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September 15, 2014

Rolex Big Boat Series Wrap-Up

What a rush! Tom Thayer’s J/70 Rampage was looking fast at the Rolex Big Boat Series, but Andy Costello and Paul Cayard on Double Trouble won the 13-boat class.

© 2014

St. Francis Yacht Club’s 50th anniversary Rolex Big Boat Series wrapped up four days of racing on San Francisco Bay yesterday. The first of two races on each day was scheduled to start at 11:00, and, as SF Bay regulars know, the wind can be light and spotty that early in the day, so some starts were postponed. But each day’s second race had more than enough wind to satisfy the adrenaline junkies.

In Friday’s second race, the race committee failed to record the finishes of several boats in the ORR class (the heavier handicap boats), so the entries in that division agreed to sail an extra race on Sunday. The Farr 40 class also sailed two races on Sunday, as part of the lead-up to their Worlds, which will be hosted by StFYC on October 15-18. Everyone else sailed a single Bay Tour race on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, the crew of the Sydney 36CR Encore were pretty sure they’d won the ORR division, but were still holding off on popping the champagne until the results were official. Left to right (front row): Ben Burbridge, Cheri Benjamin, Kelsey Tostenson, Suzie Koide, Julia Paxton, Will Paxton; (back row) Casey Grey, Rick Schuldt, Randall Lesley, Wayne Koide.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The HPR division (high performance handicap boats) had a particularly exciting regatta. Bernie Girod’s Farr 400 Rock & Roll took the lead on Thursday, then Dan Thielman’s R/P 44 Tai Kuai edged ahead on Friday. Going into the final 25-mile race on Sunday – practically a marathon – Don Payan’s MC 38 Whiplash and Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 Hamachi were tied for points. Whiplash, with local rigger Scott Easom calling tactics, won by a single point.

"One of the big reasons I love racing this boat is because of these guys,” said the skipper of Whiplash, Don Payan. Left to right: Pete McCormick, Ernie Rodriguez, Don Payan, Steve Marsh, Gary Sadamori, Scott Easom, Chris Lewis, Matt Siddens.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Other classes weren’t ever close. Kame Richards’ Golden Moon dominated the Express 37 fleet with six bullets and a second. Don Jesberg’s Melges 24 Viva had a perfect score after six races, so the boat sat out the seventh race on Sunday.

Kame Richards and crew on Golden Moon sailed a nearly perfect regatta.

© 2014 Daniel Forster / Rolex

In the small multihull division, Tom Siebel’s MOD70 trimaran Orion, the biggest and most arresting boat in the regatta, started the series with a fourth, then won the rest of the races. Tactician Charlie Ogletree, an Olympic Silver Medalist in the Tornado class, said, "We want heavy air."

Tom Siebel’s MOD70 Orion appears ready to gobble up Peter Stoneberg’s ProSail 40 Shadow.

© Daniel Forster / Rolex

These are just a few highlights. We’ll have oh, so much more in the October issue of Latitude 38.

Odile Threatens Baja Anchorages

Shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday night, the leading edge of Hurricane Odile, then a Category 3 ‘major’ hurricane covering an unusually large area, hit Cabo San Lucas and the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. Wind speeds reached 125 mph (108 knots), thus tying her with Hurricane Olivia of 1967 as having the highest wind speeds of any storm to strike the Baja Peninsula. Perhaps even more devastating than the winds, though, the storm generated as much as 12 inches of rain in one hour. In addition to the local population of Cabo, an estimated 30,000 tourists hunkered down to ride out the storm, which reportedly did major structural damage. No word yet on injuries or loss of life.

The only good news about Odile is that she is rapidly weakening as she moves north. 

© 2014 NOAA

Now downgraded to Category 2, Odile’s strength began to weaken as it hit the Baja California land mass. At one point before making landfall, it had reportedly reached Category 4 status (130-156 mph). As of 8 a.m. this morning, the eye of the storm was passing just west of La Paz, moving to the northwest at 14 mph, and packing winds up to 100 mph (86 knots). Hurricane-force winds extend roughly 500 miles from the eye, with tropical storm-force winds extending 200 miles from the center. At the time of this posting, Odile was passing ENE of Cabo San Lazaro, at Bahia Santa Maria — the Baja Ha-Ha rally’s favorite stopping place.

Odile’s projected track would take her up the Baja Peninsula through Puerto Escondido and Santa Rosalia, two centers of the small summer cruising fleet. Odile, at somewhat reduced strength, is expected to hit these areas sometime Tuesday, but forecasters theorize that its strength may be greatly reduced by then. Current forecasts suggest that vessels on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez might be spared. As the accompanying graphic shows, Odile has taken an abnormally straight path thus far. The Los Cabos area is home to the 380-berth IGY Marina Cabo San Lucas and the 200-berth Puerto Los Cabos Marina. Both have withstood 100-knot winds of previous hurricanes. They might not be so lucky with the larger and stronger Odile.

Judging by Odile’s remarkably straight track, it almost seemed as though she was gunning for Baja. 

© 2014 NOAA

La Paz, 90 miles to the north, is another story, as it is the summer home of roughly 1,000 recreational sailing boats, and its marinas have seen big damage in the past. There is also a large cruiser anchorage, where some boats are stored with no crew aboard. Not surprisingly, we have not been able to reach either Cabo or La Paz marinas this morning for direct reports. It will probably be days before the full extent of the damage is known. If you have a firsthand report, please contact Latitude here

Baja Ha-Ha Entries Top 150

More than 150 boats have paid up for the 21st running of the Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers’ Rally, from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, which starts October 27 with stops at Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. The deadline to enter is tonight at midnight, when the online registration form will close automatically.

One silver lining of Odile may be that the hills of Bahia Santa Maria will be abnormally verdant, as they were in 2009. That year we also saw a rare band of fog hovering over the western anchorage. 

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The number of entries is a pleasant surprise to the Grand Poobah. As some will remember, the Mexican IRS blundered terribly last year in the processing of foreign-owned boats in Mexico, a fiasco that gave the country a terrible black eye and scared the bejesus out of a lot of boat owners. As it turns out, it was a well-intended, albeit horribly executed element of Mexico’s getting its act together. The effort was not actually about seizing boats or even squeezing money out of foreign boat owners. It was about getting a comprehensive accounting of which boats were in their country.

That screw-up has led to new Temporary Import Permits and changes in various regulations. As we’ve written before, we strongly encourage people not to apply for their TIPs and tourist visas until early October, giving Mexico as long as possible to get their program straight. The new TIP procedure alone is going to eliminate almost all of the confusion and heartache that was caused last year.

What about Hurricane Odile? Although it’s a little early to know for sure, we don’t believe it will have much effect on the Ha-Ha, which doesn’t start for another six weeks. We base this on the fact that in 1993 we did a Long Beach YC event to Cabo in which the fleet was temporarily held at Turtle Bay because a big storm — although not a hurricane — had devastated the Cape. We’re talking about all water and electricity beyond the marina being lost, main roads being wiped out by walls of mud, entire golf course holes sliding into the Pacific, and much more. When the fleet pulled in a few days later, it was almost as though nothing had happened, as boaters can be so much more independent. But only time will tell.

Anyway, here’s the most recent list of entries.

 J/70 crews prepare their boats on Thursday morning. latitude/Chris
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC Our laptop’s dictionary defines "fluky": "subject to chance, unpredictable: Sailing conditions are generally good but wind can be fluky." Day
There has been plenty of sun — and great people — for the sundown parties aboard Profligate.