you to attend. Having done many offshore trips ourselves, we’re big advocates of taking additional crew, as having an extra watch-stander or two along usually translates into a safer trip, with everyone getting a lot more sleep and having a lot more fun. There will be plenty of eager sailors on hand tonight to choose from. (Hint to potential crew members: Be proactive; don’t be shy about introducing yourself, and bring some simple sailing resumes to hand out.)

Note also that immediately before the party, Mexican marina managers Dick Markie and Geronimo Cevallos will hold a free cruising seminar, 4-6 p.m., that will cover a broad range of topics — excellent info, especially for first-timers. 

Again, no charge for the seminar. Entry to the party is free for registered 2014 captains and first mates. All others pay $7 cash at the door. Snacks will be provided, plus door prizes, and no-host bar. A variety of Baja Ha-Ha sponsors will be on-site to share their expertise and exhibit their wares. We hope to see you there.