November 5, 2014

Fleet Relaxes in Bahia Santa Maria

Baja Ha-Ha stop #2: remote and undeveloped Bahia Santa Maria.

© Google Maps

In stark contrast to the light air of Leg 1, the second leg of the 21st Baja Ha-Ha rally was a rompin’ stompin’ beam reach right down the rhumbline to Bahia Santa Maria. Consequently, the 240-mile leg from Bahia Tortugas was one of the fastest ever.

After a peaceful night at anchor, some fleet members went ashore early to hike the adjacent hills or do some beachcombing along the seemingly endless white sand beach, where shells, sand dollars and the skeletons of whales can be found.

This afternoon, a local rock ‘n’ roll band will set the tone for the Bahia Santa Maria beach party, where the local fishermen and their families will serve a meal of fresh-caught grouper and shrimp, washed down by ice cold beer.

Now that Hurricane Vance is history, the fleet will start Leg 3 to Cabo San Lucas tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. Winds are expected to be light during the 180-mile leg, but the 140-boat fleet should arrive midday Friday. The final events of this year’s rally, a beach party and the awards ceremony (hosted by Cabo Marina), are both scheduled for Saturday. Look for our complete recap of Baja Ha-Ha XXI in the December issue of Latitude 38.

Ocean Race Update

Loïck Peyron, age 54, on the Maxi Solo trimaran Banque Populaire VII, has stretched out his lead to 150 miles in the Route du Rhum from Saint-Malo, France, to Guadeloupe.

© 2014 Thierry Martinez / BPCE

It seems as if every time a press release from the Route du Rhum solo Atlantic race pops up in our inbox, it’s reporting some new disaster. The latest is a dramatic lightning strike. Pierre Antoine, skipper of the Multi 50 Olmix, had to be airlifted off his boat yesterday afternoon, around 120 miles north of Cape Finisterre, Spain. Class 40 leader Sébastien Rogues (who has since dropped out of the race) diverted his GDF Suez to the rescue zone and stood by until the uninjured Antoine was safely aboard the Spanish rescue helicopter.

“The lightning struck the top of the mast," explained Antoine. The masthead bulb passed through the mast to the bottom. "The boat is made of wood, so it left a hole in the wood and right through the electrical cables, which had caught fire. When I went inside the boat, there was already 50 cm of water and she was beginning to go bow down. After that, the water just kept rising. Luckily, I wasn’t inside the boat, seeing it had burnt everywhere. I could have been sitting in front of the computer. I can’t imagine what would have happened… The screens exploded and everything turned to dust…”

In comparison the Volvo Ocean Race has been quite civilized. Although Dongfeng Race Team suffered a domino-effect of damage when a padeye failed spectacularly, they were able to continue racing and actually finished Leg 1 second, after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Team Brunel came in third. The remaining four boats are still on the race course. You can follow their progress here: www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html.

Spithill Named Sailor of the Year

Jimmy Spithill leads Oracle Team USA to victory in the 34th America’s Cup.

© Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill was presented with the 2014 ISAF male Rolex World Sailor of the Year award at a ceremony in Palma, Spain, yesterday evening.

The award came in recognition of the famous comeback over which Spithill presided as the skipper of Golden Gate YC’s Oracle Team USA during the 2013 America’s Cup. Down 8-1, then facing match point for more than a week, Spithill and his team won eight consecutive races to retain the Cup 9-8 over Emirates Team New Zealand.

"I feel a little awkward winning this award. It seems it is an individual award, and in my case it could not be further from the truth. What happened on San Francisco Bay was an incredible team effort. I was just a small piece,” Spithill said. "I’m accepting this award on behalf of the full team."

This is the first World Sailor of the Year award for the 35-year old Australian, who joins teammates Tom Slingsby (2010) and Russell Coutts (1995, 2003) in the exalted club.

Brazilian 49erFX sailors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, both 23, won the female Rolex World Sailor of the Year award. Martine is the daughter of Torben Grael, himself a recipient of the award in 2009. For more, see www.sailing.org/worldsailor.

In other America’s Cup-related news, it was announced this morning that Bermuda will host an America’s Cup World Series event in October, 2015, to be raced in foiling AC45s. See www.americascup.com.
 

The Route du Rhum started yesterday from Saint-Malo, France, in the rain. © 2014 Trépia de Pierre Yves Lautrou / Express Two lost keels, broken amas, downed masts and a collision with a container ship – yes, the Route du Rhum has started.
Brad Webb celebrates after Oracle’s victory in America’s Cup 34. © 2014 Oracle Team USA Right next to AT&T Park, between the Giants’ fabulous victory on Wednesday and Friday’s parade, SailSFBay managed to slip in a Thursday-night meeting at South Beach Yacht Club to discuss growing sailing participation in the Bay Area and to hear Brad Webb describe his rewarding path up the ladder of sailing.